The English translation of 'gran passo', according to my dodgy online translator, is 'big step'
That seems appropriate enough, because it's certainly a big step up onto the Morini's 820mm-high seat. Yes, this is a lanky machine, but don't worry if you're a vertically challenged, as there's a lower-seat option on the way, we're told.
With the Granpasso, Moto Morini makes little effort to disguise the fact it is trying to break into the market currently dominated by BMW's R1200GS. The Bologna factory has been quite daring in this mission, and certainly hasn't opted for making a cheaper, diluted copy of the big Beemer. On the contrary, the Morini is, if anything, the more adventurous machine. While the BMW is a great distance-muncher, it lacks character and nippiness when the roads open up. You can't level this complaint against the Granpasso; it's powered by the same, rip-snorting 1,187cc V-twin motor as the Corsaro and shares its chassis with the brilliant 9 ½ - a combination giving a level of sportiness that rivals Triumph's bend-loving Tiger.
The lazy motor is superbly suited to this type of bike, giving ample grunt and as plenty of usability – but not at the expense of personality. “Creamy delivery and plenty of punch,” enthuses Simon in his launch report, “Whether it's lazily cruising in top or crawling through traffic, the motor behaves at all times – allowing you to misbehave at will.” Indeed, the Morini revels in the kind of naughtiness that would have the BMW running to the Polizei. Wheelies are simple, and the power-laden engine encourages sportsbike-worrying eagerness through the sweepers.
Does the quirky Italian hide any unwanted idiosyncrasies? One or two, yes, but nothing terrible. Simon notes that the neutral light sometimes stays illuminated when the bikes in gear, and “it won't start on the button without re-initiating the key”. Its off-road pretensions are nothing more than that, pretensions. It's simply too heavy to perform well on tricky terrain, and the non-adjustable forks don't provide enough support on anything worse than bumpy Tarmac. So, it's hardly a dual-purpose machine, but the Granpasso could certainly make a practical long-distance tourer. It has a generous, 25-litre tank and comfy riding position, although the weather-protection could be better.
Who will this bike appeal to? Anyone who wants an adventure-sports bike with quirky styling – without joining the masses of wannabe-Charleys on their hard-luggage'd GS's. This is the big trailie for riders who aren't quite ready for straggly beards and sensible shoes.
•Engine: l/c, 8v, DOHC, V-twin, 1,187cc
•Bore & stroke: 107 x 66mm
•Compression ratio: 12.5:1
•Carburation: Magneti Marelli EFI
•Power: 118bhp@8,000rpm (claimed)
•Torque: 77lbft@7,000rpm (claimed)
•Frame: Verlicchi steel tubular trellis
•Suspension: (F) 50mm non-adjustable Marzocchi USD forks (R) Ohlins monoshock, fully adjustable
•Brakes: (F) twin 298mm discs, two-piston Brembo calipers (R) 255mm disc, two-piston caliper
•Wheels/tyres: (F) 110/80 – 19, (R) 150/70 – 17; Metzeler Tourance EXP
•Fuel capacity: 25 litres
•Dry weight: 198kg
•Contact: Three Cross Motorcycles (01202 823344)