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Comparison test two-cylinder: BMW R 1200 R, Buell Lightning XB12Ss and Moto Guzzi Griso 8V

Big Twins only

1170, 1202, 1151 ?? These number combinations entitle you to enter the exclusive club of high-displacement Road Twins. Nothing works below 1150 cubic centimeters here. Lately, eight valves have also been very popular. The rest is what it always was. Diverse ?? and extremely exciting.

Quattro valvole ?? Technology lovers among us once licked their lips at this term. Back then, about 25 years ago, when the four-valve era began and every lowered VW Golf proudly drove its "16V" on the tailgate, even if an ordinary 1300 with eight valves was working under the bonnet.

Today you have to smile about it. About the youthful bragging rights as well as about the fat "8V", which is emblazoned in signal red on the side panels of the new Griso. "8V" ?? you have to let that work. A long period of five valves per cylinder has now come to an end at Yamaha. And Guzzi finally comes back with four in 2007. That’s how you can see it. But you don’t have to. Least of all as a Guzzi sympathizer. After all, you just love the traditional? and on the other hand, quite rightly refers to the two-valve version B.uell and a large part of the Ducati Monster Armada, which with this deficiency has written a breathtaking success story to this day. And anyway: what does shortage mean here??

Exactly where it is not primarily about top performance, but about opulent abundance in the lower and middle speed range, the effect of two additional valves is by no means exclusively beneficial. It will therefore be interesting to see what the Griso has to offer. Despite ?? or because of »8V«. However, one thing can be seen at first glance without the crankshaft turning even once. »The Griso« ?? you can put it in quotation marks, like "Die Garbo" ?? is a beauty that takes your breath away just by looking at it. No trinkets, no frills, just classic proportions and tasteful accessories, arranged to create an even, harmonious exterior that lovers of the old line can just as much love as sober advocates of the modern. This is all the more noticeable because both Buell and BMW have very different approaches.

Comparison test two-cylinder: BMW R 1200 R, Buell Lightning XB12Ss and Moto Guzzi Griso 8V

Big Twins only

Personality test


An American, a German and an Italian showed what they had to offer.

The ultra-compact Lightning XB12Ss, with its sporty, short 1360 millimeter wheelbase next to the Guzzi Griso (1554 millimeters), looks like a fighting dog next to a greyhound. And the BMW R 1200 R (1495 millimeters) carries its appearance, which is only subordinate to its function, even more strikingly since the clearcoat was even dispensed with in Munich and it is now available in matt mouse gray in addition to black and metallic brown.

So the Moto Guzzi leads one to zero? and collects the next sympathy point. The sound evaluation, traditionally an Italian domain. A rich, deep bass emanates from the artfully arranged smoking pipe, the finest twin pulses, which two-cylinder fans can open the heart and the stock market. The really booming Buell has to fit here. And the BMW even more because the boxer has been able to do a lot for a long time, but it certainly doesn’t sound good. The sad finding: even the sound ?? mouse gray. Two to Zero. It works for the new Griso. In Italy’s guard disciplines, indeed, but still. But now it’s getting serious and really exciting. What are the additional effects of four valves, what can the engine do??


The Griso relies on classic virtues and wants to be driven that way.

The antiquated 45-degree Harley V2 in the Buell should not prove to be a real touchstone in this regard, but the BMW boxer, who also has a few years under his belt, but regularly kept himself fit in training camp. The result: 109 hp rated power at 7500 rpm, 115 Newton meters of torque at 6000 rpm. That’s pretty close to the Guzzi promises. 110 hp at 7500 rpm and 108 Newton meters at 6400 rpm. The Buell cannot keep up with 95 hp at 6800 rpm and 104 Newton meters at 5500 rpm. At least when it comes to the paper form. But, as is well known, this can be quite deceiving, especially since subordinate factors such as gear ratios and gear ratios also play a role.

Strength of character

The 1200 version of the Boxer is almost certainly the best that has ever existed.

And of course the engine characteristics, i.e. the power and torque development in the various speed ranges. To cut a long story short: there is no herb against the BMW boxer. At best, the »8V« has a chance in the upper speed range between 6000 and 8000 rpm. Both theoretically ?? so on the test bench? as well as practical (when determining mileage). This is felt even more clearly. Where the boxer catapults himself out of the corners and the speed valley with targeted uppercuts, regardless of the speed level, the Griso taps? at least when you drive in higher gear ?? rather in small steps. And the Buell is pretty much on the ropes. Polemical natures would say that at least. But we want to stay matter-of-fact: the BMW engine, in combination with a crisp secondary gear ratio, makes it stand in the limiter in no time at top speed, regardless of the speed.

