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2020 Moto Guzzi V85 TT: MD Ride Review

It’s no secret that we tend to love Moto Guzzis here at MD. Typically, that love does not derive from high performance figures or high technology. It flows from beautiful styling, as well as the character and torquey nature of the signature air-cooled, longitudinally-mounted 90° v-twin engines.

The new V85 TT from Moto Guzzi promises a combination of old and new. Still with an air-cooled v-twin mounted in the traditional manner, Moto Guzzi claims to have sucked a full 80 horsepower from 853cc – an uncharacteristically high output from the two-valve motor. With beautiful styling, the potent engine resides in a chassis that fits within the current Adventure genre – with spoked, tubed wheels measuring 19″ front and 17″ rear, held in place by relatively long travel suspension (6.7″ at each end).

That suspension is adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping on both ends, and it helps isolate the rider aboard the steel frame from the inevitable bumps, both on-road and off. A robust construction, intended to support a passenger and luggage when needed. Like many other Guzzis, shaft drive is incorporated into the right arm of the swingarm. Ground clearance is a generous 8.3″.

The V85 TT also steps up with modern technology in terms of instrumentation and electronics. A bright TFT display adapts to changing light conditions, and is the hub for rider control of several parameters. Those include three different riding modes, Road, Rain and Off-road. Each of these, in turn, provides unique engine mapping, ABS and traction control settings, as well as different response from the ride-by-wire throttle. Cruise control is also standard.

That new TFT display includes a vast array of information. Among others, gear position, and fuel economy data are included, as well as an adjustable gear shift sensor light. A USB port is conveniently placed next to the display. A new multi-media platform (which Moto Guzzi interestingly names “MIA”) goes beyond simple smart phone integration to include navigation information on the display itself.

That new engine is the star, perhaps, of this new platform. A much stiffer crankcase allows it to serve as a stressed member of the frame. Housed within is a stiffer crankshaft pushing new piston rods that are lighter and keep reciprocating weight at a minimum for improved throttle response and reduced vibration.

The top end of the new engine features lots of aluminum, as well as titanium intake valves. New low-profile pistons compress a mixture fed by fuel injection utilizing a 52 mm throttle body.

The six-speed gearbox has also been reworked. The goal is smoother and more precise shifts.

Swinging a leg over the V85 TT reveals a comfortable seat and rider triangle. Sitting bolt upright, dirt-bike style, with well-placed footpegs, the rider is relaxed and ready to put in some serious miles. A 5.5 gallon fuel tank and fuel-efficient performance play along with the theme. Low maintenance shaft-drive is another reason this bike is ready to tour.

Wind protection isn’t bad, either. The small fairing above the headlight keeps your chest from being pushed backwards while wind buffeting at helmet level is minimal. Hand-guards, together with the tank shape and the extended engine cylinders combine to keep a surprising amount of your body out of the wind.

The V85 TT Adventure comes with standard saddlebags and top case, in addition to unique paint.

The new engine feels smoother than previous, air-cooled Moto Guzzi units. Although we wouldn’t refer to the V85 as “fast”, engine performance is more than adequate and leaps ahead of the V7 models, which can feel starkly unrefined, and slow, in comparison. This new 853cc engine is modern in both performance and refinement, and appears adequate for any touring duty.

In the standard Street setting, throttle response is quick, but controlled, and acceleration is pleasing – surprising, even – considering this is a “small block” Guzzi. The party ends at 8,000 rpm, but below that redline the spread is broad and usable from just above idle.

The suspension struck a good balance between control at higher speeds and plushness. This isn’t a race bike, of course, and faster corner entries could result in significant fork dive – although, the suspension never makes the rider feel he is losing control. The V85 is surprisingly good at carving twisty roads where the broad spread of torque allows the rider to exit corners hard even when a bit sloppy about gear selection.

The brakes are excellent. Four-piston Brembo calipers grip two, 320 mm rotors in front, and the system as a whole offers good power and feel.

Brief trips off-road (nothing gnarly) were a bit surprising, as well, where the V85 felt balanced and the suspension, once again, provided good control and bump absorption. The excellent ground clearance made us think this bike could be pushed where other middleweight Adventure models might struggle. The Off-road riding mode makes a few tweaks, some of which we liked, and some of which we didn’t. Softer throttle response seems unnecessary (here, the Street throttle response would be fine), but traction control and ABS changes seem to fit the particular needs of off-road riding (for instance, ABS is removed from the rear wheel, allowing it to lock).

