Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX
Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX
TO BMW’S GS
despite a wide 8000-rpm rev range, torque is
still the motor’s dominant theme. Except for a
brief flat spot at 4250 rpm, it generates 60 lb.ft. or more of torque from the beginning of a
dyno pull until it hits the rev limiter.
And as impressive as the motor is, its
six-speed transmission is even better. Once
saddled with perhaps the most agricultural
transmissions in the business, Moto Guzzi’s
latest big twins have the lightest-shifting gearboxes we’ve ever experienced in an engine
this size. Using helically cut gears and a
hydraulically activated, dry automotive-style,
diaphragm clutch, the Guzzi’s transmission is
as slick as they come.
by Dave Searle
F MOTORCYCLISTS HAD their own dictionaries, next to the word
“Iconoclast” would be a picture of a rider on an old Moto
Guzzi. The word comes from medieval Latin, meaning a
destroyer of icons; or one who attacks cherished religions, beliefs
or institutions. At one time, any Guzzi rider you met was likely
to be a deeply opinionated loner, a hard-core nonconformist who
bonded with his rare machine as much for its quirks and flaws as
its virtues. That these fiercely independent guys and gals ever
formed clubs could only be explained as a dire need for nearnonexistent parts and technical support, as making friends was
almost certainly a lower priority.
But times change. After Ivano Beggio’s Aprilia purchased
Moto Guzzi and his engineers set about completely overhauling
its mechanical systems, the word “character” was no longer
needed as an excuse for sub-par performance. The latest products from Mandello del Lario are definitely not your father’s
As a fresh model for 2012, the Stelvio 1200 NTX gains attractive aluminum saddlebags, hand guards, engine protection bars,
heated grips, a bigger adjustable windshield, auxiliary running
lights, ABS, traction control, a strong aluminum bash plate and
a much larger 8.45 gal. gastank as standard equipment. If the
older Stelvio made comparisons with the BMW R1200GS
inevitable, the NTX invites comparison with the GS Adventure.
Motor & Transmission
Guzzi’s signature design feature is its longitudinal-crank, 90°
V-twin. Revised again in 2004 under Piaggio’s ownership with
single overhead cam, four-valve cylinder heads atop its air/oilcooled cylinders, it’s often likened to the Boxers. But with its
cylinders in front of the rider’s knees, rather than at his feet, you
don’t have to worry about hitting its heads on the ground during
hard cornering or banging rocks in rough terrain. Plus, its sound
is a lusty staggered thunder, more reminiscent of American
cruisers than the even-fire thrum of the Boxers.
Its 1151cc displacement is created by cylinders with a bore
and stroke of 95.0mm x 81.2mm that use an 11.0:1 compression
ratio. It inhales through big 50mm throttle bodies and exhales
into enormous 58mm headers that empty into a single large
silencer on the left side. With a power output of 90.6 hp @ 7500
rpm, it’s just 4.4 hp shy of the latest DOHC radial-valve GS. And
MOTORCYCLE CONSUMER NEWS
When the mission is adventure touring, the
quality of a bike’s suspension can make the
difference between merely adequate and extraordinary. Moto Guzzi hasn’t scrimped in this
department and provides a fully adjustable
male-slider cartridge fork from Marzocchi up
front and a Sachs monoshock with a handy
knob-adjustable preload and adjustable rebound damping. The
travel is given as 6.7" front and 6.1" rear, which really doesn’t
sound too impressive for adventure-touring on such a big
machine. But the action is superb, and if we’d had to guess, we’d
have imagined it had more travel than that. Unlike the BMW
Telelever setup, which changes its rake angle when the forks are
compressed, for an unusual and slightly remote feeling from the
front end, the Stelvio’s telescopic fork gives a direct connection
to the contact patch for very predictable steering. And unlike
some machines that need considerable tinkering with their suspension settings to achieve unanimous approval, the Stelvio owner’s
manual has recommended settings that, once set, made all of us
happy. The ride quality it provides impressed us on the freeway,
chasing twisty back roads and even when ridden aggressively
over the roughest forest service roads in our vicinity.
And as a point of comparison, you don’t have to pay a premium for electronically-adjustable suspension with the Guzzi.
The standard setup is excellent and without the temptation to
push buttons and play with it all the time, its behavior becomes a
constant that you can rely on, familiar and dependable.
