In 2014 I started a year long search for my next motorbike, with three requirements.
1) The new bike had to be air cooled
2) No Chain
3) Easy for me to service
Note: my budget was $10k AUD, max.
Naturally MG was the only real choice, sure Beemers, and some belt drive bikes met conditions 1 and 2, but not 3), so in the end, I found a 2008 GRiSO in Sydney and rode it the 900km home to the Northern Rivers in New South Wales.
The GRiSO was love at first sight (boy has that emotion cost me dearly a few times before;), I bought it on the spot after hearing it run, I didn't even take it for a test ride. There was also a slightly cheaper, same year, same mileage, immaculate looking KTM 990 SuperDuke, which caught my eye, but I couldn't even swing a leg over without needing a ladder, besides, it broke rule number 2 above.
I rode the GRiSO home, it ran perfectly, but every pothole was spine jarring torture, yes the rear suspension was shagged and bottoming out. The previous owner had just dropped it off at the bike shop with shagged suspension, shagged tyres and in need of a roller cam follower conversion. "Carefully maintained" the seller said, or something like that. I'm reminded of Pete Ropers 'seller ethics' comments recently when I think about it.
Nevertheless, I think it worked out ok, because in the end I got the bike under $10k, it had 30,000km on it, and is in pretty good condition. It had the Guzzi saddlebags, a 'Agostini' pressure formed muffler fitted and the original boat anchor muffler.
I rode the bike 5000km while waiting for my appointment with Paul Rooney who kindly agreed to look at the GRiSO and do what was needed. Paul is a busy man and the waiting queue is long. I was beginning to wonder if the GRiSO really did handle well as it took so much effort to turn in and would not hold the line well. I struggled to keep to the posted speed limit on corners and would hold cars up behind me.
A time passed stupid little questions began to form in my mind, was the GRiSO designed to be pretty at the expense of handling ?
After Paul had finished with the GRiSO, it had a much stronger Honda Monoshock spring, and the forks and rear shock had been dismantled and reconditioned. The improvement in handling even with shagged tyres was startling and my doubts started to recede.
Next was a set of new Mitchelin Pilot 4's. A few more months went by as I waited for the end of summer. I checked everything, tappets, inspected the sump, changed the engine oil and filter, checked the other oil levels, etc while waiting for the cooler and drier winter weather up here.
My first real run after everything was done (except the roller cam followers) was about 300km to the Hinze Dam in Queensland with around 12 other riders, most of whom have new late model bikes. The suspension no longer killed me on large bumps (tho it's still 'firm', but definitely no more bottoming out). I noticed I still needed to put a little effort into hard cornering, but the GRiSO was cornering 100% better than before and it was a great ride. The standard seat is fine with me, but don't those Corbins look pretty ?
Yesterday was the real break thru tho, and I think after a lifetime of bike riding, I have just experienced the best handling bike EVER!
I had read a couple of forum comments about dropping the front forks to the 6th ring in the yokes, which claimed that the bike would turn in easier while stability was unchanged, so that's what I did and man oh man, the ride from Casino to Tenterfield yesterday was a revelation for me. That ride has all kinds of turns on mostly excellent mountainous (small mountain ok ?) road, some turn back in on themselves and are signposted at 35kmph.
For the first time EVER in my life I had a bike that just held the line I wanted, no complaints, rock solid, no bias either way. If there were ripples and repaired potholes, I felt them, but the GRiSO did not alter the line one bit!
I have *never* experienced this kind of handling before, tho perhaps a GSXR750 came close many years ago.
I found that I was now cornering at 20kph OVER the rated corner speeds and it seemed easy, I was still in my comfort zone. I could have gone faster, but hey I'm 62 , *not a road racer*, and the only rush I'm into is the rush to stay OUT of hospital ;-).
My day now consisted of smooth stable corners, no wobbles, no shakes, no wandering off the line ... my confidence grew and grew, cars behind me receded into the distance as I left them further and further behind.
Gobs of torque, that wonderful Guzzi 8V 1200cc transverse V twin engine. I was even right behind the clubs back markers and could have overtaken at least one, but I'm in no rush.
So finally I know the truth, it's taken me 12 months to find out, but it's true .... THE GRiSO HANDLES !
The GRiSO is the most confidence inspiring bike I've ever owned, and I've owned the odd one or two ... ( [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
I returned home feeling like a master of the road, cars became slow again, a minor irritation as I blasted by, rarely even needing to go above 4-5000 rpm.
Many thanks to everyone in this forum who has posted lGriso hints and gems of wisdom, you have helped me get to this point, I couldn't have done it without you!