DARK RIDE OF THE SOUL ON A BIG, BOLD ITALIAN CRUISER
It’s big, it’s bold — and no, it’s not a Milwaukee-built Harley-Davidson. But Moto Guzzi’s Audace makes its presence felt everywhere you take it.
In the bike’s homeland of Italy, Audace means “bold”. It’s rare for a bike to be so well-named.
As one of Moto Guzzi’s latest cruisers, the Audace has to make an impact to stand out from its siblings, which are based on the company’s California model, and it does. Whether you’re cruising down to a cafe for an espresso or sparking up at the golf club, this bike gets attention.
Powered by a 1380cc version of Moto Guzzi’s engine of choice, a transverse 90 degree V-Twin, the Audace explodes with character — from the dark, muscular looks through to that oh-so-characteristic rock to the right when you rev up.
The nameplate is special to Italians. Formed by WWI veterans in 1921, Guzzi is the oldest motorcycle manufacturer in continuous production in Europe. That says a lot when you have the likes of BMW, Triumph and Ducati as competitors.
Being in such premium company comes with a premium price, but you get a lot for your $28,990.
Starting up front is a carbon fibre mudguard which — apart from emphasising the “sport” tag to this muscly sport cruiser — also saves a bit of weight. The big 1400cc Audace weighs only 299kg before you fill up the 20.5-litre tank.
A single beam lights the road, unlike the very cool LED unit found on its sister bike, the new Eldorado. The traditional unit suits the no-nonsense Audace. The 1380cc oil and air cooled engine produces 71kW at 5000 rpm, but it is the 121Nm from just 3000 rpm that makes this engine so much fun. It sounds great too, thanks to the big twin pipes.
The dash cluster is a brilliant piece of tech.
You won’t find any chrome plating on this bruiser of a cruiser, with the Audace designed to show off the serious and brooding ‘dark soul’ of the brand. The entire bike is matte-blacked out from the fuel tank to the tip of the tailpipes.
Huge 320mm front brake rotors are clamped by Brembo four-piston calipers and ABS to bring the Guzzi to a stop.
One of the best parts of the Audace is the dash cluster. With the outward appearance of an analogue unit, Moto Guzzi has sneakily combined a digital display with an analogue tachometer that sweeps around the periphery of the gauge.
The result? You know exactly how fast you’re going, thanks to a digital speedo, but have the ability to cycle through rider modes, check your gear position, and a host of other things while watching the revs sweep around this brilliant piece of tech.
The carbon fibre mudguard saves weight.
One of my few complaints about the Audace was the angle that the wide drag bar put on my hands and wrists — placing pressure towards one side of my hands instead of an even spread.
With centre-positioned footpegs, your knees and shins are tucked in behind the huge engine heads.
It was raining when I picked up the Guzzi and the benefit was that I didn’t get wet legs because the huge air-cooled engine kept them nice and dry.
Cornering ability is nothing to be scoffed at, with the Audace having more than enough lean angle to really hustle through corners.
One thing that riders will have to get used to is the rock to the right when applying throttle.
At speed and in a straight line it is barely noticeable, but when accelerating away from traffic lights you feel the inertia roll you rightwards as the monstrous torque builds up.
This roll is useful when accelerating out of left-hand turns, with the bike feeling much lighter to get upright than it does when fighting out of a right-hand bend.
On the highway there’s cruise control thanks to the ride-by-wire throttle, which also allows the three rider modes, but activating it is a little fiddly as you have to hold down the cruise button located on the same side as the throttle.
So, with competition heating up in the muscle bike segment, Moto Guzzi has — hands down — the most characterful and attention-seeking offering so far. It has more than earned the wings emblazoned on its tank.