Moto Morini go big (and small) as Chinese owners invest heavily to create 12-model line-up

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Moto Morini are on the brink of a massive reinvention with 11 new bikes due to be released in the next two years, General Manager Alberto Monni has confirmed to MCN.

The funky and affordable X-Cape 650 has already sold by the bucketload (especially in Italy) and heralds the beginning of something special. Now Monni have outlined plans for two more machines using the same engine as the X-Cape, as well as a revival of their V-twin 1200s and new 700s and 900s.

Monni has been supervising Morini’s transition from Italian to Chinese stewardship and says two new 650s, powered by the same CFMoto engine, will roll off the production line later this year – the STR roadster and the SCR scrambler. A concept version, dubbed the Seiemezzo’ (or 6 1/2 echoing Morini’s historic 3 1/2 model name) was seen at the EICMA motorcycle show at the end of 2021.

Moto Morini 6 1/2

And there will also be a revitalised, Euro5-friendly 1200cc V-twin range which will be launched at the end of next year and go on sale in 2024. A new Granpasso adventure will lead the big bike charge with two other models using the same engine platform expected to follow.

There are also plans, says Monni, for a new 700cc and 900cc engine. Each of those will also have its own three-bike range.

Moto Morini were bought by Chinese scooter manufacturer Zhongneng in October 2018. Most famous for its 1970s 350 and 500cc V-twins, Morini floundered in the 1980s before being revived in 2003, building large V-twins such as the Corsaro naked and Granpasso adventure.

Moto Morini Granpasso

That incarnation of the firm went into liquidation in 2010 but continued to produce bikes sporadically up to 2018.

The new Chinese owners, however, immediately stated their aim was to return Morini to profitable volume production, primarily in China, with the creation of new, smaller, more affordable machines in order to build a more viable brand. The CF Moto-powered X-Cape is the first tangible sign of this with the imminent ‘Seiemezzo’ and other models also intrinsic to the plan.

“Production in recent years was around only 300 motorcycles each year, with different V-twins using our Euro4-compliant 1200cc engine,” said Monni. “But as European regulations prevent us from selling such bikes after the end of this year, we’ve been working to engineer the Euro5 version.

Moto Morini Milano

“When Zhongneng took over they immediately committed to making the 1200 the basis of our future. But the important thing was that they also invested in developing a range of smaller-capacity models, of which the X-Cape 650 is the first. Our target for Europe is to sell between 5000 and 10,000 units in its first 12 months.

“But our future must not be linked to other companies. This is why we are already working on two totally new twin-cylinder designs – 700 and 900cc – and again we will have at least three different models in each displacement.

“In the past the resources weren’t there because of the low volume of production. Now the structure that the arrival of Zhongneng has created for Moto Morini has given us a lot of opportunities.”

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Alan Cathcart

By Alan Cathcart