Moto Guzzi V85TT (2019) Launch Review

 

First we had adventure travel bikes – most obviously BMW’s R1200 GS and Triumph Tiger 1200. Then we had adventure enduros – of which KTM’s recent 790 Adventure is a prime example. And then we had adventure scramblers – with Triumph’s new Scrambler 1200 as the leading exponent. And now, thanks to tireless ingenuity of the motorcycle-making elves at Mandello del Lario, we have the ‘classic enduro’.

Welcome to the launch of Moto Guzzi’s V85 TT – TT stands for Tutto Terreno – and, if you can hear the sounds of hairs being split, it’s because they are.

The little Italian factory aren’t noted for off-road prowess: they’ve never won the Dakar rally, they don’t have a factory motocross team and their last off-road bikes were the Stelvio 1200 – a heavyweight adventure bike discontinued a few years ago – and the current, rather pretty, V7 Stornello scrambler. It’s perhaps this last machine that provided the real inspiration for a retro-styled middleweight adventure bike.

But these days, while other motorcycle manufacturers noisily brag about their latest machines and what gods they’ll make of us, there’s a quiet, dignified humility to the way a small, historic bike builder on the shores of Lake Como goes about the business of building motorbikes worth owning.

BikeSocial is in Sardinia, to ride Moto Guzzi’s V85 TT and find out if it’s one of them.

 

2019 Moto Guzzi V85TT Review Price Specs

 

The Moto Guzzi V85 TT range

There are five choices of V85 TT: two two-tone models, in Sahara yello or Kalahari red; and three single colours: Atacama grey, Atlas blue or Vulcano red. The two-tone bikes also come with a suede seat cover, Michelin Anakee Adventure tyres instead of Metzeler Tourances and a red frame, but are otherwise identical to the single colour models.

There are also three optional ‘packs’ available: Touring, Sport and Urban. Touring adds aluminium panniers and topbox, a touring screen, crash bars, LED fog lights, a centre stand, and Moto Guzzi’s Bluetooth smartphone integration (for turn-by-turn sat nav). Sport comes with an Öhlins rear shock, titanium Arrow end can, foldable mirrors and a set of crash bars, while Urban has plastic panniers, centre stand, an immobliser and Guzzi’s Bluetooth smartphone integration. Prices for the packs are tba.

 

 

Moto Guzzi V85 TT price, PCP deal, and availability

In dealers early April

OTR: £11,099.00 (two-tone), £10,899 (single colour)

Moto Guzzi PCP deal (single colour variant only)

Price

£10,899

Deposit

£1850.00

Monthly repayments

37 x £169.74

Optional final payment

£4782.00

APR

8.9%

Mileage

6000 miles p/a

Total payable

£12,742.64

 

2019 Moto Guzzi V85TT Review Price Specs

 

Power and torque (claimed)

79bhp @ 7750rpm

59 lb.ft @ 5000rpm

 

2019 Moto Guzzi V85TT Review Price Specs

 

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

Some engines make you go ‘ooohh’ and some make you go ‘ahhhh’; The 90° air-cooled transverse V-twin in Moto Guzzi’s V85 TT definitely does the latter. It’s not going to blow many people’s skirts up with its well-rounded performance, but if it doesn’t warm your cockles with its refreshingly honest, easy-going charm then blimey, you’ve got a heart of stone.
Having said that, performance is relative; the TT’s 853cc, 79bhp, V9-derived motor is a substantial update over the 54bhp lump that powers the fairly ploddy road bikes: 84 x 77mm bore and stroke is the same, but everything else is upgraded in search of power and civility. A big effort to reduce friction and reduce internal weight includes redesigning crank, rods, pistons and gudgeon pins, and using aluminium pushrods, roller tappets, even a pair of lightweight titanium intake valves in the heads running revised cam timing (Guzzi chose to stick with the V9’s two-valve layout because titanium allowed them to get the required valve geometry with their traditional layout). A completely new oil circuit with a semi-dry sump and twin pumps ensures oil gets where it’s needed, while widening the single throttle body to 52mm and reshaping the exhaust helps boost performance by 25bhp.

To manage the motor’s higher power output, Moto Guzzi have beefed-up the clutch and redesigned the transmission to smooth out the traditional first gear clunk from neutral. As befits an adventure bike with the potential for a heavy electrical load from accessories, Guzzi have also increased the generator output to cope.
But after all that, the V85 TT still ‘only’ makes 80bhp, not 120bhp, and that puts it at the lower end of engine muscle compared to its middleweight adventure rivals – most of which make the 94bhp maximum for subsequent A2 licence compatibility.

