2009 Moto Guzzi Stelvio Review

June 22, 2012 -- Bart Madson - Courtesy of Motorcycle-USA.com
2009 Moto Guzzi Stelvio Review

You got to hand it to Moto Guzzi, the historic Italian marque sure knows how to pick a name. Stelvio... Most motorcycle riders revere the Stelvio name as an iconic road. Having traversed the 84 hairpin turns up and down the 9048-ft pass through the Italian Alps, I can vouch that the Passo dello Stelvio is indeed a legendary ride.

The Stelvio motorcycle is Moto Guzzi's take on the popular BMW GS. A self-described 'two-wheeled SUV,' the Stelvio is presented to American riders as a do-it-all adventure-touring mount. The type of motorcycle a rider would source to tackle roads like, yes, the famed Stelvio Pass.

Make sure to check out the 2009 Moto Guzzi Stelvio video

We sampled the Guzzi's adventure-touring quotient on a two-day border run from motousa's SoCal offices to Yuma, Arizona. The backroad highways and state roads may not have the mystique of the Stelvio's namesake, but they showed how this new Goose flies.

Moto Guzzi lives and dies by its signature transverse-mount V-Twin and the Stelvio is no exception. The latest version of the 90-degree 1151cc mill drips character, exhibiting all the expected quirks - like the pronounced gyroscopic shudder from the centerline crankshaft and the throaty V-Twin exhaust grumble. MG claims 563 new parts adorn the Stelvio motor, but the signature change is the 'quattrovalvole' head. Replacing the two-valve head of previous MG Twins, the four-valve design (also found on the MG Griso) yields more peak power, although at higher revs.

The Mickey Cohen Motorsports dyno registers 90.5 rear-wheel horsepower and 69 lb-ft torque from the Stelvio at a respective 7000 and 6700 rpm. The dyno chart confirms the Twin's mid-range zing, taking off between 4-5K and falling off after its 7K peak.

'The torquey power from the Twin was fun and easily managed,' says MCUSA Video Editor, Robin Haldane. 'The midrange power was welcome and even powered the front wheel in the air when that hooligan urge set in."

On the road the Stelvio's lively mid-range and top end works well for spirited riding, but the high-revving power seems an odd fit to the adventure-touring application. Fueling from the Weber Marelli injectors and 50mm throttle bodies is smooth, and lugging in lower revs through the corners is not a problem, but we downshifted more than usual when the road tightened up.

See more 2009 Moto Guzzi Stelvio photos here

The six-speed gearbox is well sorted to A-T versatility. Riders can idle along in first gear without fussing the clutch, ideal for low-speed maneuvering on or off pavement. On the other extreme, sixth-gear is a touring-friendly overdrive.

The dry clutch delivers smooth shifts, but with a stiff clutch lever pull. On a more positive note, the CARC (Compact Reactive Shaft Drive) shaftdrive is refined, exhibiting little hop or lurch.

'Most Moto Guzzi's I have ridden seemed to have clunky transmissions,' says Robin, 'however, the Stelvio made every gear change flawlessly and I didn't notice the usual drive lash of past Guzzis.'

Open the door at Moto Guzzi's Mandello del Lario headquarters and pristine mountain roads are right there. Stellar handling is required on roads like the Stelvio's namesake, which lies 100 miles to the Northeast, and the latest Guzzi corners well for a bike with a 60.4-inch wheelbase and claimed 553-lb fully-fueled heft. The 27-degree rake, 4.9-inch trail and 19-inch front wheel don't tip into a corner as quick as sportier rides, but once it does lean it feels very planted and stable in a turn. A high center of gravity makes the Goose feel top heavy, but it doesn't take long to get accustomed to the Guzzi mount.

'When first pulling off the parking lot after picking the Guzzi up, it felt top heavy and awkward, similar to the feeling I got the first time on BMW's R1200GS,' admits Robin. 'However once I got moving and acquainted with the handling characteristics, the bike felt comfortable and quite fun to ride.'

Read the Complete 2009 Moto Guzzi Stelvio Review at Motorcycle-USA.com

Bart Madson - Courtesy of Motorcycle-USA.com