Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

When in Rome ... Get on Your Bike

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

When in Rome ... Get on Your Bike

Article excerpt

Byline: HARRIET RIDLEY

MOTO Guzzi launched its 2009 machines in Italy's historic capital Rome. I grew up in the Eternal City and, as a teenager, I'd always dreamt of riding motorcycles down these cobbled streets. If only my dad hadn't banned me from bikes... Yet here I am in Rome 15 years later straddling a proper motorcycle, Moto Guzzi's Griso SE 8V with its unique, hunky style and strong, torque-laden engine. One side of the bike is all chrome and flowing exhausts, the other is all big engine, single-sided swingarm and hefty Guzzi-patented shaft drive system.

This 2009 Special Edition gets little more than a fabulously retro, matt green paintjob and tan leather seat to set it apart from the original.

But any excuse to travel to Italy to ride this shapely motorcycle is a good one.

Fire up the engine and the strong side swaying from the air-cooled 1,151cc, 90[bar] transverse-V engine with eight valves almost knocks me off my feet. It's the action and reaction caused by those famous transverse cylinders with the crank that spins sideways instead of front to back.

After an initial strong sway, the Griso settles down and you can feel the torque oozing out of every engine bolt. You can take a slow corner in a high gear and there's still enough grunt to drag you round then propel you manfully forward to the next turn.

The riding position is comfortable and imposing. You're sitting on top of the Griso rather than in it, ready to attack the road ahead. While the seat is low, the bike is wide so shorter people would struggle to touch the ground. At five-foot-six I'm ok, although the weird positioning of the sidestand way out in front means I need a telescopic leg to reach it.

Despite the massive and heavy shaft drive contraption, the bike handles beautifully, no doubt because the weight is carried low.

Rather than dropping sharply into corners, the Griso obediently goes where you want it to, remaining stable and reassuring. What a bike.

After stretching the Griso's legs along the twisting roads by Lake Bracciano on the outskirts of Rome, we head back to the centre. …

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