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Moto Guzzi V85 TT Centenario (2021) road test & review

Moto Guzzi V85TT Centenario 2021 review

Forget the Amalfi coast, we take the Italian Moto Guzzi V85 TT retro-styled A2 adventure motorcycle to the illustrious North Norfolk coast in our review. 

Details
Manufacturer:
Category:
Adventure
Price:
£ 11400
Overall
Not rated

Who needs the Amalfi coast when you’ve got the North Norfolk coast. Well… it’ll do for now anyway. Attempting to teach old dogs new tricks in more ways than one, the 2021-only Centenario edition of the Moto Guzzi V85 TT is here, celebrating 100 years of Mandello-built Guzzi’s.

First launched in 2019, this most recent update to the Guzzi adventure range gives us the characteristic air-cooled V-twin power that we all know and love, with a few updates to address the few shortcomings of the original model. 

It originally came in to replace the 1200cc Stelvio which fell at the Euro 4 gods, but quickly won over the fanbase on its own merit, with Italian style, flair and that unique 853cc powerplant. This limited edition model brings a limited ‘bike of the century’ flair.

Over the 2 weeks we had the V85 TT at Visordown, we covered around 700 miles of town riding, country b-lane blasting, motorways and a few dusty B-road jaunts. Spoiler: it was tremendous fun for every single mile.

What’s new on the Moto Guzzi V85 TT Centenario edition?

First up, this anniversary edition is given a gorgeous ‘Bialbero’ inspired paint job. We here at Visordown simply think it’s the best looking colourway of the bunch, something that the Italian firm should consider for a longer stay - it’s far nicer to look at than the McDonald’s-esque red & yellow original variant dubbed Giallo Mojave in the ‘Evocative Graphics’ pack.

beach north norfolk v85tt

That signature V-twin powerplant has been the beneficiary of modifications to the top-end said to improve torque at low & mid ranges (despite no official figures to back this) in addition to the inclusion of Sport & Custom rider modes bringing the total to 5 to pick from. 

Elsewhere, outer-spoke rims reduce wheel-weight by an apparent 1.5kg by facilitating tubeless tyres.

V85 TT Centenario 2021 price

v85 tt centenario side

Priced at £11,400, this Centenario edition is in fact the same price as the standard models, with only the Travel model priced above it - but that Travel coming with heated grips, a larger screen, panniers, and LED lights for £12,250.

This price does put it at the higher end of its competitors, with only a Ducati Multistrada 950 S above it at £13,795. For your money, you could buy the popular Yamaha Tenere 700 (£9,499), KTM 890 Adventure (£10,999) or almost two Honda CB500X’s (£6119).

Key to consider here is the hand-built Italian nature of the Guzzi. Would you pay over the odds for that Italian character? (Note: this becomes a running theme). 

853cc v twin air-cooled

Engine

The main talking point for this bike is the signature 853cc air-cooled 90º transversal v-twin, with two valves per cylinder and a titanium intake, providing you with around 76 bhp at 7500 rpm and 82 Nm at 5000 rpm - bearing in mind that these figures may be upped a little bit with the Centenario updates, and still A2-restrictable.

Power delivery is smooth and consistent throughout the revs with a ride by wire throttle, plus the unique shaft final drive. Of the few detractors to this model, the power is where most criticisms are pointed. Considering the 230kg wet weight, the power at no point leaves anything to be desired. I suppose more power would be welcome, but acceleration and power output are more than adequate for relaxed long journeys and back road blasts. 

Riding ability & gearing

This takes me to the riding. Long days in the 830mm saddle are comfortable (which I’ll note is really nicely styled with stitched leather), and at medium revs the v-twin is surprisingly tame, with no vibrations ruining the party which makes motorway cruising easy. Plus you can flick on the cruise control with a press of a button.

Lower speeds (30mph in towns) do conjure some engine shudders when pairing higher gears & low revs, so you’re best soothing the streets with lower gears - allowing you to pop your visor and enjoy the rumble and growl from the exhaust. 

motorcycle riding

Gear ratios are relatively short for the first few gears, and the lack of quickshifter means you’ll be using the clutch a lot when clicking through the 6-speed ‘box. It’s certainly geared precisely to the motor, making the most of the ponies and torque on hand - but there is a three-tiered shift light to enjoy when really pushing each gear!

Re-addressing the 230kg weight, it’s all low down & balanced, throwing the bike around twisty lanes (and even manoeuvring at low speeds) is certainly an eyebrow-raising high-point that I really enjoyed. Also, the steering lock is outrageously large, you can pull a U-turn in next to no space, despite a 1530 mm wheelbase.

A149 Hunstanton to Cromer

Touring & MPG

Touring is a breeze. The A149 coastal road from Hunstanton to Cromer is a good hour and a bit away for me, a full day of riding was satisfied well within full 23-litre tank - with around 50mpg real-world consumption you can see 250 miles before thinking about the filling up, running to empty in around 290ish if you dare.

Riding my home-to-coast round trip covered all manner of roads all diligently handled by the Guzzi, but taking it down any muddy byways could be out of the question with the stock Dunlop Trailsmart hoops that’d quickly turn to slicks with any unwanted mud companions sticking around. Though practically unbeatable on tarmac, I’ll add, with a reported 90:10 road:off-road bias.

