Moto Guzzi Audace Review Test Ride
2016 Moto Guzzi Audace – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Moto Guzzi Audace Review

Bike Tested: Moto Guzzi Audace; Road Test No. 675

Price OTR Pune Rs. 23,11,161/-

The Moto Guzzi Audace is something of a character that will tease your delinquent inner and will redefine your perception of ‘bad’

Somewhere along an old deserted highway, you find yourself staring at a mysterious black unidentified object parked before you, and you start to wonder “When did I turn so bad?”. That is when you realise you’ve been always ‘Born Bad’. The tagline that the Audace flaunts, which if you come to think of it, is still an underrated one. The Moto Guzzi Audace is not your typical bad boy cruiser in town, its soul is so dark that I can’t help but speculate what exactly the Italians are up to while designing motorcycles (read Ducati Diavel). With Piaggio opening its Motoplex (Pune) last year, we couldn’t let go of the opportunity to test ride the Audace. Anyway, find out what lessons I learned in a class consisting of the bad boy, the Moto Guzzi Audace.

Motor Quest: The Moto Guzzi Audace is one of the multiple bikes based on the California platform which has been in production since 1971. The Audace was introduced in the US in the summer of 2015 and subsequently made its way to India.

The front fat forks and round headlight speak nothing but class

Styling – Pretty much of the styling is based on its sibling, the California 1400. But what differentiates the Audace from its other siblings is the classic elegant vintage look replaced by tough old mean looks. The matte black styling all over is partly what gives the Audace its bold character. With a slightly sleeker body, the Audace gets an all-black theme that includes the wheels, the engine and the twin exhausts on either sides. The funniest part about this 299 kg bike is that it gets a carbon fibre front fender with just a Moto Guzzi sticker on it, which is rather odd. The most striking feature of the Audace is the neutrally shaped tank which features a cut for the twin cylinders bulging outwards.

The tail-tidy makes the rear look even chunkier than it is

The Audace carries some bits of the California styling yet somehow looks a complete class apart from the latter

The front gets a conventional round headlamp that complement very well with the massive 45 mm forks. Atop the headlamp is the stylish easy to read instrument cluster. The Audace sports the blackened 24-spoke alloys that add to its animal magnetism. The rear fender is rather curvy as opposed to the rest of the bike and has a different appeal altogether. Integrated into it are the split strips of LEDs as tail lamps along with turn signal LEDs. Although our test bike had a missing number plate holder below the rear fender, I have to admit, it’s one of the most badass tails I’ve ever seen!

Not a lot going on here. The display is adequately sized and neat looking

Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – The instrument cluster on the Audace is an interesting and unique one. It’s surprising how much information is displayed in such a compact space. The entire gauge is a single circular unit with a tachometer at the outer periphery that surrounds the digital display. The digital display has loads of information at the bottom that could be toggled. It also continuously displays information like current atmospheric temperature, speed in km/hr, gear selected, fuel gauge and the current riding mode.

Notice the integrated starter and engine kill switch

The switchgear used is a similar one seen on other Piaggio premium products. The right unit contains the cruise control, hazard light switch and the starter switch integrated with the engine kill switch. The starter switch is a dual function one; ignition and riding mode selection. The riding mode of course can only be selected after the engine is turned on. The cruise control switch is somewhat difficult to use on the run with gloves as it fails to be completely pressed and requires some getting used to it. The left unit contains the horn switch, turn indicator, mode selection for the display and a pass light switch with the beam control incorporated into it. Overall finish of the switchgear is pretty good and is easy to use.

The soft seat and footpegs are comfortable but the straight handlebar negates the effect

Ergonomics – Just like any other cruiser, the Audace will seat you low and force you to broaden your chest, gathering all the pride to take control of it. The seat is really comfortable and with the footpegs placed just about right to give you that typical chopper feel without compromising on practicality. Even for a short rider like me, the handlebar and the footpegs were placed at a comfortable distance. Now here’s where being short paid off for me, my knees were conveniently away from the hot V-twin heads popping out on either sides. However, the Audace can even accommodate taller riders; thanks to its long and wide seat, there’s enough room for practically all rider types. The pillion seat is also well cushioned and sufficiently sized. The only discomfort I faced was with the straight handlebar. The wrists start to hurt really bad on longer cruises as they tend to stay parallel to the body rather than being curved a little towards the inside. However, this is how the creators of the Audace seem to have intended it to be, for this is what makes it look so hardcore.

