Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Moto Guzzi Griso 1200 8V

Fri, April 22nd, 2011

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2007–11 Moto Guzzi Griso 1200 8V
The Guzzi motor is a strange mix of modern and old-school design elements. Judged against 2011 rivals, it's a bit mild for a bike of this size and style, but it's not bad, overall. It doesn't feel much like an older Guzzi — transmission and clutch action have been improved in recent years, and the 4-valve heads (which increase output noticeably), make the motor a bit peaky; the traditional grunt-y Guzzi midrange just isn't there.
The long wheelbase and relaxed steering means that the Griso is no racetrack wannabe, but it was never intended to be. It tracks straight at high speed, steers predictably and thanks to the beefy parallelogram swingarm, doesn't get easily upset in bumpy turns. In the real world, it is quite enjoyable to ride at any responsible pace. The chassis is stout and the components are top-shelf: as the miles rack up, the Griso's suspension should still be working well long after most stock Japanese units would be worn out.
The overall shape of the bike is great, and everything is tucked in nicely, making it feel tight, compact, and smaller than it is. I truthfully can't decide if I like the arching exposed frame tube that dominates the bike's appearance. Visually, it's a bit gimmicky, but the bike might look overly plain if it were hidden. The oil cooler on the engine's right side is not exactly camouflaged, but Guzzi gets big points for tucking it so neatly out of the way. Harley's XR1200 could learn a lesson here.
Guzzis are well-built bikes that last, but they're built in small numbers, and local dealers may only sell 5-10 a year. Minor quirks may not be quickly resolved by the manufacturer. Parts availability and warranty hassles are always a concern.
The Griso feels long and ponderous in tight, urban situations. Out on the open range, the addition of touring gear for long runs would ruin that striking appearance and destroy the Griso's dolphin-like sleekness, which is it's whole reason for being. There are also many cheaper naked bikes that are just as satisfying to own.
I love the Griso's purposeful look, and someday I'd like to own a Guzzi, but I'm just not sure a Griso is the one I'd want.
The Griso is a visually interesting, mechanically rewarding bike. It may be too conspicuously styled for Guzzi's traditional aficionados and too mechanically quirky for other people. It's also not a great value at the price.