Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer and Bobber (2016) - First Ride Review!

Author: Phil West. Photos Milagro Posted: 17 Mar 2016

Given the enduring success of Moto Guzzi’s V7 retro roadsters, a bigger V9 version (or even two) has been a long time coming.

The 744cc V-twin has been one of the historic Italian firm’s biggest success stories of recent years. Originally launched back in 2008 as a kind of Italian take on the Triumph Bonneville, it’s a retro-styled twin based around the classic, ‘small block’ version of Guzzi’s characteristic, transversely-mounted, air-cooled, shaft-drive V-twin in a straightforward, novice-friendly and handsome rolling chassis. As such it proved an instant hit so much so that it spawned a whole range of variants including the Cafe Classic, Racer, Stone and Special not to mention this year’s new limited edition, scrambler-styled ‘Stornello’. Updated into V7 II guise last year, with a cleaner, tweaked powertrain and other mods, it’s a large part of the reason behind Guzzi’s UK 40% sales growth in 2015.

For some, more experienced or larger built riders, however, throughout all of that the V7 was still a little too ‘cute’, too small, too, er, ‘weedy’ – after all, even the latest improved version produces just 48bhp – hence the calls for a bigger version.

The new-for-2016 V9s (and there’s two of them) are the result – albeit with a slight caveat. while the V7s are classic roadsters or even cafe racers, complete with an upright gait and 17-inch wheels front and rear, the two new V9s are taking a slightly more laid back approach with a distinctly more cruiser flavour.

Moto Guzzi's new V9 RoamerMoto Guzzi's new V9 Bobber

If that’s a slight surprise, it shouldn’t be. Don’t forget, Guzzi, the ‘Grand Dame’ of the Italian industry, is a company steeped in cruiser DNA, a tradition which started with the first iconic California in 1971 then followed by middleweight variants such as the V35, V50, V65 and, in 1979, the first 750 Nevada. With all that in mind, the fact that the new V9s have designed to be, not bigger V7s but ‘beautiful, fun and safe’ successors to those cruisers and at the same time plug the gap in Guzzi’s range between its V7 roadsters and the current 1400cc California cruisers, makes perfect sense. Nor is the idea of a 900cc cruiser/roadster a completely new idea to the Mandello firm: it’s most recent example being the short-lived but entertaining 940cc Bellagio.

So, forget the notion that the new V9s are merely ‘bigger V7s’. They’re not. Instead, the idea from the outset, according to Guzzi Product Marketing Manager Diego Arioli, was to produce a “mid-sized custom” or, he continued, the “reinvention of a classic Guzzi segment”. These two bikes, the V9 Roamer and the V9 Bobber are the result.

Arioli went on to tell BikeSocial that, although much of the mechanicals are derived from the V7s, the intention from the outset was to not create bigger V7s but to instead create two machines with distinct custom personalities. So, while the more traditional V9 Roamer (the white or red bike in the pictures) is described by Guzzi as a ‘universal cruiser’ slathered with chrome and laid-back attitude, its stablemate, the V9 Bobber, as the name suggests, is designed to be a more hard-core, hot rod, US-style ‘Bobber’, or ‘compact muscle bike’, as Guzzi prefer to call it, cloaked in matt black and pared-down cool.

55bhp, 853cc V-twin of the Bobber matches the Roamer

The heart of both, however, is identical: a heavily-revised ‘small block’ Guzzi V-twin motor (ie that from the V7 as opposed to the ‘big block 1200cc Griso or 1400cc California) in a similarly updated yet still instantly recognizable V7 rolling chassis.

And heavily revised it is: Guzzi themselves boldly claim that, compared to the V7, a full 90% of the components used on the new V9s are different and, having examined them closely in the flesh, far be it for us to claim any different.

Let’s start with the engine. According to Luca Balduino, Head of the overall V9 Project, the Guzzi transverse V-twin was virtually completely re-designed with two objectives: first, Euro4 compatibility in terms of noise and emissions and, second maximization, not of power, but of torque, with the specific aim being for 95% of the new unit’s grunt being available below 3000rpm.

To achieve that, the V7-derived motor (which dates all the way back to the original ‘small-block’, the V35) has had its biggest makeover in recent memory. At the bottom end, the crankcases have been extensively modified with new oil ways to improve cooling and reduce power losses while there’s a new wet sump and generator cover, too.

Moto Guzzi's V9 Roamer

The top end, meanwhile (comprising barrels, pistons and heads) are all-new. Although still an air-cooled, twin pushrod, two-valve affair, displacement is increased to 853cc (from the V7’s 744cc) via both larger bore and stroke (to 84 x 77mm from the V7’s 80 x 74mm). Meanwhile, the combustion chamber has been completely redesigned while Guzzi has also added what it calls an ‘auxiliary air system’ (which basically feeds cooling air through two new channels) plus fitted a new, three-way catalytic converter in the stainless two-into-two exhaust to help achieve Euro4. Induction, meanwhile, is by a single throttle body (chosen for slimness between the knees, crucial on a Guzzi) Magnetti Marelli fuel injection system.

