2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT | First Ride Review

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure
The 2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT (shown here in “Adventure” red/yellow livery) is as fresh to look at as it is fun to ride. Powered by a new 853cc that’s smooth and delivers plenty of punch above 3,500 rpm, the new V85 TT should make a great commuter or light adventure tourer. Photo by Marco Zamponi.

Moto Guzzi’s new retro-themed V85 TT–as in Tutto Terreno, or all-terrain–is part adventure tourer, part streetfighter and part street scrambler. It’s the opening shot in a barrage of forthcoming new midsize models using its all-new air-cooled, 853cc, 90-degree longitudinal V-twin pushrod engine. There’s nothing else quite like the V85 TT in the marketplace, and designer Mirko Zocco deserves praise for producing a bike with unique styling that’s as fresh to look at as it’s fun to ride. The chance to spend a 120-mile day in sunny Sardinia riding it on the hilly, switchback roads of Italy’s second largest island, underlined what a significant model this is for Italy’s oldest motorcycle manufacturer.

Take a look at the limited-edition Moto Guzzi V7III Racer here.

Available in three different color schemes for the U.S., with the gray tint/black frame, the bike costs $11,990 fitted with tarmac-friendly Metzeler Tourance Next tires. You’ll need $1,000 more for the red/yellow or red/white versions, each with red-painted frame, carrying more off-road-focused Michelin Anakee Adventure rubber. Both variants come with a 19-inch front wire wheel with aluminum rim and 17-inch rear.

Read our review of the Michelin Anakee Adventure tires here.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
New engine is smoother and quieter than before, thanks to titanium intake and aluminum exhaust valves, operated by aluminum pushrods with roller tappets. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.

With a bore and stroke of 84 x 77mm, the V85 TT’s motor produces a claimed 80 horsepower at 7,750 rpm, alongside 59 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm, claims Guzzi, with 90-percent of that torque available at just 3,750 rpm. At the other end of the rev scale is a 7,800-rpm limiter, making this the most high-revving Guzzi OHV motor, despite being a two-valve design (rather than a four-valver) in keeping with the model’s traditional focus and retro-inspired styling.

Guzzi engineers have delivered an ultra-flexible power unit that’s more responsive than previous such engines, with reduced inertia. It has achieved this via a semi-dry sump design with the oil tank positioned in the lower crankcase half with twin oil pumps. This reduces oil drag on the crankshaft assembly which, with lighter conrods and pistons, weighs 30-percent less than previous Guzzi small-block motors, resulting in more zestful pickup from lower revs.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Generous 6.7-inch suspension travel front and rear help to make the V85 TT a comfortable ride even over rough tarmac. Photo by Marco Zamponi.

That’s aided by using titanium for the large 42.5mm intake valve while retaining a 35.5mm steel exhaust valve in each cylinder head, operated by aluminum pushrods with roller tappets, resulting in a lighter and also quieter operation of the valve gear–there’s none of the top-end rattles of previous Guzzi OHV motors. Partially aimed at decreasing fuel consumption–Guzzi claims a frugal 48 mpg, which with a six-gallon fuel tank delivers a 250-plus mile range–there’s just a single 52mm throttle body controlled by a Magneti Marelli ECU, with RBW digital throttle offering three different riding modes–Road, Rain and Off Road. Each delivers full engine power but with a different throttle response via altered engine mapping, plus variable engine braking settings, and diverse calibration for the Continental ABS and switchable MGCT traction control. Power is transmitted via an all-new six-speed gearbox coupled to a revised single-plate clutch in a redesigned housing, giving increased ground clearance.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Single rear Kayaba shock is adjustable for preload and rebound damping. Right side of the aluminum swingarm houses the driveshaft. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.

Guzzi’s new small-block motor is wrapped in a tubular steel chassis using the engine as a fully stressed component. This removes the need for a lower frame cradle, thus reducing weight while also increasing engine ground clearance to a useful 8.3 inches for off-road riding, with the engine protected by an aluminum sump guard. The more compact new engine’s shorter length permits a long asymmetric cast aluminum swingarm delivering a rangy 60.2-inch wheelbase, the curved left arm of which permits the 2-1 exhaust’s oval-section silencer to be tucked in tight, with the V85 TT’s shaft final drive housed in the right arm.

