2020 Moto Guzzi V85 TT

Amidst a brave new world of technocracy, the vaunted Italian brand retains its illustrious tradition  

JEFF BUCHANAN

In this day and age of the mercurial start-up, it’s reassuring to know that Moto Guzzi, the legendary Italian manufacturer, continues to build their motorcycles in the original factory founded in 1921 in Mandello del Mario. For almost one hundred years the brand has enjoyed an uncanny exclusivity and mystique that defies description, with a base comprised primarily of mature connoisseurs. For 2020 Moto Guzzi proffers an appeal to a new generation of enthusiasts with a motorcycle that harkens the past while embracing the future; the all-new V85 TT.

The new Guzzi (as they are affectionately known) retains the brand’s signature and unique transversely-mounted V-twin and places it in a fresh Scrambler platform. Distinct and flowing design cues speak to aesthetics while the raised front fender, hefty skid plate, and beefy rear grab rail provide real-world functionality.    

The pulsing heart of the Moto Guzzi V85 TT is the 853cc air-cooled, OHV 90˚ twin engine. It produces a healthy 80 hp at 7,750 rpm with 59 lbs.-ft. of torque—90% of which is available at just 3,750 rpm, providing fully useable application courtesy a sharp and immediate throttle response. It’s this low-end pull that gives the V85 its character and charm, gifting the machine with a forgiving nature and ease of ride-ability—perfect for commutes and canyon carving alike.

Contrasting the old school engine configuration is the modern aspect of Ride-by-Wire throttle and various electronic aids such as on-the-fly engine ride modes. With settings for Road, Rain, and Off-Road the rider can adjust the V85’s engine characteristics to suit changing road conditions and riding preference. The new Guzzi is also equipped with traction control, ABS, and cruise control. A fully revamped 6-speed gearbox results in the smoothest transmission Moto Guzzi has ever produced, delivering concise, crisp gear changes.

Spoke wheels are highly desirable in the style department but provide sensible flex for any off-road riding you may wish to tackle. Handguards provide protection from brush and tree limbs as well as reducing windblast in chilly temperatures. The beautifully contoured gas tank deceptively hides a 6-gallon capacity.

Top tier Brembo brake components handle braking duties, with dual 320mm discs on the front mated to a single 260mm disc on the back to provide superb stopping power. The ABS (standard) works exceptionally well, capable of controlling aggressive braking with a smooth and controlled balance between front and back systems.

Weighing in at 504 lbs. the V85 TT is surprisingly nimble, with a sure-footedness that rewards with an intuitive feel and precise responses from rider input. Part of these handling characteristics are due to the responsive suspension components. 41mm telescopic forks (with adjustable pre-load and hydraulic rebound) work in concert with the laterally-mounted single rear shock, providing a smooth and compliant ride over a variety of road surfaces—especially the harsh real world of potholes, uneven pavement, and ruts. The cockpit layout is comfortable, with a relaxed seating position and natural reach to handlebars and footpegs. Seat is 32.6-inches off the ground and provides a plush ride, granting relative comfort for all-day riding. The small fairing manages to deflect a good amount of turbulence, keeping the cockpit relatively calm at freeway speeds. A self-adjusting TFT display screen gives the bike’s pertinent information (speed, miles, fuel, etc.) with a welcome clarity despite glare or overcast skies.

Moto Guzzi engineers have managed to imbue the new V85 TT with a slew of modern advances without losing any of the sought-after Guzzi charms, specifically the visceral rumble and residual vibration of that lusty V-twin engine beneath you—reminding us why we got into bikes in the first place.

Pros

A beefy rear grab bar with multiple hold points.

Digital TFT instrument cluster screen self-adjusts to light levels, making it easily readable regardless of atmospheric conditions.

Price point. The V85 TT’s base MSRP of  $11,990 buys a lot of motorcycle.

Cons

The handlebar switches suffer terribly from inconsistency, responding to either one light tap or requiring multiple stabs to get them to perform.

Rear shock is easily bottomed in moderately demanding off-road riding. 

We had to give it back.

Verdict: For years considered the mount of a very select group with a penchant for tradition, Moto Guzzi has seriously redefined their potential base with a new motorcycle that builds on their legend of autonomy while embracing advances in technology. The V85 TT is an enthralling motorcycle, capable of spirited riding (including light off-road jaunts) as well as the casual urban commute. And it does it with the kind of unique style only a company with a sincere passion for motorcycles can. The V85 TT is deserving of the shopworn cliché; this isn’t your father’s Moto Guzzi.   

Available color schemes: Grigio Atacama, Blu Atlante, and Rosso Vulcano

Enduro schemes: Giallo Sahara and Rosso Kalahari (with red frame)

2020 MOTO GUZZI V85 TT

MSRP $11,990 (base) $12,990 (Multi-color w/ bags)
Type Scrambler theme with crossover capabilities including daily commute, sport riding, and touring
Engine 853cc air-cooled, Transversally-mounted 90˚ V-Twin, 2-valves-per-cylinder (titanium intake)
Power 80hp @ 7,750rpm
Torque 59 lb.-ft. @ 5,000rpm
Transmission 6-speed with dry single disc clutch, shaft drive
Fuel Capacity  23 liters/6.0 gal (Premium unleaded)
MPG (claimed) 48mpg
Seat Height Standard: 32.68-inches (accessory: Low 31.89-inches: High 33.46-inches)
Curb Weight   (Dry) 458.6 lbs.  (Wet) 504.9 lbs.
Suspension 41mm upside down telescopic fork (front) Single, laterally-mounted (right side) shock (rear)
Brakes Front: dual Brembo 4-piston calipers mated with 320mm rotors Rear: single 260mm disc ABS standard (cancelling option)

Competition

Ducati Scrambler, Ducati Multistrada, BMW nineT, Suzuki V-Strom

Other Attributes

Engine:

The single most striking and alluring aspect of the new Moto Guzzi V85 TT is that torque-laden V-twin. Although the bike brims with a welcome array of sophisticated new technologies it still possesses that time-honored and visceral V-twin rumble that is wholly unique to Guzzi due that unique transversally-mounted engine configuration. The result is an invigorating twist of torque that resonates up through the handlebars with each turn of the throttle. The sensation stands as that essential ingredient of motorcycling: an engine beneath you.

Soul:

There is a palpable sense of history and tradition with Moto Guzzi motorcycles that goes beyond stat sheets and riding comparisons. Closing in on one hundred years elevates the Italian company to rarefied air among motorcycle manufacturers. Riding the Moto Guzzi it’s as if you can feel the company’s illustrious past coursing through the mechanical workings, which instills a kind of pride. And unlike any other motorcycle, when you own a Moto Guzzi, you are immediately accepted into a small cadre of devout followers known as  “Guzzistas”.   

Inspiration:

The Moto Guzzi V85 TT is a throwback to the essential elements that make motorcycling what it is; freedom, individuality, and fun. The bike’s versatility in terms of application (commuting, cruising, sporting around back roads) combined with its comfort, makes it an ideal candidate for taking off on a carefree overnighter—either alone or with a passenger. The TT’s ability to tackle light off-road riding means getting to the top of a mountain or to a secret beach cove are all within reach, far removed from the madding crowd.

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