Italy has no lack of premium parts suppliers, so it’s no surprise
that Brembo supplies the Stelvio’s stoppers. These include radialmount, four-piston front calipers covering big semi-floating 320
discs and a good-sized 282mm fixed rear disc held in a twopiston sliding caliper. The radial mounting at the front improves
the integrity of the caliper/disc alignment, which gives superior
control feel, and both ends provide a very linear response to hand
and foot pressure for great control even in situations of marginal
traction. ABS is also standard, and unlike some adventure bikes,
the Stelvio’s ABS can be easily deactivated for dirt or gravel, as
it needs to be, simply by holding down the ABS button on the right
side of the handlebar for three seconds before starting off. We
uncovered no flaws in the system’s operation. Even in the dirt,
with the ABS on, the bike would still slow strongly at both
ends before engaging, and we found the system very effective on
pavement with an excellent result of 119.9' from 60 mph. However, as usual, our ace tester, Danny Coe, was able to beat the
ABS’ stopping distances with the system disabled, nailing a best
stop of 117.6' from 60 mph.
We could only imagine the talents of the engineering team that
designed the Stelvio’s chassis—no doubt a group with significant
experience in road racing. When you know a bike weighs 666 lbs.
with its huge gastank filled to the brim, you really can’t imagine
that it will be a lot of fun on twisty roads. But that number makes
absolutely no sense after you’ve experienced the Stelvio’s
handling. The bike’s center of gravity and how it works with its
chassis geometry: 27.0° of rake and 5.0" of trail on a 61.34"
wheelbase produce a kind of alchemy—turning lead into gold.
You’d have to experience it to believe it, but the Stelvio handles
like a sportbike, minus the sore neck and wrists. It bends into
turns with a surefooted grip that must owe a lot to its standard
Pirelli Scorpion Trail rubber (110/80R19 front, 150/70R17 rear).
Completely neutral as it dives into a turn, we found we could
lean it way over with complete confidence. The tapered aluminum
handlebar is 33" wide, giving the rider plenty of leverage, and the
chassis is rock steady at all speeds with no flexing.
In addition to its fine handling, the same wheel speed sensors
that inform the ABS also allow a traction control system, which
can also be disabled. Although it’s not multi-adjustable for intervention like some racetrack systems, the Stelvio’s TC works very
effectively on dirt, allowing a blast of throttle to achieve good
drive before cutting sparks to restrict wheelspin. Once again, a
good system, properly implemented, appears to be as desirable as
a multi-level system that really only has one best setting.
The Stelvio’s CARC torque-controlled final drive setup
also deserves mention. Although similar in intent to the BMW
Paralever system, it does not pivot the the bevel drive housings
off the single-sided swingarm, but is one-piece, which may be
inherently stronger (final drive
failures have plagued the Paralever, it must be admitted).
Instead the Stelvio’s torque arm
connects to the ring gear’s separate internal carrier. While a
detailed analysis of the forces at
work are beyond the scope of this
article, the CARC design provides excellent performance, both
in terms of suspension compliance and also traction for either
braking or acceleration (without
generating the tramping sensation
we’ve complained about on the
BMW). We continue to believe
the CARC design is superior.
As part of its new-for-2012
equipment, the Stelvio gets an improved aero package consist ing of a taller windshield (still adjustable over a 2"range) and
additional wind deflectors at the leading edges of the gastank.
We found these changes very effective. The windshield, even in
its lowest position, will lift the windblast over the peak of a sixfoot rider’s dual-sport helmet and provide a broad still-air pocket
for the torso that’s very comfortable at high freeway speeds. And
because the windshield is angled back, it does this while its upper
edge is below the rider’s line of sight (see the image above),
which makes reading the details of rough trails easier.
The mirrors are widely spaced for a good rear view, but the
engine’s vibration will blur the images at high speeds and rpm.
The seat is unchanged and didn’t need to be. Its 33.25" platform
is narrow enough at the front to facilitate getting your boots on the
ground at a stop, and the upholstery is thick and broad at the back.
Even after a long day on some of our roughest roads, we had no
comfort complaints. Both seats are also height adjustable, which
will benefit taller riders.
