The Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber is as cool as it get. After all, all of history is witness to the Italians knack for making things look good. And when theat natural flair for style comes to bear on an American old-skool of minimalist motorcycle design, you get a modern-retro design with a transverse V-twin twist. A bobber is supposed to be low and short enough to make even its name seem unnecessarily long. And Moto Guzzi’s effort at factory-building a custom style of motorcycle is delightfully stubby to look at. What’s more, even its switchgear look cooler than any combination of sunglasses and beards you’ve ever seen.
Moto Guzzi did get the American aesthetic pretty right. A bit too right, perhaps, because the Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber does manage to make more than a few people with fancy haircuts exclaim, ‘Harley!’ Never mind that the cylinders are pointing the wrong way. Nonetheless, I quite like the way Moto Guzzi engine look, especially how they cylinders rise up to hug the fuel tank. Reminds me how stubbornly horizontal those BMW cylinders are. In any case, whether it’s Italy or Germany, there is something to be said for a company’s insistence on sticking to an engine format until the identities of each merge into the other.
Coming back to the Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber, its new 850cc engine is the latest word in the Italian manufacturer’s V-twin vocabulary. It speaks fluent torque in a laid back baritone, without the need for a tachometer to measure its progress. Revved at idle, the torque sway is noticeable, with the motorcycle gently nudging my right knee as if to suggest that we get going. Rolling the throttle back reveals forceful acceleration – this motorcycle is quick and fast enough for practically all real-world purposes I can think of. In terms of character, the Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber’s theme is set around a whole lot of friendly grunt rather than single-minded horsepower, and you never forget that.
The gearshifts are precise, if a bit notchy, with each shift making a noticeable announcement of arrival. You can keep full throttle through the gears or you can plonk it in sixth and burble around town at 50 km/h, and the Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber won’t complain in either scenario. There are plenty of pleasant vibes from the engine when you’re on the throttle, which is expected – heck, almost demanded – of a V-twin. What I find rather striking is how they completely vanish when you roll off the throttle. If not for the decelerating sounds it makes, I’d have sworn the engine had died. This isn’t an annoying, though, is the electronic traction control. The Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber comes with the imaginatively named Moto Guzzi Traction Control system which, for some reason, is abbreviated as MCCT. Must be the Italian name for it. Blundering nomenclatures aside, the two-level system is a bit too abrupt for enthusiastic riding, especially at its highest setting, frequently interrupting the right hand and the rear wheel’s interesting conversations, especially in the first three gears.
The Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber’s engine doesn’t really need traction control, I think, because the engine’s never going to spring nasty surprises on you, even if you have a tendency to grab big, fat handfuls of throttle every time you can. It delivers power as predictably as the sun comes up in the morning. So, I turn traction control to my favorite level – off – and the ride is immediately more seamless, even if I am suddenly being followed everywhere by a faint smell of burning rubber. You might wear out the rear tire a bit faster, but to have fun on the Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber, it’s best to save traction control for a rainy day.
At the beginning, I had my reservations about that huge front tire and how it’d affect handling. Nobody likes to ride a motorcycle that is difficult to control, especially in dense city traffic. However, I needn’t have worried. The Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber is fun in corners. Okay, so it isn’t a track-day tool, but it goes through corners as if that fat front will starve if it doesn’t. The wide drag-style handlebar’s leverage is enough to overcome the front tire’s gyroscopic forces with ease, making for a neat and taut handling package. I should have known, really; even if the Italians make a relaxed motorcycle, it has to be on the sportier side of relaxation.
The Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber’s ride quality is well sorted, too, although the ride does get a bit bumpy on continuously uneven roads. The ABS-equipped brakes are strong, too, though it’s best to use both brakes to haul the motorcycle down in a hurry. The motorcycle is very stable in a straight line, though I did notice crosswinds. The front tire kept going straight, though, anchoring the motorcycle to the road in a reassuring manner.
The Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber is sold in Thailand for 635,000 THB which is reasonable for an Italian imported motorcycle. The V9 Bobber comes in Black or Grey paint job.