Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 8V NTX – Road Test

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What is it?

The Stelvio is a 1 200 cc dual-sport bike, which competes in the popular segment shared by BMW’s 1200 GS, Yamaha’s 1200 Super Ténéré and Honda’s 1200 Crosstourer, amongst others.  The bike has the characteristic Moto Guzzi transverse V-shaped twin-cylinder engine. For someone interested in a motorcycle in this segment, but want “something different”, the Stelvio is the one to have.

Engine/drivetrain

The air- and oil-cooled V-twin 1151 cc engine produces 77 kW at 7 250 r/min and 113 Nm at 5 800 r/min. The power is transmitted to the back wheel via Guzzi’s CA.R.C, otherwise known as the compact reactive Cardan shaft drive, known for its smooth operation. Many riders consider the shaft drive as the preferred method of transmission as it means little to no maintenance in comparison with chain and sprocket drive.

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Style, instruments and equipment

As with many other manufacturers, the overall styling is described as “aggressive”. Moto Guzzi goes one further and calls it “dynamic”, whatever that means. When I first saw the bike in its Lava Black finish (or satin black for us mere mortals), it reminded me of a stealth bomber. The aluminium panniers in the same satin black finish, which come as standard with the Stelvio, make it look even larger. There’s quite a bit of extra kit included with the Stelvio 1200 8V NTX, namely: ABS, traction control, cylinder guards, long-range halogen lights, aluminium sump guard, hand guards and an extra-large adjustable windshield with side-wind deflectors. The bike is factory made for long-distance touring, on and off the beaten track, which is helped along with a 32-litre fuel tank.

The ABS and the traction control can be switched off to suit the rider’s style and the road surface. Both the front (pre-load) and back (pre-load and rebound) suspension are adjustable. The instrumentation console mixes it up with analogue and digital faces. All the basic information is given at a quick glance downwards, but there is no gear indicator. One other niggling issue was that the index finger of my left hand brushed against the light switch, causing me to flash the main beam at awkward moments. Some fellow road users were not amused.

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Performance

The Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 8V NTX is no sports bike, and the red line approaches fast, but that is to be expected from an engine that delivers its maximum output at 7 250 r/min. It will, however, eat up the tar at speed and travel comfortably on gravel. For the average rider like me, it has more than enough power and road-handling capability. More than once I caught myself cruising at 160 km/h and more, as the Stelvio is such a comfortable ride. It does not feel strained at all.

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Ride and handling

The bike is large and, with its standard panniers fitted, it looks monstrous. However the Guzzi is anything but unwieldy. Cornering and commuting was a pleasure. One thing about the Stelvio that surprised me is that the bike cants over to the right when you open the throttle when standing still. This is due to the transverse placement of the cylinders. You can also sometimes feel it when cornering from standstill, but I quickly became used to it. I just had to remove the panniers in the city, as they can cause a mishap in small spaces when you try to manoeuvre through traffic and parking obstacles.
(There is a famous clip of a bike journalist who had an embarrassing experience with panniers. See it here.)

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Likes/dislikes

Like: The looks, the ride and the questions from people at robots.

Dislike: The engine becomes a knee warmer in slow traffic.

Verdict and rating

Moto Guzzi has always been part of the South African motorcycling scene. Now they have brought out an excellent motorcycle to compete with other adventure tourers, coupled with Italian charisma that stands out in the crowd. 8/10.

Also consider

Honda VFR1200X Crosstourer, BMW 1200 GS and GS Adventure, Yamaha XT1200Z Super Ténéré, KTM 1190 Adventure

Specifications of Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 8V NTX (2012)

  • Engine  Oil- and air-cooled V-twin
  • Gearbox  Six-speed gearbox, single-disc clutch. Shaft drive.
  • Power  77 kW @ 7 250 r/min
  • Torque  113 Nm @ 5 800 r/min
  • Weight  272 kg (wet and fuelled)
  • Seat height  820 to 840 mm (adjustable)
  • Fuel capacity  32 litres
  • Fuel consumption  14.8 km/l
  • Tank range  480 km
  • Warranty and servicing  Two-year unlimited warranty, first service at 1 000 km, after that 10 000 km service intervals.
  • Price  R 165 995
  • Review and photos by  Bert Kirsten, March 2012

More info from www.motoguzzisa.co.za

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