2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber and V9 Roamer First Ride Review

Kevin Duke
by Kevin Duke

Two new easy cruisers from Italy

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.

2016 Moto Guzzi V9

Editor Score: 81.5%
Engine 17.75/20
Suspension/Handling 11.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 7.0/10
Brakes 8.25/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 7.5/10
Appearance/Quality 8.5/10
Desirability 8.25/10
Value 9.0/10
Overall Score81.5/100

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.

The V9 Roamer is more classically styled than the Bobber, using considerably more brightwork such as the chrome exhaust, handlebar and shock springs, which are black on the Bobber. Machined wheel edges also add some visual flash.

New Engine

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.

The V9’s engine uses Guzzi’s traditional 90-degree vee design, and engineers were able to get it to meet stringent Euro 4 regulations thanks to several advancements, including a completely new cylinder head configuration.

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.”

One of the cleanest-looking modern motors you’ll find anywhere. Guzzi was not only able to avoid the complexity of liquid-cooling, it was also able to avoid an external oil cooler. “It’s proudly air-cooled,” boasts Mercanti.

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.

The finish quality on the V9s is beautiful. Stylish new switchgear adorns the handlebars. Note also the engine’s milled cylinder fins and Guzzi logo on cylinder heads. The Bobber will be available in this Grigio Sport color or the darker Nero Massiccio seen in the action photos. The helmet pictured here is just one of 40 accessories on offer for the V9s.

In Common

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.

The V9’s minimalist design reminds us of the beauty of simple elementalism. There is nothing to hide. The seam of the 4.0-gallon fuel tank is mostly disguised in profile.

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 V9 Roamer roaming Lake Como near Moto Guzzi’s historic factory.

V9 Roamer

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.

Some cruisers are intimidated by mountain roads. Not this one, seen here in its Giallo Solare color option. Both it and the Bianco Classico version will retail for $9,990 when they hit our shores in April.

V9 Bobber

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

  • Engine sounds and pulls like a mini V-8
  • High-quality finish detailing
  • Easier to handle than most cruisers

– Sighs

  • Sharp throttle response
  • Seats short on padding
  • No tactile click to cancel signals

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.

The Bobber’s forward-leaning riding position and preferable steering geometry give it an advantage over its brother when unraveling a twisty road. It’s a big enough difference to convince me it’s worth the extra $500 over the Roamer.

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!

Riding a V9 in Italy: guaranteed to make you smile.

2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber and V9 Roamer Specifications

V9 Roamer

V9 Bobber

Engine Type90° V-twin, 4-stroke, 2-valves per cylinder
Cooling systemair and oil
Displacement853 cc
Bore and stroke84 x 77 mm
Compression ratio10.5: 1
Maximum power54.2 at 6,250 rpm (Claimed)
Torque45.7 lb-ft. at 3,000 rpm (Claimed)
Fuel systemMarelli MIU single-body electronic injection, integrated management of traction control on 2 levels
Exhaust systemstainless steel, 2-in-2 type, three-way catalytic converter with double lambda probe
Emissions complianceEuro 4
Transmission6 speeds with final overdrive
Gear ratio values1st 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 drivewith helical teeth, ratio 21/25 = 1: 1.190
Final drivedouble universal joint and double bevel gear units (8/33 ratio = 1: 4.125)
ClutchØ 170 mm single disc with integrated flexible couplings
FrameALS steel twin tube cradle frame
Wheelbase1465 mm (57.7 inches)
Trail125.1 mm (4.9 inches)116.1 mm (4.6 inches)
Headstock angle26.4°
Steering angle38°
Front suspensionstandard fork, Ø 40 mm
Front wheel travel130 mm (5.1 inches)
Rear suspensionswingarm with double shock absorber with adjustable spring preload.
Rear wheel travel97 mm (3.8 inches)
Front Brakestainless steel floating disc, Ø 320 mm Brembo opposed four-piston calipers
Rear Brakestainless steel floating disc, Ø 260 mm Brembo opposed two-piston calipers
WheelsAluminum alloy
Front wheel rim2.50” x 19”3.50” x 16”
Rear wheel rim4.00” x 16”
Front tire100/90 – 19”130/90 – 16”
Rear tire150/80 – 16”150/80 B 16”
System voltage12 V
Battery12V – 18 Ah
Length2240 mm (88.2 inches)2185 mm (86.0 inches)
Width865 mm (34.0 inches)840 mm (33.1 inches)
Height1165 mm (45.9 inches)1160 mm (45.7 inches)
Saddle height785 mm (30.9 inches)780 mm (30.7 inches)
Kerb weight439 pounds (Claimed)
Fuel tank capacity4.0 gallons
Reserve1.1 gallons
Kevin Duke
Kevin Duke

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5 of 30 comments
  • KPC KPC on Mar 25, 2016

    Mr Duke you just described what I would like to see in a V7 sport. I would prefer 17" tires. Did you ask the MG reps if there was a V7 in the pipeline, and if so did they give you any hints as far as an ETA to market? Great write up BTW.

    • See 2 previous
    • Kevin Duke Kevin Duke on Mar 28, 2016

      No OEM wants to talk about future product, and Guzzi is no different. The V9 Sport I described came from my mind, not Guzzi's, and my idea was greeted with polite smiles from engineers rather than nods of confirmation. That said, I'll bet someone at Guzzi has had these thoughts, and I don't think it would take an overwhelming amount of R&D effort to pull it off.

  • White Rabbitt White Rabbitt on Oct 13, 2016

    I own a 2016 Motto Guzzi V7 II Stone. Love the bike. Light enough to shoot around in the city and has enough weight to cruise the interstate without feeling like you are going to be blown off the road. It also garners positive excessive curiosity wherever I go. Beautiful bike with a retro look. Yes, it could do with another 10-20 horsepower, but hey, it does what it does without regret. Though I have not ridden the Guzzi V9 Roamer, I could see myself owning one if they would add a seperate tachometer ( I like the retro look it would convey). But for now I will stay loyal to my Goose V7 II Stone. Does everything I want for the time being with style. It even, IMO, does it with a "Cool" factor attached, haha. And one final note, since it is built in Italy by Italians (not contracted out to India or China) the engineering and build quality is unsurpassed in my opinion.

    I was toying around with the idea of getting a vintage 1970 Triumph Bonneville 650. But the more I ride my Goose V7 II Stone the less likely that will happen. At least any time soon. ;-)