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

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Peter Hen­shaw MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

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 four­valve 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

‘The 445cc mo­tor set­tles down to a throbby idle. It feels and sounds like the 1980s’

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.

Back to the air­cooled 80s with the classy lit­tle SWM sin­gle

Sin­gle seat is cool and there’s a twin seat con­ver­sion thrown in

SWM dates back to the 70s and has re­cently been re­vived

Ex­pect a nice un­even bur­ble from those im­pos­ing ex­hausts

Stylishly de­signed, it’s well put to­gether with de­cent parts

Ad­just­ment on the forks is a wel­come sur­prise on this retro

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