Moto Guzzi has enjoyed a celebrated exclusivity since their inception in 1921—still building all of their machines in the original factory in Mandello del Lario, Italy. For 2020, Guzzi (as they are affectionately known) introduces the all-new V85 TT, which harkens to the company’s early involvement with off-road competition, stepping back into the scrambler realm with a bike that speaks to the future while retaining the mystique of the golden era of motorcycling.
The V85 TT possesses simple functionality mixed with modern technical advances. The transversely-mounted 90-degree OHV-twin engine—a Guzzi signature—is a robust, air-cooled 853 cc producing 80 hp (at 7,750 rpm) of raw, visceral throttle response. With 59 ft lbs of torque—of which 90 percent is available at just 3,750 rpm—the low-end pull of the Guzzi is invigorating. The most enjoyable aspect of the TT is the old-school feel and sound married to the modern Ride-by-Wire throttle and electronic aids that include three ride modes (Road, Rain, Off-Road), traction control, ABS, and cruise control.
The 6-speed transmission has been completely reengineered, resulting in the smoothest, most succinct gearbox Moto Guzzi has ever produced. And the swingarm/drive shaft has been beefed up to handle light off-roading.
The V85 TT’s stylistic design cues reflect the bike’s versatility. The distinctive raised front fender, hand guards, rear grab rail and spoke wheels (19-inch front and 17-inch rear) speak to off-road riding while the contoured fuel tank disguises its 6-gallon capacity.
Top of the line Brembo brake components (dual 320 mm discs on the front and a single 260 mm disc on the back) handle the braking, offering superb stopping power for the 504-pound machine. The ABS works without any noticeable oscillation between the wheels and can be disabled for more sure-footed off-road handling. Adjustable spring preload and hydraulic rebound 41 mm telescopic front forks and laterally-mounted rear shock provide a smooth and compliant ride over a range of road surfaces. The standard seat height is an accommodating 32.6-inches.
With excellent handling and stable manners, whether at speed or on the brakes, the V85 TT is surprisingly intuitive with precise feel and positive rider feedback. The small fairing does a very good job of keeping windblast off the rider at highway speeds while the TFT display screen, which adjusts to varying light levels, presents the bike’s operational information digitally, easily visible day or night.
The 2020 Moto Guzzi V85 TT features a fiercely independent streak of design and mechanical touches (including that wonderfully thumping V-twin engine) which sets it apart from everyone else. It’s a unique bike of substance with a colorful heritage. But most of all, it’s extremely rideable.