Despite the upright riding position, legs can get a tad cramped with footpegs positioned under your hips, but leg cramp is a problem I face regularly on bikes at 6’3”ish. Standing up on the pegs (not bear traps) works well, too.

My other half jumped on for a pillion ride, her verdict was it was supremely comfortable, great sized seat with plenty to grab on to. She said she’d happily be on the back for regular trips out and about, short & long distances. 

suspension and brembo brakes

Suspension & brakes

Looking at the suspension and brake setup, there are no complaints here at all. 41mm USD front forks with 170mm travel are paired with a lateral rear mono-shock, both with adjustable extension and spring preload giving a 210mm ground clearance. 

The setup is well poised for the road, confidence-inspiring and provides great feedback of your ride - although the front does feel fairly soft at low-speed ham-fisting,

The front 19” wheel (110/80) is given 4-piston Brembo calipers on twin 320mm stainless steel discs, rear 17” wheel (150/70) given 260mm disc with 2 pistons to work with, plus dual-channel ABS.

It all worked superbly well to brush off speed, with good brake feel through the peg and lever and consistent progression of stopping power. Rear ABS induced lever-chatter does come in under heavy ‘requests to stop ASAP’ but the chatter doesn’t seem to alter stopping ability - enlisting engine braking helps too, leaving me with no complaints on stopping power at all, much the opposite.

TFT Dash and Beeline

Equipment

With a clear TFT dash navigated through sublime switchgear, the V85 TT is well equipped to bring a modern edge to the retro style. You navigate it all with thumb switches for up-down movements, and intuitive press & long-press combinations.

There are 5 rider modes to pick from (Street, Rain, Off-road, Sport, Custom (which allows you to pick your own, and switch off rear abs)), plus MGCT traction control, cruise control as standard, handy handguards, and aluminium sump guard. 

I didn’t often stray from sport or a user-customised sporty mode unless in the rain, where the power delivery is softened and traction control upped. Ride modes are swapped by closing the throttle and pressing the ignition button, which is a bit bizarre, the kill-switch operated by a push-button rather than standard switch. DRL a nice touch in a trademark Mandello eagle form.

There’s also a USB socket up front for any gadgets you may have, and the ‘MIA’ multimedia interface if you like to remain connected at all times when on two wheels which is a handy feature (I prefer keeping to myself when out riding, or temporarily ‘MIA’). 

If you fancy more accessories there are plenty of official parts to pick from, but be prepared to pay top dollar (or pounds) on top of the already fairly high price for stuff like panniers, tall screen, heated grips etc.

Style

Last up, and critically for some, is the style. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many compliments on the style of a bike. It’s got that retro style to match the character, but enough modern touches to keep it withstanding modern trends. 

Part of the look is the short & stubby screen, which actually does a brilliant job of pushing wind buffets above your head, although I’d like an adjustable screen for the total cost. The retro scrambler look is certainly putting ticks in all the right boxes for me.

This 100-year edition is a 2021 special, and the paintwork, detailing and finishing is top-notch.

Moto Guzzi V85TT Centenario 2021

What do we like and dislike?

Across the board style and character, brilliant fun to ride, fit me perfectly. The engine has its detractors on power, but it’s pure riding fun. Feels old school and retro but with a modern head on its shoulders and great user interface & intuitive cruise control. Work has clearly been done to address previous failings, from looking at other reviews; no vibey mirrors, the gearbox is smooth and clicky with pops & bangs when shifting down. 

Dislike? Short gearbox, price (perhaps a bit more for your money would be good, even bear-trap pegs and a quickshifter for all the shifting), any yearned-after accessories do carry the Guzzi price tag, and I’d have enjoyed an adjustable screen and centre stand (for chain mainte- oh yeah) Other models may offer more power for less price, but do they have the same character?

Verdict

In an age where there are ‘no bad bikes’, any adverse character from a characterful engine is very welcome. It may not be the most powerful powerplant, but the rocking of a v-twin paired with the low-down punch & growl results in a supreme ride with charm that won me over. Hand-built Italian quality combined with that unique character gives you a ride that is full of a unique riding character that some new bikes are victim of lacking. 

I’ll admit I came into this thinking the bike would be a weighty, subdued and lacking ride. I couldn’t have been more wrong - and I’m happy to admit that. It almost has no right being so fun to throw around and performs well past the stats sheet would suggest, each ride is pure fun - yet retaining that sensible touring calmness.

I came away from the 2 week stint with the Guzzi with a huge smile on my face. It’s ‘Scrambler tourer’ that did it all with elegance & personality, and was brilliant fun to ride - plus it certainly passes the ‘do you look back at it as you walk away’ test. 

This certainly goes amongst the top with the best bikes I’ve ridden, easily. Highly recommend a test ride. Also, head out to the North Norfolk A149 route, but try to go when there are not so many cars on the road (if you can!). 

Thanks again to Moto Guzzi, head to their site for more info.

Watch: Moto Guzzi V85 TT Centenario first impressions

Moto Guzzi V85 TT Centenario 850 2021 Walkaround | Engine Sound | Visordown.com