In its 95th anniversary year, Moto Guzzi debuts a new platform called the V9. It’s an offshoot of the existing V7 but angling toward a cruiser style rather than the V7’s standard/roadster meme. The V9 Roamer version employs classic design elements and extensive brightwork, while the Bobber version (pictured above) uses matte finishes and a fat front tire to deliver an element of badassitude.
As its name implies, the V9 uses a larger V-Twin engine than the V7, now up 109cc to 853 cubes. Compared to most anything in the cruiser class, the V9s are lightweight and agile – Guzzi describes them as “easy cruisers.” They might not quite measure up to what Americans usually consider a cruiser, but that makes them more appealing in many ways than just another Harley imitator.
The V9 was presented at Guzzi’s historic factory in Mandello del Lario just a long stone’s throw from the magical Lake Como in northern Italy. The most oft-used term in the presentation was “authentic,” which could be just PR hyperbole for companies not in business from 1921. This descriptor is apt for the V9, as it continues the tradition of 90-degree air-cooled V-Twins and the widespread usage of metal components. The fuel tank and fenders are steel, while aluminum is used for the side panels, fuel cap and hand levers. Footpegs are forged aluminum. Finding plastic bits takes some searching.
Although it’s a comprehensively revised upgrade on the V7’s small-block architecture rather than a completely new mill, the changes are much more than just a bore-and-stroke job that ups displacement from 744cc to 853cc. Nearly everything inside has been changed, and Guzzi says some 90% of the parts are new.
The most serious revision is a completely new cylinder-head design, using a modern hemi-head arrangement rather than the V7’s Heron-style that uses a dished piston as the combustion chamber. Guzzi says the hemi head is more resistant to detonation and is easier to cool. It also helps the engine meet tough Euro 4 emissions regulations.
Bench racers will be underwhelmed by the claim of 55 hp at 6,250 rpm, just five horses up on the V7. Torque is said to peak with 47.9 lb-ft at 5000 rpm. But those spec-sheet jockeys might not appreciate there’s more than 44 lb-ft of torque from 2500 rpm and extending all the way to 6500 rpm.
The V9 feels much faster than the V7, with immediate response no matter the engine speed. And with just 430 pounds (ready to ride but without fuel) to carry around, acceleration is brisk by cruiser standards – this is a cruiser that can pull wheelies when provoked. The smooth-spinning motor, a quality inherent with 90-degree V-Twins, never feels stressed at higher revs. A soft rev limiter starts cutting in around 6700 rpm and shuts down the party by 7k.
“The engine expresses the soul of the motorcycle,” said Leo Mercanti, Guzzi’s marketing head. “It makes it speak.”
Although power isn’t immense, a traction-control system is in play to keep a rider safe when grip is low, with a choice of wet, dry or off. Flywheel/crankshaft weight is 30% higher than the V7’s to help smooth engine response. It’s mostly effective, but some throttle abruptness remains in play when dialing on power.
A single-plate dry clutch has a reasonably light pull and engages smoothly unless launching at high revs. Power goes through a 6-speed transmission, and the V9’s extra torque allows a taller first gear. Shift effort is light and gearchanges are smooth if they’re not hurried. Clutchless upshifts are best left avoided, as they can be jarring, especially in the lower gears. A shaft final-drive system eschews the mess and maintenance of a chain but adds some weight despite the use of an aluminum swingarm.
Although there are two V9 models, much is shared between them. The steel-tube frame places wheels at a tidy 57.7 inches apart, while the rake angle is set at a fairly sporty 26.4 degrees. The rear tire is a modestly wide 150/80-16. These numbers combine to deliver agility more like a standard than a cruiser.
The non-adjustable 40mm fork supplies a compliant 5.1 inches of travel, while the preload-adjustable dual shocks serve up 3.8 inches. Both ends offer good control and reasonable smoothness with the exception of harshness over abrupt bumps from what seems to be excess high-speed compression damping.
Brakes are single-disc Brembos at both ends moderated by a dual-channel ABS system. No fancy radial-mount monoblocks here, not even a second disc up front, but power from the four-piston caliper isn’t lacking, even when riding aggressively on a mountain road. Speed retardation is more than sufficient considering this bike’s intent, and ABS doesn’t intrude too early.
The gauges consists of a single round nacelle with an analog speedo wrapping an LCD panel that includes niceties like fuel consumption info, gear-position indicator, tripmeter, ambient temperature and clock. Also a trip-time meter, average speed and an adjustable shift indicator, which can be useful because there is no tachometer. Considering the comprehensive info stuffed into it, it was surprising to learn there is no fuel gauge, although there is a handy count-up tripmeter once reserve is hit. Instrumentation can be augmented by a smartphone app that can display up to five items at once, including a tach, lean angles and trip data.
