2024 Moto Guzzi Stelvio Review – First Ride

Jon Beck
by Jon Beck

Mid-way through what felt like the 100th tight curve for the day in southern Spain was when the thought occurred, “This thing is a blast to ride, why was this bike discontinued?” Named after one of the most famous Alpine motorcycle roads in the world, the Stelvio was first introduced in 2007. After quickly gaining a following in Europe as a versatile, all-around touring machine, the Stelvio continued as a mainstay of the Italian brand until it ceased production in 2016.

Now, in 2024, the Stelvio has been re-introduced as a modern adventure touring bike. Like hypothetically combining a Ducati DesertX and BMW S1000XR, the Stelvio is intended to be positioned in the exact middle ground between on and off-road performance extremes. This “jack of all trades, master of none” characteristic applies to most adventure bikes to varying degrees. However, no other bike attempts to achieve this oddly contradictory performance mix with unique style like Moto Guzzi.

2024 Moto Guzzi Stelvio

Moto Guzzi’s thoroughly modern update to the legendary Stelvio platform is as enjoyable to ride as it is to look at. While this bike might be outperformed by some others in this class, arguably no other bike could top the Guzzi for style points.

Editor Score: 86.0%




















  • Style for days
  • Unique riding experience
  • Excellent touring comfort


  • Heated grips not standard
  • Suspension insufficient for anything more than light off-road
  • Limited space in stylized panniers

The Details

A 1,042 cc liquid-cooled, 90-degree transverse V-twin powers the reintroduced Stelvio. Borrowed from the V100 Mandello, this engine produces 115 hp at 8,700 rpm and just over 77 lb-ft. of torque at 6,750 rpm. Of note, 82% of that torque is available beginning around 3,500 rpm, resulting in a bike that can pull out of tight corners with ease, even in situations where a botched gearshift might make less torquey bikes struggle.

Few gearshifts were botched on the Stelvio, as the optional quickshifter was installed on the test bike and works quite well. In the aggressively twisty roads of this test, the system seemed to be happiest in higher gears when the bike was moving quicker. Use of the clutch was preferred when feeding power to the rear wheel was needed in and out of the endless 1st and 2nd-gear curves.

Features like tubeless spoked 19” front and 17” rear wheels, a 5.5-gallon fuel tank, and a claimed curb weight of 542 lbs place the Stelvio in the same ballpark as Honda’s Africa Twin Adventure Sports. Cylinders sticking out the side might hint at BMW-like characteristics to some viewers, but this is a very unique machine.

Five ride modes are available in the new Guzzi: Tour, Rain, Road, Sport, and Off-Road. Within each mode, riders have the ability to adjust Power (MGCM), Traction Control (MGCT), and ABS. Each ride mode also features different levels of Engine Braking (MGFM), however this is not user-adjustable. In its default state, Off-Road mode defeats ABS to the rear wheel but leaves an “off road” level of ABS active on the front. Fortunately, a long press of the mode button while in Off-Road mode will fully defeat ABS to both wheels.

Like many bikes, the menu system with its long-presses of buttons, and contextual switches that change features depending on other settings can be inherently non-intuitive. However, once you learn the secrets, some pretty cool features are revealed. Case in point, if the Stelvio’s cruise control feature is not activated, that same button can be used to change the level of traction control on the fly, whether rolling or stopped.

Diving further into the technological side, for 2024 the Stelvio now includes a forward and rear-facing radar system known as PFF Rider Assistance Solution. The 4D radar imaging technology provides the bike with Forward Collision Warning (FCW), a Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), and Lane Change Assist (LCA). When triggered, these systems alert the rider to potential road-going dangers through icons on both the display and mirrors, as well as sounds. Following Cruise Control (FCC) is an available option to further enhance the system.

Whether all this additional sensory information is a benefit or a distraction is left up to the individual. Personally, I found the bright blinking lights of the PFF system a bit distracting, but can see how over time I could potentially get accustomed to it. One very welcome quality that’s very easy to become accustomed to, is how quickly all this technology starts up when the key is first turned. Rather than a display splash screen that feels like watching previews waiting for the actual movie to start, the Stelvio’s dash quickly shows a cool logo motion graphic, then it’s on to riding.

Heated grips and a heated seat do not come standard, but are available as options. Thumbing through the menu did reveal an electronically adjustable windscreen is included. Windscreens are usually an either/or thing for me - I prefer them completely up or completely down. In the case of the Stelvio, I found a setting somewhere in the middle of the screen’s travel that was ideal for my 5’ 11” frame. Smooth airflow complimented an ideally spacious rider compartment and made this bike a potential winner for all-day sport (or adventure) touring comfort. One caveat, above certain (somewhat extreme) speeds the windscreen is not adjustable. At those higher speeds it will remain in the low position until the bike decides you’ve backed off the throttle to an acceptable level before again allowing adjustment.

