Monday, 3 December 2007

More bikes

I'm still testing, and rode Moto Guzzi's Griso 1100, Breva 850 and Sport 1200, as well as Aprilia's Tuono, Pegaso, and SXV550 (motard) recently.

What a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

I arrived at Paull's Motorcycles (Richmond) a bit early, so spent some time yarning and reminiscing with other blokes that had also fronted early. Strangely, it appeared that almost everyone had owned a Ducati bevel SS AND a Guzzi Le Mans at some time in their past. Hmmm... At least I know *I* was telling something close to the truth (my "SS" was actually a GTS modified to SS specs, including SS motor, SS front end, SS bars, SS fairing, etc). But memories are best left as memories, I think. I sat on an old SS that Paull's are selling, and was horrified by the ergos and heavy cable operated clutch. It wasn't like that, was it, surely? 20+ years seems to have done something to my once fit body...

Anyway, I was booked in for three rides (Griso 1100, Griso 850, Aprilia Shiver) - but only one was available, so I chose some others instead. There was a Shiver on display, but it wasn't prepped for riding, being too new. Most of the bikes were modified to some extent - aftermarket exhausts or performance chips.

First up was the Griso, Guzzi's answer to Ducati's Monster. It's a big, brassy beast, looking mean and raunchy, and sounding beautiful thanks to the Lavazzi (?) muffler. I was worried about the weight (227 kg dry), but didn't notice this at all when I was riding. The bars are a bit too laid back and wide for my tastes, but that's an easy fix. I loved it. It went plenty fast enough for me, despite being easily outpaced by the Tuono, had bags of grunt down low, and was still easy to ride, fast or slow. Good brakes and shaft drive. Excellent.

Then came the Sport 1200. A bit disappointing. I didn't like the ergos nearly as much as on the Griso, and the bar position was quite poor. I'm not sure if it was a consequence of gearing or the pipes, but it didn't seem to have the same grunt or top gear flexibility as the Griso. It felt bigger than the Griso as well, despite weighing less. Brakes were excellent. Aftermarket pipes meant it sounded good.

Oh dear. after the big Guzzis, I went out on the SXV Aprilia. A brilliant hoon bike, but I needed a stepladder to reach the so called seat (I think it was some drainpipe covered in vinyl). At ~120 kmh, it developed a most disconcerting weave - backing off or speeding up was the only solution. Brakes were great, and it could be stuffed up the inside (or round the outside) of almost anything in the corners. I found it uncomfortable, hard to keep the front wheel down, and it idled way too high (3k!!). The aftermarket exhaust sounded crappy. That said, if I wanted a suburban hoon bike, this bike, or similar, would be the way to go.

Next was the Guzzi Breva 850. This bike was bog standard, and frankly, plug ugly, but it felt great to ride. I wanted the Griso more, but if I'm honest, the Breva fitted me perfectly, and had more than enough go. It didn't have the grunt of the Griso, but revved out better. If it was better looking, I'd definitely be interested.

The Aprilia Pegaso was a bit disappointing. It felt so ...soft... is probably the best description, but I didn't realise it was only a 650 single, so there was no way it would have the get up and go of the others. I absolutely hated the mini fairing screen, which set up a horrible vibration in my helmet. If I was taller or shorter it would have been fine. Other than the fairing, and softness, there was nothing wrong with the bike at all, it did everything it was asked to do, but blandly.

Aah, the Tuono. A slightly tuned version of the motor in my Falco, and this is the bike I would lose my licence on quickest, no doubt about it. I won't say how fast I went, but it was *very* fast, even before I ducked down into the airpocket created by the screen (it's not a fairing). Brakes, handling and ergos were all brilliant (despite feeling very uncomfortable the times I've sat on them in the shops). The Tuono was a very nice bike to ride, and if I could trust myself to ride it sensibly, I'd buy one tomorrow. I can't.

Back on the Griso for one last loop, and while it felt a little flat after the Tuono, it was still more than enough for me. Add this to my list for serious consideration.

Interestingly, despite mainly being "naked" bikes, I didn't feel like a windsock on any of them. I think I'll reconsider some other nakeds that have attracted me in the past.

It's all good.

Tony F