I don’t know how the Italians do it. You’d think their machines possessed their own gravitational field, given how many people they tend to attract at any given time. Moto Guzzi’s isn’t terribly well known in this corner of the world, which is rather unfortunate. For the longest time, they’ve made bikes for the discerning gentleman biker; so deliciously distinct is their flavour that it’s hard to wash it down with a generic parallel or V-twin thrum, once you’ve tasted what their longitudinally mounted V-twins have to offer. And that’s what we have here – an unmistakably stylish, characterful performance cruiser, heralding a great many things for Moto Guzzi’s hopefully prosperous future in India.
It’s called the Moto Guzzi Audace (pronounced Awda- ché) and straight away, it manages to look dramatic and understated in a way most cruisers can’t. There’s that big, imposing, muscle bike front, with those chunky, longitudinally mounted cylinder heads popping out of either side, adding to its muscularity along with a fairly business-like, flat handlebar. There are just so many details to breathe in – the matt grey paint job, which is speckled with gold dust, the carbon-fibre fender (on a near 300kg bike) and a singular, round instrument cluster – every detail just makes this bruiser all the more endearing.
All Guzzis have a signature tilt to the right, when startedup – it’s a ceremonious event, which gets me all giddy with excitement whenever I thumb the starter. It also adds to the unique, muscle-y character of the bike. From there on, the engine is divinely smooth – smoother than most twincylinder configurations. Even though the 1400cc, air-cooled unit on the Guzzi isn’t the most urgent unit, there’s a velvety quality to the manner in which it picks up pace. Between the 3000-7000 rpm mark, the engine is a freight train – you can constantly feel the vast reserves of torque and machismo burbling under the surface. All of this goes rather well with the bike’s riding position, which is a cross between a standard motorcycle and a performance bike, in the way it has you leaning slightly forward towards the flat handlebar, along with forward-mid positioned footpegs. It’s quite different from the California, the big cruiser in Guzzi’s portfolio which shares its engine with the Audace. Sure, the California is a hoot to ride, but the leanforward seating position of the Audace makes the bike feel more playful.
What we like
Refinement; power; style
What we don’t
Price; requires premium fuel
The Audace is equipped with three riding modes – Veloce, Turismo and Pioggia. ‘Veloce’ is the most fun mode, with all the torque delivered at a lower rpm, along with increased braking performance. Turismo doesn’t quite alter the power levels, but it softens the engine braking and the overall performance. This means ‘Pioggia’ is the safest mode – ideal for wet conditions where power levels are dialled down. Given the fact that the bike weighs more than a quarter of a tone, it also brakes with reassuring ease.
Everything about this bike feels special. You’re not likely to see too many on the road, so it’s got an exclusivity factor like no other. This is also because, as a CBU, it costs quite a bit – Rs 19.94 lakh (ex-showroom, Pune) to be exact. But its attributes are so unique that it might just end up being the kind of cruiser you have to have. It’s got a lot more character than a lot of its contemporaries, even if it doesn’t quite have an edge in terms of performance – but there’s not a day that you won’t love riding it.