The result is a peak power of 55bhp @ 6250rpm, which is 7bhp up on the V7 and, perhaps more impressively, peak torque of 46lb.ft at just 3000rpm (compared to the V7’s 40.3lb.ft @ 5000rpm), which is not just more grunty, but significantly lower in the range – just as it should be for a cruiser. (For learner types, meanwhile, an A2 licence compliant 35KW/47bhp version is also set to become available later in the year…)

Nor do the revisions end there: the transmission gets a larger diameter (160-170mm) single plate clutch to help cope with the added torque. The six-speed gearbox gets an extensive makeover with a new primary drive which alters the overall ratio plus taller first and sixth and cogs, the latter now intended as a kind of cruising ‘overdrive’. While, finally, powertrain-wise, there’s also a new shaft drive unit intended to improve reliability which is housed in a similarly all-new, die-cast aluminium swing arm housing, necessary to accommodate the new, wider, cruiser-style 150-section rear tyre (the V7 has only a 130).

See, told you it was different. Even the V7’s angular cylinder barrels have been replaced with more rounded ones.

Minimal degree of electronic rider aids on the two new Guzzi's

The V9’s chassis and running gear gets more changes than you might expect, too. Although the V7’s tubular steel, twin loop frame is essentially the same, that bike’s 17-inch roadster wheels have been swapped for new 19/16in (for the cruiser Roamer) and 16/16in (for the Bobber) combos. The smaller rear wheel combines with shorter (preload adjustable) Kayaba shocks to give a lower rear end. While at the front both bikes share non-adjustable, 40mm conventional forks and a 320 Brembo single disc gripped by the same firm’s four-piston caliper.

Further new features common to both V9s are, firstly, a minimal degree of electronic rider aids which Guzzi claim are the first in the class. These comprise a two-level traction control system (dubbed MGTC for ‘Moto Guzzi Traction Control’,) plus a dual channel ABS system from Continental which acts separately on the front and rear wheels. In addition, there’s: a new, ‘peanut’ cruiser style, 15-litre, steel fuel tank (the V7’s is plastic); single analogue speedo ‘clock’ (there’s no tacho) with built-in idiots and digital LCD panel for trips, temp, odo, gear indicator and more; stylish new alloy-detailed switchgear; embroidered seats; an aluminium fuel cap, USB port, aluminium side panels and footrest hangers and even Smartphone connectivity – all of which goes some way to justify Guzzi’s claim of embellishing its new V9’s with high quality components and a great attention to detail.

Instead, front wheel apart, what mostly distinguishes the Roamer from the Bobber are the ergonomics and cosmetics. Where the more traditional cruiser Roamer has a more deeply padded seat and pull-back buckhorn bars to give a slightly more leisurely, laid back riding position; the Bobber has a more pared-down, thinner saddle combined with virtually straight ‘drag’ handlebars.

Matt paint and large balloon style tyres are the giveaways on the Bobber V9

By the same token, there are plenty of cosmetic differences, too. Where the Roamer has metallic paint and chrome aplenty, the Bobber has matt paint and with chrome completely substituted for matt black on everything from the shock springs to the pipes, bars, bar ends and even mirrors. In addition, both have different mudguards and, naturally, different badging.

But enough of all that – what are they like to ride? Our quick spin, as is usual with new Guzzis, took place along the spectacular mountain roads in the environs of the historic Moto Guzzi factory itself at Mandello Del Lario on the banks of Lake Como.

Taking the Roamer first I was immediately struck by two things: first, how familiar and traditional the basic architecture of the bike is (there’s no ignoring its V7 roots) followed in quick succession by how improved and modernized much of the rest of it is as well. The switchgear, for example, is a pleasant surprise on the eye, as is the classic, sturdy-looking (and trendily offset) single clock. There’s also the new tank (complete with fancy filler) and pleasingly tactile paint, stitched seat etc.

From the saddle, however, the biggest impression is of an old friend: the seat is ‘V7 low’, the riding position more ‘roadster’ than I expected, knees nudge cylinder heads in the same old way.

This is an easy, unintimidating, novice-friendly machine very much in the V7 mould and yet one with a touch more cruiser posture and a tad more low-down punch. Overall, performance I’d say is adequate rather than inspiring. The extra low-down oomph means, simply, it can pull a higher gear than you’d expect which in turn makes everything smoother, easier and more cruiser ‘rumbly’. While the 19in front wheel makes the steering seem a little lighter and less planted and assured, but not markedly so. So no, the Roamer’s handling is nothing to particularly write home about, either. It’s an old school, fairly basic (but also sweetly detailed and temptingly affordable) roadster/cruiser hybrid, and not much more than that.

