Big twin future at Moto Morini: Revitalised firm confirm new 1200 alongside middleweight line-up

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Moto Morini have confirmed that a 1200cc V-twin will be returning to their fleet in 2024, alongside plans to introduce a mid-size design for potential supersport duties.

“For 2024, the range will be joined by a Euro5+ version of our long-lived CorsaCorta 1200cc V-twin engine with full electronic capability including ride-by-wire, a choice of riding modes, and traction control,” General Manager Alberto Monni told MCN.

Founded in 1937, the firm was rescued from extinction in October 2018, when owner of Chinese small bike company Zhongneng Vehicle Group, Chen Huaneng, acquired 100% of the business from the previous Italian owner.

Alberto Monni talks about Moto Morini's future plans

Models are now designed in Italy and then built in China, with production jumping from around 300 bikes annually in recent years to 3500 machines across 10 months of 2022.

Monni, who has worked for Morini for 12 years, continued: “We have already been testing this new [version] on the road for more than a year, and it takes this fantastic engine which has been the heart of Moto Morini for the last 20 years.”

This motor was previously used in the Milano roadster and Corsaro super naked, with the new version of the engine appearing to have been teased on social media in an adventure concept earlier this year.

Alan Cathcart speaks with Albert Monni

“We will restart production of a range of models powered by it in 2024, which we will launch at the Eicma show later this year,” the Morini boss added.

“Our intention is to have at least three different models for each displacement in the range. The only segment we will not focus on is the superbike, because our aim is not to compete for top-end performance. Adventure is a must in Europe, so that’s the first bike that we will show.

Speaking about other models using the engine, he went on: “Last year’s Eicma showed the naked roadster is becoming popular once again, so we are looking at custom and naked models.”

Moto Morini X-Cape 1200 prototype front

Away from the 1200cc unit, there are plans to invest further in the mid-size segment. Moto Morini already have the 649cc parallel-twin X-Cape adventure bike and Seiemmezzo scrambler options, with plans now revealed to add a 90 degree, eight valve V-twin platform into the mix.

“It’s been designed as an 800, but we are deciding whether to increase it to 900cc, or reduce it to 700c – or maybe both, depending on the model,” Monni continued. “We have all three variants already running on the dyno, and we are about to start testing the first prototype vehicle on the road.”

It’s here that the firm believe there is an opening for a sporting return in the supersport category, with historic racing campaigns seeing the brand narrowly missing out on the 250 world championship title in 1963 by just two points to the Honda of Jim Redman.

Moto Morini 3 1/2

“We believe that the market for what can be termed ‘rational sportbikes’ is already growing back again,” he said.

“The new supersport category with controlled performance to equalise different types of motorcycles in the 600-950cc category can be very appealing for our customers, because these are real-world machines.”

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

First published 19 May 2022 by Alan Cathcart

Albert Monni

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.”

Alan Cathcart

By Alan Cathcart