I find motorcycles are akin to the culinary world in that there is a cornucopia of flavors to analyze and ponder while parked on the couch. We all have our preferences, but some flavors are more pronounced and distinctive than others — low-fat plain yogurt just doesn’t have the complexity of a Pepperoncino pepper. When it comes to unique motorcycles, the 2020 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Travel leaves a lasting impression on the palate.
The V85 TT line rolls out of Moto Guzzi’s Mandello del Lario factory, on the shore of Italy’s swanky-villa spackled Lake Como, and offers an unexpected proposition: a vintage-styled ADV-Tourer from a heritage brand. With the Stelvio 1200 put out to pasture, a new ADV machine was needed in Guzzi’s ranks, and much like the combination of fried foods and ice cream, the V85 TT was something I needed in life.
Introduced for 2020, the Travel is the third member of the V85 TT lineup and mechanically identical to its brothers. With a few tweaks to the recipe, the Travel is aimed at those looking to rack up mileage faster than a millennial’s college loan debt. Those tweaks include a windscreen with 60-percent more surface area, heated grips, LED fog lights, the Moto Guzzi MIA multimedia package, key-matched panniers and an exclusive rugged-looking colorway called Sabbia Namib. Best yet, you get all that for a $400 upcharge above the V85 TT Adventure.
Out on the road, the larger windscreen deflects much more air and reduces buffeting noticeably when behind the Guzzi’s wide handlebar. The comfy 32.7-inch saddle remains the same, and its lower height is an advantage when you need to get your boots on the ground — something that taller, more off-road focused ADV bikes don’t accommodate as easily.
Powering the Goose is the 853cc transverse V-twin with all the Guzzi flavor fans adore, sans the gamey, unrefined top-end juddering of the past. In keeping with tradition, a pushrod valve train is used, while modern engine building influences are reflected in the lighter and stronger titanium intake valves, aluminum rods, updated roller tappet design, a new low-profile piston and a redesigned crankshaft. It’s a far cry from the V7 III powerplant that shares similar architecture — all the soul and none of the funk.
On the Jett Tuning Dyno, our 2020 V85 TT Adventure test bike (January 2020 and on ridermagazine.com) put out a modest 66.3 horsepower at 7,900 rpm and 48.6 lb-ft of torque at 5,300 rpm of supremely tractable power, with buttery low and mid-range grunt that gleefully spools up on a whim. In truth, you’re best served short shifting and exploiting the punchy mid-range power.
Between the well-spaced 6-speed gearbox’s ratios and tractability, it’s easy to put power down when exiting corners in the streets. This middleweight engine hits the sweet spot of useable grunt off-road, too, forgoing the wheel-spinning madness of larger displacement competitors.
A long 60.2-inch wheelbase and relaxed 28-degree rake make the Travel surefooted on tarmac, tipping in without effort and showing nod-worthy sport-touring prowess when the pace picks up. Suspenders are in the form of a 41mm KYB fork and cantilever shock, featuring spring preload and rebound damping adjustment. Initial settings are a bit soft and cranking them up will pay off, especially if you’re feeling invigorated. Once dialed in, the V85 TT can do some quickstepping in the canyons. Off-road, the 557-pound Guzzi asks big questions of the suspension — stick to groomed fire-roads or trails on the way to your campsite, and hopefully, a cast iron pan-fried dinner.
On those longer rides, the robust key-matched panniers are built to take a hit and also stow away your goods. It’s far more convenient than the V85 TT Adventure, which had individual keys for each piece of luggage. At night, I was certainly glad to have the three-level heated grips to stay toasty, and the LED fog lights are a noticeable help.
The 19- and 17-inch wheels laced up with beefy Michelin Anakee Adventure tires are a good pairing, allowing you to hit groomed fire roads and rocky sections with confidence, without sacrificing on-road manners the way a 21-inch front wheel would. Though the wide front tire isn’t particularly adept in sand.
Radial-mount four-piston brake calipers up front grab on 320mm rotors and provide good stopping power, but require a little extra effort at the lever to get the job done quickly. A single two-piston caliper works in junction with a 260mm disc in back, with a fairly relaxed bite that prevents you from prematurely locking the rear in dirt.
Moto Guzzi has done something special with the V85 TT line, creating a distinguished motorcycle that can do a bit of it all; commute, tour, sow wild oats in the canyons and head off for a weekend in the backcountry. The styling and experience give it an unforgettable charm and with the V85 TT Travel’s smart accessories, this model becomes the pinch of salt in the chocolate milk, elevating the whole affair.
2020 Moto Guzzi V 85 TT Travel Specs:
Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles
Type: Air-cooled, longitudinal 90-degree V-twin
Bore x Stroke: 84.0 x 77.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Valve Train: OHV, 2 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 6,200 miles
Fuel Delivery: EFI w/ 52mm throttle body
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 2.1-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated dry clutch
Final Drive: Shaft
Charging Output: 430 watts max.
Battery: 12V 12AH
Frame: Tubular steel w/ engine as stressed member, cast aluminum swingarm
Wheelbase: 60.2 in.
Rake/Trail: 26 degrees/5.1 in.
Seat Height: 32.7 in.
Suspension, Front: 41mm USD fork, adj. for spring preload & rebound damping, 6.6-in. travel
Rear: Single shock, adj. for spring preload & rebound damping, 4.0-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm floating discs w/ radial 4-piston calipers & ABS
Rear: Single 260mm disc w/ 2-piston floating caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Spoked tube-type, 2.50 x 19 in.
Rear: Spoked tube-type, 4.25 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 110/80-VR19
Wet Weight: 557 lbs.
Load Capacity: 431 lbs.
GVWR: 988 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gals., last 1.3 gals. warning light on
MPG: 90 AKI min. (low/avg/high) 36.5/46.3/42.1
Estimated Range: 256 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 3,600