First Ride Review: 2017 Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer

Can Mandello’s New Midsize Custom Goose its Competition?

2017 Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer review
The V9 Roamer picks up where the Moto Guzzi Nevada left off, filling the gap for a midsize custom.©Motorcyclist

They Say: "Beyond trends and appearances."
We Say: "Not that far beyond."

Moto Guzzi brings us a new addition to the mid-sized custom segment with the 853cc V9 Bobber and V9 Roamer. Moto Guzzi says the new V9 is 90 percent new, including an engine reworked to meet Euro 4 emission standards. Aimed squarely at new riders, younger riders, and the growing segment of female motorcyclists, the V9 is designed to be an accessible standard with two different iterations for a slightly different ride. We'll focus on the more cruiser-like Roamer here.

But first, the engine. At the core of the new V9 is a 90-degree transversely mounted air-cooled V-twin—your classic Moto Guzzi engine, in other words. A so-called small block, to differentiate it from the larger Guzzis, the V9’s engine is based on the V7’s but sports new cases, heads, pistons and cylinders, as well as new piston cooling oil jets to go with a host of changes to the lubrication system. Moto Guzzi claims the 853cc mill churns out 54 horses at 6,250 rpm and 45.7 pound-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm, giving this midsize cruiser a modest dose of easily accessible power. (The last V7 we had put 40.5 hp to the rear wheel, so after a rough correction from claimed to actual rear-wheel horsepower, the V9 should be up by about 5 hp.) As we saddled up at Moto Guzzi’s Mandello del Lario factory, firing up the Italian V-twin brought about a respectable growl.

2017 Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer review, side view
“Bianco Classico” (white with red striping) is one of three V9 Roamer color options.©Motorcyclist

Throwing a leg over the V9, the 31-inch seat height is the first, most obvious feature to appeal to shorter and newer riders alike. Placement of the footpegs on both bikes creates almost a 90-degree bend in my 30-inch inseam legs, but turns out sharing leg space with engine heads made for a less than ideal foot position, and my knees started aching twenty minutes in. This could also be due to the V9's new teardrop tank that features a longitudinal crease reminiscent of an early '70s Corvette Stingray, leaving no carved out space for tucked in knees. Also, the footpegs are quite low, as I found myself scraping through a few of the many roundabouts through town. I'll admit it's likely we were rolling at a pace swifter than most cruiser riders will take, but still, these were not tight turns, and we weren't going that fast.

The profile of the Roamer’s chrome handlebar is a little up and back, creating a slightly more comfortable reach than the Bobber’s, at least for my arms and shoulders. With that said, the riding position still did not seem well suited for this average-sized female rider. My average-sized male riding buddies didn’t seem bothered by the riding position, which makes me wonder what size rider was actually used during R&D. Perhaps a thumb through the accessory catalog would give some adequate fixes for bar height.

2017 Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer review, First Ride
A larger-diameter front wheel gives the Roamer a different front-end feel from the V9 Bobber.©Motorcyclist

Moto Guzzi touts the nearly flat profile of the V9’s torque curve as being beneficial to new riders, and says the 853cc mill cranks out 95 percent of its max torque as early as 3,000 rpm. In practice, making a smooth transition from idle to 3,000 rpm is difficult since the bike wants to surge forward with all that torque. Not ideal for beginners. This behavior proved a little challenging to control at first, but after adjusting my wrist and clutch input, smoothed out over the day. This quick uptick of torque is something new riders will have to adapt to.

Once underway the Guzzi’s throttle response felt fine, with a direct connection to the engine. Shifting through the V9’s new six-speed gearbox is effortless thanks to low clutch lever effort—the new 170mm single-plate dry clutch engages without any clunk.

Also new for the V9 is its suspension: A KYB standard fork with 5.1 inches of travel and a pair of preload-adjustable shocks with 3.8 inches of travel. Compression damping seemed on the firm side, transferring a fair amount of the road imperfections to the saddle, but not painfully so, and hardly upsetting the front end. Road feel was adequate in town, and not uncomfortable at higher speeds on the expressway.

