2009 Sportster XR1200 vs Moto Guzzi Griso 8v

Adam Waheed | April 20, 2009
Harley-Davidson Sportster XR1200 vs. Moto Guzzi Griso 1200 8V
There’s nothing like the look, feel, and of course the sound of big air-cooled Twins. Motorcycle USA pits America’s Harley-Davidson Sportster XR1200 against Italy’s Moto Guzzi Griso 1200 8V in this comparison.

Way back when, before the modern proliferation of liquid-cooled sportbikes there were styled air-cooled motorcycles. Devoid of any flashy bodywork these machines could be recognized by their rounded headlight, swept handlebar and steel frame; wedged within, a loud, rough-running air-cooled V-Twin engine. In those days, your coolness factor was measured by the size of the finned metal V between your legs.

Things in the two-wheeled world have changed considerably since, and, while in sporting form the naturally-cooled engine configuration has taken backseat to the liquid-cooled set-up (for a number of reasons, including: smoother running, less noise and more power when displacement is compared tit-for-tat). What it can’t mimic is an air-cooled engine’s shake, rattle and roll—the fundamental building blocks of an engaging ride.

It’s also difficult to top in terms of aesthetics. Think about it: How much better does the uncluttered appearance of a finned engine as compared to the dense, industrial packaging of a liquid-cooled unit?

Which leads us to our two contenders in this sport classic air-cooled motorcycle comparison: The 2009 Harley-Davidson Sportster XR1200 and the Moto Guzzi Griso 1200 8V.

Although it was designed and assembled right here in the U.S., oddly enough, the folks over at Harley-Davidson originally planned on keeping its new XR sporting creation for European consumption only. However, response from those who attended last year’s Spanish press introduction was so overwhelming that word literally spread to the suits and ties in Milwaukee. A few short months later the XR is now available right here in the good ol’ U S of A where it belongs.

The Griso, on the other hand, has been around since 2006. It’s how Italy does big air-cooled sport. However, for this year it got a significant upgrade in the form of a new, larger, 8-valve engine. But will it be enough to hold off the attack from Harley’s latest sporting entry?

Adam Waheed

Road Test Editor | Articles | Adam's insatiable thirst for life is only surpassed by his monthly fuel bill. Whether rocketing on land, flying through the air, or jumping the seas, our Road Test Editor does it all and has the scars to prove it.