The 2019 Moto Guzzi V85TT is a midsize scrambler with unique styling that’s as fresh to look at as it’s fun to ride. Read on for our full 2019 Moto Guzzi V85TT Review.
Moto Guzzi produced one of the big hits of last November’s EICMA Milan Show in the shape of its retro-themed V85TT adventure tourer, as in Tutto Terreno, or all-terrain, rather than Tourist Trophy! The production version of the Concept 85 show bike displayed at the same show one year earlier, this is the opening shot in a series of forthcoming new Guzzi middleweight models using the same Euro 4 compliant engine platform.
The chance to spend a 120-mile day in sunny Sardinia riding the result on the hilly, switchback roads of Italy’s second largest island demonstrated very well what a significant model this is for Italy’s oldest motorcycle manufacturer.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MILAGRO/ALBERTO CERVETTI, FRANCESCO VIGNALLI AND MARCO ZAMPONI
Guzzi management represents the V85TT as a replacement for the Stelvio, its previous dual-purpose (aka Crossover) model dating back to 2007, which was scrapped two years ago because it would have been too costly to upgrade its elderly 1151cc eight-valve OHV motor to Euro 4 compliance. But the V85TT is powered by an all-new air/oil-cooled 853cc engine with just two valves per cylinder, so it’s positioned in another category in terms of both capacity and engineering. It’s really a different type of motorcycle than anything Moto Guzzi has done lately.
Part adventure tourer, part streetfighter, part street scrambler, there’s nothing else quite like the V85TT in the marketplace right now, and youthful designer Mirko Zocco deserves compliments for producing a bike with unique styling that’s as fresh to look at as it’s fun to ride.
It’s available in a choice of five colors, with the three so-called Urban single tints of blue, grey and red, each with a black frame, retailing for approximately $12,800 and all fitted with tarmac-friendly Metzeler Tourance Next tires. An extra $200-plus is needed for the so-called Evocative two-tone red/yellow and red-white versions each with a red-painted frame, which have a different and much classier-looking seat fabric (though both shape and height are the same), and carry slightly more off-road-focused Michelin Anakee Adventure rubber. Both variants come with a 2.50 x 19-inch front wheel, and 4.25 x 17-inch rear. Wire wheels are fitted as standard with alloy rims, but both the 110/80 and 150/70 tires must carry tubes. Tubeless rims would have been much more costly.
The V85TT’s all-new 84 x 77mm OHV 90º transverse V-twin motor produces a claimed 80bhp/59kW at 7750 rpm, alongside 80Nm of torque at 5000 rpm. But Moto Guzzi claims that 90% of that torque is available at just 3750 rpm, and the ultra-flat torque curve on the dyno chart backs that up. At the other end of the rev scale the limiter is set at 7800 rpm, making this engine the most eager-revving of Guzzi’s family of OHV motors, despite being a two-valve design (also chosen to be in keeping with the model’s traditional focus and retro-inspired styling, says project leader Diego Arioli) rather than a four-valver. That’s because of Piaggio’s team of engineers, led by Roberto Calò, who designed the engine at their high-tech R&D center and wanted to deliver a smooth and ultra-flexible power unit that was more responsive than previous such Moto Guzzi engines, with reduced inertia.
They’ve achieved this by producing a semi-dry sump engine design with the oil tank positioned in the lower crankcase half complete with sight glass and twin oil pumps. This reduces oil drag on the crankshaft assembly which, with lighter conrods and pistons, too, is 30% lower in weight than previous Moto Guzzi small-block motors, resulting in much improved and more zestful pickup, especially from low revs.
That’s aided by the use of titanium for the large 42.5mm inlet valve that’s almost half the weight of an equivalent steel item in each cylinder head. These feature completely revised porting and a new combustion chamber design, but still, however, employ steel 35.5mm exhaust valves. The valves are operated by aluminum pushrods with redesigned roller tappets, again resulting in much lighter and notably quieter operation of the valve gear—there’s none of the rattles or mechanical noise of previous Guzzi OHV motors. Just a single 52mm Dell’Orto throttle body is fitted, partially aimed at decreasing fuel consumption.
Guzzi claims a frugal 48 mpg, which with a six-gallon fuel tank that’s the largest in the 700-900cc middleweight sector, delivers a claimed range of 250 miles.
That single throttle body is controlled by a Magneti Marelli ECU with Ride-by-Wire (RBW) digital throttle offering three different riding modes: Road, Rain, and Off-Road. Each delivers full engine power but with a different throttle response via altered engine mapping, plus variable engine braking settings and a different calibration for the dual-channel Continental ABS and switchable MGCT traction control both fitted as standard.