2017 Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer review, engine
A thorough redesign retains the old engine's distinctive shape with a displacement of 853cc.©Motorcyclist

The biggest difference between the Roamer and its Bobber brother is front-end feel. The Roamer’s front wheel is a 19-inch alloy shod with a Pirelli Sport Demon 100/90-19 tire (150/80-16 in back). The larger front slowed the Roamer’s turn in, making it behave more like a cruiser. Steering stability mid corner felt light, needing more handlebar input to keep it on a smooth arc through turns. This shouldn’t be an issue with new riders, so long as they keep a slow relaxed pace.

A four-piston Brembo caliper gripping a single 320mm stainless steel floating disc up front, and two-piston Brembo squeezing a single 260mm disc in back bring the 463-pound (claimed, wet) V9 Roamer to a stop adequately. Two-channel ABS engages under hard braking, but not jarringly, doing its job without fuss. Moto Guzzi Traction Control (MGTC) also has two settings, one for wet and one for dry riding conditions, giving plenty of confidence for a safe ride.

2017 Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer review, right side view
Guzzi fans aren’t left out of the retro craze with the V9 Roamer's '70s styling.©Motorcyclist

Keeping with a classic cruiser look, the V9’s new gauge is a single analog speedometer with an inset digital readout, giving the most basic of bike info. If you’re looking for more, the Roamer can be equipped with the optional Moto Guzzi Media Platform, for $250. The MGMP connection, combined with the Guzzi Multimedia Platform app, connects your smartphone to the V9, turning it into an additional gauge readout. With this set up, you can configure the screen to show any five information boxes at once: speed, average speed, rpm, thrust, acceleration, torque in Nm, power in kW, eco ride, instant fuel economy, average fuel economy, battery power, gear position, slip percentage, and roll angle, which activates a red “roll warning” light above 30 degrees. It’s possible that warning light came on during the aforementioned peg scraping incident, but I can’t be sure. The system allows you to record trip info, but I didn’t have that feature switched on.

The V9 Roamer comes in three colors: “Giallo Solare” (yellow with black striping) and “Bianco Classico” (white with red striping), and is priced at $9,990. You can also spec out your V9 with a reasonable amount of factory accessories, including windscreen, saddlebags, seat, mirrors, and slip on pipes.

2017 Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer review, dash view
Basic bike info comes from a single analog speedometer with an inset digital readout.©Motorcyclist

So, with the new V9 Bobber and V9 Roamer, did Moto Guzzi create a bike that will draw in a new generation of “Guzzisti,” as they claim? Hard to say. The V9 certainly offers a ‘70s style midsize cruiser, so diehard Guzzi fans aren’t left out of the retro craze. Considering their own claimed market includes female riders, as well as new and young riders, the ergos were a big drawback for me. Seat height alone doesn’t make a bike “female-friendly.” However, since women only make up a supposed 15 percent of riders out there, I can see why Moto Guzzi might not build a bike with ergos designed specifically for women. Okay, so is this bike made for new and/or young riders? The strong early torque takes some adjusting to, but the light clutch, reasonable power, and strong (but not too strong) brakes say yes, mostly, and if the ergos fit you, it’s not a bad choice. But if I were to recommend a bike specifically to that segment, I would look to the British, German, or Japanese offerings before making a final decision.

2017 Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer review, seat
A 31-inch seat height alone doesn’t make a bike “female-friendly.”©Motorcyclist

TECH SPEC

EVOLUTION
The V9 Bobber and V9 Roamer pick up where the Moto Guzzi Nevada left off, filling the gap for a midsize custom.
RIVALS
[BMW RnineT][], [Triumph Scrambler Street Twin][], [Yamaha XSR900][]
TECH
PRICE $9,990
ENGINE 853cc air-cooled 90° V-twin
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/shaft
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER 54.2 hp @ 6250 rpm
CLAIMED TORQUE 45.7 lb.-ft. @ 3000 rpm
FRAME Tubular-steel double-cradle
FRONT SUSPENSION KYB standard fork; 5.11-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION KYB shocks adjustable for spring preload; 3.8-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Brembo four-piston caliper, 320mm disc with ABS
REAR BRAKE Brembo two-piston caliper, 260mm disc with ABS
RAKE/TRAIL 26.4°/4.9 in.
WHEELBASE 57.7 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 30.9 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 4.0 gal.
CLAIMED WEIGHT 463 claimed, wet
AVAILABLE May 2016
CONTACT [motoguzzi-us.com][]
VERDICT
A decent addition to the midsize custom segment, with lots of classic style and a few modern amenities