2020 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber Sport First Ride Review: When Beauty is Not Enough

Date posted on August 17, 2020
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We are very excited because this is a first for IR Nation. For more than 15 years we have been reviewing motorcycles but this will be our first time to try a Moto Guzzi. Thank you Bikerbox for finally letting us experience the brand and share with our readers and fans! Better late than never.

The 2020 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber Sport

Moto Guzzi is one of the oldest motorcycle brand in the world and will celebrate its centennial next year. It is actually the oldest European manufacturer in continuous motorcycle production including during the World War II.

It was founded in March 15, 1921 in Genoa, Italy by as “Società Anonima Moto Guzzi” by three friends namely Emanuele Vittorio Parodi, his son Giorgio Parodi and ex-WW I pilot of the Air Force, Carlo Guzzi. The original name was GP, for Guzzi-Parodi, but later changed to Moto Guzzi.

Moto Guzzi’s Flying Eagle logo is in memory of Giovanni Ravelli , who died during a flight training two years before the company foundation. It is the Italian Air Corp’s eagle.

It played a historic role in Italy’s motorcycling manufacturing industry and,for a period, was prominent in worldwide in motorcycle racing.

Moto Guzzi was once considered “the Ferrari of motorcycle racing”

Moto Guzzi was basically considered “the Ferrari of motorcycle racing“. By making bikes that were lighter and more agile than the competition, they were able to capture eight World Championships for riders, six Constructor’s Championships, and eleven wins at the famous Isle of Man.

Moto Guzzi V8 racer (MCNews.com.au)

It also developed innovations for the industry like the first motorcycle centre stand, the wind tunnel and an eight-cylinder motorcycle.

Moto Guzzi’s Headquarters in Mandello del Lario, Italy (Wikepedia)

It has been part of the Piaggio Group since 2004 but is still based in Mandello del Lario, Italy. In 2019, the Moto Guzzi brand helped Piaggio increase their global volume with a big boost coming from Asia Pacific.

Moto Guzzi’s motorcycles are noted for their air-cooled 90° V-twin engines first introduced in 1967 with a longitudinal crankshaft orientation where the engines’ transverse cylinder heads protrude on each sides of the motorcycle giving it a unique, mascular and appealing look.

Guzzi’s iconic tranverse aircooled V-Twin

Its current motorcycle line up include the V7 III, V9, Griso 1200, California 1400, El Dorado, Audice and the best selling V85 TT adventure bike. The popular V7 III range are powered by a 750cc engines and come in many versions including a the Stone, Special, Racer, Classic, Stornello and the Milano .

Bikerbox Philippines and Moto Guzzi Philippines headquarters is located in Parañaque City.
They also distribute Aprilia which is a part of the Piaggio Group

Bikerbox Philippines was founded in 2013 by its Chairman Mike Bondoc. It was initially appointed as the Philippine Moto Guzzi Service Center taking care of existing units already in the country before becoming its full time official Philippine distributor in October of last year. Its new President is life long motorcycle enthusiast Mr. Marc De Joya.

Recently, Bikerbox has succesfully established a local chapter of “The Clan“, an exclusive club for proud Moto Guzzi owners. 

The Clan’s most recent ride

The Bike

The V9 was officially launched worldwide wayback in 2016 with two variants namely the Roamer and Bobber. These are the mid-size bike in the Moto Guzzi range.

The V9 Bobber (foreground) and V9 Roamer

The bikes are finished mainly in all metal. The fenders, sidecovers, the badges, and the steel twin-tube cradle frame. Aside from the handlebar switches, there are no other plastic part anywhere on the V9. This was done on purpose to differentiate the V9 from other bikes and give it an authentic character.

While both are modern retro bikes, the Roamer is more of a traditional 70’s cruiser with lots of chrome details while the Bobber is a custom version with fat tires, flat handlebar or drag bars, and blackout detailing and minimal glitter. The sportier Bobber Sport was introduced in 2019.

2020 V9 Bobber Sport

The 2020 V9 Bobber Sport is the most glamorous among the V9 family. It pays homage to the post-WWII flat dirt track racers of the late 1940’s to 1950’s with oversized tires, matte blackout treatment and fork gaiters. The shorter solo seat is a very low 30.9 inches or a full 1 inch lower than the standard Bobber. It also moves the foot controls backwards for a more sporty riding position than the standard Bobber.

