It might not feature on the racing charts today, but roll back half a century and the brand was a formidable force in motorcycle racing. Dotted with racing accolades, winning 11 races at the Isle of Mann, 8 world championship riders and 6 constructor’s championships to boast of- the competition had a hard time catching up.
Also they built the world’s first motorcycle-specific wind tunnel in the 50s. And if that wasn’t enough, they even built a V8 race bike and few cars that shattered land speed records- gentlemen, that’s Moto Guzzi for you.
In the present day it’s not usual to spot one on the road – but if somebody has to, all thanks to the distinctive longitudinal arrangements of the v-twin motor- it’s unmistakeable recognized to be a Moto Guzzi. Since the first motorcycle rolled out from Mandello del Lario in 1921, today Moto Guzzi produces an array of motorcycles from Roadsters, Cruisers, Sports Tourers to Adventure Touring machines.
During my early riding days, the engine alone was enough fascination to download desktop wallpapers and keep ogling at them till my eyes gave up of exhaustion, but never the dreams of riding one. So when the Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer was handed over to us for review, I knew there was a different kind of experience in store with ample eagerness brewing in anticipation as to how it feels to ride a longitudinal v-twin. So here we go with our encounter in our Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer review.
DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
Developed by the Piaggio Group Centro Stile with design inputs from the PADC (Piaggio Advanced Design Center), the V9 Roamer syndicates classic styling in a modern roadster package. The high perched front starts grading back through the modern 15 litre tear shaped fuel tank narrowing down to a retro bench seat. With a minimalistic garb, the V9 Roamer unabashedly brandishes its hardware starting with the trademark longitudinal 850cc v-twin motor that takes centre stage and sets the tone for the rest of the design. The engine deceives the onlooker into assuming the motorcycle being much bigger than it actually is. To retain that retro touch, almost everything (except the switchgear and few other bits) on the motorcycle is metal construction.
On one hand where the V9 exudes a retro theme- the diamond cut finished wheels, two sided cast aluminium swingarm with a driveshaft, cleaning sweeping twin exhausts and a Brembo braking setup imparts a modern knack to the motorcycle. The classic circular dashboard looks simple housing an analogue speedometer but with ample digital readouts such as odometer, trip meters, fuel consumption, mileage calculator, clock, ambient temperature, average speed, gear position, traction-control setting, indicators for low fuel, neutral, and turn blinkers.
Build quality is top drawer with high levels of finishing amply reflected in paint, polished aluminium and chrome on the motorcycle. Even little bits on the V9 Roamer seem constructed with great attention and it’s hard to spot rough edges on the motorcycle- the bullet aluminium fabricated fuel lid of is one great example of quality obsessiveness. Even the leather and cushioning on the motorcycle reeks of extremely premium grade material.
The Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer is propelled by a 90° transverse 850cc V-twin air and oil cooled engine cranking out 55 bhp of max power @ 6250 rpm and peak torque of 62 nm @ 3000 rpm. The engine in addition to its visual appeal is a surprise package. The vibes and shuddering one expects from a v-twin motor are simply non-existent. Rev the motor to it’s redline and it feels more like a smooth fast revving parallel twin than a V-twin with a mild throaty exhaust note. Also thanks to the sideways motion of the pistons, the bike mildly tilting to the right when revved in neutral gear is another delightful novelty.
With all the power from the marvellously finished cylinders transferred to the rear wheel via a drive shaft, the V9 Roamer wakes up to the mildest of throttle inputs. Not only does the shaft drive curtail loss during the transit of power from the engine to the wheels, but also offers decent engine braking while slowing down the motorcycle. The one-piece Marelli electronic injection system ensures linear power delivery to which even newbies would find easy acquaintance with. Though 55 bhp might not look huge on paper- but the smooth motor mated to an impeccable fueling system and a shaft drive makes the V9 Roamer a pretty brisk motorcycle. Though we couldn’t push it much beyond the 160 kph mark, there was ample juice left to hit higher speeds. The six speed gearbox too doesn’t identify itself with the trademark clunky conventional v-twin units and was smooth to operate.
The Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer scores high on riding ergonomics thanks to the geometry between the handlebars, footpegs and the seat height. The seat with comfort inserts offer ample coziness and doesn’t let the rider slide under hard braking. The suspension at both ends feel supple without being overtly soft and effortlessly gobbles up small to medium undulations. The V9 Roamer overall offers supreme riding comfort and should double up as a great tripping machine if need be.
Coming to handling, the V9 Roamer at 199 kgs kerb weight is a light motorcycle for its category and is exhibited well in its road holding manners. The motorcycle feels extremely effortless weaving through traffic or switching directions for its class- a trait helpful for new riders. Despite a 19 inch front, it feels eager to lean into the corners, but the tall profile Pirelli Sport Demons limits its angle of lean. We tried to go faster and with more tilt into a corner, but the rear tyre would land us with a slide. Slap a stickier lower profile tyre and the V9 Roamer would be an even more fun motorcycle to ride.
Anchoring chores are taken care of by an ABS equipped Brembo braking system. With four pot calipers mounted over 320mm single disc at the front and a twin piston unit over a 260mm single rotor at the rear- braking on the V9 Roamer is progressive and offers ample bite during low and high speed braking. The ABS is non-intrusive and intervenes only during panicky situations.
We guess the V in the V9 stands for Versatility and it does score high here. It’s an extremely easy going motorcycle and even someone hopping onto it for the first time wouldn’t help but smile knowing how effortless machine it is to ride. Coupled with fantastic riding ergos, ample grunt, decent handling and a capable braking system- it caters to a wide category or riders. Anyone looking for a lifestyle roadster to someone looking for a machine which in addition to gracefully trundling the city would feel at home while scaling perennial blacktops- the Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer makes a very strong case for itself.