While our Two Wheelin’ reporter Brian Robinson doesn’t speak Italian, he does ride Italian every chance he gets. And this time, he takes us for a ride on an Italian twin that’s a little different.

 When most people think Italian bikes, they think Ducati, maybe Aprilia, but Moto Guzzi has been making bikes for longer than both of those brands, and decided to celebrate their 90 years of motorcycle production with this bike, the Griso 8V SE.

BRIAN ROBINSON: Moto Guzzi labels this special edition Griso as “a unique bike for the most discerning and passionate enthusiasts.” Now what that means is Guzzi riders are a little different. And that’s probably because the bikes are a little different, as well. V-twin power may not sound all that unique, but Guzzi likes to mount their V-twins sideways. That means a cylinder sticking out both sides of the frame. Here, it’s the 8-valve version of their single overhead cam 1,151cc engine.  Horsepower is a healthy 110 and torque is an equally strong 80 pound feet. It's fuel injected and air-cooled. 

Attached to that 90-deegree V-twin, is a sweet looking 2-into-1 exhaust header which pushes burnt gases to a unique looking left side mounted muffler. It’s got a great rumble to it, and sends the goods through a 6-speed transmission, with single plate clutch, to a shaft final-drive and a 17-inch rear wheel with a 180 tire. 

Styling is based on historic Guzzi race bikes of the past, with satin green paint, spoke wheels, and brown leather tush cushion. It looks long and low, almost like a power cruiser, but riding position is more in sport-bike territory with low bars and high pegs. The tank is very long and holds 4.5-gallons, and the bike’s tubular steel frame wraps around it, not under it. 

The look might be throwback, but when it comes to riding, it’s all modern naked bike. There’s no wind protection of any kind to dull the sense of speed, so when you’re going fast, you know it which is easy to do with all of the torque being pumped out of this 488-pound retro-rocket.  3RD, 4TH, 5TH gear, doesn’t really matter, just whack the throttle and off you go. 

The suspension is fully adjustable both front and rear and gives a firm, well controlled ride. It’s quick to turn in and feels plenty stable throughout corners, with good front end feel. The overall drive-train is very smooth, with an easy to modulate clutch; and there’s no awkward feels from the shaft drive. 

Brakes are by Brembo, with radial mounted 4-piston calipers up front, and they work great almost feeling like overkill at times. Gauges are easily read at speed, with a large digital info display with big speedometer numbers, ambient temperature readout, and even a lap timer, with a trigger on the left hand grip. Mirrors are wide enough to be very useful. The kick stand is mounted at the front of the engine, and is very far forward, which took a little getting used to. 

Any “special edition” motorcycle usually comes with a special addition to the price tag, but the Griso 8V SE doesn’t seem that bad with $12,690 on the bottom line. 

Despite its rich motorcycle history, or maybe because of it, Moto Guzzi’s sales numbers have never been huge, especially here in the States. But, if you’re that passionate enthusiast looking for a unique bike that has lots of style and performance, that’s not a cruiser, then the Griso 8V SE might just be your cup of espresso.