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Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer First Ride Review

19 January 2017, 06:52 PM Pratheek Kunder

What is it?

In the world of automobiles, Italians are at the pinnacle when it comes to design. There’s nothing in this world that can take this title away from them. That country is home to Ferrari, Lamborghini, Ducati and also MV Agusta. The products from these brands are flashy, have the ability to stop traffic and not to forget, they are very expensive. But there are a few companies who don’t want to be flashy and glamorous; they value heritage and subtlety more. Moto Guzzi from Piaggio is one of them. Their latest product – the V9 Roamer – is a modern retro-styled cruiser that has been developed for the younger generation. With its distinctive styling and modern touches like safety equipment, the Roamer promises to be a good buy. Does it deliver on that promise? 

How does it ride?

The Roamer isn’t like traditional cruisers - low-slung, forward-set pegs and pointlessly heavy. This cruiser is rather practical for daily urban operation. The ergonomics of the Roamer are good for an average rider – an upright relaxed riding position, slightly forward-set footpegs and comfortable seat. For a tall rider like me, though, these ergonomics don’t work. If I rest the arch of my foot on the pegs, my shins touch the engine heat shield and that is distracting. The shin tends to touch the shield under braking, whether you’re short or tall. Those slightly-forward footpegs also get in the way of your feet when you put them down, so paddling along at walking speeds between stopped cars is quite difficult. The  slim fuel tank is artistic but doesn’t offer any purchase for your knees at all. The V9 Roamer is a perfect example of Italian quirkiness. 

Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer

Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer

  • Displacement853 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)53.4 bhp
  • Kerb Weight199 kg
  • ;

Last known Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 14,18,622

Good ground clearance means there’s no ‘Oh-shucks’ moment each time the bike goes over a disproportionate and badly executed speed-breaker. The bike weighs 199kg and that is a good figure for a cruiser. The weight distribution too, is well balanced and not for a single moment the bike feels heavy, either at idle or in motion. 

The V9 Roamer gets its power from the company’s new 850cc V-twin air-cooled engine which is transversely mounted. This motor eschews outright power for usable torque. That’s why the power output of 55bhp doesn’t look impressive. The maximum torque of 62Nm is generated at 3000rpm but the interesting bit is more than 50Nm is produced right from idle, thanks to the flat torque curve. This makes the Roamer a breeze in traffic and also enjoy open roads. The engine is a 90-degree V-Twin, so there are vibrations at idle but it is nothing you can’t live with. In motion, the vibrations kick in at 80kmph and stay all the way to the limiter. But the level of refinement this engine offers at low revs is outstanding. The Roamer reaches triple digit speeds in no time and can easily cruise at 120kmph. The throttle response is smooth and the power delivery is instant, thanks to the shaft drive. While the upshifts are very smooth, the down shifts are little clunky because of the shaft drive. The clutch is smooth but heavy, meaning riding in traffic will wear your left hand out, and this is made worse because finding neutral is a task. 

This cruiser has been sprung on the stiffer side, but the ride quality isn’t back breaking. It eats up the smaller potholes and undulations without any drama, but when it comes to places where there are bigger compressions involved (big potholes), the V9 Roamer gets unsettled. The best aspect of this cruiser is the way it handles. It handles incredibly well in the corners and thanks to the good ground clearance, the lean angle is much more than usual which gives the rider the ability be aggressive through corners. The Pirelli Sport Demon tyres are sticky and offer plenty of grip.

The brakes on the V9 Roamer are from Brembo. It gets a 320mm disc with four-piston calipers in the front and a 260mm disc with two-piston calipers at the rear. The brakes perform well but the rear brake lacks feel and feedback. ABS which is standard and performs flawlessly. 

Anything else should I know?

The V9 Roamer might not look trendy but it has all the necessary bits from the modern world. This Italian is equipped with a two-level traction control system – dry and wet. The rider also has the option of switching the traction control off. The anti-lock braking system is standard and can’t be switched off. 

The single-dial instrument cluster might look basic but the tiny LCD screen displays a lot of information. You can see instantaneous and average fuel consumption, clock, two tripmeters, ambient temperature, a gear shift indicator and average speed. There’s no tachometer, either analog or digital, but you do get a shift light. The speedometer is an analog unit and shows both imperial and metric units at the same time, but the metric units are too small to be clear without complete focus on the gauge. A tachometer and clearer (or even a digital) speedometer would be much appreciated. Moto Guzzi has made sure to keep the quality level of the bike high. Right from the switch gear to the paint, the quality is top notch. Even the plastics used around the cluster feel good. There’s also a camouflaged USB socket which has been placed at the front of the fuel tank, which makes it easy to reach and plug the phone cable. 

The V9 Roamer’s fuel filler cap isn’t lockable – a lock here is a no-brainer for our country. The headlamp isn’t bright enough for night riding. Also, the side stand takes way too much effort to operate and it is too close to the (hot!) exhaust in the ‘up’ position.

Should I buy one?

There are few motorcycles in the market that offer good cruising ability along with comfort at an affordable price. The Roamer offers most of them but very few people in the country know about its rich heritage and that means less brand value. The Indian market still doesn’t have many buyers who are ready to pay a bomb for a motorcycle that doesn’t have big cruiser proportions, isn’t from a well known brand and with styling that doesn’t beg attention. To make things worse, there’s the whopping price tag of Rs 13.60 lakh (ex-showroom Pune) making it the most expensive in its class. There is no doubt that the bike handles really well, the engine performance is appreciable and you get a ton of electronic aids. Plus, being an Italian, it has got character. If you’re one of those customers who like to have something exclusive in the garage, visit the nearest Motoplex showroom. 

Where does it fit in?

The Moto Guzzi Roamer competes with the Indian Scout Sixty (Rs 11.99 lakh ex-showroom Delhi) in its class. For the price of the V9 Roamer, you can also get the Kawasaki Versys 1000 (Rs 13.2 lakh) and the Triumph Tiger 800XCx (Rs 12.7 lakh), both are ex-showroom Delhi. These two bikes are not cruisers but munch miles with ease. There’s also the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob at Rs 13.9 lakh (ex-showroom Mumbai) which displaces 1585cc but is too heavy for commuting. 

Photography by Kapil Angane