STREET­FIGHTER MEETS SCRAM­BLER

‘The TT… also builds on lessons that Guzzi have learnt from sev­eral decades spent in try­ing to crack the dual-pur­pose mar­ket, dat­ing back to the 1980s and ’90s, when the firm’s dual-pur­pose Quota 1000 was too tall, heavy, and crude to at­tract many rid­ers’

Bike India - - MOTO GUZZI -

Story: Roland Brown Pho­tog­ra­phy: Moto Guzzi and Andy Saun­ders

Even Moto Guzzi’s staff Must have been sur­prised by the suc­cess of the v85 tt last year. af­ter all, pro­duc­tion in Man­dello del Lario had been un­spec­tac­u­lar for decades. count­less new mod­els had come and gone with­out mak­ing much im­pact, let alone break­ing sales records or ap­proach­ing the sta­tus of 1970s icons such as the 850 Le Mans or orig­i­nal cal­i­for­nia. sud­denly, the two-wheeled world couldn’t get enough of a new bike with Guzzi’s trade­mark pair of air-cooled pots stick­ing di­ag­o­nally out on each side. show-go­ers had swooned over the ad­ven­ture v-twin on its un­veil­ing at eicMa in Mi­lan; jour­nal­ists had en­thused at the press rid­ing launch in sar­dinia. More im­por­tantly, cus­tomers were mak­ing it a hit in the show­rooms — so much so that for a while the at­mo­spheric old fac­tory on the banks of Lake como couldn’t keep up with de­mand.

Look­ing over the Guzzi’s stubby per­spex screen as a curv­ing main road un­rav­els at about 125 km/h on a sunny af­ter­noon months later, this out­break of ital­ian-style tt ma­nia seems per­plex­ing — but, at the same time, en­tirely jus­ti­fied. that con­tra­dic­tion is ap­par­ent in many ways, not least en­gine per­for­mance. the v85 tt feels per­fectly con­tent at that speed and happy to add a gen­tle burst of ac­cel­er­a­tion when re­quired, but lacks the grunt to get my adren­a­line flow­ing as a more pow­er­ful bike would.

sim­i­larly, the Guzzi is de­liv­er­ing a pleas­ing plat­form from which to watch the hedgerows flash by, with­out be­ing high­tech or lux­u­ri­ous. pro­vided i don’t rev it too hard,the tt is thrub­bing along with a gen­tle vi­bra­tion and re­strained ex­haust sound that any­one who’s rid­den a Guzzi v-twin would recog­nise. it’s prov­ing re­spectably quiet, roomy, com­fort­able, and well-ap­pointed.

and although its chas­sis is not par­tic­u­larly so­phis­ti­cated, i’m fine with that. the fairly long-travel sus­pen­sion is soak­ing up all but the big­gest bumps pretty well, while re­tain­ing suf­fi­cient con­trol that when a round­about ap­pears, i’m glad of the chance to leave my brak­ing late, then squeeze the lever hard, tread down a few gears, and crank round at an en­thu­si­as­tic pace.

some­times i’ve been adding an ex­tra lap just for fun, rel­ish­ing the bike’s cor­ner­ing abil­ity as though its “tt” stood for tourist trophy rather than that “all ter­rain” des­ig­na­tion con­firms the v85 tt’s de­sign brief as a con­tender in the thriv­ing mid­dleweight ad­ven­ture cat­e­gory, amid com­pe­ti­tion from bikes in­clud­ing bMW’s f 850 Gs and honda’s africa twin. that’s timely, as is its abil­ity to join the retro-themed scram­bler ranks pop­u­larised by du­cati, tri­umph, and more.

if the tt gains by hav­ing a foot in both camps, it also builds on lessons that Guzzi have learnt from sev­eral decades spent in try­ing to crack the dual-pur­pose mar­ket, dat­ing back to the 1980s and ’90s, when the firm’s dual-pur­pose Quota 1000 was too tall, heavy, and crude to at­tract many rid­ers. More re­cently, the stelvio 1200 had its mer­its but failed to take a sig­nif­i­cant slice of the fast-ris­ing ad­ven­ture bike cake and the 744-cc v7 stor­nello was cute but un­der­pow­ered even for a mid­dleweight.

the v85 tt slips neatly into a gap be­tween the two and seems to have hit that Goldilocks spot of hav­ing just about enough of ev­ery­thing. it’s a prod­uct of Guzzi’s v9

fam­ily of 853-cc v-twins, fol­low­ing the for­get­table bob­ber and roamer road­sters. its en­gine re­tains the air­cooled, pushrod-op­er­ated, two-valves-per-cylin­der lay­out favoured since the ’60s, but is a com­plete re­vi­sion.

a long list of top-end updates, in­clud­ing ti­ta­nium in­let valves, re­duces weight and fric­tion con­sid­er­ably, al­low­ing an in­crease in peak out­put from 55 hp to a much more use­ful 80 hp. a re­designed crank­shaft and con­rod assem­bly cuts weight by al­most 30 per cent, im­prov­ing throt­tle re­sponse and re­duc­ing vi­bra­tion. the lu­bri­ca­tion sys­tem is also new, with a semi-dry sump lay­out that al­lows in­creased ground clear­ance.