Shorter solo seat is also lower
Fork gaiters
Machined aluminum foot controls

It  comes with a signature glittery orange color and a host of many fine detailing  that elevates the value of the bike.

Beautiful rear tail lamp assembly with intricate mounting bolt garnishes
Aluminum front cowl with Moto Guzzi logo
Fuel filler cap

It is powered by Moto Guzzi’s aforementioned traditional transverse 90° V‐twin, which is now air and oil cooled engine, with two valves per cylinder and displacing 853 cc. Maximum power is modest at 55 hp@6,250 rpm but the maximum torque is 62 Nm at a lowly 3,000 rpm. It was purposedly developed to maximize torque and flexibility, Important features to ensure riding pleasure and on road. This is more of a muscle bike engine rather than a screaming sportsbike engine.

Moto Guzzi’s traditional transverse 90° V‐twin is designed for torque and flexibility
The most loved Moto Guzzi feature are the transverse cylinder heads that protrude on each sides of the motorcycle giving it a unique, mascular and appealing look.

It is mated to a precise 6-speed transmission via a light effort single dry plate clutch that provides the perfect transmission of torque and power with no jerkiness or hesitation.

Shaft drive provides direct feel

Of course, the final drive is via a double-jointed drive shaft offset by the increased size and the bevel gear, which provides solid and reliable management of the powerful torque supplied by the engine. The cast aluminium swingarm has been designed and sized to support engine performance, as well as to accommodate the fat tire.

Oversized tires on 16 inch rims

The 16 inch matt black wheel rims for front and back are fitted with oversized tires. 130/90 at the front and 150/80 at the rear.

The steel twin tube cradle frame creates optimum weight distribution on the front and rear of the engine, thereby providing the rideability and dynamic balance. Weight is a not so heavy 199kg.

The suspension system use traditional forks and a pair of gorgeous Ohlins fully adjustable rear shock absorbers that gives the most visual impact for the Bobber Sport.

Fully adjustable Ohlins rear shock absorbers

The braking system is Brembo all around with opposed 4-piston calipers and a 320 mm steel disc for the front and a two-piston floating caliper with a 260 mm disc for the rear. Dual-channel ABS comes as standard equipment.

Brembo brakes come with Dual Channel ABS
Brembo branded brake levers

The V9 Bobber Sport has modern ride-by-wire throttle and the Moto Guzzi Traction Control system. It monitors front- and rear-wheel speeds and intervenes when a differential is detected, and that joins the ABS to complete the safety-related gear to make the Sport a relatively beginner-friendly ride.

Elegant handlebar control switches
Single instrument pod is classic in design and features a combination of analog and digital

This premium Italian bike with all the elegant craftmanship details costs P750,000.

The Ride

Our excitement was sky high as we set off to ride the bike around Manila traffic and along favorite twisty roads.

All our expectations were mainly based on how the V9 Bobber Sport looks and what we know about the transverse engine. They were all good and for most of the time we weren’t dissapointed after the ride.

Jake Swann

“One of the things that attracted me about Moto Guzzi was it’s transverse V twin engine. Normally you see a V twin pretty much inline with the bike, but this one is transverse. It exposes both cylinders to airflow and of course it gives such a sexy look.

A thing that has not been done in decades on motorcycles is the 16” rim. A lot of street motorcycles nowadays use 17” rim, mostly because of the mix in stability and maneuverability. When you use a 16” rim on a motorcycle it gives a one thing that a lot of people missed, great handling. It’s easier to turn the bike and maneuver in tight spaces.”
“Now, there are certain things about me that are kinda unique and mostly apply to taller or bigger people like me. So, the situation when I use this bikes is pretty much unique to people like me. Like, when I first got the bike I noticed the foot peg are place a bit more forward. So if you are above my height of 5’10 or has longer or fatter legs, you will have a space issues because of the transverse cylinders heads. My knees bump against cyclinder heads. If you’re gonna purchase this bike, you wanna get a test ride first especially if you’re one of the taller riders. 

Front and rear brakes are ok. The suspension is pretty good because it ahs an Ohlins rear shocks. So, it handles pretty well.