The new six-speed transmission does seem smoother, and shifts more positively, than most other Moto Guzzi models we have tested in the past. Clutch pull, and engagement, also seem improved.

Does the V85 TT take Moto Guzzi further out of cult status, and into the mainstream? It is certainly a bike we would be happy to recommend to riders looking for a comfortable, practical Adventure mount, without having to stress the quirks and character Moto Guzzi is famous for. Don’t get us wrong, a good deal of that Moto Guzzi character still “pulses” through to the rider, enhancing the experience, but the V85 TT shines on its merits entirely apart from that character.

The standard V85 TT we tested is priced at $11,990. It is also available in an Adventure model with aluminum top and side cases (pictured) for an additional $1,000. The cool-looking V85 TT Travel model with standard side cases is priced at $13,390. For details, specifications and factory accessories, take a look at the Moto Guzzi website.

46 Comments

  1. Rapier says:

    Of course what Guzzi should do is their transverse V, a water cooled 750 or less, 4V preferable,but keep pushrods for simplicity, 8000rpm max is all that’s needed, and a supercharger in the V. Over 100hp easy. Yes, the Honda CX sort of. (I have this theory Honda gave up on the CX out or respect for Guzzi)

  2. VLJ says:

    Slap that motor into a V7, keep the price down, and you have a very cool Italian competitor to the MT-07/XSR700, Z650, and SV650.

  3. Juan1 says:

    Here is the lens to view most Moto Guzzi’s: they are the rare bikes that have touring engines and drives, but look great. This makes the V7 and V9 sort of pointless if you want the occasional adrenaline rush from your smaller bike. The big block Guzzis as well as the V85 are touring bikes.

  4. Kermit says:

    Seal the wheels to seal the deal. This is a great looking bike with real world performance and what should be decent range out of that tank. It’s also got cruise control! Excellent,quick detach luggage! A long history of relative reliability from the marque is something else that I like. But there’s no way in Hades I am leaving a dealership on anything capable of highway speeds that uses tubes in the wheels.

    Too bad. I shouldn’t have to give it something it should already have but since the government doesn’t make it illegal to produce highway legal vehicles that use bicycle wheels, I will pass. I have a several Guzzi dealers within reach of me.

    Those wheels put it out of range. Too bad. I think it’s a great looking ride and will make a fine touring mount for where I ride which is primarily AZ, CA, OR and WA.

    Those here that think tubes are great? Fine. Buy one but I bet most won’t. Go through puberty when you get a tubed tire blowout at highways speeds and tell us all (if you come out okay) how much you LOVE tubes. I hate ’em.

    Dammit Guzzi! What were you thinking when you gave it those crappy wheels?! Oh…You weren’t thinking. Got it.

    • mickey says:

      Kermit, it’s not difficult or expensive to make tubeless wheels out of tubed wheels. There are plenty of kits on the market. Know a couple of guys who have done it on the CB1100 EX’s spoked wheels.

      Tubeless tires can blow too depending on the size of the puncture and it’s location.Rare but not unheard of.

      • Kermit T. Frog says:

        I get what you’re saying , mickey. But if it’s that affordable then that’s even one more reason it should be standard. I just don’t want to have to do something this major to a brand new bike when it could’ve been handled far better by the factory.

        As I’m sure you know, the advantage of tubeless is twofold. They can often be plugged and you can be back on your way and when they do get a hole, they tend to hold pressure much better than do tubes which tend to blow air out the spoke holes like Kal El leaving the planet Krypton. 😉

        • mickey says:

          Kermit T I understand what you are saying and I dont know why the mfgs continue to produce tubed spokes when the vast majority would prefer tubeless, but most of the manufacturers still do and honestly for the vast majority of consumers who do ride on tubed spokes, it is not much of an issue.

          I said once before, I seem to get more flats on my tubeless bikes than I do on my tubed bikes for some reason. As a matter of fact I only remember one flat on my tubed Triumph in 40,000 miles but maybe 1/2 dozen flats on my tubeless Hondas and Yamahas.

