The first thing that popped into my mind when I first saw the Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer from the Italian manufacturer was Well, another company that tries to woo nostalgic hipsters and baby boomers. Yes another variation of the retro coffee racer theme. A small fuel tank, a beautiful almost rectangular and flat saddle, rolled up handlebar, the whole package.
But I also remembered that Moto Guzzi is a brand that pays an almost obsessive attention to details. They have been building this kind of motorcycles for a long long time.
Sitting on the Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer and lifting it from its side stand, I found myself in front of a simplified cockpit but with an obvious touch of modernism. The different control buttons are… simply beautiful. Funny to say it struck me. The emergency stop switch is not the usual big red button but instead a nice little push button. Everything about the Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer is a modern nod to the past.
First the simple, slightly rolled up and chromed handlebar brings the grips just under the hands naturally. This feels not only natural but also ensures no pressure is felt under the hands. The weight of the rider’s upper body then rests on the buttocks rather than on the shoulders. A big plus for longer rides.
The saddle is typical of cafe racer type motorcycles: long and flat but still comfortable. It is just fairly soft and narrow at the front to avoid putting pressure on the inside of the thighs and cut off the circulation. At 787mm high, you can sit there for hours, even if it is not really touring motorcycle. The absence of a windshield or any kind of wind protection puts the rider in the wing and will force him or her to take a break to rest from time to time. This has an advantage: It gives us free time to answer the inevitable questions from all the people that this motorcycle attracts at any stops.
For customization buffs, this Moto Guzzi offers a good choice of options. Not as many options as for the V7 but still an amazing choice of custom, vintage looking pieces that will allow the owner to make it his or her own.
The V-twin cylinder engine is completely new and cranks out a claimed 55 horsepower from an 853cc engine. The same engine as used in the Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber. The Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer was made with rideability in mind and offers respectable torque throughout the 2000 to 7000rpm range. The nice dial is simple and effective and offers minimal information, but to add to touch of modernism, Moto Guzzi also offers an optional smart phone app that churns out stats like lean angle, torque, power output, acceleration and much more. Not sure that this will sweep motorcycle buyers off their boots but the option is interesting. On the other hand, the factory installed USB plug on the steering column is a good idea and quite practical to charge your smartphone throughout the ride.
The drive shaft ensures ease of maintenance that is light years from that required for a true vintage motorcycle. The gearbox is pleasant and responds promptly and effectively. First gear is little short but torque while third gear is so versatile that the distracted rider can take off in third without too much trouble. Very convenient for urban exploration. The single-plate dry clutch is fairly quiet and traction control is as simple as it gets with wet and dry modes only.
The fuel tank is a beauty and is truly the centerpiece on this motorcycle. Its shape may be cumbersome for long-legged riders but it has the benefit of having a true retro look in keeping with the old models of the Mandelo del Lario manufacturer. The bianco classico glossy white paint with red pinstripes of the model we rode is also a nice nod to the past.
Who is this motorcycle for? The nostalgic who favors riding over roadside wrenching. The thirty something hipster for the same reason. Beginners or perhaps even more experienced riders looking for a simple, classic easy-to-ride motorcycle. A motorcycle that brings us closer to the essence of motorcycling: two wheels, a handlebar and the sweet purr of an engine between our legs.