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Sunday, April 19, 2009

MOTO MORINI CORSARO 1200 VELOCE

Moto Morini - it’s a historical name, steeped in Italian passion and pride with a 70-year history in the motorcycle industry.
Since Alfonso Morini founded the company in Bologna in 1937, Moto Morini has celebrated the best and endured the worst of times; its 1960s successes in racing, discovering the great Giacomo Agostini and the wilderness of the ’80s when the company virtually hibernated under Cagiva control.


Jane Omorogbe and the Moto Morini Corsaro 1200 Veloce(image © PA)

Fab but fragile


In 1996, it was bought yet again, this time by Ducati, but the production of new Morini bikes wasn’t particularly high on the priority list. So it wasn’t until 1999 and another change of ownership that the brand was finally back on track, with a company founded by Afonso Morini’s nephew. Moto Morini was finally heading in the right direction, and the bike I’ve just ridden is testimony to that. The Corsaro 1200 Veloce is really beautiful; it’s been designed not to please the masses but to appeal to the individual, a rider who’s hankering after something special - and special it is.

Jane Omorogbe and the Moto Morini Corsaro 1200 Veloce(image © PA)

The Veloce’s a tweaked version of the standard Corsaro model. Additions include two slender and lightweight Termignoni silencers, the suspension’s been upgraded and stiffened and the footpegs are positioned more aggressively and made from a lightweight material called Ergal. A bike test is always eventful for one reason or another, but my Corsaro Veloce ride was more so than normal. It all began in the morning when I cocked a leg over the bike and struggled to locate first gear.

Moto Morini Corsaro 1200 Veloce (image © Moto Morini)

On the right track

Then, pottering through a sleepy French village on the way to the circuit of Ales, the bike simply refused to slip into neutral, forcing me to hold in the heavy clutch as old folk meandered across my path at pedestrian crossings. A quick adjustment to the clutch lever smoothed the problem out and I rumbled onwards, it seemed the Morini’s issues had been imaginary at best and entirely fixable at worst. And then the gear lever snapped. I’d been blatting round the track, thoroughly enjoying unleashing as many horses as I dare and relishing in the powerful engine braking as I restrained the stallions I’d just let loose by shutting off the throttle. It felt superb.
Moto Morini Corsaro 1200 Veloce (image © Moto Morini)
I
stuck the bike hard on its ear in a fast sweeping left hander on track. The bike tipped in and held a steady line - solid, secure and easily meeting all of my demands. Suddenly, something metal scraped the asphalt. My knee sliders weren’t titanium, nor were my toe sliders and the exhausts were tail end high … so what on earth? As my brain went through the possible options, I fired, slightly more tentatively, towards the exit and headed for the back straight. I lowered my left foot in search of the lever to snick up a gear, but there was no lever.

Moto Morini Corsaro 1200 Veloce (image © Moto Morini)

Addictive despite the faults

I rolled off and glanced down to find the gear lever limply hanging there - and I’d just passed the pit lane entrance. Oh joy of joys! I was gutted, not only because my track time had been cut cruelly short by the unfortunate breakage, but also because until then, the Corsaro Veloce had been such huge fun to ride. Admittedly, my left heel kept catching in the chain which was disconcerting and no, my feet aren’t particularly big (she lied!), but this was avoidable with a little consideration and careful foot-placing. Also the circular, single mirror offers very little suggestion of what’s behind you. If I say it’s better than nothing, you’ll get my drift!

Moto Morini Corsaro 1200 Veloce (image © Moto Morini)

But the 87-degree, V-twin engine counteracts those little idiosyncrasies. It’s punchy and raw, with a torquey vibrancy that’s completely addictive – if not a little abrupt. Its positioning in the bike’s trellis frame is low slung too, so despite the bike’s beefy nakedness, the Corsaro Veloce handles extremely well. The bars are wide enough for good leverage and feel far more natural than the Aprilia Tuono (as does the switchgear). The riding position is sporty, but comfortable, and the steering lock is adequate for tight town manoeuvres.

Verdict

In short, I was really impressed by the Corsaro 1200 Veloce. Because of the struggle the company’s endured, because it’s really a good looking bike, because the engine and handling is so ridiculously good fun, but most of all because despite the frustrations I experienced, I still really enjoyed the ride and would leap at the chance to have another blast.

World Superbikes winner MSMW2012