Who thought cruisers could corner so well?

Performance – The Moto Guzzi Audace houses a 1380cc, 90-degree V-Twin engine that puts out a solid 96 BHP at 6500 RPM and churns out an impressive 121 Nm of torque at 3000 RPM. Although the figures do not look very impressive for a 1380cc engine, they are enough to justify the kind of grunt the Audace boasts. The ride by wire throttle control works very well with the Magneti Marelli fuel injection system and the torque is very well felt in the acceleration. The Audace has a kind of engine that wants to rev more but is restricted due to its technical specifications and does just about what it possibly can.

The punchy mid-range helps in faster corner exits

Despite the massive 1400cc V-twin engine, the Audace can be easily tamed

Three riding modes are featured in the Audace. Beginning with Pioggia, the engine is really tuned down as the power and torque are both restricted for low grip scenarios (apparently), those typically faced in wet weather. The performance is mellowed down which makes the engine really sluggish even for urban use. The Tourismo mode is my personal favourite as it has a very linear delivery all the way up to the 8000 RPM redline. It makes the bike really, really easy to ride in almost any condition!

The Euro 4 compliant 1380cc V-twin engine boasts 121 Nm of torque

The Veloce mode is not very different from the Tourismo mode. Since the peak power isn’t very high, the difference in torque can be substantially felt from the moment the clutch is released in this mode. But again, thanks to the excellent gearing, the bike is very much manageable in urban conditions in this mode as well. In addition to the riding modes, the Audace features three level traction control system which could be fiddled with on the go. The most interesting part about the electronics is the provision to connect your smartphone wirelessly to the motorcycle and gain live telemetry data like instant and average fuel consumption, longitudinal acceleration and much more. The electronics package for the cruiser is a bit of an overkill but undoubtedly brings a level of sophistication to the Audace.

The Audace is bold enough to keep up on high speed rides

Riding Dynamics – Hop on to the Moto Guzzi Audace, and the very first thing you notice is the straight handlebar forcing your wrists to be in an unusual position. Combine it with a super heavy clutch and you’ve got yourself a new exercise regime. The gearing being pretty tall, however saves too much gear shifting in urban traffic. The footpegs also aren’t too forward biased and provide a comfortable riding stance. While some would say the footpegs are too stubby, they have decent amount of rubber to accommodate all kinds of riding boots.

Except for the super-straight and wide handlebar, the Audace is fairly easy to maneuver

The Audace is a fantastic handling machine and does not let you miss out on fun irrespective of road conditions

The most striking phenomenon about the transverse V-twin engine is its tendency to rock towards the right when accelerated, however, it never really interfered with the riding experience. While a weight of 299 kgs seems intimidating, the Audace is extremely easy to handle, thanks to its low seat height and the straight handlebar. The characteristic long wheelbase of the cruiser also does not stop the Audace from tackling corners. With the twin exhausts on either sides, its CG feels very well balanced and the bike leans into tight corners with much confidence which is quite impressive for a cruiser.

The Audace definitely has a massive road presence

The ride quality of the Audace has a polished feel to it and there are absolutely no vibrations at all. As much as the massive engine vibrates at idling, thanks to the elastic kinematic engine mounts, the vibrations magically disappear when the bike is set in motion. The ride-by-wire throttle works wonders for the Audace and has just the right amount of sensitivity to it. The cruise control feature is easy to use on the go and is smart enough to adapt to overtaking maneuvers providing the rider a 30 km/hr window. Once braked, it goes into standby and can be activated with just one short press while deactivating it completely requires a long uncomfortable press of about 5 seconds.

The black engine head with tiny bits of chrome is an absolute masterclass!

The Moto Guzzi Audace typically being an urban cruiser, misses out on a windshield which therefore puts a limit to its highway cruising abilities. The wind blast up to 140 km/hr is somewhat bearable but the bike is still stable at higher speeds. The suspension setup is aptly designed and can tackle typical Indian urban roads. The smallest of potholes aren’t even felt when passed on and the bigger ones are taken care of by the 110 mm travel front forks and the dual rear shock absorbers.