The Guzzi-V2 only in the upper third. And the Buell engine, with a significantly longer ratio from pulley to pulley than, for example, the BMW, is actually never really. He puts a nicely linear performance curve on the test stand role. The perceived lack of temperament is also due to the fact that the throttle response has never been a parade discipline of the Milwaukee twin. Now, in the Euro 3 era, that has certainly not gotten better. Slowly, decelerating, even mocking and jolting at constant speed at lower speeds, the powerful engine stomps and shakes while the Bayern boxer gets going with verve and to the point and the Guzzi drive is also finely dosed, although not quite as powerful. These impressions are also reflected in the pulling power. The XB12Ss ?? with a full tank of 215 kilograms by far the lightest in the field ?? loses significantly compared to the BMW (232 kilos) in every discipline, compared to the Guzzi (247 kilos) at least from 60 to 100 and from 140 to 180 km / h.

Chassis disciplines

Who drives the XB12Ss has to be driven.

In the middle, however, the drop in torque of the »8V« mercilessly hits through. In practice, this means that you should do the -Attention !!! ?? BMW transmissions that are really easy to shift actually never have to live, while the slightly tougher six-speed gearbox of the Guzzi is often in use. And on the Buell you have no choice but to press the gruesome gears together again and again with a lot of strength and patience. A process that is as tough as if the gears were made of hard rubber and would initially rub against each other, while a powerful spring on the gear lift pulls in the other direction. In general, switching. Not only on the Buell, but also on the Guzzi, even sporty natures rediscover the clutch when changing to a higher gear, because otherwise violent load change reactions would ruin the line. It must have been like that at the end of the 60s when the first V2 Guzzis were put together in Mandello.

Back then, when climate change and fuel prices did not yet play a role and the relatively high consumption of almost six liters of the Griso on the country road would still have been considered a minor offense. Today he has to be mentioned. And there is no avoiding awarding the first state point after Bavaria for the engine. With its famous boxer of the latest generation, the BMW is clearly ahead of the V-Twins from Guzzi and Buell. Even more: it even wins the sympathy of the last doubters of this drive concept. The way the boxer pushes at the bottom, pushes in the middle and fires out again at the top is rare in civilian life. It has to look something like that, the ideal country road engine. The German-Italian-American test community is tackling the chassis in an even more differentiated manner than the engine issue.

Brakes and comfort

The trio is getting closer to the test result.

The result: There are worlds between what you can experience on an XB12 with toothed belt drive, short swing arm and 66.5 degree steering head angle and what a Griso with cardan drive and 63.7 degree steering head angle transports. Not to mention the very own world of BMW with its longitudinal control arm Telelever. But first things first: As expected, the definite traditionalist in this trio is the Griso, whose spring elements are committed to the Italian way of ride. It’s tough but fair behind the wide handlebar, which is not easy to reach for short-armed people due to the long, flat tank. Configured in this way, the Guzzi is a matter for activists who are happy about the transparent feedback and are also not afraid to direct it with pressure on the handlebars from a certain incline. The famous Metzeler Sportec M3 meanwhile fulfill their liability mandate with the usual reliability and bring the side stand, which is mounted far in front and deep down, closer to the ground faster than expected.

A similarly clear statement when it comes to braking. The radially screwed four-piston fixed calipers from Brembo in combination with mighty 320 wave discs are a word in this class, but require astonishingly high manual force with fine controllability and proper effect, which suggests a rather conservative pad selection. The exact opposite is the case with BMW. Also four-piston calipers, also 320 discs? however, a brake that bites with force even with little hand force. With the R 1200 R, this is always a balancing act in terms of metering, so that, especially under difficult conditions, one is happy to have a finely regulating ABS ?? only optional, but more on that later ?? to have on board. Otherwise, however, the BMW chassis picks up where the engine left off. Is a real jack-of-all-trades, combines superb handiness with great comfort and successful ergonomics, falls neutrally from one incline to the other, plunges deep and predictable and does not let anyone or anything disturb you.

Big Twins Club

Moto Guzzi Griso 8V: The combination of powerful cylinder and impressive manifold system leaves no one indifferent.

Add the ESA chassis, which can be adjusted at the push of a button, and you have an all-round carefree package in a class of its own. Despite the considerable Guzzi qualities, BMW undoubtedly received the chassis award. The Buell, on the other hand, was never considered in this regard, despite idiosyncratic solutions, because what one can experience on it, although very special, can hardly be called "good" by objective standards.