The size of your output matters on some bikes – but Moto Guzzi are playing a different game. As long as there’s enough go in the engine to make decent progress – and 80bhp is enough for an indicated 120mph top speed, ahem – then what matters is how that engine feels: is it a pleasant mechanical device to use?

Oh yes indeed, it very much is. Push the starter (once you’ve realised the black push button above it is in fact a kill switch) and motor settles into Guzzi’s classic, nodding throb. Blip the gas and the chassis rocks gently to the right as the crank spins anti-clockwise and tries to rotate the bike around it. It’s now a signature Guzzi engine character, since BMW engineered out the same effect on their liquid-cooled Boxer twins – but it’s no longer severe enough to upset the V85 TT while riding. It’s just... nice.

Drop into first and you can tell the clutch is weightier than the clutch on, say, a V9 Bobber – but it’s nothing like Guzzi clutches of old, which generally needed two hands to pull the lever in. The work on the transmission has been successful – first goes in with a muffled thud rather than a teeth-rattling clunk. Job done.

So far, so civilised – but as the bike starts to roll, the motor has a surprise up its transverse bores: it packs a surprisingly potent little punch into its short rev range. Keep the TFT dash hovering between 5000 and 6000rpm, and in the first four gears the TT chirps off at a lively clip – this is a motor that boogies up the road rather than blistering the tarmac. There’s no point revving the motor out – the redline at 8000rpm and rev limiter shortly after intervene with a dashful of idiot lights blinking like a trippy night in Skegvegas. But with power effectively compressed into a narrow, low-revving powerband, it means the bike is deceptively quick punting along Sardinian coastal roads, swapping neatly between third and fourth gear, keeping it in the flow. It’s a momentum-based, easy-going kind of fast riding; there’s no need to rein the performance in, no battle of self-control, no anger management required. And there’s little chance of engine performance overwhelming the chassis – the V85 TT is a great balance of both.

And it’s a lovely motor to use. Many bike engines are primarily about conveyance, because it’s a numbers game and easy to define and measure on a dyno readout. And there’s nothing wrong with that, if you want to get somewhere efficiently, quickly, smoothly etc. But surprisingly few bike engines are actually nice things to use just for the sake of it, in the same way an Apple watch might have a bazillion functions, but for telling the time with style an old Omega just sits better against your skin. The V85 TT is a bit more sophisticated than a clockwork wristwatch, but it has the same organic, analogue pleasure. Vibes are throbby not tingly; 80mph sits the engine bang-on at 5000rpm, which is where peak torque lives and means there’s enough grunt left to pull a cheeky overtake or two.

Two-up riding might reveal the motor’s lack of puff if you’re used to not planning high speed overtakes – and to be clear, if you’re looking for KTM 790 Adventure or Triumph Tiger 800 levels of outright performance, the Guzzi might not be for you. But if you’re looking for something a bit leftfield, with buckets of charm and willing, I’d strongly recommend giving the V85 TT a go.

 

2019 Moto Guzzi V85TT Review Price Specs

 

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Economy

The V85 TT comes with one of the largest tank capacity-to-engine size ratios; with 23 litres and 853cc, only BMW’s F850GS adventure rivals it – with, coincidentally, 853cc and 23 litres.

But with only 80bhp on tap, as opposed to 94bhp, it’s tempting to assume the Guzzi will use its fuel more frugally. The average consumption during a fairly up-tempo test ride showed between 48 and 55mpg; that’s a tank range of over 250 miles.

 

2019 Moto Guzzi V85TT Review Price Specs

 

Suspension, chassis and weight

The V85 TT’s shaft-driven chassis spec isn’t high-tech; no semi-active suspension and no cornering ABS. Instead the springs, brakes and frame are in keeping with the elegant simplicity of the engine; 41mm KYB forks and KYB rear shock, both with adjustable preload and rebound damping only, come with 170mm of wheel travel. The frame is an adapted version of Guzzi’s traditional steel tube pipework, but uses the engine as a stressed member.

Weight is a claimed 208kg dry; add the weight of a fully fuelled tank and you’ll be knocking on 235kg – which isn’t exactly flyweight, but is reassuringly solid rather than unwieldy.

And the Guzzi is anything but unwieldy. First impressions are the steering is light and neutral – with the leverage from those wide bars it could hardly be heavy – but steady rather than ultra-reactive; the TT isn’t a busy ride, the way a Multistrada or any KTM adventure bike is. It rolls from side to side, much like a sports tourer – you don’t fire it into corners so much as gently lob it in, like an underarm toss. Again, it’s utterly fitting for the Guzzi’s blissed-out vibe. Hectic it is not.

