There are days when I want to get astride a motorcycle and wring the throttle, and discover the laws of physics on my own. Then there are days when I just want to take it easy on a motorcycle humming the same tune that’s been playing in my head. And then there are days when I want to do both. One motorcycle for such days is the Moto Guzzi Audace.
In theory, the Moto Guzzi Audace is a cruiser. And it is really, with a stretched-out yet relaxed riding position. However, so is the Moto Guzzi California. Let’s be honest, the two motorcycles are actually the same. The change in the name comes from the wider, blacked out drag-bars, footpegs instead of footboards, and a carbonfibre front mudguard.
Look at the motorcycle from the side, and you can see that the main focus of the motorcycle is comfort, but you also notice that the entire design gives out a sense of power. Though it might not look quite as big in the pictures, it is actually quite large.
The speedometer is quite large, with a red-needled analogue tachometer and a round digital display overlaying this. The handlebars are flat and wide. They add to the aggressive look of the motorcycle, and also provide good leverage. The tank when measured across seems to never end. And then there is the longitudinally mounted engine sticking out on each side.
The palm grips are soft, and the footpegs have ample grip too. The split seat made of faux leather, is large and comfortable, and is on the softer side. Pillions will, however, complain of discomfort even on a short ride. The tail-lamp is split into two rows of lights, also incorporating the turn indicators.
The Audace has a 1,380cc, longitudinally mounted, V-twin, fuel-injected and air and oil-cooled motor. Cranking the massive engine needs more than a dab. The Moto Guzzi Audace starts up with an exhilarating bark, but later settles down into a more muted note–quiet and understated. Once you have it going, you feel the characteristic longitudinal vibrations, which make way for silky smooth performance above 2,000rpm.
The three riding modes – Sporty, Wet and Touring – take control of fuel delivery, while a three- level traction control system checks wheelspin. As a result, you often find yourself confident enough to whack the throttle wide open, despite the bike's intimidating size and power.
Revs climb fast, and the limiter is hit at 7,000rpm. Power is spread quite well across the rev range, and all of the 96bhp of power is delivered at 6,500rpm. Torque is a healthy 12.3kgm at 3,000rpm, which is evident from the initial tug you feel.
The engine is backed by a light hydraulic clutch mated to a six-speed gearbox, which feels just shy of smooth. The final drive is shaft, and as the motorcycle speeds up, it makes a beautiful whine so typical to exotic machines seen in the movies, giving the perfect soundtrack to a quick dash on the highway.
The big Moto Guzzi’s footpegs are forward-set, but not too much as to stretch you out more than you’d like. Shorter riders might run into some problems though. Since the Audace is a cruiser in reality, it gets a top-class cruise control system, which can be engaged anywhere over 40kph. It also gives you a leeway of 30kph as acceleration for overtaking manoeuvres on the highway.
Behind the scene
The front has conventionally mounted 45mm forks, while at the rear, there’s an alloy swingarm with the shaft-drive encased, and fully adjustable dual shock absorbers. These were set rather soft on our test bike, but for a motorcycle that weighs just under 300kg, it works well and can, of course, be adjusted. A stiffer setup though will help those looking to ride the Audace fast.
The Audace wheels are shod with 130/70 section tyres in front, and 200/60 section rubber at rear, with adequate grip. Braking is by Brembo – 320mm floating dual discs in the front, and a single 282mm rear disc. ABS is standard and not switchable. Bite from the brakes is powerful, and the motorcycle sheds speed impressively fast. However, when braking hard, the ABS kicks in quite early, and leaves us wanting even grippier tyres, or a multi-level ABS system.
Fit and finish is top notch on the Moto Guzzi Audace, and fine details have been paid good attention too. For example, the switchgear is ergonomic, and has nice feedback when you use it. The seat is very well finished, and has red stitching on it.
Despite its weight, the Moto Guzzi Audace is surprisingly good-handling motorcycle. The weight, however, is more than evident only while parking. Out on the highway, it rides well, barely protesting to steering inputs.
Yay or nay?
At Rs 19.94 lakh (ex-showroom, Pune), this isn’t a cheap motorcycle, but owning one definitely has some perks. Having ridden the Ducati Diavel and a Street Bob just a few days ago, I always thought that I was impressed with massive V-Twin cruisers. Now that I’ve ridden this exotic Italian, which has so much more character and spice, I know which set of keys to call dibs on when given the choice. The Audace clearly has us giving it a big grin and an even bigger thumbs up.