Suspension is by Kayaba, with the 41mm fork set at a relaxed 28 degrees of rake with 5.0 inches of trail matched to a cantilever rear single shock offset to the right with a dual-rate spring. Suspension stroke front and rear is a generous 6.7 inches, and both fork and shock are adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping. Braking comes from Brembo via twin 320mm front discs with radial four-piston calipers, and a 260mm rear disc with two-pot caliper. Dry weight is quoted as 459 pounds. Zocco’s distinctive neo-Classic enduro styling sets this all off, complete with a short screen that isn’t adjustable for height. The 1980s-style twin round LED headlamps are ingeniously bisected by a bright DRL depicting the Guzzi eagle motif. An upsized 430-watt flywheel generator provides the current to power these, as well as any of the wide range of accessories like heated grips, which Guzzi offers in the bike’s dedicated accessory catalog.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure
The more off-road-oriented V85 TT Adventure is shod with Michelin Anakee Adventure tires and comes with hard luggage as standard (not shown). Photo by Alberto Cervetti.

The TFT dash is well designed and legible, with a variable color background depending on light conditions. Aside from the speedo, tach, odometer/twin tripmeters, clock, gear selected, ambient temperature, fuel level, average and current consumption, DTE and selected Riding Mode displays, you can even adjust when the shifter lights flash to remind you to change gear.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Full-color TFT display is ambient light-sensitive and includes speedo, tach, odometer/twin tripmeters, clock, gear indicator, ambient temperature, fuel level, fuel consumption data, DTE and riding mode. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.

The V85 TT has real visual presence, and build quality seems high, with excellent paint finish. Hop aboard its 32.7-inch-high seat (there’s 31.9/33.5 options), and you’ll find a quite upright but very comfortable riding stance via the taper-section alloy handlebar and relatively low footrests, which only drag in turns at quite extreme lean angles. The Kayaba suspension is really outstanding, especially the well-damped 41mm fork which gives good feedback so you can use heaps of turn speed despite the skinny 19-inch front.

The TC lets you get on the throttle hard and early exiting the switchback turns along Sardinia’s southwestern coast, where my only criticism was that the rear suspension is a little “dry” in low-speed damping over ripples and ridges, with initial compression of the twin-rate spring not as smooth as I’d like. But medium and high-speed damping is excellent, even without a rear link–I could feel the shock compressing and releasing smoothly beneath me through faster turns, or over a series of high speed bumps. And the generous wheel travel front and rear, coupled with the wide handlebar and tucked-in silencer, makes this a comfortable and capable ride off-road.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure
The V85 TT handles almost delicately, making twisty roads a low-effort delight. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.

Guzzi has got it just right, and the same goes for how the V85 TT steers. It holds a line well but changes direction easily–it’s almost delicate in the way it steers. The radial brakes also performed well, with a strong but not aggressive initial bite. You can even finger the front brake lever to throw off a little excess speed once committed to a turn, and this Guzzi won’t sit up on you and head for the hills like some other motorcycles with this much trail dialed into the steering geometry. Job well done, amici.

However, my real plaudits are reserved for the V85 TT’s outstanding new engine, which feels more “modern” and sophisticated than any Moto Guzzi OHV/pushrod engine I’ve yet sampled. Work the light-action clutch lever–this’ll be an excellent commuter bike, thanks to that and the upright riding stance–to insert bottom gear, and not only does this go in with no sign of the clunk previously ubiquitous on Moto Guzzi engines, but as you drive forward practically off idle with minimal use of the clutch, the V85 TT motor gives a good imitation of a turbine. It’s unbelievably smooth not only by the standards of the past, but also compared to rival middleweight twins.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Left side of the asymmetric swingarm allows the high silencer to be tucked in tightly for ideal weight distribution and to allow the luggage, optional on this gray model, to be mounted as close to the subframe as possible. Photo by Marco Zamponi.

However, while Guzzi’s new 853cc engine drives very well from as low as 1,500 rpm, you need 3,500 revs or more to get the strong pickup it’s capable of delivering. Top gear roll-on below that mark is a little sluggish, so you’re encouraged to use the very sweet-shifting gearbox–I can’t remember ever using that term to describe a Moto Guzzi transmission!–to keep the revs up on the open road. If you do that you’ll get excellent response from the motor from 4,000 revs upward, meaning I spent a lot of time in fourth gear. But there’s vibration through the footrests from 5,000 rpm upward, equating to 80 mph in top gear. The engine is otherwise very smooth with just a few tingles through the seat as you near the 7,800-rpm limiter. Instead, you’ll want to surf the V92TT’s ultra-flat torque curve and hit a higher gear at around 6,800 rpm, which’ll put you back in the fat part of the powerband each time.

A relaxing and enjoyable everyday ride, with the debut of the V85 TT the wings of the Moto Guzzi eagle have started flapping a lot harder.

