Hello group! My name is Mike and I’d like to introduce myself. I apologize for what is going to be a long first post, but I think my riding resume will help you understand how I got here and I hope that my experience might be interesting to others like me.
I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 10 years old. I learned to ride on a Benelli Dynamo 65 (1 up 3 down shifter on the right..!). I’ve owned and ridden many bikes since then, including a Honda XR-80, a Hodaka Combat Wombat 125 and a Honda MR-250.
When I turned 18, I bought my first street bike. It was a 1981 Honda CX-500 Deluxe. Just in case you’re not familiar with the CX, it’s an upright bike built around an 80-degree transversely mounted V-Twin, liquid cooled with shaft drive. It’s sort of a copy of a Moto Guzzi.
The CX wasn’t something that I sought out; it was an opportunity buy. My girlfriend’s neighbor was selling it, I had just turned 18, it needed some work (had a coolant leak) and the price was right. I bought it, I fixed it and really fell in love with street riding. I didn’t know it at the time, but I also fell in love with the CX.
A few years later I sold the CX and bought a leftover Honda Interceptor. Man did I love that bike. But after about 4 years of ownership, I found myself getting reckless. I was doing stupid stuff that led to two minor crashes. A bit of body damage to the bike, a few sprains and some road rash. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed or wouldn’t heal, but I saw where this was going. I had bad impulse control. It was time to sell that bike before I got seriously hurt. I sold it and went back to the dirt.
I bought a Honda XR-600R and a trailer. My brother bought a CR-250. My brother, myself and some friends would go riding almost every weekend, and we’d make a day out of it. After being on the street for 6 years, returning to the dirt was tough. Dirt riding requires so much more skill than street, and the bike I had chosen was heavy. My riding skills improved exponentially as I learned to work that big thumper on the most challenging rides I had ever faced. 8 years in, my riding partner (my brother) moved to Florida. Without a riding buddy, I found that I wasn’t riding anymore. I decided to go back to the street.
I asked myself, “What kind of bike can I buy that won’t tempt me to do stupid stuff? I know…! I’ll get a Harley…!” I bought a new Sportster 1,200 Custom. Tons of chrome, great sound and with no fairings I bet it’s no fun above 65 mph…. What I didn’t anticipate is how much fun it would be below 65 mph…!
I quickly came to appreciate the big twin torque that could pull me out of turns like a catapult. And hey…, who knew that a Sportster could really carve turns….? OK, surprise number two. Wait, there’s more... The brakes on a Sportster actually work way better than you’d expect. You have to squeeze the front like you’re trying to break the lever off, but if you do that bike can stop on a dime. The bike has a long clunky shifter action, a 21” front wheel that makes the steering heavy yet very capable if you learn to make it work. I road the heck out of that Sporty and I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. At the time, we had many friends with bikes too. Every weekend 8-10 of us would go out for a nice ride in the Northwest hills of CT.
One day my wife expressed interest in getting her own bike. We bought a Ducati Monster 695 for her. The Duc is a really fun bike, but for me to really enjoy it I’d need a bigger one with more torque. The Harley has spoiled me.
Interestingly, I’ve been having this strange recurring dream since I bought the Interceptor back in 1987. I dream that I’m in my garage cleaning, I move a tarp and I find my old CX-500. I forgot that I had it. I get excited at the idea of riding it again. Weird…. I’ve owned some pretty cool hardware over the years yet I dream about my CX more than any of them... I guess that bike got under my skin, probably because it was my first real bike and because I had so much fun with it.
As the years slipped by, our riding group broke up. Friends got married, had kids, bought houses, and so on. I bought a Porsche Cayman S and became a track-rat. We had too many good weather hobbies. Our bikes sat for years with very little use, maybe a handful of rides per year.
This year I decided I’d like to start riding again. I miss it. I still have the Harley and the Duc, but I’ve always been interested in the Harley V-Rod. They don’t make them anymore so I started watching marketplace for nice clean used units. That’s when I came across a 2007 Moto Guzzi GRiSO with only 1,164 miles on it…! [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
I thought, “Oh man… Look at that thing…. It’s freaking beautiful…! It looks like a more modern, sportier CX-500. It’s like a cross between a CX and a V-Rod.”
I arranged to go see it. As soon as I set eyes on it, I was looking it over for indicators that the claimed mileage wasn’t authentic. “How could a 16-year-old bike possibly have such little mileage?”, I thought to myself. I looked at the date codes on the tires. I looked at the discoloration of the stainless pipes, the front of the engine for sand blasting, etc… The bike looked like new!
Bill (the seller) started the bike for me. I was immediately intrigued. It had a deep V-twin thump that I thought only a Harley could produce. Sure, it had a different and unique voice, but it was nice (the bike is equipped with a Staintune exhaust system). After chatting with Bill for a little while, I asked him if it would be possible for me to ride it. He asked for a refundable deposit and a promised to buy it if I broke it. We shook hands, I handed him some loot, pulled my helmet out of my car and threw a leg over it.
The road that Bill lives on is a nice winding road that I am pretty familiar with. I pulled out of his driveway and took a right. I rode up for a good 5 miles, then turned around and came back. On the way back to Bill’s house, I knew I was screwed. The GRiSO is really
fun to ride. It’s sporty, but not too sporty. It has an upright riding position that doesn’t have me leaning on my wrists. It’s torquey yet smooth. If you ask it to rev, it’s happy to do so. Downshift it and it gurgles and pops. It’s wide and long, but it drops into a turn almost telepathically. Now I know some might disagree with me on that last statement, but keep in mind I’ve been riding a Sportster, and riding it well, for the last 20 years. Compared to a Harley, the GRiSO is straight up amazing.
I ride on then start to notice some other personality traits. The bike twists when you blip the throttle for a downshift (reminiscent of the CX). It has a hard time coming off of closed throttle smoothly. The 1st gear engagement takes a little coaxing when stopped. The clutch sounds ridiculous when you pull it in. Yeah, it sounds like I’m bashing the bike now but I’m not. Remember, 20 years on a Harley. These idiosyncrasies make a bike lovable to me.
I got back to Bill’s place and told him to consider the bike sold. I picked it up the next day and I’ve put about 400 miles on it since. I’m still getting to know the bike, but I am absolutely loving it, for all the reasons I mentioned earlier and more. The bike is beautiful and unique. I’m not a kid anymore, my impulse control has matured. On the Harley I learned that you don’t need blinding horsepower to have fun. You need personality, and the GRiSO has a LOT of personality.
I’m in love with the bike. I can’t stop thinking about it. So much so that I took the time to write this ridiculously long post to a bunch of strangers. But somehow, I suspect you guys get it…. I’m really looking forward to this summer….. Thanks for listening and thanks in advance for all of the great knowledge I know I will find here.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]