Sunday, May 17, 2015

Test Ride: Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

I sold the Triumph Tiger 800 and have begun my quest for the new steed. I am looking for something that is sporty for the twisties and comfortable for longer, multi-day rides. I went over to Europa Macchina in Lewisberry. They are, quite honestly, some of the nicest people I have met, passionate about heir business, but also genuinely interested in what I was looking for. They answered all of my questions about the brand and the bike.

Sitting Down
Sitting on the bike, I had a really nice surprise. Most reviews will tell you the bike feels heavy, almost obscenely so, but I didn't feel that at all. The bike felt extremely well-balanced at rest, and was easily manhandled to where I needed it. I am 6 feet tall, and can easily flat foot the bike. I did find the position almost a little tight in leg space, and I would wonder if there is a higher seat position. That was weird. The dash is very well laid out and attractive, with everything right where you want it.

The mirrors are adequate (though they shake at speed, again, something that is documented in many reports. A lot of people get the European package on the mirrors, which increases size and decreases shaking). The bike is very well outfitted, with Trax bags, high-power auxiliary lights, bash guard under the bike, and hand guards standard. It's everything you need for a proper adventure!

Starting Up

A simple twist of the key and push of the starter and the oil-cooled 1151cc engine comes to life. It's mounted across the bike, rather than in a straight line, so it feels a little funny as the pistons fire across the bike. People will say you either love it or hate it - I loved it. A twist of the throttle and you realize there is something alive under the seat. I LOVED the sound of this bike. 

The Ride
Europa has a good situation, with a quick flat road to get the bike under you, then a bunch of twisties, so you can stretch it out. I said the weight of the bike wasn't a big deal for me, but it immediately disappears when the wheels start turning. The bike has quick pickup, but not raucously so, and it is a linear acceleration that is predictable. One of the strange things is the feel of the engine at 3500RPM. It has a vaguely unnatural side to side pull you can feel. 

Out in the curves, the bike rolls right through. It is predictable and easy to throw around. There is a point in this part of the experience where people usually fall in love with a bike. Or not. For me, it was a not. The bike starts to get "interesting" around 6000 RPM and redlines at about 8000. That means that as soon as I entered the "fun zone" I had to start thinking about shifting back out of it. The bike does not have a lot of grunt/torque (having had a Suzuki SV1000, I suspect I was more than a little spoiled), and it's that missing piece that really makes it a no for me. 

My goal is to do a lot of mixed riding, touring and hitting the twisties around the rural roads of southcentral Pennsylvania. If all I were doing was touring, heading cross country, especially if it was on and off road, this bike would definitely be on the list. But, the Stelvio's lack of enthusiasm, especially in the curves, takes it off the list. 


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