Con­tin­ued over

Motorcycle News (UK) - - New Bikes - By Jon Urry MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

he cur­rent trend in the mo­tor­cy­cle mar­ket for turned-up jeans, beards and all things retro is play­ing right into the hands of Moto Guzzi. Cel­e­brat­ing their 95th birth­day this month, the Ital­ian man­u­fac­turer have the kind of her­itage that most com­pa­nies would chop off a limb for, and as a re­sult they are en­joy­ing a resur­gence in pop­u­lar­ity.

Since 2011, Guzzi’s world­wide sales have grown 8% ev­ery year, and in 2015 the UK saw a 40% growth in num­bers, mainly driven by the pop­u­lar­ity of the re­vi­talised V7 range. How­ever, as im­pres­sive as this growth is, the stats are slightly mis­lead­ing be­cause in the UK Guzzi only sell around 300 units a year (world­wide it is nearer to 10,000) there­fore a big per­cent­age in­crease can be had for a rel­a­tively small in­crease in turnover. That said, any up­wards trend is worth hav­ing in an in­creas­ingly crowded retro mar­ket. So, with the V7 lead­ing the charge, for 2016 Guzzi have de­cided to ex­pand their model range with a pair of larger ca­pac­ity mod­els – the V9 Bob­ber and Roamer.

Both bikes use es­sen­tially the same ba­sic plat­form of a tubu­lar steel chas­sis and alu­minium swingarm with an in­te­grated shaft drive pow­ered by the new V9 en­gine. As its name sug­gests, the V9 is a larger ca­pac­ity ver­sion of the V7 mo­tor, but – thanks to Euro4 reg­u­la­tions – the unit has had far more than a sim­ple big-bore.

Guzzi have gone to ex­ten­sive lengths to en­sure that the V9 is what purists would call a ‘proper’ mo­tor. And by ‘proper’ we mean a 90-de­gree trans­verse V-twin with push rods, and air-cooled rather than shrouded by a wa­ter jacket. Oddly enough, Guzzi’s tra­di­tion has also played its hand in the firm achiev­ing this tricky goal.

Pass­ing Euro4 re­quires mak­ing the en­gine cleaner run­ning, some­thing Guzzi have achieved by im­prov­ing the com­bus­tion cham­ber’s shape and the po­si­tion of the two valves within it. With­out go­ing into too much de­tail, the V9’s heads are rounder in­ter­nally, its pistons flat­ter and its valves steeper an­gled, the net re­sult of which is a nice clean burn. But a bet­ter burn means a

Thot­ter head and where wa­ter-cool­ing would usu­ally have been re­quired, the fact Guzzi’s her­itage de­mands the trans­verse ar­range­ment of its cylin­ders, that also means they are nicely sit­u­ated di­rectly in the line of a cool­ing air­flow. Tra­di­tional cool­ing fins and a new neat duct that chan­nels cool air around the heads mean Guzzi have done what many thought wasn’t pos­si­ble – made their V-twin Euro4 com­pli­ant. But was it worth the ef­fort?

When it comes to retro bikes there are two schools of thought – make it look old yet feel mod­ern or make it both ap­pear and feel authen­tic. The new Tri­umph Bon­nie mod­els are set in the re­fined camp while the Guzzi is most def­i­nitely, and de­lib­er­ately, planted on the side of au­then­tic­ity.

When you push the starter but­ton on the con­spic­u­ously too mod­ern switch- gear, the V9 bur­bles and vi­brates into life. It’s no softly, softly, mo­tor - this is a proper Guzzi en­gine, and when you blip the throt­tle it lurches to the right thanks to the torque re­ac­tion. Go to en­gage first gear and the mod­ern re­fine­ment of the light clutch ac­tion is quickly re­placed by a solid clunk as the gears slam home. I quite like this trait, and the way the lever keeps that spongy down­wards feel­ing that you get on old bikes rather than stop­ping solid, means that ev­ery­thing feels au­then­ti­cally Guzzi on the new V9 – even if it is styled like an Amer­i­can bob­ber.

Both the Bob­ber and Roamer (see p16) have their own unique style and the Bob­ber’s look is de­fined by its chunky 16-inch ‘bal­loon’ tyres and stripped­back body­work. But such rad­i­cal items also play their hand when it comes to the bike’s han­dling and they cer­tainly do weird things to the way the Bob­ber rides.

En­ter­ing a cor­ner on the Bob­ber at

‘It’s no softly, softly, mo­tor - this is a proper Guzzi en­gine, and lurches when you blip it’

The Bob­ber has two-level trac­tion con­trol as well as ABS as stan­dard and a USB port un­der the steer­ing head. The trac­tion con­trol uses the ABS sys­tem’s sen­sors and al­ters the en­gine’s ig­ni­tion tim­ing to re­duce power to the rear wheel. It can be turned off but re­ac­ti­vates with each

ride. Both new Moto Guzzi V9 mod­els use a tubu­lar steel frame and fea­ture a new die-cast alu­minium swingarm with a re­vised de­sign of the Ital­ian firm’s shaft drive sys­tem that is more ro­bust and al­lows the fit­ment of a wider 150-sec­tion

rear tyre.

