First test: SWM Gran Milano 440

Air-cooled single’s an appealing mix of modern and retro.

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If you can remember the 1980s, and hankering after a Honda XBR500 or Yamaha SR500, then you’re probably the target for SWM’s Gran Milano. It’s powered by an air-cooled 445cc single, assembled by Italian brand SWM but using some Shineray parts from China. In four-valve SOHC form, the motor clearly owes something to the XBR, but it does have fuel injection to cope with Euro4. 

The chassis is an interesting blend of modern and retro – tubular steel twin shock frame with a five-speed gearbox, but adjustable USD forks and top-spec Brembo front brake caliper. The Gran Milano looks the part too – quite classy in a mix of bronze and black, dominated by those twin stainless steel pipes. 


Hop on, and the riding position feels committed, with a stretch to the wide, low bars. The footrests are quite high, so six-footers might feel cramped, but it’s not uncomfortable on the open road and the solo seat is welcoming. A dual seat comes as part of the deal, complete with grabrail, pillion rests and even a different rear light assembly. 

Fire up, and the 445cc motor soon settles down to an uneven, throbby idle. It feels and sounds like the 1980s air-cooled singles it’s derived from. It’s never truly happy at less than 3000rpm, with a dose of transmission chatter, but twist the grip at 4000 in second, third or fourth gear and it surges away convincingly, although quoted power is a relatively modest 35bhp.

It’s certainly far quicker than a Royal Enfield Continental GT, an obvious rival with an identical price. The motor delivers linear power up until a rev limiter kicks in at around 8800rpm (well short of the 10,000rpm redline on the tacho) and the bike will wind up to an indicated 90mph, though that’s about it. 

It’s all good fun, but it’s not a refined ride. Vibes make themselves felt over 5000rpm, blurring the mirrors, and even the clocks buzz, while the clutch is heavyish and the gear change stiff on the low mileage test bike. Still, it does handle well.

The Golden Tyre GT260s have a strange blocky pattern but hang on well, and although steering is quite heavy at low speeds it lightens up nicely once you get going while the fully adjustable forks and rear shocks are well damped on standard settings. The brakes are superb, with plenty of power and progression for the bike’s weight – the SWM importer likes to point out that the Brembo four-pot caliper is the same as fitted to the 
Norton Commando 961.

The Gran Milano has a tidy finish, looks well screwed together and comes with a two-year warranty, and it’s economical too, returning 65-70mpg. 

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Peter Henshaw

By Peter Henshaw