So what about the Bobber? In truth, this is the one Guzzi UK are expecting the stronger sales performance from, predicting 80% of V9 sales will be of the blacked out machine.

In the flesh you can see why. Although the differences between the Bobber and Roamer are, in one sense, minimal – basically being that balloon-tyred, 16-inch front wheel, black in place of chrome, drag bars and a more cut down seat and mudguards – the effect is pretty dramatic. Here, for the first time, is a European bike which fairly credibly rivals Harley’s popular Forty-Eight sportster in being a balloon-tyred, pared down ‘bobber’ in the true spirit of the post WW2, converted-military-Harleys-by-ex-US-servicemen originals that are currently so fashionable.

As such the Bobber has far more ‘bad-assed’, hard-core attitude than the softer, shinier Roamer. Its more forward-canted riding position is sportier, more aggressive (although not by as much as you might expect); that plus the revised geometry means you feel a stronger, more assured connection to the front wheel, enough to have you throwing it more eagerly into turns. While the thinner seat exaggerates the V9’s already slightly harsh rear ride, compounding its emphasis on style rather than comfort (the Bobber certainly isn’t a bike for long hauls.)

If I was to come completely clean I’d confess I’m not really much of a bobber fan. The whole thing strike me as a bit of a fad, I don’t like the black, I don’t approve of the balloon front tyre, I don’t agree with the ‘less is more’ ethos. That said, I understand it’s bang ‘on trend’, as they say, is a more entertaining ride and a far better blank canvas for accessories and customizing. A fashionable Guzzi with decent dynamics, pleasing finish and all at a tempting price? My, the Grand Italian Dame may be on to something after all…


Personally I find it easy to be a little disappointed with the new V9s – I sooooo wanted a ‘bigger V7’, their performance and handling dynamics are adequate rather than inspiring and I’m not a particular fan of the ‘bobber style’, either.

Nor are they without fault. The indicator switch on the flashy new switchgear felt a little frail; the rear suspension is choppy verging on harsh; low down delivery is a little lurchy and both, like most Guzzis, still feel like something from a different age.

But there’s plenty to commend and feel good about, too. Both are easy to ride, have plenty of character and more than enough performance for their target audience. Yes, they’re slightly old school but that’s also a plus – they’re proper Italian motorcycles made of metal (especially when some rivals we could name are made in the Far East out of lots of plastic), have an authenticity and charm few can match and are also temptingly priced and with an accessories range that’s better than ever and includes leather luggage, jackets, alloy parts and more.

To sum up: neither are world-beating. Instead, they’re good old fashioned, old school motorbikes, warts and all, complete with slightly daft names. The Roamer is the pleasant, be-chromed, traditional roadster/cruiser hybrid, and a worthy successor to the late 750 Nevada. The Bobber the fat-tyred, attitude-laden fashion junky that’s a true rival to Harley. Neither, sadly for me, are a ‘bigger V7’, but at this rate of improvement (and Guzzi has grown steadily in the last five years with 10 new models in the last two years), maybe that’s still to come.


Plenty of old school character on show

Speedo but no rev counter Familiar and traditional architecture of a proper motorbike 

V9 Bobber

A birds eye view of what the V9 Bobber wold be like to sit on

Proper Italian motorcycles are made from metal not plastic Massive balloon tyres are a tell-tale sign of a Bobber



Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber

Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer



Air-cooled 4-stroke transversely-mounted 90º V-twin, pushrods with two valves per cylinder, wet sump lubrication





Max Power*

55 bhp / 41 kW @ 6250 rpm


Max Torque*

46 ft-lbs / 62 Nm @ 3000 rpm


Max speed




Tubular steel double cradle



Front: Telescopic fork, Ø 40 mm, 130mm travel

Rear: Cast aluminium dual swing arm, twin shock absorbers, adjustable spring pre-load. 97mm travel



Front: Single disc brake, diameter 320 mm, opposed four-piston floating caliper, ABS

Rear: Single disc brake, diameter 260 mm, twin-piston floating caliper, ABS



Cast aluminium

Front: 3.50-16”, 130/90-16

Rear: 4.00-16”, 150/80-16

Cast aluminium

F: 2.50 x 19", 100/90-19

R: 4.00 x 16", 150/80-16


Length: 2124mm

Height: 1110mm

Width: 892.3mm

L: 2134mm

H: 1110mm

W: 722.4mm




Seat height



Weight (wet)

200 kg

200 Kg

Fuel tank capacity

15 litres


Colour options (model dependent)

Matt Nero Massiccio with yellow decals

Matt Grigio Sport with red decals

Bianco classico (white)

Rosso Rubino (red)


£7999, available March

£7899, available March


What do you think of the two new V9 bikes from Moto Guzzi?