Let’s hear it for an adventure bike with a reasonable seat height! Moto Guzzi’s V85 TT (tutto terrano, or all-terrain) seems to be a Goldilocks ride for those looking for a friendly, accessible middleweight adventure tourer, with a 32.7-inch seat (a 31.9-inch low option is also available), narrow waist and claimed 505-pound wet weight.
Its styling turns heads, too, especially in either of the two “Adventure” color combos. But the big news is its new air-cooled, 853cc, OHV two-valve-per-cylinder 90-degree “flying” V-twin engine, launched initially in the V85 TT with more models to follow. Technical details on the new engine can be found in Alan Cathcart’s First Ride Review over on ridermagazine.com, but in summary the new powerplant is quicker-revving with a higher redline, and lighter, quieter and smoother than previous Guzzi small-blocks.
Ground clearance is an ADV-friendly 8.3 inches, thanks to a redesigned gearbox and clutch housing and a tubular steel frame that uses the engine as a stressed member, eliminating the need for a lower frame cradle. Power is sent to the rear wheel via driveshaft housed on the right side of the long, asymmetric aluminum swingarm.
The standard V85 TT ($11,990) is well equipped with hand guards, electronic cruise control, an aluminum sump guard, switchable MGCT traction control, ABS and three riding modes (Road, Rain and Off-Road). But for just $1,000 more the Adventure is a no-brainer, with striking red/white or red/yellow/white livery and standard aluminum top and side cases. (For reference, the luggage alone runs just shy of $2,000 in Moto Guzzi’s accessory catalog.) The Adventure also gets dirt-ready Michelin Anakee Adventure tires rather than the standard Metzeler Tourance Nexts; both models have 19-inch front, 17-inch rear tube-type spoked rims.
Blissfully unaware that the entire world was about to be shut down in an impending pandemic, our January ride wound up California’s Central Coast with an overnight stay in Monterey, on roads varying from the wide-open divided highway of U.S. Route 101, to meandering wine country two-lane, the sinuous curves of Big Sur and the bumpy, narrow tarmac of Carmel Valley Road.
By the time we made our first pit stop in Los Olivos, northwest of Santa Barbara, the V85 TT’s new engine was already making a favorable impression. Response from the throttle-by-wire system was smooth and precise, without the abruptness that has plagued other bikes we’ve tested. We picked up on some vibration in the pegs and grips at higher cruising speeds, but it was never enough to cause discomfort, and once we ducked off U.S. 101 in favor of two-lane Foxen Canyon Road, which dances through hills and vineyards, the new engine’s character really started to shine.
The most noticeable difference from the previous-gen V9 engine is an increase in horsepower; our V85 TT Adventure produced 66.3 peak rear-wheel horsepower at 7,900 rpm and 48.6 lb-ft of torque at 5,300 on the Jett Tuning dyno, compared with 51.3 horsepower and 47.3 lb-ft of torque from the 853cc V9 Bobber we tested in 2017. The new V85 spins up quickly and easily, which is good since you’ll want to keep it above 3,000 rpm to stay in the meat of its powerband. The six-speed gearbox is relatively smooth and less clunky than past Guzzis, though the cable-actuated dry clutch engages and disengages within a narrow portion at the end of the lever throw. Overall, we’re impressed with the new engine, and the increased horsepower as shown in the dyno figures is only part of that. Rather than holding it back, the V85 contributes to the TT’s nimble, easy to handle feel; this is a cohesive machine that works well and is really fun to ride.
Back on the road, after rotating the wide handlebar back down to its stock position (the previous tester had moved it up to facilitate standing off-road), the TT also proved to be fairly comfortable, with a long, flat, plush seat that narrows at the tank for easy reach to the ground. Footpegs are set at a happy medium between ground-clearance high and comfortable low. With a 34-inch inseam, my knees hovered just a couple of inches from the rear of each cylinder head, but heat was never a problem and I only banged them a couple of times when moving around on the bike during aggressive cornering. Our biggest complaint regarding touring comfort was the short, non-adjustable windscreen, which flowed air directly onto my shoulders and helmet; an accessory or aftermarket touring screen would be an easy fix.