Al­though de­rived from the V7’s 750cc en­gine, the 853cc mo­tor is heav­ily re­vised and fea­tures im­proved oil distri­bu­tion as well as new pistons, heads and cylin­ders and tweaked gear­box. It has a trans­verse 90-de­gree push rod V-twin lay­out with a shaft drive. An A2-li­cence ver­sion is

also avail­able.

The Bob­ber style orig­i­nated in post-war Amer­ica where riders stripped down bikes by re­mov­ing heavy metal com­po­nents such as the mud­guards to cre­ate a sleek and sporty pro­file. The term Bob­ber is be­lieved to be a de­rived from the

ex­pres­sion bob-tail.

The 40mm con­ven­tional fork has no ad­just­ment, while the twin shocks only have ad­justable spring preload. Both wheels are 16-inch items and run Con­ti­nen­tal Mile­stone ‘bal­loon’ tyres with a 130/90 at the front,

and a 150/80 at the rear.

The V9 mod­els can be fit­ted with the Moto Guzzi Me­dia Plat­form, which al­lows a smart­phone to con­nect to the bike via a free down­load­able app. MG-MP comes with fea­tures such as ‘ find my bike’, a nav­i­ga­tion

aid and a data log. first it feels like it has a very steep head an­gle as the 16-inch bal­loon tyres make the bike drop in­stantly off the cen­tre of the tyre be­fore re­quir­ing you to hold it down in a bend to keep it on line. It’s not nat­u­ral, and does feel quite dis­con­cert­ing at first, but in time you kind of get used to it. I’d never de­scribe it as good han­dling, but it doesn’t ruin the ex­pe­ri­ence ei­ther, and is just a quirk of this style of bike. And this is a ma­chine full of char­ac­ter quirks.

I’m a huge fan of au­then­tic­ity when it en­hances a rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and the Guzzi’s V9 en­gine is cer­tainly authen­tic to the com­pany’s her­itage. It’s not the smoothest, and the ini­tial throt­tle re­ac­tion is a bit abrupt, but when you feed it fos­sil juice the vi­bra­tion and im­pres­sion of large pistons thump­ing up and down in the bores is very evoca­tive. It’s not re­fined like the Bon­nies, but a Guzzi shouldn’t be; this is good old-school Ital­ian en­gi­neer­ing. But, im­por­tantly, this au­then­tic­ity doesn’t ruin the ride.

Guzzi have given the V9 mod­els a light crank to en­sure there isn’t too much ag­gres­sive en­gine brak­ing, the clutch is light, the vi­bra­tions not too in­tru­sive, and there are mod­ern touches such as ABS and trac­tion con­trol. There is even a gear in­di­ca­tor in the dash, al­though com­i­cally it re­acts about half a sec­ond af­ter each change of cog.

Af­ter spend­ing some time on the Bob­ber I do at least un­der­stand why riders are turn­ing to­wards this his­toric brand. It’s cer­tainly not a re­fined bike, but that’s an in­te­gral part of its charm. The en­gine has real spirit and this helps gloss over the odd han­dling and fairly poor rear shocks, which are un­able to cope with any­thing other than small un­du­la­tions in the road. But over­all there is some­thing very hon­est about the Bob­ber. It feels, acts and clunks like a proper authen­tic Guzzi should.

While I can’t deny the 16-inch wheels and fat tyres do some strange things to the Bob­ber’s han­dling, be­cause of the over­all feel of the bike I didn’t ac­tu­ally mind this too much. Are they a case of de­sign over func­tion? Yes, of course, but I don’t think buy­ers will care as it does gives the Bob­ber such a vis­ually strik­ing look. I just wish Guzzi hadn’t called it ‘Bob­ber’.

For me the Bob­ber isn’t a true bob­ber, it’s sim­ply a fat-rimmed retro. I’d rather it had a name that didn’t make it sound like it was jump­ing on some­one else’s band­wagon –Guzzi should rely on their own her­itage, rather than at­tempt­ing some sort of Amer­i­can pas­tiche.


Han­dling, sus­pen­sion, styling

New V9 Bob­ber com­bines 95 years of Moto Guzzi her­itage with beau­ti­fully fab­ri­cated US cus­tom cruiser style

Amer­i­can styling and bal­loon tyres grace the new char­ac­ter­ful Moto Guzzi Bob­ber

Stop, carry on Op­tional me­dia plat­form con­nects phone to bike Frame game Rocker cov­ers pack plenty of de­light­ful de­tail Flip­ping the Vee 15-litre teardrop-shaped tank is lac­quered and lovely Amer­i­cana Even the fas­ten­ers show at­ten­tion to de­tail

Get a grip An app for that Sim­ple clock shows ba­sics, but op­tional smart­phone app gives ex­tra in­for­ma­tion

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