It is still the ride on the cannonball. There is hardly a motorcycle in front of and behind you, but the narrow handlebars right in front of your body, you have to fight everything that the road builders have overlooked. Although the fork is set up very well and comfortably, every unevenness leads to the suspension momentum, which the driver has to compensate for with heavy pressure on the handlebars. Every wave brings the load out of step. Even the sovereign Pirelli Diablo change little about that, and the properly functioning brake system with its internal six-piston caliper cannot save much. The Buell is a bike for the eccentric ?? and always will be. So, now to the point "later": With a basic price of 11,490 euros, the R 1200 R costs less than the XB12Ss (11,499 euros) and even more than the Griso (12,950 euros). So much for the good news.

But: In the tested version, ie with the Safety and Touring package (see footnote “Data” on page 45), windshield, case holder and white indicator glasses, more than 14,500 euros including additional costs are due. This means that the BMW should automatically fall out of the range for many, no matter what qualities it has. And anyone who falls in love with "Die Griso" or doesn’t want to miss the Buell’s pit bull character will not even look at the BMW. Nevertheless, it has to be mentioned again at the end: The R 1200 R is a formidable motorcycle? and is therefore unassailable in the 1000-point ranking. That’s something in the club of the big twins. But not everything.

Data Moto Guzzi Griso 8V

Motorbike Guzzi Griso 8V

Air / oil-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 90-degree V-engine, crankshaft lying lengthways, one overhead, chain-driven camshaft, four valves per cylinder, rocker arm, wet sump lubrication, injection, Ø 50 mm, regulated catalytic converter, 550 W alternator, Battery 12 V / 18 Ah, hydraulically operated single-disc dry clutch, six-speed gearbox, cardan.

Bore x stroke 95.0 x 81.2 mm

Cubic capacity 1151 cm3

Compression ratio 11: 1
Rated output 80.8 kW (110 hp) at 7500 rpm

Max. Torque 108 Nm at 6400 rpm

landing gear
Bridge frame made of steel, upside-down fork, Ø 43 mm, adjustable spring base, rebound and compression damping, two-joint single-sided swing arm, made of aluminum, central spring strut with lever system, adjustable spring base, rebound and compression damping, double disc brake at the front, Ø 320 mm, four-piston Fixed calipers, rear disc brake, Ø 282, double-piston floating caliper.

Cast aluminum wheels 3.50 x 17; 5.50 x 17
Tires 120/70 ZR 17; 180/55 ZR 17
Tires in the Metzeler Sportec M3 test

mass and weight
Wheelbase 1554 mm, steering head angle 63.7 degrees, caster 108 mm, spring travel f / r 120/110 mm, seat height * 820 mm, weight with a full tank * 247 kg, payload * 203 kg, tank capacity / reserve 16.7 / 3.3 liters.

Two year guarantee
Service intervals every 10000 km
Colors white, black

Price without additional costs 12,950 euros

Data BMW R 1200 R

BMW R 1200 R.

Air / oil-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke boxer engine, crankshaft lying lengthways, a balance shaft, one high-lying, chain-driven camshaft, four valves per cylinder, bucket tappets, bumpers, rocker arms, wet sump lubrication, injection, Ø 47 mm, regulated catalytic converter, 600 W alternator, Battery 12 V / 14 Ah, hydraulically operated single-disc dry clutch, six-speed gearbox, cardan.

Bore x stroke 101.0 x 73.0 mm

Cubic capacity 1170 cm3

Compression ratio 12.0: 1
Rated output 80.0 kW (109 PS) at 7500 rpm

Max. Torque 115 Nm at 6000 rpm

Landing gear:
Load-bearing engine-gear unit, telescopic fork, Ø 35 mm, two-jointed single-sided swing arm, made of aluminum, central spring strut, directly hinged, adjustable spring base and rebound damping, double disc brake at the front, Ø 320 mm, four-piston fixed calipers, disc brake at the rear, Ø 265, double-piston Floating saddle.

Cast aluminum wheels 3.50 x 17; 5.50 x 17
Tires 120/70 ZR 17; 180/55 ZR 17
Tires in the Continental Road Attack test, front "Z", rear "C"

mass and weight
Wheelbase 1495 mm, steering head angle 62.9 degrees, caster 119 mm, spring travel f / r 120/140 mm, seat height * 820 mm, weight with a full tank * 232 kg, payload * 218 kg, tank capacity / reserve 18.0 / 3.0 liters.

Warranty: two years
Service intervals: every 10000 km
Colors: black, gray, metallic brown

Price: 11,490 euros
Price test motorcycle **: 14,240 euros
Additional costs: 262 euros

Data for the Buell Lightning XB12Ss

Buell Lightning XB12Ss

Air-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 45-degree V-engine, crankshaft lying transversely, four lower, gear-driven camshafts, two valves per cylinder, hydraulic valve lifters, bumpers, rocker arms, dry sump lubrication, injection, Ø 49 mm, unregulated catalytic converter, alternator 405 W, Battery 12 V / 12 Ah, mechanically operated multi-disc oil bath clutch, five-speed gearbox, toothed belt.