          Fate I guess.

          • hahd werk says:

            do not people off road prefer tubes for ease of that repair?

            I’ve been watching a few round-the-world tourer types and it seems they all prefer tubes.

            I figure it’s a cost thing also. Personally I think I’m willing to take that hit to get a mid sized tourer with cruise and shaft drive.

            If it makes does well, perhaps a street-focused version will turn up with mag wheels and no-tube tires..?

            That said,

          • Jeremy says:

            As an off-road rider, yes, I prefer tubes. And where I live, people take bikes like this off-road all the time. Real off-road, I don’t mean dirt or gravel roads.

            I’ve seen a number of tubeless bikes ding a wheel and lose air between the bend and the tire bead. Can’t patch that. Also, many of the off-road flats I’ve seen can’t be patched. It’s often some jagged rip in the rubber. It’s not like we tend to pick up nails or other things that leave nice little round holes to plug when out in the middle of nowhere (though I have seen that happen too.)

            That said, if I didn’t intend to take a bike on anything sketchier than a dirt road, I’d want tubeless tires too.

    • todd says:

      I’ve had flats on tubed tires (a vintage BMW, two dirt bikes with knobbies on the street) and I’ve also had at least one flat with a tubeless tire. The only difference I found is that I could patch or replace a cheap tube but had to replace the tubeless tires at much greater expense. Maybe not everyone feels the same as you and I’d suggest that the cumulative motorcycling experience and opinions of the people at Moto Guzzi (and other motorcycle manufacturers) far outweighs your single experience. It sounds like you are really trying to limit yourself, for some reason.

      Many big rig trailers running down the road have been running tubes for literally millions of miles. I guess you would be white knuckling it the whole time.

      • Kermit T. Frog says:

        Mounting and removing tube type wheels on large vehicles can be dangerous. If the rim is not made for tubeless, then a tube will be used but why would anyone want a balloon within a balloon?

        Luddites don’t white knuckle, eh? Do as you please I won’t stop you but I have yet to see anyone that knows the difference choose tubes over tubeless for a PRIMARILY road oriented vehicle. When first introduced, tubeless wheels were called “safety wheels”. I wonder why?

        Not really. They are comparatively safer than their bicycle counterparts. “White knuckling it”…LOL!

      • RyYYZ says:

        Why would you need to replace a tubeless tire following a simple puncture? Plug it and move on.

    • Provologna says:

      I understand the sentiment, but I might value less the advantage of tubeless over tubed wheels on a motorcycle. I had plenty of flats on tubed street MCs; yes, they are scary, but I never crashed. You learn to immediately notice the sensation of riding on Jello, let off the gas slowly but deliberately, no brakes, and find safe parking ASAP.

      That said, on my bicycles I’ll never go back to tubes. A few years ago I upgraded to high grade carbon rims and tubeless on my mountain bike. I had a pretty big rock strike flying downhill last week on my hardtail, and feared rim damage, but all looks fine.

      A few years ago I accidentally picked up about 20 so-called “goat heads” (common in Utah) on my front tire. I heard a strange hissing noise when I stopped IFO the keypad to open the garage, looked around searching for the source, then looked down, and saw little orange bubbles all over my front tire (liquid latex tubeless sealant).

      I remove the tire, save as much sealant as possible (it IS messy), remove every goat head w/needle nose (run fingers thoroughly over the entire inner tire surface), reinstall the tire and proper amount of sealant, inflate, done, sealant sealed every leak. Cool!

      If that was a tube I bet it would have almost instantly incinerated when I hit the goat heads.

      Obviously off-road mc tires are thicker and w/bigger/deeper tread.

  5. Lack of a comprehensive dealer network keeps me from owning a Moto Guzzi.

  6. bmbktmracer says:

    I have a Stelvio 1200 and enjoy it. Perfect two-up, go-somewhere bike. If y’all notice, their are 2 makes of bikes most commonly seen traveling: Harley and BMW (the twins). Both are air-cooled twins. On my faster, multi-cylinder bike I’m always angry because everyone goes too slow and the cops “just don’t get me.” On the MG, I’m so happy. It surprises me every time I ride it.

