Moto Morini’s old Bialbero CorsaCorta V-twin engine disappeared from the company’s line-up with the advent of Euro 5 emissions rules but it’s set to make a comeback in a new adventure bike that’s seen for the first time in these design images.
Morini’s current guise can be traced back to the early 2000s. The brand had been idle for a decade, having been bought in the late 80s by the Castiglionis to sit alongside Cagiva, Ducati and the then-dormant MV Agusta names in their stable. In 1996 Morini was sold alongside Ducati to the Texas Pacific Group, who had no interest in reviving it and passed it on in 1999 to Morini Franco Motori, which started the process of reviving the name. In 2004 the Bialbero CorsaCorta 1187cc V-twin engine was revealed, along with the Corsaro naked bike it would first be fitted to, but the next few years would prove turbulent for Morini. Multiple models were launched – the Scrambler and Granpasso adopted the same engine – but Morini collapsed into liquidation in 2009. A revival in 2012 under new ownership saw the range expand further, introducing additional variants of the old models and the Milano retro bike, but in 2018 Chinese company Zhongneng stepped in to take ownership, sparking the development of a completely new range of 650cc twin-cylinder machines.
Right now those 650cc parallel twins – the X-Cape adventure bike and Seiemmezzo roadster – are Morini’s entire range, using CFMoto-derived engines and leveraging Chinese manufacturing to cut costs. But the plan has always been to reintroduce bigger bikes when the time was right, and that moment is fast approaching.
The new design registrations show a V-twin-powered adventure tourer using a revised and updated version of the Bialbero CorsaCorta engine and wrapped in styling that’s reminiscent of the X-Cape.
It appears that the old 1187cc engine has been revised with some new castings for the covers but retaining its essential layout and design. It’s mounted in a part-alloy, part-steel-trellis chassis, with cast aluminium for the swingarm pivot area and steel tubes running up to the steering head. The bodywork covers the trellis section, giving the initial look of an alloy beam frame when seen from the side, but the front-on picture gives a peak at the trellis section in the gap between the front wheel and the nose bodywork. That nose includes a U-shaped headlight and rises almost vertically above the front wheel – a stance that’s reminiscent of classic Dakar race bikes. There’s no clichéd ‘beak’ above the front wheel, though, and deep side panels make for a fashionably front-heavy look to the machine.
Seen from above, the tank is vastly wide, suggesting it will have enough capacity to give the new adventure bike a huge range between fuel stops. A relatively large pillion seat and big grab handles show you won’t have to travel alone, either.
It looks like you’ll want to stick largely to paved roads, though. While the wheels are wire, giving a proper ‘adventure’ look, the front appears to be a 19-inch rim and the rear a 17-incher, where more off-road-oriented adventure bikes tend to use 21-inch front and 18-inch rears. The close-fitting mudguards are further evidence that the bike isn’t aimed at tough off-road use, even though there’s a bash plate to protect the front cylinder’s exhaust downpipe.
The suspension – chunky upside-down forks and a rising-rate, remote reservoir monoshock – is an unidentified brand but the radial brakes come from Brembo, suggesting the bike’s overall specs will be towards the higher end of the market. The engine should be good for around 130-140hp, and the pictures show that the instruments use an oversized TFT screen.
Morini is entering a tough section of the market, facing rivals from most major brands, and at the moment it’s hard to see quite what the bike’s unique selling point will be. However, until the finished machine is revealed and we get a clue to its price and performance details, as well as the equipment levels that it enjoys, it’s impossible to tell whether it can make a compelling case for itself. However, it definitely looks more conventionally attractive than the old Granpasso, which was Morini’s last stab at this sector, so the initial signs are good.