Ground clearance is very limited though – the pegs, even without hero blobs, deck out at fairly moderate angles of lean and given the chassis general friendliness, it’s the one handling quirk that could, potentially, catch an enthusiastic rider out. A couple of times on Sardinia’s coastal route the V85 and I ploughed into a corner at a moderate lick, discovered it tightened up, and ran out of lean as the pegs folded up – forcing the bike onto a slightly wider line. It’s not dangerous, but worth bearing in mind if you get carried away.

Ride quality from the KYB suspension is excellent – tight and controlled enough to manage the TT’s weight without diving on the sharp brakes, yet supple and sloshy enough to gloop noisily over bigger bumps. The sound of damping oil circulating around the forks – or fork; one has the damping; the other has the spring – is plainly audible over potholes and humps.

But it all contributes to a smooth, unflustered ride – perfectly in tune with the engine’s power delivery and performance, the chassis is built for competence, not competition.

 

2019 Moto Guzzi V85TT Review Price Specs

 

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Brakes, wheels and tyres

The V85 TT’s front brakes are 320mm discs and radial 4-pot Brembos – but not the business-like monoblocs you’d find on the Ducati Multistradas of this world. They’re sharp and immediate, but easily modulated and have the subtlety to trail into corners with panic if you overcook it. ABS is present and correct, but unintrusive. The V85 TT hasn’t got a fancy IMU computer brain, so the Guzzi can’t take lean angle into account. But with its ground clearance, I’m not sure it actually needs to.

Wheels are 19in front and 17in rear wire-spoked with tubeless tyres; the two-tone V85 TT gets Michelin Anakee Adventures, and the mono-colour bikes come on slightly more road-oriented Metzeler Tourances. Both are very good on the road; the Michelins have none of the vagueness or floaty feeling sometimes associated with a more off-road biased crossover tyres – they can be pushed as hard as the Guzzi likes without giving up feel or feedback. The Tourances on the stock TT are just as adapt on the tarmac; the only downside is less ability off-road – but unless you’re on mud or wet grass (and maybe even then), the difference is marginal.

 

2019 Moto Guzzi V85TT Review Price Specs

Ergonomics and comfort

Guzzi say they’re put a lot of effort into satisfying a broad spectrum of human anatomies; they claim the riding position suits 90% of the population. With an 830mm seat height, it’s certainly not tall (although the TT is wider between the knees than some of its rivals). But it doesn’t feel comedy petite, either; clearly there’s plenty of leg room, given the proximity of the pegs to tarmac, and the broad, spongy seat and wide bars are generous and offer room for manoeuvre (literally; there’s plenty of steering lock for U-turns).

The pegs are slightly rear-set, which tips the rider’s upper body forward slightly – adding to the feeling the V85 TT’s riding position is based on a naked bike, or a sports tourer. With the bikini screen (adjustable for tilt, not height; taller options are available but could add to head buffeting, depending on your dimensions), offering classic sports tourer wind protection – directing wind onto the rider’s chest to support bodyweight, and leaving heads un-buffeted – the TT is pretty close to ideal. There’s none of the slumping associated with more upright adventure bikes.

The only potential problem area is the seat material; the foam is soft and bouncy, and compresses a lot under lardy arses. After a day’s riding I start to notice I’m wishing the seat is a bit harder and resistant to my bum force.

Overall, with its 23 litre tank, the TT has a substantial, solid quality that echoes the larger adventure bikes and lends the feeling it could happily trot across a continent in a day.

Although predominantly on tarmac. The V85 TT might have the off-road looks, and it’s more capable than a street-based scrambler like, say, BMW’s Urban G/S or Triumph’s Street Scrambler by virtue of its longer wheel travel. It’s probably on par with a bike like Triumph’s Scrambler 1200 XC – the road-based version – or Suzuki’s V-Strom. But against the longer-legged Scrambler 1200 XC, the V85 TT might struggle. And put the TT in the same off-road group as, say, an Africa Twin, F850GS or Tiger 800 XCa, and it’ll be back of the queue. KTM’s 790 Adventure would rinse it in an enduro.

 

2019 Moto Guzzi V85TT Review Price Specs

 

Equipment

The V85 TT isn’t a techo flagship – and it’s proud of it. Simplicity is the key. So it’s no surprise the electronics are rudimentary. But that doesn’t mean they’re crude.

