The nostalgia of classic motorcycle styling meets the ever-popular adventure motorcycle segment for the first time in the form of Moto Guzzi’s new V85 TT.
Words by Mathieu Day-Gillett | Photos by Moto Guzzi
With two of the best-selling segments in motorcycling being the Modern Classic and Adventure classes, it is quite a surprise that there has been little crossover between the two, until now.
Priced in New Zealand from $19,990, Moto Guzzi’s all-new V85 TT is the first motorcycle to be marketed as a combination of the classic and adventure motorcycle markets, with the TT in the name standing for Tuto Terreno (Italian for All Terrain) Moto Guzzi has also coined the phrase of Classic Enduro to describe the latest segment in the motorcycle world.
But does the V85 TT live up to the expectations such a machine inevitably finds itself facing?
The only substantial difference between the base model V85 TT and the premium models ($20,990) other than the obvious colour difference, is the tyre choice between road focussed Metzeler Tourance Next for the base bike and the slightly more off-road Michelin Anakee on the premium bikes.
With the popular Thai tourist island of Phuket setting the scene for the Asia-Pacific launch of the V85 TT, we were treated to a variety of conditions to see how this Classic Enduro stacks up when it comes to delivering not only the comfortable and capable ride of an adventure machine, but also in delivering the characterful experience expected of a modern classic.
When it comes to delivering the latter, the V85 TT – like all Moto Guzzi machinery – has character in spades.
While the bike follows the growing mid-size trend with a more manageable 853cc engine, that engine is a wonderfully characterful transverse mounted air-cooled push-rod actuated 2-value V-twin as per Guzzi tradition. Producing 59.6kW (80hp) and 80Nm of torque it isn’t a powerhouse but for the task at hand, it doesn’t need to be.
In fact, the engine isn’t an old tractor motor like it appears at first glance. Internally Moto Guzzi has performed some magic which includes the use of titanium valves and aluminium pushrods to ensure the V85’s 853cc engine puts out 18.6kW more than the same sized unit found in the V9 Bobber and Roamer.
As the V85 TT is the first bike from the Mandello del Lario factory to enter the adventure touring market since the Stelvio 1200 the bike really had to impress.
Set up with quality fully adjustable KYB inverted forks and a remote reservoir monoshock –the latter of which has been specifically offset from the centre of the frame to the right hand side for easy access – the V85 TT is the only bike in the mid-size adventure class to feature a shaft drive. That means less time spent maintaining the final drive system and more time munching miles - which the V85 TT is more than willing to do all day long.
With the Guzzi brand owned by the Piaggio Group, the V85 TT benefits from technologies which until now have been reserved for Piaggio’s other brands such as Aprilia. That means the V85 TT sports a stunning TFT display instead of the analogue gauges seen on the majority of bikes in the Guzzi range.
Other top end components include twin 4-piston Brembo radially mounted brake calipers clamping down on 320mm discs up front, a full suite of LED lighting including a very cool daytime running light shaped like the Moto Guzzi Eagle logo, 3 rider modes and switchable ABS and traction control.
A strong hint at the type of riding Moto Guzzi expects riders to use the V85 TT for is the choice of wheel sizing, with a 19-inch front wheel matched to a 17-inch in the rear, plus a largest in class 23-litre fuel tank. While those indicate that the V85 TT is not intended as a serious off-road machine and is instead a capable all-rounder, the bike proved itself to be more than capable of anything we threw at it during the launch.
Starting out from the launch base, first impressions were that the V85 TT was a heavy machine – tipping the scales at approximately 230kg wet – but as the ride progressed I soon became at one with the bike and started to really appreciate what its strong points are.
Rider ergonomics are superb, with the bike designed to be able to fit 95% of the population according to Moto Guzzi, with room to tailor it further via three optional comfort seats. The seat itself is, in fact, one of the most comfortable seats I’ve found myself perched upon recently. I’d be comfortable in saying the bike would be all-day comfortable.
With its 19-inch front wheel, the bike is easy to flick from corner to corner with confidence while the engine – while down on power when compared to some of its contemporaries – offers enough power to have a really enjoyable riding experience.
I found the key to keeping the ride 'spirited' was to keep the engine revving above 4500rpm to get the most out of it, as below 4000rpm the bike is very mellow and more characteristic of a traditional Guzzi. It doesn't hurt that the 90-degree V-twin sounds great when revving out to the 7000rpm redline either...
On more adventurous surfaces, the V85 TT proved to be surprisingly competent. The more mellow character of the engine lends itself to chugging along in the dirt with 90% of its 80Nm of peak torque reached at 3750rpm.