Twin exhausts and a badass tail give the Audace its animal magnetism

Verdict – The Moto Guzzi Audace has much more to offer than just fancy electronics and bad boy styling. With the right amount of wildness, the Audace sure does carry it all with sophistication. As much as raw it looks, each and everything about it is crafted with so much finesse. Talk about all-matte-black theme, the 1400cc V-twin, shaft drive, three level traction control, and you could go on and on. It carries with it a class like no other. With a price tag of Rs. 23 lakhs (OTR Pune), the Audace may not be the best for what you pay, but certainly stands out from the rest. When you finally snap out of the trance that makes you ask why you’ve been so bad, a grin on your face as you crank the V-Twin, will automatically set things straight as you ride off into the badlands.

The Moto Guzzi Audace is easily one of the best cruisers in India. Its hypnotising personality is enough to sell itself. With a brand value of that of Moto Guzzi, the Audace is definitely worthy of being called a premium cruiser as it lives up to every bit of it.

A compact instrument cluster makes sure nothing gets in the way of your riding experience

What’s Cool

* All matte black theme looks slick
* Ample amount of electronics for a cruiser
* Brilliant riding dynamics
* Well contained NVH levels

What’s Not So Cool

* Uncomfortable straight handlebar
* Relatively higher fuel consumption due to heavy weight
* Limited dealership network

The signature shaft drive by Moto Guzzi ensures a knock free ride

Moto Guzzi Audace Specifications

* Engine: 1380cc, 90-degree V-Twin, oil-cooled, 4 valves, double ignition
* Power: 96 BHP @ 6500 RPM
* Torque: 121 Nm @ 3000 RPM
* Transmission: 6-speed gearbox
* Fuel Consumption: 11-17 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol (97 Octane)
* Frame: Steel tubed double cradle with elastic kinematic engine mounts
* Suspension: 45 mm dia forks (Front), Double shocks with adjustable extension and spring preload (Rear)
* Tyres: 130/70/R18 (Front), 200/60/R16 (Rear)
* Brakes: Dual 320 mm floating discs with 4-piston horizontally opposed callipers (Front), single 282 mm disc with 2-piston callipers (Rear), ABS

Moto Guzzi Audace Dimensions

* Length x Width x Height (mm): 2445 x 920 x 1145
* Wheelbase: 1695 mm
* Ground Clearance: 165 mm
* Seat Height: 740 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 20.5-litres (5-litres reserve)
* Kerb weight: 299 kgs (with all fluids except fuel)

Sleek design with muscle in the right places, it has a perfect blend

Testers’ Note:

“The Moto Guzzi Audace is a smooth performer, it doesn’t behave like a typical cruiser motorcycle although it does offer the feel of one. There is good enough power on tap but what impresses is how easy it is to ride in spite of the intimidating dimensions. For those looking at Harleys in a similar price bracket, the Moto Guzzi Audace does come across as a splendid alternative but the limited dealership network is a huge hiccup for its success in our country.” – Faisal Khan, Editor, MotorBeam.
“The Moto Guzzi Audace was the largest cruiser motorcycle ridden in terms of cubic capacity but not the most difficult to ride! With the massive heads coming out from below the fuel tank to the the shaft driven rear, everything is impressive. The hardware with the traction modes and the ABS also make the Audace more appealing. Initial and traffic riding does stress out the rider but highways are the perfect place to ride this beautiful Moto Guzzi at three digit speeds with ease.” – Dhanil Vira, Road Tester, MotorBeam.
“I was at first intimidated by the bulky nature of the Audace, and to find out that it weighs 300 kgs only enervated me more. But to my surprise, it was so easy to handle all the weight because of such excellent dynamics, it slipped out of my mind that I’m actually riding a cruiser. The riding modes, traction control and ABS bring so much sophistication to it. The Audace is a bike that truly hypnotizes you and brings out your zesty self.” – Adwait Babras, Road Tester, MotorBeam.

Picture Editing: Sri Manikanta Achanta