    • Kermit says:

      Excellent thoughts and I must commend you on your choice of the Stelvio. And I envy you that bike.

    • todd says:

      This has come up before: Harleys are not at all that common in California. I (used to) see 30-50 bikes a day on my commute, less than 10% were Harleys, less than a third were cruisers of any make. Sure, BMW adventure bikes were more common but nowhere near what FZ-9, SV650, R6/R1, KTMs represent.

      • mickey says:

        If I see 50 bikes while out riding here in Ohio..45 will be Harleys, 1 might be a BMW ADV , and 4 will be something like R6’s which will be all together. It’s rare to see an Indian, a Ducati, a KTM, a Guzzi, a Suzuki,a Kawasaki, any Honda other than a Goldwing, or any Yamaha other than the aforementioned R6’s.

        • mickey says:

          Just for grins, my wife and I kept track on this morning’s ride

          18 Harley Davidson’s ..2 groups of 2 the rest were all singles

          4 Japanese 600 sport bikes 1 group of 2, the others single

          1 Goldwing

          and my Japanese sport tourer

      • VLJ says:

        Get far enough out into the hinterlands these days and bmbktmracer is right, all I see are Harleys and BMWs.

        Didn’t used to be that way. Back in the Golden Age of Motorcycling, before the economic crash of 2008, I used to see just as many Gold Wings as BMWs out in the boonies. There was also a regular smattering of VFRs, ST1100s, CBR600 F2/F3/F4i’s, FZ1s, R1s, Eddie Lawson-looking Kawi 1200s, Nomads, Bandits, etc. I would even see the occasional large scooter, like a 650 Burgman or Honda Silver Wing.

        Not anymore. Now, yep, it’s just Harleys and BMWs.

        Here in America anyway, the one safe haven for motorcycles of all types is San Francisco. Cruise any downtown street there, and you will still see all manner of everything, in large numbers. The one thing you see in SF more than you see anywhere else is the huge assortment of rat bikes. While most of the rest of the motorcycling world here in America will ride only new-ish bikes or very clean examples of older bikes, feral rat bikes still roam SF’s streets in large numbers. Beater CB1s, Bandit 400s, things that used to be Nighthawks or air-cooled GSX-Rs, even beater Ducatis, Triumphs, and Guzzis. When you do see a Harley there, it’s likely as not to be a trashed Knucklehead as it is a $35K Road King.

        Sometimes I felt a bit sheepish riding my clean, snazzy new bike there. Kinda made me feel like one of those oft-derided, poser doctors and lawyers who (barely) ride their new Harleys and Ducatis, compared to the hardcore badassery all around me there in The City.

  7. Neal says:

    I sold my Kawasaki and plan to sit on the cash for a while until the world gets somewhat back to normal. If Guzzi can put out a roadster/naked sport version of this platform in the next 6-12 months, I’ll have money to buy it and a place to park it.

  8. Bubba Blue says:

    Where to start? I love MoGus. I had a couple. I don’t know what a “TFT” is, but I much prefer Veglia/Borletti gauges than the electronic stuff, especially on a Guzzi. Why won’t the give us real hardware anymore? Very bad.

    I don’t care for the looks of Adventure bikes. The reg’lar is better looking.

    • bad Chad says:

      I like Veglia’s too, but they are rather prone to breaking! Not sure how you could know you preffer Veglia/Borletti over TFT if you don’t even know what it is?

      The v7 and v9 series come with hybrid normal clocks, but they are no longer sourced from Veglia/Borletti.

    • todd says:

      A screen and a circuit board (TFT) is MUCH less expensive than precision analog gauges with all their clockwork and hand assembly. Even though it is much less for Guzzi to buy, they can charge more for it as a “feature” because the current perception (thanks Apple) is that electronics are more valuable than hand built analog instruments.

      Heck, on my KTM, I need to toggle through a menu to find the trip meter to know how much gas I have left. Pretty hard to do while riding and trying to watch the road. The bar graph fuel gauge is practically useless as it takes 50 miles for the first bar of eight but the last three bars disappear in about 30 miles.

    • Kermit says:

      TFT – Thin Film Transistor. Used in making these displays. The reason more and more motorcycles have these is that more and more people are demanding them on their new, and expensive, motorcycles.

