2014 Moto Guzzi Norge 8V GT

Editor Score: 74.0%
Engine 16.0/20
Suspension/Handling 11.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.0/10
Brakes 8.5/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.0/10
Appearance/Quality 7.0/10
Desirability 6.0/10
Value 5.0/10
Overall Score74/100

The last time we spoke of the Moto Guzzi Norge GT 8V was three years ago, in 2011, during our then-annual trek to Laguna Seca for the MotoGP races. We had seasoned touring rider, and friend of MO’s, Glenn Giardinelli, take the controls to offer an opinion that possibly varied from the similar voices of the usual MO staff. What we learned was essentially what we already knew: the Norge is quirky yet capable, slightly outdated, and it endears itself to all who ride it if given enough time.

Three years on and the Sport-Touring landscape has changed dramatically. Electronics have become the class-defining feature, and with the Norge already lacking in this department in 2011, we had our doubts about our identical, largely analog, 2014 test bike. Add in competition from the updated Yamaha FJR1300ES and the all-new BMW R1200RT, and there’s a very valid question being posed: has the Moto Guzzi Norge become obsolete?

Yes and no.


Remember that bit about the Norge endearing itself? Apparently three years isn’t enough time for that to fade away. Hop on the bike, and you’ll find the saddle is very well padded, without being too soft. Its location, 31.9 inches from the ground isn’t too offending for most average-sized riders. Then again, with its six-gallon fuel tank filled to the brim, it’ll take every muscle in you to lift the 646-lb tourer off the sidestand. She’s a big girl, but that’s the price you pay for 200-mile range.

Ridden smoothly, the Norge handles curvy roads with little drama.

Ridden smoothly, the Norge handles curvy roads with little drama.

Speaking of price, at $16,290, the Norge is a hard sell against the $16,890 FJR1300ES and $17,705 (base) R12RT, both of which present considerably more tech. Then again, lowest price is lowest price, and if you’re the type of tourer who prefers simplicity and functionality over the latest gizmos, the Norge has you covered.

When it comes to Sport-Touring, the Norge embraces the “Touring” side of the category. The aforementioned seat is a supremely comfortable item, though it’d be nice if the pegs were placed slightly lower and a little more forward. Bars are placed nicely in a neutral position, making them a natural reach for most riders – only those with T-Rex arms would find trouble grabbing them.

See that down arrow? Yeah, it’s way too far for any normal digits to reach without taking a hand off the bar.

See that down arrow? Yeah, it’s way too far for any normal digits to reach without taking a hand off the bar.

The cushy seat isn’t the only thing that’s soft. A 45mm conventional fork and single shock are both tuned for comfort rather than performance. Both are equipped with preload adjustability, while the shock also features adjustable rebound. Fiddling with the shock’s preload is made easier thanks to a large knob one can turn even with a gloved hand, but access to it requires taking off the left-side saddlebag to do so, which is a process in itself.

The saddlebags are spacious enough, each with room to fit a full-face helmet. Though we complain about the removal of the bags, if one were to own the bike, the process would become second nature in no time. Elastic bands with a center snap are located within the main compartment of each bag and within the lids, making it a little easier to partition the items within the bags if you want. The bags add some width to the rear of the Norge, so lane-splitters should remember them when filtering through traffic.

The limiting factor to aggressive cornering: both sides of the centerstand touch down early and often. This was after only three days of riding, too.

The limiting factor to aggressive cornering: both sides of the centerstand touch down early and often. This was after only three days of riding, too.

Understand the Norge is meant for touring comfort, and it rewards with a pleasing ride. Only the most extreme of road irregularities are transmitted to the rider, and the electronically adjustable windscreen performs admirably at diverting air over the rider’s helmet. Another complaint, however, are the separate buttons required to move the screen up or down. Placed adjacent to each switchgear, unless you have alien fingers, they are impossible to reach without taking a hand off the bar. Why can’t a single button be placed within reach to control both motions? Further, the screen is slightly optically distorted at its tip, and when fully extended the eye strains a little to see through it.

All in all, those are small quibbles, easily forgotten once you twist the throttle. While not neck-snapping power, the Norge’s 86.4 hp and 69.8 lb-ft is better described as “neck-tugging.” Twisting the right wrist is met with a pleasing intake growl, followed by an equally nice exhaust note from the distinct, air-cooled, 1151cc longitudinal eight-valve V-Twin. There’s plenty of power on tap to ditch most cagers, and the Guzzi shaft drive delivers power to the wheel incredibly smoothly, though we’d prefer less free play from the throttle on our particular tester.

Brembo four-pot calipers are not radially mounted, but they still bite the 320mm front discs with the stopping power we’ve become accustomed to from the Italian company. That is to say, they work great, providing powerful speed retardation with plenty of feel. ABS comes standard, and we were pleased they require a considerable squeeze before either end activates while riding on dry pavement.

