Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer review, test ride
8th Nov 2016 8:00 am
The exotic Italian motorcycle manufacturer has given us a unique middleweight cruiser. But can it live up to its CBU price-tag? We ride to confirm.
The Italians have gone and done it again. They've presented us with yet another work of art on two wheels that is just stunning to look at. It's not quite the conventional look you'd expect from a cruiser. Then again, would you really expect any less from a manufacturer that takes pride in producing these exotic, two-wheeled rolling sculptures? Sure, there are the almost forgotten decades of racing history and success of Moto Guzzi; but those are the days of the past.
Moto Guzzi has tapered off into a more relaxed tangent in recent times; one that has seen it keep the transverse-mounted V-twin engine alive since the 1960s. Now the V9 Roamer stands as a testament to the Guzzi heritage; it’s not about speed any more, it’s about being as aesthetically pleasing as it can be. But how does that translate into it doing what it’s actually supposed to do, simply be a motorcycle.
When you approach the V9 Roamer, it just steals your attention away from all that surrounds you. In typical Moto Guzzi fashion, some will instantly fall in love with it, while others may take a tad longer. If you do fancy it, its charming retro-styling and stunning paint-schemes will have you standing and admiring it for good long hours before you actually decide to ride it. It’s got the single, circular headlight with a chromed lip, and the single-dial instrument gauge that keeps things simple. Contrary to its retro theme, the speedometer gets a small digital display that has temperature, traction-control, odometer and two trip-meter read-outs. The switches on the roamer have a solid feel to them. It gets a concealed kill-switch, a flat button to toggle the speedo-display, as well as a tiny button on the inside of the left handlebar to switch between the 2-stage traction control modes. There’s also a USB port tucked away under the forward part of the fuel tank.
The fuel tank on the Roamer is its defining feature; it’s quite different from the regular cruiser-styled tank; with the stellar paint making it stand out even more. Deviating from the typical cruiser stance, it appears to resemble a pretty looking flat-tracker; with the engine cylinder-heads sticking out authoritatively from under the shapely tank. It gets a nice flat seat that is comfortable for a single rider; with a pillion on board, things do get rather cramped. Even the side panel on the Roamer reminds you of flat-tracker styling, with the integrated ventilation holes and old-styled badge. The tail ends in a nice swooping design that compliments the flow of the chromed-out twin exhausts.
Once you are astride the bike, the seating position is upright and comfortable. The wide, raised handlebars will again remind you of a flat-tracker seating posture; but flat-tracker riding shenanigans will have to be kept on hold with the 199kg kerb weight. The footpegs, however, are rather forward set, and sit almost under the engine’s cylinder heads. While most riders may not have any issue with this seating geometry, some taller riders might end up having bruised shins after every outing with the motorcycle.
Thumb the start button and you will feel the 853cc transverse-mounted 90-degree V-twin engine thunder to life; you will however feel a fair amount of vibration at idle. And, because of this transverse engine layout, you will also feel a slight lug to the right at abrupt throttle-revs. Moto Guzzi has stuck to its guns and retained the air-cooled, two-valve-per-cylinder layout; although, there isn’t much heat that emanates from the cylinder heads despite your knees almost resting against them.
Let the clutch out and you can instantly feel the 55hp of power and 62Nm of torque. The peak torque kicks in early at 3,000rpm, so there is an actual surge forward from idle. It’s not a ridiculously fast engine, but it gets the job done; this should be ideal for short blasts around the city in traffic. The 6-speed gearbox is a bit strange, though. It feels smooth and precise on the up-shift, but down-shifts are a bit clunky. The shaft drive to the rear wheel makes the Roamer quite responsive to throttle inputs.
The Roamer’s initial turn-in feels slightly sluggish thanks to the large 19-inch front rim. But once you really get into the corner, it feels planted and stable, and actually encourages you to lean deeper into it. The 40mm traditional, telescopic front forks soak up bumps quite well, but feedback leaves a little more to be desired. The adjustable twin-shock absorbers at the rear do feel a bit stiff. They manage to soak up high-speed bumps a lot better than low-speed ones, sending them straight up your spine. The ABS-equipped 320mm steel, floating disc at the front, and the 260mm steel disc at the rear coupled with the Pirelli Sport Demon tyres do an excellent job of bringing the Roamer to a halt.
Moto Guzzi has succeeded in making a rather rider-friendly motorcycle that isn’t all that refined; since it’s got the look of cruisers of the 1970s, maybe Moto Guzzi wanted to keep the feel of that around as well. The V9 Roamer stays true to looking like the Italian exotic that it’s supposed to be. It does everything a motorcycle is supposed to without any drama, but isn’t particularly excellent at something specifically. And the CBU price tag is equally exotic as well. With an asking price of Rs 13.60 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai), this middleweight cruiser is propelled into the price range of larger-displacement, more powerful cruisers. It happens to be even costlier than the Harley Davidson Street Bob and the Indian Scout. But if you figure you’d like to look as cool as ever and have the bragging rights of owning an exotic Italian motorcycle, the V9 Roamer could be your daily dose of nostalgia.