Starting with the clocks, the TT has a TFT screen – graphics are a nice shade of blue, unless you don’t like blue (there’s no option to change it). The actual dash is fairly small – a bit more space and it would’ve looked less busy. Functions include the usual average mpg, speed, fuel range and temperature trip features – nothing is missing – and it even has the option to connect via Bluetooth to your phone for turn-by-turn guidance. Although why you’d want to, instead of simply bolting your phone on one of the TT’s many steel tubes around the dash and using Google Maps instead, is beyond me.

Switchgear is classy, and somehow contrives to look Italian. Chrome bezels frame the switches, including cruise control (with up and down mph increments). The mode switch on the right bar doesn’t actually change riding modes; it’s the trip and menu button. The three riding modes – Road, Rain and Off-Road – are accessed by pushing the starter button twice (while the engine’s running). Each mode is full power; Road has direct throttle response, Rain has reduced throttle response, and Off-Road is ‘optimised’ (it feels more direct than the road mode). The modes also modulate traction control – not a lot in Road, plenty in Rain, and very little in Off-Road. And they change the ABS set-up; Off-Road disable the rear brake. It’s also possible to turn ABS and TC off completely.

There are other neat touches; the twin headlights, designed to give a classic, 1990s look, are full LED – but the daytime running light is Guzzi’s eagle mascot – its wings light up by degrees when the ignition is turned on. Apparently the TT’s twin rear lights are modelled on a jet fighter’s afterburner (I’m sure someone else drew that comparison once on a launch; Yamaha’s R6, maybe). And don’t ask me why, but I like it. I also like the rear rack tubing – it’s got ‘strap me up with soft luggage’ written all over it.

 

2019 Moto Guzzi V85TT Review Price Specs

 

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT: Verdict

Hang on, we haven’t talked about the looks yet – and the V85 TT’s styling is a huge part of what makes the bike so attractive. Call me shallow, but don’t we all want to park something we feel good about looking at in the garage? And the V85 looks delicious. The two dual-colour bikes are best; the yellow V85 has the air of McDonald’s about it, which is harsh – but once you see it you can’t un-see it. The red dual-tone bike is the best version. And when I say ‘best’, what I mean is, I want one.
But ignoring the looks – assuming, say, you inhabit a warped reality in which you think it’s hideous – is the bike itself worth a hoot? Less power than its rivals, and less sophisticated, with lower-spec running gear? And air-cooled? Two valves per cylinder? Pushrod valve actuation? What manner of backwards-thinking madness is this?

All I can say is try it – you’ll be surprised how nice it can be to enjoy riding something well-balanced, practical, fast enough to entertain, slow enough to chill, and beautiful enough to turn heads at a hundred yards. If Moto Guzzi’s V85 TT isn’t the sleeper hit of 2019, I’ll take one apart and it eat it. Although, it looks edible as it is.

Three things I love about the Moto Guzzi V85 TT

• looks – it’s been a long time since my eyes were so pleased by a new bike (ok, BMW’s R nineT Urban G/S and Racer in 2017)

• chassis/engine balance – neither is best-in-class, but both are perfectly in tune with each other

• feel-good factor – if riding the V85 TT doesn’t make you feel cool, you’re probably not

 

Three things I don’t…

• TFT screen – bigger would be better

• seat – a bit less spongy, please

• ground clearance – needs more

 

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Specs

Capacity

853cc

Bore x Stroke

84.0mm x 77.0mm

Engine layout

90° transverse V-twin

Engine details

4v pushrod, a/c

Power

79bhp @ 7750rpm

Torque

59 lb.ft @ 5000rpm

Top speed

125mph (est)

Average fuel consumption

51.2mpg

Tank size

23 litres

Max range to empty (est)

250+ miles

Rider aids

Traction control, ABS, rider modes, cruise control

Frame

steel tube

Front suspension

41mm KYB usd forks

Front suspension adjustment

preload & rebound damping

Rear suspension

KYB monoshock

Rear suspension adjustment

preload & rebound damping

Front brake

2 x 320mm discs, four-pot calipers, ABS

Rear brake

260mm disc, two-pot caliper, ABS

Front tyre

110/80-19

Rear tyre

150/70-17

Rake/Trail

28°/128mm

Wheelbase

1530mm

Seat height

830mm (810mm to 850mm optional)

Kerb weight (est)

235kg

Warranty

unlimited miles/2 years

Website

www.motoguzzi.com/uk_EN/

 

Link to Bike Insurance

 

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