Bore x stroke 88.9 x 96.8 mm

Cubic capacity 1202 cm3

Compression ratio 10.0: 1
Rated output 70.0 kW (95 hp) at 6800 rpm
Max. Torque 104 Nm at 5500 rpm

Landing gear:
Bridge frame made of aluminum, upside-down fork, Ø 43 mm, adjustable spring base, rebound and compression damping, two-arm swing arm, made of aluminum, central spring strut, directly hinged, adjustable spring base, rebound and compression damping, internal disc brake at the front, Ø 375 mm, six-piston Fixed caliper, rear disc brake, Ø 240, single-piston floating caliper.

Cast aluminum wheels 3.50 x 17; 5.50 x 17
Tires 120/70 ZR 17; 180/55 ZR 17
Pirelli Diablo T tires tested

Mass and weight:
Wheelbase 1360 mm, steering head angle 66.5 degrees, caster 119 mm, spring travel f / h 120/126 mm, seat height * 830 mm, weight with a full tank * 215 kg, load * 170 kg, tank capacity / reserve 16.7 / 3.0 liters.

Two year guarantee
Service intervals every 8000 km
Colors blue, orange, black
Output variants 23 kW (31 PS)

Price 11,499 euros
Additional costs 310 euros

Test result

BMW R 1200 R There is nothing to be shaken about this victory. The BMW is a very good motorcycle. However, also a very expensive one because you have to pay extra for many features.

Moto Guzzi Griso 8V Probably the best Guzzi ever. And a very charismatic one at that. You can fall in love with the Griso and you will get a lot of understanding.

Buell Lightning XB12Ss Finally, ounce again the full name. And again the realization that the Buell world is a different one. Whoever goes in must know what to expect.


Quattro Valvole sounds good and brings the Griso quite close to the BMW in terms of performance. But the Bayern boxer has better manners. For example, a steady development of power instead of a considerable lag in the middle of the rev range. A smoother response, smoother running, the better gearbox and impeccable starting behavior. On the other hand, the Guzzi-V2 is clearly out of the character compartment, and no one can take that away from him. Of course, this also applies to the Harley veteran in the Buell.
Winner engine: BMW R 1200 R

landing gear
A tie between Buell and Guzzi in this chapter ?? but with a completely different emphasis. The Griso shines in terms of stability and steering behavior, the XB12Ss with freedom from lean angles and a finely tuned and comfortable fork. Amazingly, the compact Buell delivers a better performance with two people than the spacious Guzzi, whose strut is weak. But as in the chapter on the engine: There is no herb against the all-round characteristics of the BMW. The only real point of criticism: the lack of feeling for what is going on under the front wheel. A peculiarity of the Telelever fork, which however confidently irons over unevenness of any kind. Only a firm belief will help. This is not only rewarded in most religions, but also by the R 1200 R..
Chassis winner: BMW R 1200 R

everyday life
Forever BMW, goal with restrictions because a large part of the »equipment« criterion has to be bought at a high price. ESA, on-board computer, heated grips and main stand, for example, are part of the “Touring Package”, which BMW is paying for at 1080 euros. The windshield and case holder must also be paid for separately. With Guzzi, on the other hand, the on-board computer is supplied as standard. Of course, this changes the flawless ergonomics of the BMW, as well as the high payload and ease of use. The large steering angle alone is a pleasure when turning and maneuvering.
Winner everyday life: BMW R 1200 R.

SECTION ?? of course a topic, but here too with a qualification. The R 1200 R has one thing, it works almost perfectly, so there are many points ?? and costs extra. The safety package is the name of the BMW range, which also includes the ASC stability control and the RDC tire pressure control. Incidentally, the BMW brakes are not bad, but the Guzzi system is overall better, while the Buell falls short in this regard. It also stands up noticeably when braking in an inclined position.
Safety winner: BMW R 1200 R

Now it’s getting tight. In the cost chapter, the three do not do too much. The Guzzi lags behind when it comes to consumption and the Buell when it comes to inspection costs. The BMW keeps up with everything without shining. And so the bottom line is that it wins here too.
Winner costs: BMW R 1200 R

Price-performance winner: BMW R 1200 R

Hard to believe, but true: Despite its immense price, the BMW is the best offer because the point difference to the competition is huge. With 681 points, it is not far from the 700-point threshold that is difficult to crack.

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