This week Moto Guzzi celebrated its 95th birthday, which is quite a milestone and it is thanks to this long history that the company is currently going through something of a resurgence. The trend for retro bikes is playing into Guzzi’s hands and as a result of the success of the V7 models, the firm has expanded its range for 2016 with the introduction of the V9 Bobber and Roamer.
Both bikes share the same basic platform, but where the Bobber (black bike in the pics) gets wide 16-inch balloon tyres, the Roamer (red) has a large 19-inch front to give it a bit more of a cruiser style. Powered by the new V9 engine, which remains air-cooled despite being Euro4 compliant, these bikes are aimed at riders wanting to progress up from the V7 models or sample a Guzzi for the first time and as such are more cruiser than retro. Which is how they ride.
Guzzi has been very keen to keep its new V9 feeling authentic to the brand’s image and that’s exactly how it feels to ride. Give it a few revs at standstill and the bike lurches to the right thanks to the torque reaction while selecting a gear is a slightly clunky affair and accelerating hard unleashes a pleasing vibration and sound as the twin pistons thump up and down. It’s a proper Guzzi motor in both character and feel and one that fans of the Italian manufacturer will love. But will they appreciate the V9 models’ handling?
Let’s not beat around the bush, both V9s are quite unique when it comes to their handling. The tall and wide tyres make the Bobber drop very rapidly into a corner and then require being held down to ensure it makes it out the other side while the Roamer’s 19-inch front feels ponderous to turn and vague mid-corner. These are quirky bikes and their handling reflects this trait, which will attract some riders and put others off. Personally I could learn to live with the Bobber as I like its styling and attitude, but I’d probably avoid the Roamer as its styling does nothing for me. Others will passionately disagree with my choice but that’s what Guzzis are all about.
These aren’t mainstream bikes, but that very fact makes them appealing to a select few riders. If that sounds like you, take a test ride on one and see if the spirit of Mandello del Lario flows through your veins.