Road mode has a medium level of MGCT, ABS is active on both wheels, and there’s a prompt throttle response with reduced engine braking, while Rain features a high level of traction control, ABS is active on both wheels, and there’s a gentle throttle response and increased engine braking. Offroad delivers a low level of TC, ABS is only active on the front wheel (but can be deactivated entirely), and there’s again a gentle throttle response and more engine braking. Cruise control is fitted as standard, and the power is transmitted via a new six-speed gearbox with altered ratios from before, coupled to a revised single-plate clutch contained in a redesigned housing delivering increased ground clearance.
This new generation Moto Guzzi small-block engine is wrapped in an equally new tubular steel chassis design using the motor as a fully stressed component. This removes the need for a lower frame cradle, thus reducing weight while also increasing engine ground clearance to a useful 8.3 inches for off-road riding, with the engine protected by an aluminum sump guard.
The shorter length of the more compact new engine allows for a long asymmetric cast aluminum swingarm that’s 2.8 inches longer than the current V9s in the interest of obtaining better suspension response and improved grip, say Guzzi engineers. This delivers a rangy 60.2-inch wheelbase, and its curved left arm permits the 2-1 exhaust system’s single oval-section silencer to be tucked in tight, with the V85TT’s shaft final drive that’s unique in the middleweight dual-purpose sector housed in the right arm.
Suspension is by Kayaba, with the 41mm fork set at a relaxed 28° of rake with 5.03 inches of trail matched to a cantilever rear monoshock offset to the right with a dual-rate spring, and mounted in a semi-laydown position for increased progressivity. Suspension stroke front and rear is a generous 6.7 inches, and both fork and shock are adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping.
Braking comes courtesy of Brembo via twin 320mm front discs with radially mounted four-piston calipers and a 260mm rear disc with a two-pot caliper. Dry weight is quoted as 459 pounds, rising to a 505 pounds curb weight with all fluids and 5.3 gallons of fuel. Zocco’s distinctive neo-Classic enduro styling sets this all off, complete with a short screen which isn’t adjustable for height, but can be rotated on the tubular steel subframe it’s mounted on to deflect air further upwards.
At anything over 75 mph, the airflow aimed at your helmet will make you want to fit the optional taller screen for longer journeys. The ’80s-style twin round LED headlamps are ingeniously bisected by a very bright DRL/daytime running light formed in the shape of the eagle on the side of the fuel tank, while the taillight uses LED technology to render what Guzzi describes as “a 3D characterization reminiscent of a jet’s afterburners during take-off.” Yes, really. The LED turn indicators are automatically self-canceling.
An upsized 430W flywheel generator provides the current to power these, as well as any of the full range of accessories like heated grips, which Guzzi offers in its dedicated accessory catalog for the bike. These can be purchased en masse as part of a trio of packs targeted at different uses for the bike. This includes a Touring Pack with a taller screen and three aluminum luggage bags offering up to 32.5 gallons of storage, a Sport Adventure Pack aimed at off-road use with Öhlins suspension, and an Urban Pack including accessories for commuting and everyday use like twin side-panniers and an anti-theft system.
The TFT digital dash is well designed and clearly legible.
Time To Ride the 2019 Moto Guzzi V85TT
The V85TT has a real visual presence when you see it in the metal, especially the two-tone Evocative multi-color version, and build quality seems exceptionally high, with excellent paint finish. Hop aboard the V92TT’s 32.7-inch high seat (31.9 inches and 33.5 inches options are available for purchase), and you’re presented with a quite upright but very comfortable riding stance via the taper-section alloy handlebar and relatively low off-road-type footpegs with a removable rubber insert, which only drag in turns at quite extreme lean angles. The Kayaba suspension is really outstanding, especially the well-damped fork, which gives good feedback especially from the Metzeler tire on the Urban tint bikes.
You can use heaps of turn speed in spite of the skinny 19-inch front, in a way you might not have expected to be able to do on such a motorcycle, and the MGTC program also allows you to get early and hard on the throttle exiting any of the switchback turns along Sardinia’s southwestern coast. There, the only criticism I had was that the rear suspension is a little dry in low-speed damping over ripples and ridges in the road surface, with initial compression of the twin-rate spring not as smooth as I’d hoped for.
But medium and high-speed damping is excellent, even without a rear link. I could feel the shock compressing and releasing smoothly beneath me through faster turns with a dip in the middle, or over a series of bumps taken at high speed. And the generous wheel travel front and rear, coupled with the wide handlebar and tucked-in silencer, make this a comfortable ride off-road.
The radial brakes also performed well, just as you expect anything to do with Brembo on the label, with a strong but not too fierce initial bite. They’re better set up than the similar brakes on the Triumph 1200 Scrambler which are too aggressive for off-road use. Not here. Whether via pad choice or master cylinder selected, Moto Guzzi has got it just right, and the same goes for the way the V85TT steers.