Alas, the Stelvio has one very serious flaw in terms of ergonomics. The left cylinder is closer to the rider than the right—too
close for a rider with long legs. With your knee against the cylinder cover, which has a plastic insulating jacket on its back side,
the heat averages 150°F on a hot day, enough to make contact
while riding in jeans uncomfortable. But, even worse, just beneath
the cover, on either side of the intake port, the cylinder fins will
run 200° or more, which is enough to cause blistered skin even
through heavy riding pants. Shorter riders may not encounter this
problem, but a taller rider will be obliged to find a fix—the heat
If the hot-headed left cylinder isn’t a problem for your inseams,
you will be hard pressed to find any serious fault with the Stelvio.
It is a totally rewarding motorcycle that looks good, sounds good,
handles, stops and goes with authority. That it can travel for 320
miles between fill-ups and will remain comfortable for that
distance is simply icing on a delicious cake.
Instruments & Controls
We found no issues with the control layout or its functionality.
And the Stelvio’s instrumentation has everything you could
ask for except a gear indicator: trip computer functions, a clock,
stopwatch, ambient temp. gauge, a shift light, battery voltage
indicator and even a service interval reminder, all of which can
be accessed without your hands leaving the handlebar.
Attention To Detail & Value
A whole variety of features that
would typically add hundreds to
the bottom line are now standard
on the Stelvio NTX. In addition to
the equipment mentioned earlier,
two cigarette-lighter type power
ports are provided; one behind
the windshield for GPS, radar
detectors, etc. and the other
under the seat, for heated gear.
Heated grips, so welcome in cold
weather, are now standard. And
the sturdy big alloy saddlebags
are 41.25" from edge to edge—
not so wide that you have to
worry about catching them on
brush when riding narrow trails.
Despite all the additional
equipment, the Stelvio NTX is still priced at $15,990, the same
as a stripped model two years ago. This makes it a veritable bargain in 2012—the same market strategy Triumph employed to
ignite its explosive growth almost 20 years ago. Dealers take
note: Moto Guzzi’s quality deserves similar success.
If the BMW R1200GS Adventure is on your short list of new
bikes and you are one of the lucky few in the US that actually has
a Moto Guzzi dealer within a reasonable distance, you owe it to
yourself to check out the Stelvio NTX. Unlike the big GS, which
struggles with the extra forward weight incurred by its oversized
gastank, the NTX handles like a dream. In fact, it is unanimously
our favorite Moto Guzzi ever, having eclipsed the fun but far less
practical Griso on our wish lists.
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Left: With 90 hp available, the Stelvio
is no slouch, and it sounds more like a
hot cruiser than your usual adventure
bike motor. A slick-shifting 6-speed has
the ratios to match your mood, and the
clutch works well, too. Our only major
gripe is that the more powerful 4-valve
motor makes more heat, and while the
rocker covers emit about 150–160°, the
fins beneath them can release
200–210°, and the closer left head can
cause burns to a taller rider’s leg!
Top: The instruments are easy to
read at a glance and very complete:
Trip computer functions like trip
time, trip fuel consumption, maximum speed and avg. speed, plus a
clock, gas gauge, ambient temp., a
stop watch, battery voltage, a shift
light and service reminder. And all
can be scrolled through using a handlebar-mounted switch arrangement.
Right: Strong alloy bags with sturdy
mounts are part of the NTX package
but are not so wide they cause problems. The separate seats can be
mounted at two heights (the rider’s
end is 33.25" in the low position).
Overall, they’re very comfortable.
Left: Guzzi’s CARC torque control system is the best we’ve tested on a shaft
drive bike. You really don’t feel any
lift or squat and the effectiveness of
its rear braking is also exceptional.
Right: Top-notch braking equipment
from Brembo; radial-mount calipers
and big 320mm discs give you great
control feel and strong linear stopping
power. The Marzocchi fork is fully
adjustable and works amazingly well
on nasty surfaces. Individual spokes
are sealed to enable tubeless tires.
The whole idea of adventure-touring, in my book at least, is to
ride a bike that can be enjoyed on rough back country roads, or
better yet, on roads without pavement at all. So, honestly, after
weighing and measuring the Stelvio for our Cycle Stats before
having ridden it, I can’t say I was expecting too much.
But somehow, despite its weight, once in motion, the Stelvio
blew my mind. It handled the rough stuff with aplomb, delivered
precise steering, sensitive braking control and an amazingly
plush ride. And once I was on my favorite canyon twisties, it was
tremendous fun to hurl from corner to corner, diving cheerfully
to deep lean angles and blasting out with an exciting thunder.
