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2009 Sportster XR1200 vs Moto Guzzi Griso 8v

Monday, 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?

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Burnoutartist -HD/Guzzie  December 25, 2009 07:11 PM
I love the sound of that Harley Davidson, it sounds like a small block V-8 with a racing cam. The Sportster gets my money and a little extra for some increased displacement of about 100 cubic inches and some head work. That should raise the HP to over 100.
Mandello Jason -MG craps on HD  May 12, 2009 12:43 AM
Milwaukee Mike, your comments on this article are just as intelligent as the one you made in the last MG 1200 Sport test (assuming you are the same idiot?). Just reinforces my opinion that many Harley fans are morons, and can’t seem to spell……
Russ -Wrong conclusion, mike  May 10, 2009 10:01 PM
Hey milwaukee mike, read it again. They're calling this one a draw.
milwaukee mike -HD vs MG  April 30, 2009 05:43 AM
Your review shows that the sportster is the clear winner in this comparison. So it just proves what I've been saying for so long,....if you want the best,....then buy a Harley or you're just throwing yuor money away!
Jeremy -Frackin UGLY both of them  April 28, 2009 02:45 PM
Frackin UGLY both of them
andy -sorry  April 24, 2009 02:46 PM
sorry ..but I find them both ugly as fook!!
Drunkula -I'm a sportbike guy...  April 23, 2009 09:55 AM
... but I gotta say that XR is the first non-bagger HD I even contemplated owning. I really like the looks of it and it sounds like a blast to ride!
NBS -Griso all the way baby  April 21, 2009 08:53 AM
MG seems to have changed the ergos on the Griso enough from a couple of years back that it fits me -- instead of my knees literally hitting the cylinder heads. Guzzi's are a blast to ride and though big, there's something visceral about 'em. I sat on it, and heard it running, but I can't wait for a MG test ride day. The thing is sexy in a real world way.