First Ride

First Ride: Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 8V and Stelvio NTX

Having an adventure with the new Moto Guzzi Stelvios

The Stelvio is Moto Guzzi's adventure bike and named after the Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps, a road that BBC's Top Gear once called the best road in the world.

Although clearly aimed at the adventure and GS market, Moto Guzzi know that Stelvio customers may be dreaming of riding across Africa but in reality will use the Stelvio on tarmac and as a tourer. The bike has been setup to offer optimum performance on the road, whilst having off-road capabilities.

The Stelvio has been around for a few years now and although it keeps the Marmite like front lights, there have been a few modifications from the previous version. The main change is upping the rather small petrol tank to a capacity of 32 litres. This is despite the external dimensions of the tank being smaller than the previous model. Moto Guzzi claims a fuel range of 440km from the tank. Whether you can travel this far at speed remains to be seen but it's certainly a practical improvement and recognises the bikes touring potential.

It's available in two models, the Stelvio 1200 8V (available in white or black) is priced at £10,549 and the fully kitted out Stelvio NTX at £11,749.

That extra £1200 gets you a matt black paint job, matching aluminium side panniers, aluminium sump guard, higher screen, hand guards, fog lights and some trick looking spoked wheels with black rims. Seems a very reasonable deal to me.

It's a big bike and shorter riders will need to lower the seat. Luckily the seat height is adjustable from 820 - 840mm by simply turning the rubber bungs that support the seat.

The 90° V-twin engine is the same that is found in the Norge GT 8V but this one has a couple more horses at 105bhp. It's been set up for a more aggressive torque from lower revs and with the engine mounted in true Guzzi style across the frame, shakes to the right when you blip the throttle at standstill.

As far as the fuel system goes, the 'Quattrovalvole' engine premieres the new Marelli IWP 189 injectors, located on the intake ducts of the 50mm throttle bodies. A brand new integrated ignition and injection ECU now guarantees smooth running with power transmitted to the rear wheel via a shaft drive.

The Stelvio has a radial brake setup with 320mm discs and Brembo brakes at both ends. ABS comes as standard but can be deactivated if you'd rather ride without it. USD Marzocchi forks soak up any bumps with 170mm of travel.

Swapping between the two and riding through mountain roads it's the 1200 8V version that I wanted to stay on. It's the keener of the two bikes and much easier to throw around. Admittedly it's not carrying an extra 22kg of extras around with it but it's the wheels that make the biggest difference.

Although the 1200 8V's alloy wheels and the NTX's spoked wheels weigh the same amount, the NTX's carry most of their weight on the rim and this inertia makes a big difference when it comes to cornering. It's not that the NTX is bad at turning on its side, it's just the 1200 8V just feels so much better.

The whole front end is inspiring and is a real strong point for the Guzzi. Compare it to the GS, where you have to put all your faith in the front tyre without really knowing what's going on down there and for me it's the clear winner in the handling stakes.

Moto Guzzi's ATC, an anti-spin system is also included as standard and works on engine speed rather than wheel sensors. It controls ignition advance and cuts torque in if the rear tyre suddenly spins up but stays on the gas after it first activates and it gets the message to leave you in control. I managed to get the wheel to spin on some loose gravel easily enough but for some riders it will certainly give peace of mind to have that safeguard. Just like the ABS, you can de-activate it from the dash if you prefer.

My only criticism of the bike is its vibe. My girfriend is always having a go at me for being vague when she wants the latest gossip and I can only remember the general vibe of conversations rather than recall every intricate detail.

Unfortunately for the Stelvio, its vibes once again that cause me trouble. This time they come not from my poor memory but from the engine itself and they were enough to make my left hand feel slightly numb after a mornings ride. That V-twin engine is what gives the bike its character though so perhaps this is something you would get used to, if you happen to notice this at all. With the long tank range you will be stopping less frequently so it could be something to consider.

If you're looking for something that's a little different and will eat miles in style then it's well worth booking a test ride and seeing what vibe you get from the bike. If you do end up getting one, you won't be disappointed.

Moto Guzzi are celebrating their 90th anniversary this year so why not go and get them a card. You can put all that money you just saved on accessories and spend it on a ferry trip and petrol and deliver it in person.

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