You can’t expect the handling to be the same as with other motorcycle with low profile tires. With the tall tires you get a lot of riding comfort. The sacrifice is, you’ve got to sacrifice a bit of your handling. When you start to go over like ripples and bumps on the road, you’re not gonna feel most of it. But when you’re going into turns you can expect some play because of side wall flexing.”
” Lastly, the power or torque and what it feels like. One of the things you gonna know aside from the transverse V twin engine is that it’s got a shaft drive. You have more direct feel from power going to the rear wheel direct transfer power. So, you got to be careful with your throttle hand you can’t just wacked the throttle like how you with in line for or the parallel twin. You have to be gentle. Do it too abrupt and you might find yourself sitting down the road the motorcycle riding away from you. The temptation here is the torque, it’s has a lot of torque, more than I need riding on these Marilaque roads.

Which made me curious, what would it be like on the highways. I only went up about 120 kph. How much faster could the bike go with my weight. Aerodynamics at sustained high speeds is a concern because it’s a naked, so no windscreen. If you roll the throttle pretty aggressively your body is pretty much against the wind. The bike is not gonna pull your body backward.

It’s an enjoyable bike and I hope to ride it again soon!”

Philip Bonza

“Ang three things na nagustuhan ko ay character, high craftsmanship at balanced performance.

Craftmanship, kitang kita naman sa mga metal parts. Ang linis ng makina at kakaiba. Tranverse V twin engine at shaft driven kaya malinis talaga tingnan. Ang ganda, kahit saan tingnan kong angulo maganda. Kahit sa likod ang ganda ng style ng muffler at sa harap ang linis. Lahat gusto ko!

Ang character nya maganda at kakaiba, angat sa akin. While riding ibang character ang nararamdaman ko dahil sa engine.
Ang porma nya para sa akin astig, cool mukha siyang mabigat kasi puro metal parts and malaki ang gulong pero when you start riding it mararamdaman mo na magaan at normal, medyo intimidating lang talaga ang dating.”
“Ang engine performance medyo kakaiba yung feeling, medyo weird sa una. First time ko nasakyan, for a few minutes nakaka panibago kasi nasa side yung vibration, nasa side yung galaw. Transverse V twin kaya normal sa kanya nasa sides yung vibration. Dahil nga bago sa akin kaya medyo weird ang feeling.
Pa nag-gas ka habang nasa turn, dahil nga bigla siyang nagvibrate patagilid parang nakakagulat lang pero masasanay rin. Gusto ko dahil kakaiba at ok pa rin siya gamitin.

Suspension is ok sa akin, harap at likod. Front brake is ok, pero rear brake medyo hindi ko maramdaman yung power. The performance is average lang para sa akin. Hindi ko masabi na sobrang ok, hindi rin naman siya negative sa akin, pasok pa rin.
Siguro 4 gear points ang ibibigay ko para dito.

Performance pasok naman siya sa kin kaya, 4 gear points ang score ko para dito.

Dahil nga bobber style may mas mababang upuan ar flat at mas mababang handle bars. Pero mababa yung handle para sa akin dahil 5’11 ako. Kita nyo naman siguro yung legs ko pakiramdam ko talaga hindi relax dahil mababa yung seat height, uncomfortable yung legs ko, ganon din yung kamay ko sa handle bars. Kung ako magkakaron nito i adjust ko para sa gusto kong position. Adjust ko na lang yung brake pedals kung saan magiging relax ako. Pero sa mga normal Filipino riders shorter than me ay sakto sa kanila ito. Hindi nakaka-intimidate dalhin mukha lang siyang intimidating tingnan dahil sa laki pero sakto lang para sa kanila.”
“Big fat tires, medyo akala mo mabigat pero kapag ni-ride mo hindi.  Yung bigat na binibigay siguro ng gulong na yung contact patch sabihin natin na mas malaki yung contact patch nya sa loob, compensated naman ng wider handlebar kaya magaan siya i-ride.

Yun yung benefit ng wide handle bar. Big fat tires nga sakto para sa Metro Manila, yung mga lubak na hindi nawawala dito sa atin, I feel safe sa big fat tires.