Looking at the ultra-conservative chassis geometry data the night before my ride, I was expecting this to be frankly a bit of a truck, which would need lots of leverage from the reasonably wide handlebar to hustle it round turns. I was quite wrong. The V85TT changes direction easily and holds a line very well. This one of the nicest-handling street scramblers I’ve ridden for quite some time. It’s almost delicate in the way it steers. You can even finger the front brake lever to throw off a little excess speed once committed to a turn, and this Guzzi won’t sit up on you and head for the hills like some other motorcycles with this amount of trail dialed into the steering geometry will do.
However, the real plaudits have to be reserved for the V85TT’s outstanding new engine, which feels more modern and sophisticated than any Moto Guzzi OHV/pushrod engine I’ve yet sampled. Thumb the starter, and it fires instantly, then settles to a 1300 rpm idle with the inevitable sway from side to side at low revs thanks to the lengthways crank.
But work the light-action clutch lever to insert bottom gear, and not only does this go in with no sign of the clunk that was previously ubiquitous on Moto Guzzi engines, but as you drive forward practically off idle with minimal use of the clutch, the V85TT motor gives a pretty good imitation of a turbine. It’s unbelievably smooth not only by the standards of the past but also compared to rival middleweight twins. There’s also no undue heat reaching the rider, despite the lack of an oil cooler and the cylinders being close to your legs. They’re never intrusive, and you’re really not aware of them either visually or dynamically.
However, while Guzzi’s new 853cc engine drives very well from as low as 1500 rpm, you must have it turning at 3500 revs or higher to get the strong pickup it’s capable of delivering. Top gear roll-on below that mark is a little sluggish, so you’re encouraged to use the very sweet-shifting gearbox (I can’t remember the last time I ever used that term to describe a Moto Guzzi transmission!) to keep the revs up on the open road. If you do that you’ll get excellent response from the motor from 4000 revs upwards, meaning I spent a lot of time in fourth gear. I suspect sixth gear is an overdrive for high-speed freeway cruising, and fifth gear is pretty high, as well.
However, on two of the three bikes I rode there was quite a bit of vibration through the footpegs from 5000 rpm upwards, which since at that engine speed in top gear you’re doing 80 mph is definitely intrusive. The engine is otherwise very smooth with just a few tingles through the seat as you near the 7800 rpm limiter, which to be quite honest you have no business ever approaching. It’s not that kind of bike. Instead, you’ll want to surf the V92TT’s ultra-flat torque curve and hit a higher gear at around 6800 rpm, which will put you back in the fat part of the powerband each time.
The V85TT is a very relaxing and enjoyable everyday ride, where the advantages of shaft final drive are here to be enjoyed, without any of the usual downsides. Despite the fairly conventional rear suspension, there was no adverse effect on the handling from the hypoid back end, and thanks to the much-reduced crankshaft inertia owing to the lower weight of the entire assembly, I didn’t encounter any negative effects of the lengthways layout that you get on some other such bikes. I could close the throttle on the V85TT midturn and open it again without affecting the way it held the line I’d chosen for it – there was no falling into the turn, no sitting up and understeering, just normal service continued as before.
This is a very good new bike, and with its debut, the wings on the Moto Guzzi eagle have started to flap a lot harder. The promise of the several forthcoming new middleweight models its engine will power is very enticing. According to Moto Guzzi management, if the market responds favorably to this new family of bikes, they have a larger capacity version of the same engine already under development. Good times for Guzzisti could be just around the corner. CN
2019 Moto Guzzi V85TT Specifications
||Air-cooled, transverse 90° V-twin, 2 valves per cylinder (titanium intake)
|BORE / STROKE:
||84mm / 77mm
||80 HP @ 7750 rpm
||80 Nm @ 5000 rpm
||Electronic injection, 52mm single throttle body, RBW
||Euro 4 compliance
||Dry, single disc
||High strength steel tubular
||41mm hydraulic telescopic USD fork, with adjustable spring preload and hydraulic rebound
||Single shock, double-sided swingarm box-type aluminum, with adjustable spring preload and hydraulic rebound
|FRONT WHEEL TRAVEL:
|REAR WHEEL TRAVEL:
||Double 320mm stainless steel floating discs, Brembo radial-mounted calipers with 4-opposed pistons
||260mm stainless steel disc, floating caliper with 2 pistons
||2.50 x 19 in.
||4.25 x 17 in.
||110/80 – R19
||150/70 – R17
|RAKE / TRAIL:
||28° / 5.03 in.
|CLAIMED WEIGHT (Dry):