Anyone touring will likely want luggage, and the Stelvio’s 30-liter left side and 29-liter right side hard cases are up to the task. A powder coated adapter for the rear rack also allows a 37-liter top box to be adapted to the bike. While I tend to prefer more squared-off boxy profiles in hard-sided adventure luggage, the rounded touring vibe of the Stelvio’s panniers does suit the aesthetics of the bike quite well.

Also of note is a unique pannier mounting system. Removing the rear seat reveals four recesses in the bike with corresponding protrusions on the seat pan. Once the pillion seat is pulled, the boxes slide in to each side, and replacing the seat secures them to the bike. This system eliminates the need for a key mechanism on the panniers to secure them to the bike. You can use the key to lock the panniers closed, but dual hand latches mean the boxes will remain securely closed on a ride even when unlocked.

Compact Versus Small

Referred to by Moto Guzzi as a “Compact Block V-Twin”, in the opinion of this reviewer, the transverse power plant is neither compact, nor a block. Compared to most parallel twin bikes out there, the Stelvio’s sideways engine occupies more visual and physical real estate on the bike than more block-shaped parallel-Twin power plants hidden inside other frames.

This is not a bad thing. On the contrary, Moto Guzzi’s distinctive engine is arguably the primary characteristic which sets it apart from the competition. Without even knowing this particular model, almost any motorcyclist will immediately recognize the Stelvio as a Moto Guzzi due to oddly angled cylinders proudly sticking out in the wind. No other motorcycle in this class, or any other, incorporates this unique design.

One reason for the “Compact Block” name is to differentiate this engine from the “Small Block” found in Moto Guzzi’s V85TT. Even though it produces 35 more horsepower, the water-cooled version of the transverse V-Twin is 103 mm shorter than the air-cooled engine, heads are rotated by 90 degrees, the manifolds exit from the side instead of the front, and the entire thing is tilted forward by five degrees. All this adds up to more legroom aboard the Stelvio, while keeping a relatively short wheelbase of 59.8 in (1,520 mm).

Off Road Versus On

Overall, the Stelvio would seem to be designed as more of a sport-tourer that can handle some dirt, versus a dedicated adventure bike. On pavement the Stelvio performed like something that felt much smaller and lighter than its imposing build. The suspension was firm and responsive, with a bit of harshness felt though the early part of the stroke over some of the more chopped up sections of road. This could likely be addressed with some adjustments, and fortunately the Stelvio offers adjustable preload and rebound damping on the 46mm Sachs USD forks and rear shock.

Available suspension travel is 6.7 in (170 mm) to both the front and rear wheels, which was plenty for the road riding on this test. Off-road, the limits of this travel were found very quickly over even the smallest of bumps. Essentially, if both tires left the ground, you’d almost always exhaust the travel on landing. Whether or not the spring rates would allow preload adjustments to compensate for this is unknown, as spanners weren’t pulled out to tweak things during this one-day ride. Regardless, this question was more of a curiosity than a concern to me, as the Stelvio isn’t a bike I’d use for aggressive off-road riding.

It’s absolutely a bike I’d love to take on a tour that included moderate dirt roads. Both the seated and standing positions of the bike felt surprisingly good for my frame, I’d just want to first remove the overly-supple rubber footpeg inserts before spending any significant time riding this bike out of the saddle in the dirt.

The Style

The transverse V-Twin is the iconic and eye-catching feature that sets Moto Guzzi apart. The rest of the bike also benefits from the same level of artful design and engineering. Beyond the iconic engine, “style” being a key element of the Stelvio (and Moto Guzzi in general) is evidenced in the whole of the bike’s design - down to the Moto Guzzi emblem itself. The winged logo, a tribute to a fallen friend from the early days of Moto Guzzi, is seen in the badges on the shapely tank, and in the glow of the driving light when activated.

While there are absolutely other bikes in this class which could outperform the Stelvio on or off-road, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything that performs as well as it does, with as much style as it evokes. Looking at a given collection of bikes, the choice of which one is for you can often come down to simply which one excites you the most, more than a mental exercise analyzing performance specifications. Fortunately, the Stelvio’s unquestionably unique aesthetic comes with a feature set and level of performance that could easily make it a top choice for adventure riders with more of a pavement focus.

The Stelvio targets all the usual suspects for adventure motorcycles as far as age demographics and riding styles, but the key market for this bike would probably be Moto Guzzi enthusiasts. If you’re not one now, you might be after riding it.

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Jon Beck
Jon Beck

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2 of 7 comments
  • Raj77864077 Raj77864077 on Mar 02, 2024

    "The Stelvio continued as a mainstay of the Italian brand until it ceased production in 2016."

    Not really. In a story about Guzzi someone said the Stelvio sold 7000 units, total.

  • Mike buhler Mike buhler on Mar 06, 2024

    My uncle is giving me his '03 V1100 Sport which will toss me into Goose country for the first time.