Alas, while there is lots to like about the Norge, it receives demerit points for its limited ground clearance. Either side of the centerstand (a feature we generally favor) makes contact with the pavement at moderate lean angles, and if leaned over on bumpy surfaces, the stand will again touch down once the soft suspension compresses. This only emphasizes the Norge’s desire to be ridden smoothly; wide, arcing lines are preferred over aggressive Vee angles, gentle inputs win out over rough man-handling. Play to these strengths and the Norge is a pleasant, even enjoyable companion.

Wonderfully analog, the Moto Guzzi Norge is entirely capable for long-distance touring.

Wonderfully analog, the Moto Guzzi Norge is entirely capable for long-distance touring.


Considering the Moto Guzzi Norge has remained unchanged since we last rode one in 2011, save for bold new graphics, the test of time hasn’t diminished the qualities we like about the bike. However, the advance of technology has increasingly made the Norge an outlier in the Sport-Touring landscape. Where seemingly every one of its competitors are making a name for itself with features like cruise control, traction control, electronic suspension, quick shifters (in both directions!), ride modes, and sound systems, the Norge, and its dearth of electronics, is quickly becoming passe.

Recently, MO’s resident curmudgeon, John Burns, described the Norge as “a great touring bike … 10 years ago,” and while it may sound harsh, Burns isn’t entirely wrong. The Norge is showing its age, yes, but its endearing qualities – comfort, a long fuel range and a uniquely fun engine – make it a great choice if your touring needs are equally as simple as the Norge.

+ Highs

  • La-Z-Boy comfort
  • Its quirky engine makes cool noises
  • Six gallons in the tank means more riding, less stopping
– Sighs

  • She’s a heavy one!
  • Centerstand steals precious cornering clearance
  • Where are the electronics?

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  • Craig Hoffman

    I am a simple kind of guy and like the Norge. I would like it a lot better if it was lighter though.

  • James Huston

    Want a bike you can adjust the valves yourself? Ride and ride without expensive trips to the dealer for repairs? Not have to worry about all the gizmos packing it in and stranding you? simple is better and less expensive

    • Auphliam

      Hard to argue with that.

      Simple Is Better.

  • B.Hoop

    I think the perception of heaviness is exacerbated by the too short side stand. I sat on one at a dealer, and not only is it heavy picking it up, but when I went to put it back down on the stand, I thought it was going to fall over for a second, like the stand had retracted or something.

  • halfkidding

    I’m getting one when used hits my price point. I’ll ditch the center stand. How much do I care about the position of a damn button or lack of cruise? Cripes, it’s a motorcycle

  • Gary Blankenship

    Sigh, another unicorn for us with a 28 inch inseam. I have found an strong affection for every MG I ever tried, but hoppiing off at the redlights to hold them up is such a drag.

  • john burns

    Yo, why am I resident curmudgeon? Just because I am oldest? I protest the Ageism and contend Roderick is way more curmudgeonly than I am.

    • TroySiahaan

      Sorry, Burnsie. Sometimes you’re an easy target. :)

  • Martin Stonell

    Scratching my old head a little concerning this review; I have the pleasure of owning both the Norge and California Touring, 2014’s. The Norge is rated at 102 BHP, certainly feels that way. 566 lbs dry weight is a snap to handle when fully tanked up, and I’m hardly Superman. The engines on both machines are a delight, and maintenance is very easy. Just feel that the Norge got an undeserved bad rap here; sometimes simple is better… As you will find out when you take your Beemer in for repair. Safe riding to all.

  • Kevin

    Burns is NOT a curmudgeon: I know this to be a fact as Burns and I are not alike in the least, and I absolutely am!

  • Scott Baxter

    Eh, if I want this I’ll buy the last year of the R 1150 RT.

  • ADB

    I just bought a new Norge (after reading this and the Motorcycle Daily review a dozen times), and it’s got comfort to spare. The seat is fabulous, and the suspension is plush. Yes, I know it does not have all the bells and whistles of the FJR, Concours 14, or the BMW, but I’ll give those items up for the reduction in weight and the ease of turn in. For a Sport Tourer / Tourer, the Norge is actually very nimble. On the plus side, it does have adjustable windshield, heated grips, shaft drive, ABS, fantastic headlamps, high amp alternator, power outlet, bright LED taillights, factory wiring and bracket for the TomTom, leak proof bags, and a center stand. Yes I would like to have cruise control and electronic suspension, but the front and rear preload is very simple and easy to adjust, and I’ll probably add a Throttlemeister at some point.

    Shouldn’t the wet weight be approx. 615 lbs? Moto Guzzi lists the dry weight at 566 lbs. 566 + 11 lbs. for oil (engine, transmission, rear diff, forks) + 38.5 lbs. for 6.1 gallons of fuel = 615 lbs.