MOTO Guzzi has a long and illustrious history in motorcycles. But unlike other Italian marques such as Aprilia and Ducati, Guzzis never really came on to my radar.
That was until the mid-Noughties, when an ill-fated test ride undermined any confidence I had in the brand as the new machine inexplicably left me stranded two hours after I’d picked it up.
Then, in 2004, Piaggio group bought Moto Guzzi (and Aprilia) and invested heavily in bringing the brand back to glory days. But Moto Guzzi then lost its sole Irish dealership and that was that, or so it seemed.
Now Megabikes in Dublin is the Irish agent for the Aprilia, Moto Guzzi and Piaggio, with a number of demo bikes available. And when I got a call with the offer of a test ride on Moto Guzzi’s V85TT, I was intrigued.
The TT stands for Tutto Terrano (all-terrain), with the bike fitting into the adventure or scrambler sector, depending on how you see it. After some time in the saddle, I’d say it’s also a damn fine tourer, as well as being a very competent everyday bike .
The retro looks are reminiscent of 1980s scramblers, with the bug-eyed headlights and Moto Guzzi’s eagle motif appearing across the unit as an LED daytime running light. The test bike came in a ‘Sabbia Namib’ colour scheme, with gold panels nicely off-set against the red and black trimmings.
In the engine room is a belter of an 853cc OHV V-twin that produces 80bhp and 80Nm of torque. But these figures don’t tell the full story. Because 90 per cent of the torque is available from 3,750 rpm, this is a hugely amicable motor that rewards you with loads of pull in pretty much any gear.
A cantilever rear monoshock and Kabaya 41mm front shock are both adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping, with Brembo 320mm radial-mounted callipers at the front and a single Brembo 260mm disc at the rear. ABS comes as standard.
Also standard are three riding modes — road, rain and off-road — which alter the engine mapping and the MGCT traction control and ABS, as well as delivering a different response from the ride-by-wire throttle control. A TFT dash is informative and easy to navigate.
The riding position is comfortable in the extreme, and there’s plenty of space for luggage and two-up riding. This is a machine with which you could happily spend all day in the saddle, the 23-litre tank giving you a claimed range of 400km. In real-world riding, you’d certainly get 300-plus kilometres.
Out on the road it’s apparent that the V85TT’s designers spent a lot of time and effort getting the package just right. Everything just seems to fit like a glove, from the beautifully responsive and characterful engine, to the way the bike soaks up the bumps when pushing it, to the feedback you get from the front and the rear as if the bike’s whispering to you to ease off or push on.
Prices start at €13,995, which gives you all the kit above in a package that feels supremely well-built.
The model tested came with the Touring pack, which gives you a taller and wider screen, spacious ‘Urban’ panniers (the 37 litre right-hand pannier can hold a full-face helmet, while the left has a 27.5-litre capacity), fog lights, adjustable heated hand grips and Michelin Anakee Adventure tyres.
With this package, you also get Moto Guzzi MIA, the multimedia platform that allows the rider to connect to the bike via their smartphone.
The V85TT is like nothing else in the mid-range adventure market. And after a couple of weeks with this bike that somehow does a little bit of everything, I have a new-found love for Moto Guzzis.