      Even the relatively affordable KTM 390 Adventure has a TFT display. I agree, tradition “clocks” look great on motorcycle. Specifically ones that pay homage to an earlier time, e.g., the W800 and any gorgeous Royal Enfield.

      But this Guzzi pays homage to the marque by paying tribute to the present, the future and a touch of the past. Me?

      The ONLY reason I am not buying one is the tubed wheels. So yeah…I can understand what you are saying. It’s the same thing I am saying.

      Only different. But still the same. We want what we want. Especially when it is something we think we really need. 🙂 Not a problem, brother!

      • hahd werk says:

        I’d argue the real reason is reduced cost.

        As we get more electronics on bikes, a screen also makes it easier to navigate with thr flexibility of an LCD.

        THEN there is the fact that so many of the people that the industry is trying to get onto bikes are more familiar with screens on vehicles.

        Analog gauges may become the new farkle. I wish more bikes would do gauges and built in phone mount and BT to make adjustments to the system/get vehicle info.

  9. MGNorge says:

    I’ve owned my Norge now for about 10 years and it has been a fun bike to ride. The dealer closest to me was ~25 miles away in N. Seattle. Well, he finally decided to retire after many years, I’m sure the downturn in motorcycle sales was a factor too. They were also an Aprilia and Vespa dealer. However, to the rescue sprang a servicing dealer about the same miles distant but in another direction. He may sell them too but he represents a number of brands. Good for me I haven’t needed to use them because maintenance is a breeze.

  10. Oldbiker says:

    If you turned the engine 90 degrees and slapped Harley stickers on the tank I bet there’d be a ton of comments on “old outdated technology”, how it’s light years behind the adventure bikes from BMW, KTM, HONDA, etc. I doubt there would be any praises about its “character”… Just sayin…

    • todder says:

      Turning the Engine 90 degrees would make it the Harley Pan American. I really want to like this Moto Guzzi because it looks beautiful…but the only Moto Guzzi I ever lusted after was a 2003 LeMans…still drool over my old sales brochure. Plus getting parts/service is difficult and I’ve heard recent stories from owners which turn me off. Maybe they could offer this bike with sidecar setup and make something more powerful than a 2wheel drive Ural.

      Anyways this ride has been on my radar. Thanks for reviewing this bike.

    • todd says:

      Turn the engine 90 degrees and the rear cylinder would over heat all the time requiring a different fuel map to hopefully compensate. Then, they probably would still, at least, keep the transmission in unit with the engine…

  11. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    I do not believe 80 hp, but if near that with equivalent torque, a winner – finally. Test rode a 750 Breva many years ago and was amazed at the front end feel on a high speed freeway offramp with a decreasing radius. Really felt like on rails. Was so surprised did same offramp twice. Nice memory. Still believe a good Guzzi would be a great fast night runner, especially if near 80 hp.

  12. mickey says:

    I have a good friend that just traded his 1190 KTM for one of these. Says he likes it so far. He would let me ride it if we could get together if not for this Covid deal. I dont know, I’ve ridden 4 Moto Guzzis from 82 Eldorado, to a 750 Breva, to a Griso, and last week a V7. None of them were endearing to me. I’m not one that likes the different for the sake of being different. I think I’d rather have a Super 10 or Africa Twin or a 1000 VStrom if I were looking for a bike in this genre.

  13. Reniram says:

    I love this motorcycle..just wish it had Honda Kawasaki Suzuki or Yamaha on the gas tank.No dealership in my state make it a no deal for me. A friend had the Stelvio and it was a nightmare with parts availability fueling and electrical maladies…I want one..it’s a beautiful bike that ticks all the boxes for me…

    • Evan says:

      It’s a great bike. The motor oozes air cooled character even at idle.

    • Mike says:

      I had a Stelvio as well. 90% perfect. 10% hell. HELL. Combine that with a dealer network that gets smaller all the time, and resale values that are gut wrenching, and you couldn’t pay me to buy another one.

      “…a good deal of that Moto Guzzi character still “pulses” through to the rider”. Yeah, I know that feeling. It means you can’t use the mirrors over 3000 RPM, passengers complain about the vibrations, and stuff falls off if you haven’t used enough blue locktite. Honestly, they should include a bottle with each new bike.

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