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V85 TT Moto Guzzi Test Ride Review

Post received 24 March 2020

By nab301

A local bike shop sent an email - they were having an open day at their new premises. "Phone to book a test ride on a range of Piaggio and Yamaha products" it said. I had done that on Yamaha at a previous open day and having owned an  '04 Guzzi Breva 750 very recently I ignored the V7 versions and booked the V85 TT.

The large v-twin Moto Guzzi adventure bike in the car park ready to ride

The day arrived and not withstanding Covid 19 I kept my distance and familiarised myself with the basics of the bike before I joined the group ride out. I'm 6' 4" with a 33" inside leg  and the V85 fitted me perfectly in the tank to knee interface and the seat to peg height, so far so good! I believe the seat is height adjustable but time didn't allow me to investigate

I started the engine and it had a gentle rocking and slightly lumpy idle (more lumpy I felt than I remember my Breva). I selected first gear a little noisily and as I barely opened the throttle and let out the clutch the bike got under way with no hesitation and seemingly endless torque (although this perception could have been coloured by the fact that I've spent most of the winter buzzing around on a 125 cc Honda....).

Despite the limitations of the 40 odd minute group rideout the bike felt very good. It handled bumps and speed ramps well, was unaffected by crosswinds on a very breezy day (even with large panniers fitted) and just pulled seamlessly like a train in any gear on small throttle openings. The route didn't allow me to stretch the bike's legs above 100km/h but at that speed the screen  seemed fine. The seat felt good but I'd need longer to confirm this over a full day.

The bike has a quality feel about it although I guess at local prices around €15,000 depending on spec it should do.

Looking at the side we see the Moto Guzzi branded panniers and the large piston stuck out the side

I didn't get a chance to fiddle with the 3 power modes so I'm not sure if these would affect the low down grunt that the bike appeared to have and the dash has a lot of features including a motorsport inspired christmas tree lights effect as the engine gets near the redline.

Niggles were the indicator switch which felt more like an old style headlight on off slider switch and for me the bike felt heavy when changing direction at low speeds (hard on my shoulders). However grip on the Annakee (I think) tyres was good wet or dry. Also gearchanges in the lower gears were a clunky/noisy affair for me and it took a lot of  conscious effort for smooth/noiseless changes both up and down. Brakes were excellent although a little spongy probably due to not being bedded in fully.

The front of the V85 TT with the typical adventure bike styling

For comparison on the day I also had a spin on a Honda CB500X and although it might be heresy to Guzzi enthusiasts I guess I just prefer chain drive parallel twins. The 500 feels, is and steers a lot lighter and for me was a better all rounder even if it didn't have the the quality feel  of the Guzzi.

Reading up online about power outputs and torque, it seems that max torque on the Guzzi is produced under 4k rpm which would sum up what I felt.

I also had a "quick" (in time rather than speed) spin on the Piaggio Elettrica scooter. I'm not a scooter nut which showed when I tried to blip the throttle and pull the "clutch" lever as I approached the first junction... It's rated at 70kmh although I didn't reach more than about 60kmh. The small wheels felt a bit skittish at first and with no traffic (for speed comparison) on the industrial estate I was riding around, the scoot felt very slow but hey, I had my first spin on an electric PTW!!

The next day as a comparison I rolled out my 20 year old 125k mile BMW R1100S for a spin. Initially the uprated Wilbers  suspension felt a bit primitive compared to the V85 but within a few miles I was in the groove. The engine has similar power to the Guzzi, 80ish BHP at the rear wheel measured on a rolling road a good few years ago. Although the BMW produces the power a little higher up the rev range, nearer 6k rpm to be precise, the BMW felt and according to the speedo was a lot quicker. 

I have aftermarket cam sprockets for the BMW which allow the valve timing to be advanced, moving torque lower down the revs (which would probably mimic the Guzzi) but presently I prefer it the way it is and haven't fitted them.

The gearchange  on the BMW feels better to me although I've owned it for over 15 years and clocked around 110k miles so I could just be more used to its foibles.

Comparisons to my recently owned '04 Breva 750. The Breva has less than 50 bhp, the engine feels a lot less powerful and a lot less torquey. Seat to peg height is a lot less, the bike is a lot lighter physically and actually changes direction a lot more easily, almost to the point of being unstable (depending on tyre choice). The 5 speed box on the Breva is quite smooth and it's possible to have noiseless changes but it feels like a 50's or 60's gearbox with very long gear lever travel between changes.

Fuelling compared to the V85 is poor requiring careful set up of twin throttle bodies to prevent surging and flat spots while utilising only 1 lambda sensor. The V85 like all later Guzzis appears to have twin lambda sensors and a single throttle body. The fuelling on my spin was absolutely perfect.

Thanks to Ciaran, Derek and all the staff at Megabikes Dublin for facilitating the very well organised open day. Maybe sometime in the future I can have a longer solo ride out on familiar roads as a more accurate comparison against other bikes.

If you want to review your own bike or one you've borrowed for the afternoon - click here.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North said :-
Thanks Nigel, I would like to have a go on the V85. Although not a lot of point at the moment. How do you think it would handle a pillion and luggage.
27/03/2020 16:13:43 UTC
ROD said :-
Thanks for the review Nigel.
I have cast an eye over the Moto Guzzi v85tt Travel as a possible replacement when I change my bike, but like most adventure style bikes the seat height would be a problem for myself.
In all other respects I think it would fit my requirements.
I look forward to a more affluent Asian market for larger capacity bikes, where the average size rider is closer to my size, and the bikes for that market will have lower seats.
27/03/2020 18:07:19 UTC
nab301 said :-
I think it should be ok with a pillion and luggage , there seems to be plenty of happy owners on Guzzi specific websites , a few describing long european tours last year with a good tank range and photos showing bikes well loaded with camping gear ,and reasonable but not exceptional economy (60mpg) although this plummets apparently over 70mph .
As for my solo ride , i'm over 100kg (weight in proportion to height...) with my bike gear and the V85 coped well bumps and speed ramps . I can only assume the preload was on solo settings allowing for adjustment ( pity i didn't check it now ) with a pillion . Obviously a test ride (for those interested) late in the year may be the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

28/03/2020 13:10:36 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Thanks Nigel, one to keep an eye on.
Although with MG being on Lake Como, I think, it will probably be in a hell of a mess for some time to come. I think I almost rode past it once en-route from Lugano to Slovenia, 2017 I think.
What bike manufacturers will disappear altogether I wonder.
Strange times, and I'm looking forward to that light.
Y'all stay safe.
28/03/2020 13:26:15 UTC

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