Moto Guzzi Griso 1100

Tim Luckhurst welcomes a new classic as a legendary and special marque gets modern

The Moto Guzzi factory at Mandello del Lario on the shore of Lake Como has witnessed many triumphs since it opened in 1921. They are celebrated in a trophy room that contains an array of prizes ranging from the decidedly parochial Copa di Citta di Varese to assorted world cups.

History matters to Moto Guzzi, and the launch of the radical new Griso 1100 was drenched in nostalgia. Here were posters celebrating the "Otto Cilindri" made between 1955 and 1957 (yes, that's right, an eight-cylinder motorcycle) and the gorgeous 1970s V850 Le Mans, after which I lusted hopelessly through my teenage years.

The important question was starkly framed. Is Moto Guzzi a legend from motor cycling's past or a force for the future? Until the company was absorbed by the giant Piaggio group, Europe's largest maker of two-wheelers, prospects looked grim. Now, with the launch of the Griso there is a chance that this innovative Italian manufacturer can be both.

Griso is a hero from the novel The Betrothed. He is an Italian Robin Hood willing to fight all comers in the defence of justice. Moto Guzzi says its motorcycle is cast from the same mould, a macho machine designed to grip the tightest bends and blast up the steepest straights. It says it is unclassifiable according to traditional bike types.

The last bit is a claim too far. This is a naked performance bike designed to win business in the most rapidly expanding segment of the market for machines over 700cc capacity. But it is not dramatically inaccurate because the Griso does have a charisma and style entirely its own.

The first impression is of size. This is a muscular, chunky motorcycle. Its trademark Guzzi V-Twin bulges assertively from the tubes of a truly substantial frame. Viewed from behind the massive single exhaust resembles the business end of a Gatling gun.

Nothing since the 2400cc Triumph Rocket III has given such an instant impression of bulk. But this is not fat. The Griso resembles a fighting-fit boxer, not a dinosaur.

On paper, the Griso's characteristics offer little to suggest that it can compete with rivals such as the Yamaha MT01, Triumph Speed Triple and BMW K1200R. It generates maximum power of only 88 bhp. But this is about the most usable power I have ever encountered. Moto Guzzi claims the Griso was designed to "dance around the hairpins". It does, and it powers out of them, too, with that big Guzzi twin throbbing delightfully in your ears and up your spine.

Do not be fooled by the long, power-cruiser profile. The Griso's super-rigid frame delivers genuine agility. For most of my test-ride I carried a pillion passenger. Even two-up through a long series of tight bends the Griso brought a smile to my lips and a growing sense of confidence.

The shaft-drive system is sumptuous. Guzzi's classic design has been totally modernised to produce smooth, silent power delivery. It is integrated inside the single aluminium alloy swinging arm and gives charmingly precise, jerk-free power delivery. The six-speed gear box is admirably precise as well.

Many riders will be attracted by the Griso's looks. They are as distinctive as any Moto Guzzi have produced. The twin side panels that crown the cylinder heads just below the fuel tank are absolutely distinctive. Each bears Moto Guzzi's well-known eagle trademark. A blend of matt satin and high gloss chrome adds to the feeling of classy modernity.

The Griso is a traditional Moto Guzzi in the sense that it is distinctive and charismatic. But it has none of the agricultural performance characteristics or indulgent eccentricities that blighted its predecessors. The new engine is, of course, a 90 degree V-twin. Nothing else could carry the Moto Guzzi name. But it is lighter, smoother, slimmer and cleaner than any that have gone before.

It is only occasionally that a motorcycle emerges that is distinctive enough to deserve the term "classic". The Griso has that potential. It is beautiful enough to appeal to established Moto Guzzi fans but sufficiently sophisticated to delight newcomers to the brand. There are blemishes - the indicator switch is badly positioned, the pillion seat is a little bit too small, and the steering feels a little too light at high speed. But as a return to form the Griso is about as good as it gets.

If you haven't risked a Moto Guzzi because of fears about performance and reliability, I suggest you give this one a try. It will do more than turn heads.

Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Sport
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Life and Style
beauty
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

    £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

    Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

    £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

    PHP Web Developer (HTML5, CSS3, Jenkins, Vagrant, MySQL)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: PHP Web Develo...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice