Meet the Godfather of Grunt

Time of article published Jul 6, 2010

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Moto Guzzi's Griso has the full suite of Mafia attributes: slick styling, gruff voice, menacing aura and trigger-happy response.

I've just been riding the Mafia mobster of motorcycles, one not easily available in South Africa but with a lumpy suit, designer labels and a palpably menacing aura - even the gruff voice and trigger-happy response.

Moto Guzzi's Griso has it all.

Although at first it doesn't look that big, it feels a tad larger than life to ride, with its wide spread of bars and broad waist. You perch atop it as you would a bucking bull and initially it doesn't feel natural - though a taller rider might disagree.

Then you fire her up and, by golly, you know there's something home. Quite apart from the testosterone-addled noise, the 1151cc twin-cylinder V mounted across the frame imparts a characteristic side-to-side throb; a potent call to arms that should be heeded because there's plenty to like.

At low revs, the 81kW Griso feels easy-going, but don't get complacent. Power comes in like a bull at a rodeo gate with a neck-wrenching surge that'll have you scrambling for another gear.

But stick with it. In first at 50km/h, you're at 5000rpm and charging for the 108Nm torque peak. Second, and 100km/h arrives at 7000 as power's heading for its climax, the flickering redline light at 8000; change up for 5500rpm at 100 and surf that wave of torque.

This bike is built to be its best at real-world speeds; braking hard into bends then charging out, shaft-drive lift lightening the front as you pour on the power on before tipping her into the next bend. I ran out of nerve long before I ran out of ground clearance - blame wet roads, blame the disconcerting little sideways kick as you thwack the throttle on and those pistons punch sideways.

Fortunately the Showa front and Boge rear suspension did a reasonable job with my weight aboard, though there's plenty of adjustment available if they hadn't.

Any relationship with a volatile Italian has its hiccups. The gearbox was a touch too fond of false neutrals; the digital speedo took a mite too long to catch up with actual acceleration and there's no slipstream protection - perhaps fortunately because the buffeting reminds you that you're flirting with the law.

There are nice touches, too. The multi-function trip data recorder (I used 7.1 litres/100km) and the sturdy luggage hooks beneath the tail, for example.

THIS BIKE REALLY DELIVERS

There are faster bikes than this, and more powerful ones, but in the real world outright power and speed offer little more than bragging rights unless you plan to take to the track. What's more important is how the bike delivers - and whether it grabs (and keeps) your attention. The Griso most certainly does.

A bit like that date with the Mafia tough guy it's named for; characterful, burly and, under the Versace veneer, it wields a lot of clout. - New Zealand Herald

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