Test Drives

May 31, 2017

Moto Guzzi Audace: Class of its own

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Style meets muscle in Italian cruiser
Its name—which means bold and is pronounced Audaché in the language of Rossi—evokes brute force, courage, and fearlessness. All words that actually apply very well to this big, bad Italian bike. It looks like a muscle bike. Proud and ferocious, and in a way it is exactly that, but with the added touch of pure and simple lines, high-end finishing details and a perfect combination of parts. Visually, nothing is out of place on this bike. It is fluid from its fat rear tire to its superb front wheel. No bolt or weld stands out. This ride is long and low and seems to look at you saying: “Don’t even try to tame me.” Okay, I may be pushing things a bit, but this is a motorcycle that exudes confidence.

It is a conventional power cruiser spiced with the all-Italian recipe of Moto Guzzi. After an hour behind its handlebar, one word that came to mind was comfortable. Indeed, every element of this high-performance motorcycle combines to give a pleasant riding experience.

The dials are beautiful, the displays are just as elegant. Even the buttons on the handlebar give the impression that Moto Guzzi has a design division exclusively dedicated to drawing buttons and dashboards. At my first stop, I had to look twice to find out why the bike wasn't starting. I had simply inadvertently pushed the cute little push button that acts as the kill switch.

The saddle is covered in “faux-leather” and beautifully stitched in red. It is just firm enough to ensure good support and just soft enough to allow hours or comfortable riding. It is also well positioned at 29 inches off the ground and positioned well behind the gas tank rather than a little above it. The footpads are quite forward creating a long and dominant riding position. This positioning also offers two advantages: at this height a portion of the upper body finds itself protected from the wind by the huge front fork, the big round headlight and the long and relatively high gas tank.

The handlebar is almost straight and quite large. The result is a successful street look but it requires the average-height rider to work a little harder to reach the controls. But hey, wadyawant? One has to sacrifice a little comfort to have this look. If I were to make this my personal bike, I would look for options offered to give me a better reach to the handlebar.

Thanks in part to the new exhaust system with redesigned fluid dynamics, the lively 1380 cc mill emits a raucous and intoxicating sound—a key element for this type of bike. The 90-degree V engine puts the heads prominently on each side of the tank. To add to the bad boy look, almost everything is blacked out. The only accents remaining on this bike are the engine fins, which were left untouched. On the twisty roads where I rode the Audace, it prompted me to bully it, to ask it for more. Each time it would pull hard on my arms bringing me to the dark side. As I am not the most reasonable guy, I got carried away by the beautiful Italian. Unfortunately for it, I was quick to rub its footpegs on the hot asphalt as soon as a sharp curve arose. Despite its limited ground clearance, the footpegs are high enough to allow respectably fast cornering speeds.

The suspension on this bike is certainly the work of a rider who got kicked in the butt once too often. Despite the limited suspension travel, I felt like I was sitting on a cloud. Only on a few backroads where maintenance is surely provided by an excavation company was the comfort of my posterior affected. With stretched arms and an arched back, my body served as a secondary suspension component.

The fork rake angle is a pronounced 33 degrees. Combined with its weight it reduces the fork feedback. If you add the wide handlebar forcing us to make wide movements, the rider must remain vigilant and ensure an optimal position on corner entry.

This bike made me think of James Bond going Italian and getting into crossfit. It has a typical Italian flair with a good dose of mechanical sensations. The engine is omnipresent: you feel it, you hear it and it responds positively to all your requests. Moreover, Italian design excellence is obvious from every angle.

Moto Guzzi engineers and designers were actually bold when they decided to attack the power cruiser market. An already well-stocked segment considering the relative weakness of demand for this type of motorcycle. Indeed, the V-Max, Diavel, XDiavel, Honda Valkyrie, Triumph Rocket III and so on offer a strong competition for the Audace. Nevertheless it is able to offer something different that can make and take its place in this coveted market. With a touch of class and more than respectable performance it is neither as convincing nor as outrageous as, say, a Diavel, but it offers something different in terms of looks, finish and comfort. Something that will surely appeal to the wealthy thrill seeking riders.