the en­gine forms a stressed mem­ber of the pur­pose-built tubu­lar steel frame which holds up­side-down forks and a di­ag­o­nally mounted sin­gle shock, both from Kyb. each end gives a gen­er­ous 170 mil­lime­tres of wheel travel, with ad­justa­bil­ity for spring preload and re­bound damp­ing. Wheels are wire-spoked with a typ­i­cal ad­ven­ture bike’s 19inch di­am­e­ter front, rather than a road­ster’s 17-inch or truly dirt-friendly 21-inch.

slightly strangely, Guzzi have cho­sen to fit dif­fer­ent tyres to the sin­gle-colour and two-tone tts. this bluey-green test bike wears Met­zeler’s tourance nexts, as do its grey or red alternativ­es, but the two-colour model (white plus ei­ther yel­low or red), which also has a suede seat-cover and red frame, comes with Miche­lin’s slightly chunkier ana­kee ad­ven­tures.

ei­ther way, there’s no doubt that the tt’s style is a big part of its ap­peal. those twin lights, linked by the ea­gle-shaped day­time run­ning light, make a beaky face with the high-level front mud-guard. With its air-cooled pots jut­ting out se­duc­tively be­tween the shapely fuel-tank and alu­minium bash-plate, the Guzzi has a street­fighter-meets-scram­bler look that per­fectly re­flects its in­tended use.

that “just enough” feel­ing held true when i threw a leg over the 830-mm high seat and reached for­ward to the wide, slightly raised han­dle­bar. the tt is big enough to feel sub­stan­tial and roomy, yet, at 229 kg with a near-full tank, it’s lighter than most big ad­ven­ture bikes and low enough to be man­age­able for most rid­ers. that said, it weighs more than retro-ri­vals, in­clud­ing bMW’s r ninet scram­bler and du­cati’s scram­bler 1100 sport, and is more than 20 kg heav­ier than KtM’s 790 ad­ven­ture and yamaha’s ténéré 700.

it barked into life with a fa­mil­iar Guzzi side­ways shuf­fle and whir of air-cooled valveg­ear, if not with the pro­nounced lurch-and-rat­tle of old. in this and other re­spects, it’s sort of Guzzi lite, with enough tra­di­tional Man­dello char­ac­ter to make it in­ter­est­ing, but also with mod­ern touches to ap­peal to rid­ers com­ing from other brands. there’s a usb socket along­side the tft screen, which is colour­ful if slightly small and busy, and a choice of three rid­ing modes (road, rain, and of­froad), which au­to­mat­i­cally change the abs and trac­tion con­trol set­tings to suit,

turn­ing off the rear wheel anti-lock in the case of off-road.

in its mod­est way the en­gine is a gem, de­spite its 80-horse max­i­mum be­ing be­low the low-90s fig­ure that many mid­dleweights pro­duce these days. cru­cially, Guzzi’s engi­neers didn’t make the mis­take of chasing top-end power at the ex­pense of low­er­rev per­for­mance, as they ini­tially did with the stelvio. the tt’s power de­liv­ery is flex­i­ble and well-con­trolled and there’s plenty of urge through the mid-range.

Guzzi say that 90 per cent of max­i­mum torque is de­liv­ered from 3,750 rpm, which felt about right. from any­where much above 3,000 rpm the bike rum­bled for­ward obe­di­ently, get­ting in­creas­ingly en­thu­si­as­tic as it ap­proached the peak at 5,000 rpm. it was very much at home on twisty mi­nor roads, ac­cel­er­at­ing at an en­ter­tain­ing if not arm-strain­ing rate as those light­ened in­ter­nals showed their ben­e­fit in con­junc­tion with nicely me­tred fu­elling.

the re­vised six-speed gear­box is a no­table im­prove­ment on most Guzzi ef­forts of old, too. first went in with­out the tra­di­tional clonk and the box changed very sweetly, though it’s a shame there’s no quick-shifter even as an op­tion. the shaft fi­nal drive didn’t in­trude.

the tt also worked well on more open roads, hav­ing suf­fi­cient grunt for easy over­takes and cruis­ing at up to 125 km/h with a pleas­antly long-legged feel. above that speed, roughly five grand in top, i was aware of some tin­gling and the bike felt in­creas­ingly breath­less as it headed to­wards a top speed of close to 200 km/h. the Guzzi would some­times feel un­der­pow­ered if loaded with a pil­lion and lug­gage; a ru­moured larger-ca­pac­ity model would sat­isfy that need. for tour­ing it does at least have an eas­ily used cruise con­trol.

Rear Brake: 260-mm disc, twin-pis­ton Brembo caliper,

Front Wheel: 2.50 x 19; wire spoked

Rear Wheel: 4.25 x 17; wire spoked

Front Tyre: 110/80 R19 Met­zeler Tourance Next (Miche­lin Ana­kee Ad­ven­ture on two-colour model)

Rear Tyre: 150/70 R17 Met­zeler Tourance Next (Miche­lin Ana­kee Ad­ven­ture on two-colour model)

Rake/Trail: 28 de­grees/128 mm

Wheel­base: 1,530 mm

Seat Height: 830 mm

Ground Clear­ance: 23 litres

Tank Ca­pac­ity: Xxx 14.5 litres

Weight: 229 kg (with 90 per cent full tank; dry weight 208 kg)

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