Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX first ride review

Plucky Italians go chasing a slice of the big-money BMW GS Adventure pie with a re-worked Stelvio. But does the pricer, torquier NTX stand a chance?

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To create the Stelvio NTX, Moto Guzzi’s engineers have re-tuned the 1200cc four-valve V-twin for more torque. New camshafts have been fitted to give a fatter spread of grunt, and the engine management system has been tweaked to suit. There’s also a new, larger airbox and a packaging re-shuffle – the necessarily larger battery wouldn’t fit in its original place so Guzzi just tipped it over to get it in. So simple; so Italian.

The engineers have also saved a few euros by quoting the same maximum power as the orginal Stelvio, though in truth the engine mods have dropped peak power from 105bhp to 102bhp. Trouble is, if they’d declared the changes the engine would have needed to be homologated all over again, and that’s a costly shuffling of paper.

The NTX is Guzzi’s answer to the BMW R1200GS Adventure and, like the German bike, it comes with some suitably rugged accessories; panniers, spotlights, engine bars and a sturdy aluminium sumpguard. It also gets a narrower rear rim than the standard Stelvio so you can fit some genuine off-road rubber should you fancy doing Africa. Or just crossing an unpaved car park.

The Dolomites are one enormous biking playground. Being mountains, the area is high above sea level and that means less horsepower. One engineer told me up to 20% of peak power would be lost, which goes some way towards explaining why the NTX feels gutless, despite the tweaks.

However, the torque-free zone low down has been replaced by a strong bottom-end shove. Problem solved then, since that was the only thing that really put us off the original Stelvio last year.

For despite any preconceptions you may have, the Stelvio can fight its corner on merit. The engine is smoother than a GS’s, particularly at high revs, and the gearbox is sweeter, too. It changes gear like a box of cogs on a 125, not a thumping great shaft-drive twin. The handling is also more precise than the GS’s thanks largely to the Guzzi’s conventional forks, this despite the fact the Stelvio is heavier than the BMW. The Guzzi is also more manageable at low speeds, which anyone who’s enjoyed the gut-churning sensation that is losing balance on a GS will appreciate.

The GS Adventure can be had with a colossal 33-litre fuel tank, but the Stelvio NTX has the same 18-litre tank as the standard bike – shame.

A mate of mine has just completed a 40-day lap of the Mediterranean. He bought a GS for the trip but had wanted something more leftfield. Had the new Stelvio been around then I’d have suggested it and I don’t reckon he’d have been disappointed. At £11,450 the NTX looks dear but it comes with ABS (a £500 option on the standard Stelvio) and several other accessories that cost extra on the GS Adventure. Tot it all up and the Guzzi comes in slightly cheaper. Yes there’s reliability to consider, but the brave will be rewarded with a talented machine.

Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 NTX Specifications

Price £11,299 Top speed 123mph
Engine 1151cc, 8-valve, air-cooled V-twin
102bhp at 7250rpm Torque 80lb/ft at 6400rpm
Bore & stoke
95 x 81.2mm Compression ratio 11:1
Front suspension
50mm upside-down forks, compression, rebound and preload adjustment
Rear suspension
Monoshock, compression, rebound and preload adjustment 
Front brakes 2 x 320mm discs, four-piston calipers
Rear brake Twin-piston caliper, 282mm disc
Wet weight 251kg Seat height 840mm Fuel capacity 18 litres
Colour options Bronze