Keep scrolling for more pictures below the spec chart.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure
2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure in red/yellow. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Specs
Website: motoguzzi.com
Base Price: $11,990
Price as Tested: $12,990 (V85 TT Adventure w/ luggage, multi-color & Michelin Anakee Adventure tires)
Engine Type: Air-cooled, longitudinal 90-degree V-twin, OHV, 2 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 84.0 x 77.0mm
Displacement: 853cc
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated dry clutch
Final Drive: Shaft
Wheelbase: 60.2 in.
Rake/Trail: 28.0 degrees/5.0 in.
Seat Height: 32.7 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 505 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gals., last 1.3 gals. warning light on
MPG: NA

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Hard luggage is optional on the base model (shown here), but comes standard on the Adventure models. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.
2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Radial front brakes are by Brembo, with strong but not aggressive initial bite. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.
2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Standard seat is perched 32.7 inches off the ground, rather accessible for an adventure tourer. A low 31.9 and high 33.5-inch option are also available. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.
2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT in gray. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Alan, I agree with your take on this bike’s looks.

    A question: Bikes with an inline engine/drivetrain configuration have a tendency to tilt a bit when opening the throttle out of a bend. Is the V85 TT properly counterbalanced to correct for this tendency, which takes some getting used to?

    (Many years ago, I rode a Honda CX 500. Lovely bike for its time, except for the cornering quirk.)

    • My first bike was a 1980 CX500 which I bought new that year on the recommendation of a friend who had a 79. Since it was my first bike, I never thought about that “quirk”, I assumed all bikes were like this. Put 40,000km on that bike. Two years later I replaced it with a CB750, which was bigger, and faster, but lacked the soul of the CX.

    • I had a 1200 Stelvio for several years, to this day one of my favorites rides owned. For me, I never felt the sideways torque after engaging the clutch. If revved at idle, sure, a bit, but hitting all 95hp coming out of corners, not a twitch.

      • Thanks, Robert. If MG had it sorted on the Stelvio, then it’s a good bet that the V85 TT is similarly equipped.

        I guess I’ll have to take one for a test drive to settle the question definitively, though. Problem is, there’s no MG dealers within a reasonable distance here.

  2. I have a 1966 motoguzzi sport. It runs good but i’m Working on it. There are a couple of things I still need. I need a center stand with bolts & spring, & drain plug with oil screen. Can’t seem to locate these parts anywhere. If you could help me I would appreciate it vary much. Paul (yamoto49@aol.com) Thank You

  3. Nice bike, shame Piaggio will not stand behind their product. I’ve had three Guzzi’s, Basso, Griso and just recently a new 2017 California. The California quit on me in Payson, Arizona last year, it had just 3500 miles. I had to have it towed to my home, $400, my AMA towing paid $200 toward the bill. I called Piaggio the next day and was told almost immediately, “Piaggio does not pay for towing.” They suggested that I have the bike towed, again at my expense, 120 miles to Tucson, Arizona as that was the closest dealer. The original dealer in Chandler Arizona dropped Piaggio shortly after I bought my California. I contacted my longtime Ducati mechanic and he was able to trace the problem to a loose solenoid wire underneath the starter. Took all of 30 minutes, no charge. I pulled the side covers on the side of the road but really couldn’t see any anything. The next day I drove it to the original dealer and traded it in on a BMW R1200RS. Until Piaggio establishes a strong dealership network and stands behind their products, I would avoid the marque.

  4. I have a 1992 BMW R100RT, with new dyna coil ignition and permanent magnet charging systems to overcome the stock reliability issues. It has the CC proud’s stage II dual plug engine tune and Swedish five piece rings to stop oil consumption. The weight, 500 pounds, simplicity and crazy correct function of this old thing keep it impossible to replace.

    34,000 miles with the changes and it just goes like it should have when new. So no, it was kind of quirky at the start but it at least WORKS like it should now.

    I’d love to get a newer version of this 1992 R100RT with a newer model that is not so complex, cluttered and ugly like all the new BMW models are, and terribly expensive. Then I see the V85 engine.

    Once you ask for a twin, shaft drive, decent mileage, 5 gallon tank, some sort of weather and wind protection and sub 15K price the choices go to an ancient R100RT! This is ridiculous for 25 plus years of tech. No, the R9 didn’t get it with me. I want function over fashion.

    The V9 Griso “was” oh so close! But, the new V85 engine assembled into a sport touring set-up could be dead nuts based on what I see here. I don’t need zillion HP, the old RT has like maybe 60 HP and has always been enough, so 85 smooth clatter free HP is PLENTY and 48 MPG? Sign me up!

    I sure hope MG extends this line-up pronto since I’ve been shopping for a new bike for a full decade only to keep my R100RT. I still love it but ABS, modern dash intrface and engine tune (fuel injection) sure would be nice. The better power in a smaller, lighter engine is also just what the doctored ordered.

    I see so much potential here that is virtually untouched by everyone, including MG so far. Am I truly nuts to like a modern R100RT? Don’t answer that, seems like I am. OK, I’ll get my antique plates and move on I suppose.

    rower30@frontier.com

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here