The Roamer, more elegant and shiny than its brother, feels to me like a standard roadster. A chrome handlebar rises up to meet hands and put a rider’s torso nearly upright. The footpegs of both V9s place feet almost directly below knees. Both seats are flat and have grippy textures but are not very well padded to keep their heights below 31 inches. Dogleg levers are fairly easy to reach but non-adjustable.
The only dynamic difference in V9s is attributable to the different sizes of their front wheels and tires.The Roamer uses a narrow 100/90-19 front tire, which I was expecting to steer much nicer than the fat-tired Bobber, but its responses were a little less than linear. When I suggested to the chassis engineer an 18-incher might’ve delivered more predictable steering responses, he responded to explain the V7 already has an 18-inch front wheel and that the 19-incher used on the Roamer is more suitable for the cruiser profile intended for the V9.
While it would be unfair to describe the Roamer as feminine, of the V9s, it’s the Bobber that is definitely more masculine. It trades its brother’s traditional appearance for a darker and sportier one. The flat drag-style handlebar mounted on lovely aluminum bar risers place a rider in a more aggressive position. Its seat is slightly narrower than the Roamer’s and, at 30.7 inches, is 0.2-inch lower. Neither are exceptionally comfortable for long distances.
|2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber/Roamer|
|+ Highs ||– Sighs |
Aside from the Bobber’s dark and non-glossy finishes, it’s the chubby 130/90-16 front tire that distinguishes it from its stablemate. It helps make the Bobber look tougher, but, against my preconceptions, gives it steering characteristics much preferable to its brother. While the Roamer would tip in slightly quicker, it is the Bobber which steered with greater accuracy and would cut a smoother arc through corners.
Guzzi’s new V9 both amuses and bemuses. It’s an incredibly adroit cruiser with a thrilling and willing engine. It’s also not really a cruiser in the traditional sense, which can be both a blessing and a curse.
But priced around 10 grand, or $10,490 for the Bobber I prefer, there is a ton of value here. It’s a charming machine finely crafted in a historic Italian factory with a rich heritage, and it’s fun to both look at and to ride. The V9 Bobber has become my favorite Guzzi currently offered from Mandello. It might become my second favorite if my intense lobbying efforts for a V9 Sport ever come to fruition!
|2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber and V9 Roamer Specifications|
|V9 Roamer||V9 Bobber|
|Engine Type||90° V-twin, 4-stroke, 2-valves per cylinder|
|Cooling system||air and oil|
|Bore and stroke||84 x 77 mm|
|Compression ratio||10.5: 1|
|Maximum power||54.2 at 6,250 rpm (Claimed)|
|Torque||45.7 lb-ft. at 3,000 rpm (Claimed)|
|Fuel system||Marelli MIU single-body electronic injection, integrated management of traction control on 2 levels|
|Exhaust system||stainless steel, 2-in-2 type, three-way catalytic converter with double lambda probe|
|Emissions compliance||Euro 4|
|Transmission||6 speeds with final overdrive|
|Gear ratio values||1st 16/39 = 1: 2.437 |
2nd 18/32 = 1: 1.778
3rd 21/28 = 1: 1.333
4th 24/26 = 1: 1.083
5th 25/24 = 1: 0.960
6th 28/24 = 1: 0.857
|Primary drive||with helical teeth, ratio 21/25 = 1: 1.190|
|Final drive||double universal joint and double bevel gear units (8/33 ratio = 1: 4.125)|
|Clutch||Ø 170 mm single disc with integrated flexible couplings|
|Frame||ALS steel twin tube cradle frame|
|Wheelbase||1465 mm (57.7 inches)|
|Trail||125.1 mm (4.9 inches)||116.1 mm (4.6 inches)|
|Front suspension||standard fork, Ø 40 mm|
|Front wheel travel||130 mm (5.1 inches)|
|Rear suspension||swingarm with double shock absorber with adjustable spring preload.|
|Rear wheel travel||97 mm (3.8 inches)|
|Front Brake||stainless steel floating disc, Ø 320 mm Brembo opposed four-piston calipers|
|Rear Brake||stainless steel floating disc, Ø 260 mm Brembo opposed two-piston calipers|
|Front wheel rim||2.50” x 19”||3.50” x 16”|
|Rear wheel rim||4.00” x 16”|
|Front tire||100/90 – 19”||130/90 – 16”|
|Rear tire||150/80 – 16”||150/80 B 16”|
|System voltage||12 V|
|Battery||12V – 18 Ah|
|Length||2240 mm (88.2 inches)||2185 mm (86.0 inches)|
|Width||865 mm (34.0 inches)||840 mm (33.1 inches)|
|Height||1165 mm (45.9 inches)||1160 mm (45.7 inches)|
|Saddle height||785 mm (30.9 inches)||780 mm (30.7 inches)|
|Kerb weight||439 pounds (Claimed)|
|Fuel tank capacity||4.0 gallons|