2017 Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer – Retro character
Words: Jock McLauchlan Photos: Geoff Osborne
I am what I am. That’s the slogan Moto Guzzi proudly uses in its press blurb when describing the new V9 Roamer. The Italian manufacturer says the V9 is a new incarnation of the most pure Moto Guzzi spirit.
It’s true, the V9 embraces the heritage with an authentic, classy and stylish, yet modern design. It looks cool if you delight in the retro style and, from some angles, it has sensuous lines.
To an extent that opening sentence is also saying (I think), we are all about character and retaining that traditional Guzzi feeling – don’t expect too much refinement; we are our own men here, not luxury Merc drivers. And so, if you ride the Roamer with this in mind, you’ll understand the machine better and what it’s trying to achieve… then, the two of you can get along just fine.
The V9 engine is a 90 degree V-twin mounted east/west; it is air-cooled and 853cc. It produces 55hp at 6250rpm and 62Nm of torque at a low 3000rpm. Yes, as the numbers suggest the engine is not a huge power pack.
However, the torque is reasonable and the V9 can maintain a modestly brisk pace in a relatively effortless manner. Sixth gear is high-ishly geared and it has the Roamer feeling flat, for a 900, in a 100km/h roll-on test to simulate overtaking. Dropping one or even two gears is necessary if you intend business.
The power delivery is quite linear and smooth although as the revs rise the bars start to vibrate. Rev it harder and the vibration moves to the seat, rev it harder still and the seat stops vibrating and the vibes move back to the handle bars.
It’s an interesting sensation and all part of the timeless, and authentic, character of this Moto Guzzi. As there is no tachometer, Moto Guzzi has given the V9 a shift light. In third gear the shift light came on at 80km/h, but the rev limiter hit at 120km/h… which makes the 80km/h light seem a little on the low side. It may be adjustable.
In essence the engine is a flexible cruiser and does not really like to be rushed, high revs are not its forte, however it still has enough power to lose your license… and the power delivery is certainly in keeping with the capabilities of the rest of the machine.
This might sound odd… but I’d like to see a slipper clutch on the V9 because it has a heap of engine braking effect and it is easy to lock the rear wheel if you rush the down-shifts. The actual shifting is on the clunky, agricultural side, mainly because of the directness of the driveshaft, but if shifts are timed properly then it’s all smooth enough.
For best results, ride the V9 in the mid-range, don’t rush the changes and shift in the sweet spot. Then rejoice in the lovely exhaust note from the Agostini signature mufflers and enjoy the enticing character of this slightly quirky machine.
I guess in an effort to keep up with advances in technology and demands of purchasers, the V9 has two-position adjustable traction control (MGCT) that works well. But really the power is not likely to overwhelm the tyre’s grip very often… however in slick wet conditions it is a genuine safety net for those that don’t know the throttle goes both ways.
This 199kg fully-fuelled and oiled machine has a light feel when up and running. It has a relaxed feeling turn-in that requires little effort. While not particularly agile it is by no means lazy of steering either, perhaps neutral steering with a light tip-in describes it best.
I think it feels pretty planted too and while it doesn’t have super sticky rubber in superbike sizes, the 100/90-19 front and 150/80 rear hoops offer predictable performance in sensible sizes that suit the V9 and its Guzzi heritage.
Like the engine the chassis is at its best when ridden sensibly on flowing roads, enjoying the vibe and our amazing scenery while Sunday cruising. Of course it’s a decent mount for commuter work too and will lap up work as a daily ride machine.
The suspension is authentic in looks and is, by no means, cutting edge in action. The 40mm diameter traditional forks (Moto Guzzi’s description) are non-adjustable and fine in action apart from being a little on the soft side.
Unfortunately, the twin rear preload-only adjustable shocks were average at best and not well suited to our less than perfect (crap) bumpy back roads. They bottomed out easily with my admittedly large carcass aboard, even on modest bumps.
For my weight and the conditions the compression damping is too light and the rebound damping is not particularly manly either. However, I know upgraded shocks are available and if you’re lighter and prefer riding our better surfaced main roads you may never notice a problem.
Also, I think it’s worth considering that if you want an authentic looking machine with old technology suspension at a very respectable price point, then it is unfair to expect the suspension action of a modern high tech and probably considerably more expensive machine.
The braking performance is decent and in line with the V9 capabilities as a whole. Both front and rear brakes are controlled by two channel ABS. At the front end there is a single disc of 320mm. The caliper is a floating Brembo with four horizontally-opposed pistons. Stopping power is decent, but a serious pull is required for hard braking and the feel through the lever is quite okay too.
Out back, the rear caliper is a twin piston floating unit which produces reasonable stopping performance and feel… but consider that rear ABS on most bikes reduces the wheel stopping power to a slight slowing effect before the ABS pulses through the pedal and any further wheel stopping power is lost. Overall the brakes are absolutely fine and work well for this style of bike.
The ergonomics are probably great for the average to short rider and not bad for overgrown apes like me. The seat top is a very reasonable 785mm from the deck, flat, comfortably wide and quite long… it looks a very good size.
However because of the cylinder placement, for my knees to adequately clear them, I have to sit back and take up almost all the seat allowing no room for a pillion. Short riders obviously won’t have this issue and for me as just the rider it was comfortable.
The handlebars are at a great height, a nice reach away and a decent width which gives good control. The levers, their action and the overall finish of the V9 are excellent. The dash is a traditional single round analogue dial for km/h with an information LCD at the lower centre and warning lights located around the central needle pivot.
Overall the Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer is what it is. As the press information states, it’s a modern and authentic take on a traditional Guzzi machine. It is a handsome looker for the most part and I was surprised by just how many youngsters thought it looked, and sounded, cool.
Yes, it does have a heap of modern technology like ABS and TC and an electronic immobiliser. But for my liking, it still feels a little too much like an old school bike in its behaviour… however, perhaps that is the very same reason why others will jump in line to buy one – old school cool but without the old school issues.
Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer Pros & Cons
- Strong points – Cool looks, modern design, raw
- Weak points – Raw, power, knees hit the cylinders
2017 Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer Specifications
- Engine – 853cc, 90-degree transverse v-twin, four-stroke
- Compression ratio: 10.5:1
- Bore x stroke: 84 x 77mm
- Starting system: Electric
- Ignition: Electronic
- Fuel system: Marelli fuel injection
- Claimed power: 40.4kW (55hp) @ 6250rpm
- Claimed torque: 62Nm @ 3000rpm
- Clutch: Dry, single plate
- Transmission: Six speed, shaft drive
- Frame: Tubular steel cradle
- Suspension: Hydraulic telescopic fork with 40mm diameter stanchions, 130mm travel front; twin shock absorbers, spring pre-load adjustable, 97mm travel rear
- Brakes: 320mm disc, Brembo four-piston caliper front; 260mm disc, two-piston caliper rear; ABS
- Tyres: 100/90-19in front; 130/80-16 rear
- Seat height: 785mm
- Wheelbase: 1465mm
- Rake/trail: 26.4°/125.1mm
- Weight (no fuel): 199kg
- Fuel capacity: 15 litres
- Price: $15,190 + ORC / $16,500 Ride-Away
- Contact: Moto Guzzi Australia (link)