In fact, the more mellow character of the engine lends itself to chugging along in the dirt. Engaging Off-Road mode – which disables rear ABS and modifies the traction control to allow more slip before intervention – we then set off away from the sure-footedness of pavement towards the Plai Phu hot spring, which not only featured the equivalent of farm tracks but also required crossing a river to reach.
On the tracks and loose dirt near the hot spring, the V85 TT was far more sure footed and approachable than I expected. Even with its 23-litre fuel tank sitting above the engine, the bike didn't feel top heavy and was easily controlled using just the basics of off-road technique.
With its aluminium skid plate protecting the dry sump of the engine and 210mm of ground clearance there really wasn't anything we came across that even hinted that the bike wasn't a capable adventure steed.
There was of course the odd quirk which did add somewhat to the characterful experience.
As with most Piaggio Group products, the rider modes are switched via the starter button which I don't think I'll ever get the hang of. I don't understand why Moto Guzzi saw the need to use this as an option either, as they already added a button to the switchgear for the sole purpose of utilising the optional Moto Guzzi phone app which adds connectivity to the 4.5 inch TFT screen.
The only other niggle I experienced during my time with the V85 TT was it was rather difficult to navigate the TFT screen with the 'mode' switch on the right switchgear, as at times it seemed like the switch refused to respond. Whether this was due to the bike being a thrashed press demo or my unfamiliarity with the system I'm not sure. If it was indeed a fault though it'd be covered under the manufacturers warranty and promptly rectified.
In fact, the only reason I mention it at all is as the only situation the V85 TT seemed to struggle with was the incredibly soft sand of a beach we ventured on to at the end of our varied ride route. While the off-road mode disables rear traction control and reputedly modifies the traction control setting to allow for more slip, the soft sand had the traction control intervening heavily to the point the bike stalled.
After the help of a handy Moto Guzzi engineer to eventually disable the traction control on I made it on to the beach, and promptly bogged the bike down to the axel. After recovering the bike and repeating the exercise twice more it became apparent that I did not possess the skills needed to ride the Guzzi in such difficult conditions, so a call to Kiwi Rider Magazine's Jock was put in and he screamed off the beach with the V85 like it was a farm bike.
Clearly, the bike is far more capable than 95% of riders who would prospectively be looking at purchasing the V85 TT.
So does the V85 TT hit the nail on the head for the Classic Enduro?
Well, apart from some minor quirks which are more personal preference than anything, the V85TT is a remarkably well rounded motorcycle. With its sub $20,000 entry price and do anything nature it offers a lot of bike for your dollar.
Moto Guzzi V85 TT Gallery
2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Specs
Type: Transverse 90° V twin, two valves per cylinder (titanium intake).
Engine capacity: 853 cc
Bore and stroke: 84 x 77 mm
Compression ratio: 10.5: 1
Maximum power: 80 HP (59 kW) at 7,750 rpm
Torque: 80 Nm at 5,000 rpm
Fuel system: Electronic injection; Ø 52 mm single throttle body, Ride-by-Wire
Fuel tank capacity: 23 litres (including 5 litre reserve)
Claimed Fuel Consumption (WMTC cycle): 4.9 l/100 km
Clutch: Dry single disc
Transmission: 6 gears
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 27/24 = 1: 0.889
Frame: High strength steel tubular frame
Front suspension: 41 mm hydraulic telescopic USD fork, with adjustable spring preload and hydraulic rebound
Front wheel travel: 170 mm
Rear suspension: Double-sided swingarm in box-type aluminium with a single shock on the right side, with adjustable spring preload and hydraulic rebound
Rear wheel travel: 170 mm
Front brake: Double 320 mm stainless steel floating discs, Brembo radial-mounted callipers with 4 opposed pistons
Rear brake: Ø 260 mm stainless steel disc, floating calliper with 2 pistons
Front wheel rim: 2.50” x 19”
Rear wheel rim: 4.25” x 17”
Front tyre: With air chamber 110/80 - R19”
Rear tyre: With air chamber 150/70 - R17”
A/C generator: 430 W
System voltage: 12 V
Battery: 12V – 12 Ah
Length: 2240 mm
Width: 950 mm
Wheelbase: 1530 mm
Saddle height: 830 mm (accessories: low saddle 810 mm; high saddle 850 mm)
Headstock angle: 28°
Trail: 128 mm
Dry weight: 208 kg
Kerb weight*: 229 kg
* Weight with motorcycle ready for use, with all operating fluids and 90% fuel.