As an early twilight descended, we made another wish: auxiliary lights. While the twin LED headlights, bisected with a DRL in the shape of the Moto Guzzi eagle, do a nice job of lighting up the road directly in front of the TT’s front tire, their beams end abruptly in a horizontal line about two car lengths ahead. Flicking on the high beam only makes those two car lengths brighter rather than illuminating farther down the road.
The V85 TT is equipped with three ride modes, Road, Rain and Off-Road, all of which offer full power but vary in terms of ABS, traction control, throttle response and engine braking settings. Road is the standard touring mode, while Rain softens throttle response, increases traction control and ABS intervention and limits top speed, and Off-Road reduces traction control and disables ABS to the rear wheel (ABS can be completely disabled in this mode as well). Traction control can be shut off independently, but always reengages after the bike is turned off/back on again.
Radial-mount four-piston Brembo front brakes are adequate, but require a hefty lever squeeze to produce much action; more aggressive initial bite would be welcome and might add to rider confidence, especially when riding fully loaded on a downhill. Suspension is fairly soft, well-suited to off-road excursions and gnarly, bumpy pavement, and both the 41mm Kayaba USD fork and single rear shock with dual-rate spring are only adjustable for preload and rebound damping.
We cranked the rear shock’s preload nearly all the way to the max, but even with a lightweight rider (never ask a lady how much she weighs!) and luggage that was far from full the TT sagged considerably, eating through most of the “soft” part of the spring. That said, at a moderate pace, even over rough pavement, the TT handles nimbly and easily, and in fact is almost too willing to turn in. Once tipped into a bend, I actually found myself countersteering against the turn to prevent the TT from leaning farther, then just increasing that pressure to straighten back out. Nothing dangerous, just one of those quirks that becomes “normal” after a couple of weeks.
Anyway, as any Guzzi owner will tell you, a bit of character is part of the charm. Somewhat fiddly switchgear that requires a small learning curve? An indicator light that blinks irritatingly whenever cruise control is on but not in use? A starter button that doubles as a ride mode selector, requiring wrist contortions, multiple thumb taps and constant attention to (hopefully) select the desired mode? Nessun problema! (No problem!) None of these are a deal-breaker, and as a mid-weight ADV tourer or commuter the V85 TT Adventure is a real bargain, and eye-catchingly stylish to boot. With the easy additions of a touring windscreen, the optional heated grips and a set of auxiliary lights, this is a machine that’s ready to go the distance.
2020 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Specs
Base Price: $11,990
Price As Tested: $12,990 (Adventure w/ paint, luggage & Michelin Anakee Adventure tires)
Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles
Type: Air-cooled, longitudinal 90-degree V-twin
Bore x Stroke: 84.0 x 77.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Valve Train: OHV, 2 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 6,200 miles
Fuel Delivery: EFI w/ 52mm throttle body
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 2.1-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated dry clutch
Final Drive: Shaft
Charging Output: 430 watts max.
Battery: 12V 12AH
Frame: Tubular steel w/ engine as stressed member, cast aluminum swingarm
Wheelbase: 60.2 in.
Rake/Trail: 26 degrees/5.1 in.
Seat Height: 32.7 in.
Suspension, Front: 41mm USD fork, adj. for spring preload & rebound damping, 6.6-in. travel
Rear: Single shock, adj. for spring preload & rebound damping, 4.0-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm floating discs w/ radial 4-piston calipers & ABS
Rear: Single 260mm disc w/ 2-piston floating caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Spoked tube-type, 2.50 x 19 in.
Rear: Spoked tube-type, 4.25 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 110/80-VR19
Wet Weight: 571 lbs. (as tested)
Load Capacity: 417 lbs. (as tested)
GVWR: 988 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gals., last 1.3 gals. warning light on
MPG: 90 AKI min. (low/avg/high) 43.4/48.9/55.1
Estimated Range: 298 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 3,600
I surprised they are still using the airplane engine design. If not those hard cases in back I would be a little concerned with taking this thing off-road. If you were not careful and laid this beast down in a turn with those protruding cylinder heads, you could be looking at a broken leg.
Nice review! And many thanks for commenting on something that has become a pet peeve of mine – the headlights. It seems no reviewers talk about the lighting that stock headlights provide, but that is important to any of use who actually ride after dark or commute during the dark hours of the morning. Thank you!!
Thanks. I am a bit late to the party but I enjoyed this review. The bike is on my watch list and will stay there after this assesment.