It seems like what’s old is new these days. So it seems like the perfect time to take the 2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber out for a test ride. After all, the Italian brand has sensibly decided that the glamour of the past will be the best way to keep their bank account in the black and fund their future.
The latest challenge for motorcycling is the introduction of the new Euro 4 emissions laws, with the ever tighter Euro 5 following in 2020. Every manufacturer has had to look long and hard at their model line-ups, and old favourites like the Honda CBR600 and VFR1200-powered machines have failed to justify future investment.
But I was amazed to learn that the Moto Guzzi twin pot engine is already Euro 4 friendly. And even more surprising is that all it took to make the old chugger environmentally sound was to use some redesigned pistons and a couple of holes in each cylinder head.
That stroke of luck seemed to inspire Moto Guzzi to release a few new models earlier this year, including the 2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber. Although, ‘new’ is relative – if you covered up the numberplate, you’d be hard pushed to tell it’s a new bike. The retro looks are an essential part of the Guzzi brand now, and the satin black paintwork looks pretty handsome. The sparse colour and chrome s complimented by the velvet darkness, to the point that the cylinder heads are the most visible branding by far…
Riding the 2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber:
I have to be honest at this point, and admit I’m not a target rider for the Moto Guzzi. I’m far too old and cynical to qualify as a hipster. And although I’ve sampled a few of the Le Mans models over the years, I’ve always been left struggling to know what all the fuss was about.
But I’m supposed to have matured by now, and I’m certainly older. So perhaps the classic Italian brand would finally make sense?
Starting up the 2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber, I’m rewarded by the whole bike shaking like a sick dog. It’s an inevitable result of physics when you have some parts in the engine going one way, and others rotating in the opposite direction. I’m reminded of sitting astride either a Honda CX500, or a twin tub washing machine during the spin cycle.
When I’ve become accustomed to the vibrations, I can appreciate the minimalist approach to the clocks. Less is more when you’re trying to concentrate. And I’m struggling to focus on anything while I try and get comfy. The seat isn’t too plush, and I also appear to have two cylinder heads wedged in my kneecaps. It feels a bit like trying to perch on the cheap seats at the theatre. No matter how I wiggle around, I seem to end up with my legs wedged up where they don’t feel comfortable.
So far, the modern take on the Italian dish is still leaving me a bit lukewarm.
Once I’ve chugged away on the 2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber, things do pick up slightly. This is no high performance motorcycle – the engine isn’t too pokey, and you can feel the substantial weight of the Bobber. And after a few miles I’m still fidgeting in the short saddle.
But the brakes are pretty decent (single 320mm front disc, and 260mm rear with Brembo four-piston calipers at the front and two-piston calipers at the rear), and the suspension is adequate enough down the back lanes. And the fat tyres have already reminded me of the Erlin Poppe-designed Sunbeam S7 – the 1950s twin pot classic which also relied on shaft drive. As the miles roll under the balloon tyres, the 2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber starts to make a bit more sense. For reference, the front is essential a rear tyre for other motorcycles – a 130/90 x 16 Continental ContiMilestone, teamed with a 150/80 x 16 rear.
Well, aside from the usual Guzzi transmission traits. The gears are all in there somewhere – it’s just a sloppy, noisy challenge to find them. Finding neutral involves a bit of exploration – like wandering the Moors on a foggy night, and seeing lights in the distance come and go. Which is about how reliable the idiot lights are in their assistance. It’s not terrible, and it’s a bit of Moto Guzzi character you eventually tune into, but it takes a while to relax into the gearshifts.
The 2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber and I start to enjoy our time trundling around the Cambridgeshire countryside, doing our own thing. When a troop of sportsbike riders come the other way, doing power ranger impressions in their sponsored leathers, I don’t even warrant a nod of acknowledgement. And after getting into the Guzzi way of doing things, I didn’t mind, either..
By the time I handed the 2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber back, I still hadn’t found a sweet spot in the saddle. But all the other niggles seemed to bother me less and less as time went by. The main question I came back with was why Moto Guzzi hadn’t given the V9 Bobber a bit of a bigger corporate push given recent trends. Especially when Triumph have released their own Bobber, acting like they own the concept… If you’re interested far more in character than performance, then the 2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber might just be worth a look.
2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber and Roamer
Moto Guzzi made the most of the Euro 4 V9 engine by releasing two models based around the 90 degree four stroke V-twin. The 853cc engine puts out a claimed 55bhp at 6,250rpm, and 45.7 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm.
The ALS steel twin tube cradle frame gets Kayaba 40mm front suspension and twin rear shocks with adjustable preload. Total weight is 438 lbs.
They also share the 3.4 gallon fuel tank. The seat height is low on both bikes, but the Bobber just takes it a little lower at 30.7 inches compared to the 30.9 inch saddle on the Roamer. The 2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber comes in Nero Massiccio Black with Yellow Graphics like the one we rode. Or Grigio Sport Gunmetal Grey with Red Graphics.
If you’re intending to spend more time in urban riding, then the Bobber is the obvious choice, particularly with the larger tyres soaking up more of the potholes. If you do intend to spend more time on the back roads, it may be better to try the Roamer, with different tyres, a less aggressive riding position, and more feedback as a result. Either way, you get ABS to help with the braking, and a two-level traction control system which can also be turned off.
And there’s also a bonus extra for the futuristic tech addicts, with the MG-MP system that allows you to wirelessly connect a smartphone with the free app (iPhone and Android), and use it as an on-board multi function computer.
The 2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber and Roamer will both set you back around £7,995.