Test Drives

April 11, 2017

Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer: Something for everyone

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Unassuming but likeable Moto Guzzi appeals across a wide range
The first thing that popped into my mind when I first saw the V9 Roamer from the Italian manufacturer Moto Guzzi was Well, another company that tries to woo nostalgic hipsters and baby boomers. Yes another variation on the retro coffee racer theme. A small tank, a beautiful almost rectangular and flat saddle, rolled up handlebar, the whole package. But I also remembered that Moto Guzzi is a brand that pays an almost obsessive attention to details. They have been building this kind of bike for a long time.

Sitting on the little Italian bike and lifting it from its stand, I found myself in front of a simplified cockpit but with an obvious touch of modernism. The different control buttons are ... beautiful. Funny to say but it struck me. The emergency stop switch is not the usual big red button but instead a nice little push button. Everything about this bike is a modern nod to the past.

First the simple, slightly rolled up and chromed handlebar brings the grips just under the hands naturally. This feels not only natural but also ensures no pressure is felt under the hands. The weight of the rider’s upper body then rests on the buttocks rather than on the shoulders. A big plus for longer rides.

The saddle is typical of cafe type motorcycles: long and flat but still comfortable. It is just fairly soft and narrow at the front to avoid putting pressure on the inside of the thighs and cut off the circulation. At 31 inches high, you can sit there for hours, even if it is not really a touring bike. The absence of a windshield or any kind of wind protection puts the rider in the wind and will force him or her to take a break to rest from time to time. This has an advantage: It gives us free time to answer the inevitable questions from all the people that this bike attracts at any stops.

For customization buffs, this Moto Guzzi offers a good choice of options. Not as many options as for the V7 but still an amazing choice of custom, vintage looking pieces that’ll allow the owner to make it his or her own.

The twin cylinder engine is completely new and cranks out a claimed 55 horsepower from an 853 cc mill. Nothing to impress the neighbours but just enough to have fun. This bike was made with rideability in mind and offers respectable torque throughout the 2000 to 7000 rpm range. The nice dial is simple and effective and offers minimal information, but to add a touch of modernism, Moto Guzzi also offers an optional smart phone app that churns out stats like lean angle, torque, power output, acceleration and so on. Not sure that this will sweep bike buyers off their boots but the option is interesting. On the other hand, the factory installed USB plug on the steering column is a good idea and quite practical to charge your cellular phone throughout the ride.

The drive shaft ensures ease of maintenance that is light years from that required for a true vintage motorcycle. The gearbox is pleasant and responds promptly and effectively. First gear is a little short but torquey while third gear is so versatile that the distracted rider can take off in third without too much trouble. Very convenient for urban exploration. The single-plate dry clutch is fairly quiet and traction control is as simple as it gets with wet and dry modes only.

The tank is a beauty and is truly the centrepiece on this bike. Its shape may be cumbersome for long-legged riders (not to mention engine heads that might also be in the way) but it has the benefit of having a true retro look in keeping with the old models of the Mandelo del Lario manufacturer. The bianco classico glossy white paint with red pinstripes of the model we rode is also a nice nod to the past.

Who is this bike for? The nostalgic who favours riding over roadside wrenching. The thirty something hipster for the same reasons. Beginners or perhaps even more experienced riders looking for a simple, classic easy-to-ride motorcycle. A motorcycle that brings us closer to the essence of motorcycling: two wheels, a handlebar and the sweet purr of an engine between our legs.

Where do we ride it? Winding roads, commuting, a night on the town with friends, short road trips with a loved one. In fact this bike will please quite a lot of people for different reasons. Some will appreciate its classic look, others will want to make it a fun way to get to work. No matter which group the buyer of this bike belongs to, if you choose it for the right reason, it will meet all your expectations.