Sakto siya kapag cruising dahil relax siyang dalhin. Kung meron ako nito hindi ko siya hahanapin ng speed. Gagamitin ko ito kung gusto ko ng relaxing na ride, magcruise lang ako  metro o aakyat lang ako ng back road sa Marilaque, relax relax dalhin. Pasok siya for most Filipino riders. “

Al Camba

“Initially akala namin malaking bike ang V9 Bobber 850cc, bacause it looks like big cruiser. We were pleasantly surprised nung nakita namin yung unit hindi naman siya ganon kalaki hindi siya intimatidating. In fact, I’m an average Filipino height of 5’7 and sakto sa akin ang bike. The wide handlebar, low foot peg height, the low seat height are all nice. In fact, the egonomics give me confidence to ride it more despite its inditimidating looks. kapag sinakyan mo madali lang pala! That’s one very good point of this bike. You look macho and cool kasi parang mahirap i-ride yung bike mo when people see it, but actually it is very easy.

This is the Sport variant so it has Ohlins rear suspension. Aside from the added aesthetic appeal the Ohlins probably gave the V9 Sport a more comfortable ride. Madaling i-ride yung bike, especially for Metro Manila streets.

The wide handle bars combined with the 16 inch fat tires made it very easy to steer. So, at 199 kilograms, you don’t feel it. Similar to mountain bikes, the wider handlebars gives you more leverage and control and makes you breathe better because your chest is open.”
“Combined with the low seat height, it gives you confidence na hindi mo matutumba yung bike. I’m 5’7″and I love the low seat height! Nakaka intimidate sa malalaking bike kapag mataas ang seat dahil naka-tip toe ka. But with the V9, confident ka.

The fat tires looks very nice pero ang main benefit for me is the ride comfort. Hindi mo maramdaman yung mga bumps na normally ramdam sa narrower sized tires. Kung ikaw yung tipong hindi masayado ma-ingat mag-drive o madami ang dinadaan mo na lubak or breaks sa kalsada, this is the perfect bike for you! You don’t have to slow down much for small road impeefections. Which means hindi ka masyado mapapagod sa long rides kasi comfortable.

The tire pressures came from Bikerbox, malamang it’s the standard tire pressure setting kung talagang panay straight line ka lang or daily commute. If hindi ka naman masyado mabilis sa kurbada you can lower the pressure a little para mas gaganda, mas magiging comfortable ride pa sya and not too sporty.”
“This is a transverse aircooled V- twin, both cylinders ay nakaharap sa hangin. So, for me, I felt less heat, hindi siya masyado nag over heat because both cylinder heads arw expose sa hangin. Unlike, other aircooled V twins where yung likod an cylinder hindi masyado nahahanginan. Sinubukan namin ito sa traffic hindi siya ganon ka init, pwede siyang gamitin sa Metro Manila traffic.

Pero ang pinaka gusto ko talaga dito sa Moto Guzzi is yung kanyang “soul” or “character”. Meron siyang feeling na nararamdaman mo between your legs, that the bike is alive. It’s 100% made in Italy, a genuine Italian bike but at the same time it has a big thumping transverse V twin character similar to Harleys and BMWs boxer twins. It also has that durable and almost maintenance free shaft drive found on million peso BMWs that gives a plesant direct feel between the engine and the tires.

You get a modern retro bike with 100% Italian style and heritage plus German engine character at a slightly lower price point. You don’t have to shell out more and it will give you the same satisfaction.”

Final Words

The Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber it’s a bike that you choose to own.

It’s a cruiser turned bobber with fat tires, wide drag handlebars, low solo seat and middle mount footpegs to make it more masculine, more custom and more racy. In doing so, Moto Guzzi has given it a very cool character!

Beautiful Italian craftmaship aside, this bike is full of charms with its unique pulsating engine feel. The bike feels alive under you.

It looks intimidating and big, but actually it’s a peach to ride and will boost your confidence.

On this bike, you can be stylish, sophisticated, sporty and at the same time comfortable (if you are not so big and tall) and confident.

While the Bobber Sport is capable for long multi-day touring rides, it would be sacrilege to embelish the bike with ugly saddlebags and ridden with your full touring gears. This bike is best used on a weekend day ride wearing cool casual gears with friends to a place where there is a nice parking so people can admire it.

The price is not bad at all considering it has the same presence and premium image as other million peso bikes! Plus, the Guzzi brand commands its own exclusivity. It is a smart buy in the segment

If beauty is not enough for you, this Guzzi will tick all the other boxes.

Bella from any angle