First Ride: Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber
Moto Guzzi are enjoying a resurgence in sales thanks to the ever expanding retro scene. Having recently celebrated their 95th anniversary, the Italian manufacturer pack genuine heritage, as proven by the popularity of their V7 model – and now they’ve had another pop at the hipster trend by releasing this, the V9 Bobber.
Despite the American term, it doesn’t look like a classic stateside bobber: Moto Guzzi have cleverly kept their own unique style and Mandello del Lario stamp on the V9. This is an authentic Italian with an American name, and not really a bobber at all.
- Podcast: Is Maverick Viñales an alien?
- Captain Slow caught going fast
- MotoGP: Xavi Forés to replace injured Loris Baz
- Bikes for sale: Cheap thrills
- Seven top speed heroes
And that’s a good thing. It’d be a shame if such a famous manufacturer built something that wasn’t true to its heritage, and they’ve done an excellent job on the design, too, with beautiful finishing touches like an ultra-posh (and perhaps too modern) switchgear, sleek matt paintscheme, emblems, embroidered seat and smart dash.
The only things that don’t convince are the 16in balloon tyres. They look gimmicky while detracting from the overall sleek look and, most importantly, affect the handling too. During a 250-mile round trip from Peterborough to Windsor, on motorways and country lanes, they felt vague at high speed and fell into corners and roundabouts. You get used to it, but I’d still prefer 17in wheels and standard rubber.
The seating position, however, is near perfect. Despite that flat retro seat, it’s a pretty comfortable ride, even after two hours in the saddle. The wide bars and pegs are well positioned and offer a roomy, laid-back riding position that works even on the long, boring straights. The entire bike is well thought out and cleverly blends the new and the old to give you a real retro feeling on the move.
The engine uses the firm’s V7 crankcases as a base unit, and gets new pistons, aluminium heads, cylinders and improved oil distribution, while displacement has been upped to 853cc. It starts with a rasp and first gear slams home with an almighty clunk but the clutch is light and a far cry from those found on older Guzzis.
Blip the throttle and the Bobber pushes to the right in the traditional manner, then hustles away from the lights before cruising along on a wave of Guzzi-flavoured torque. It’s spirited and soulful in a manner purists will love.
If you’re new to Guzzis you’ll enjoy all that too, but you’ll also find that it isn’t a particularly refined ride. The fuel injection system is disappointingly snappy, and power delivery is sharp rather than creamy, making riding in town less than smooth. Out in the country, the Bobber needs to be muscled along country roads, with plenty of rider input.
The Kayaba suspension set-up doesn’t particularly help either as it only handles the lightest of bumps. The 40mm fork isn’t adjustable and the rear shocks are preload adjustable only.
However, the single, four-pot Brembo caliper up front and twin-pot Brembo at the rear do an excellent job of stopping in a hurry. They’re complemented by ABS and a two-level traction control system (which can be switched off).
The ideal way to ride the Bobber is in a relaxed, easy-going style. If you let it find its own pace it becomes a laid back, uber-cool machine. Admiring glances and blatant stares are a part of every ride.
A couple of people asked what it’s like to ride, but didn’t pay any attention to my response. Their eyes were fixed on the Guzzi V9 Bobber as it rested on its sidestand, posing. That’s what you get.