Watch: we test Moto Guzzi's jack-of-all-trades V85 TT in Thailand
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With two of the best-selling segments in motorcycling being the modern classic and adventure markets, it is surprising there has been little crossover between the two, until now.
Priced 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. The TT in the name stands for Tuto Terreno (Italian for All Terrain) and Moto Guzzi has coined the phrase of Classic Enduro to describe the latest addition to the mid-sized adventure class.
But does the V85TT live up to the expectations such a machine inevitably faces?
The only substantial difference between the base model V85 TT and the premium models ($20,990) other than colour, is the tyre choice between road-focused 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 in delivering not only the comfortable and capable ride of an adventure machine but also the characterful experience expected of a modern classic.
When it comes to 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 transverse-mounted air-cooled pushrod-actuated two-valve V-twin as per Guzzi tradition. Producing 59.6 kW 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 a tractor motor as it appears at first glance. Moto Guzzi has performed some magic, like 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 in the V9 Bobber and Roamer.
The V85 TT is the first bike from Mandello del Lario to enter the adventure touring market since the Stelvio and the bike really had to impress. Set up with adjustable KYB inverted forks and an easily adjusted (thanks to its placement on the bike’s right side) remote reservoir monoshock connected to the only shaft drive in the class.
With the Moto Guzzi brand owned by the Piaggio Group, the V85 TT benefits from technologies that until now have been reserved for Guzzi’s other stablemates, such as Aprilia. That means the V85 TT sports a stunning 4.5in TFT display instead of the analogue gauges 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 suite of LED lighting including a cool daytime running light shaped like the Moto Guzzi Eagle logo, three 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 19in front wheel matched to a 17in 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 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 we soon became at one with the bike and started appreciating what its strong points are.
Rider ergonomics are superb. The bike is designed to fit 95 per cent of the population according to Moto Guzzi, with room to tailor it further via three optional comfort seats.
The seat is one of the most comfortable we’ve perched on. The bike would be comfortable to ride all day long with minimal aches and pains. With its 19in front wheel, the bike is easy to flick from corner to corner with confidence.
The engine, while down on power compared to some of its contemporaries, offers enough power to have an enjoyable riding experience. Keep the engine revving above 4500 rpm to get the most out of it if spirited riding is on your checklist.
On more adventurous surfaces, the V85 TT proved surprisingly competent. The more mellow character of the engine lends itself to chugging along in the dirt with 90 per cent of its 80Nm of peak torque reached at 3750rpm.
Engaging Off-Road mode — which disables rear ABS and modifies the traction control to allow more slip before intervention — we moved away from the surefootedness of pavement towards the Plai Phu hot spring, which not only featured the equivalent of farm tracks but also required a river crossing. The V85 handled itself well despite the road-oriented Metzeler Tourance tyres fitted to the test bike.
So does the V85 TT hit the nail on the head for the Classic Enduro? Well, apart from some minor quirks that are more personal preference than anything, the V85 TT is remarkably well-rounded.
With its sub $20,000 entry price and do-anything nature, it offers a lot of bike for your dollar.
2019 MOTO GUZZI V85 TT
Price: From $19,990
Engine: 853cc transverse V-twin
Power: 59kW / 80Nm
Pros: Great looks, highly capable and comfortable
Cons: Fiddly to adjust electronic aids
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