That a bike this good can remain so rare in the American
motorcycle market is a crying shame. Piaggio must certainly
increase the number of its US dealers and make sure they have
everything they need to succeed. But they also deserve real
credit for improving the value of the Stelvio so significantly this
year. If you needed more incentive to buy a Guzzi, you’ve got it.
MOTORCYCLE CONSUMER NEWS
In days of yore, Moto Guzzi’s streetbikes were often labeled as
“Italian Harley-Davidsons,” a noble-enough title that spoke to
Guzzi’s reputation for motorcycles that were long on character
if short on performance and possessed of quirky traits and odd
reliability issues. Nowadays, though, I think that Piaggio-Guzzis
blur the line between H-D and BMW more than ever, and the
Stelvio NTX is proof. Moto Guzzi already had a finely polished
product in the previous Stelvio 8V, with its modern and lively
overhead cam V-twin, highly refined transmission and clutch,
excellent brakes and stellar bump absorption through its CARC
rear suspension—I suppose its a back-handed complement to
suggest that it feels like a chain drive, but that’s the way I like
my shafties to work! And while the larger gastank, hard bags and
running lights may have increased Stelvio’s weight, they haven’t
hurt its wonderful handling, and they add a lot of value.
If I needed a fun, capable machine for a long ride to nowhere,
the NTX would be on my short list.
2012 Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX ABS
SPECIFICATIONS AND PERFORMANCE DATA
Type: .......... Air/oil-cooled 90° V-twin
Valvetrain: .... SOHC, 4 valves per cyl.,
screw and locknut valve adjustment
Bore/stroke: ................95.0 x 81.2mm
Comp. ratio: ............................11.0:1
Fueling: EFI, (2) 50mm throttle bodies
Final drive:................CARC shaft drive
RPM @ 65 mph*/rev limiter:3775/8000
Measured top speed ......127.0 mph
0–1/4 mile..................12.06 sec.
[email protected] 111.75 mph
0–60 mph ....................4.05 sec.
0–100 mph ..................9.84 sec.
60–0 mph ........................117.6'
Power to Weight Ratio ........1:7.35
Speed @ 65 mph indicated ....62.6
*actual, not indicated
MC RATING SYSTEM
TIRES & WHEELS
Front:.......110/80R19 M/C 59B Pirelli
Scorpion Trail on 2.50" x 19" wheel
Rear:..........150/70R17 M/C 69B Pirelli
............Scorpion Trail on 4.25" x 17" wheel
Instruments: Digital speedo w/ analog
tach, odometer, 2 tripmeters, clock,
ambient temp., average and instant
mpg. trip time, fuel used, max. speed,
avg. speed, battery voltage, shift light
Indicators: ..neutral, t/s, hi-beam, sidestand, low oil pressure, low fuel
Routine service interval:........6250 mi.
Valve adj. interval: ................6250 mi.
Warranty: ......2 years, unlimited miles
Colors: ........Lava Black, Burnt Orange
With an ultra-flat torque
curve, the Stelvio’s SOHC
4-valve motor makes ~60
lb.-ft. or more of torque
from 3000–7600 rpm and
hits 90.6 hp @ 7500 rpm.
Smooth running enough
for all-day riding, it
sounds great and is terrific fun to ride hard.
SAE CORRECTED REAR-WHEEL TORQUE, LB. FT.
Front: Dual 320mm semi-floating discs
w/4-piston Brembo radial-mount calipers
Rear: .. Single 282mm disc w/Brembo
Attention to Detail
SAE CORRECTED REAR-WHEEL HORSEPOWER
Front: ......45mm Marzocchi male-slider
telescopic forks, adj. preload, comp.
and rebound damping, 6.7" travel
Rear:.Sachs monoshock w/progressive linkage, adj. preload and reb.
damping, 6.1" travel
A: nose to middle of
pass. seat. B: nose to
middle of rider seat.
C: nose to center of
grip D: nose to pass.
footpeg. E: nose to
F: ground to center of
grip G: ground to top
of rider footpeg H:
ground to lowest
point of rider seat. I:
ground to top of pass.
footpeg. J: ground to
middle of pass. seat.
Ground clearance: ........................7.1"
Seat height: ..............................33.25"
GVWR: ................................1090 lbs.
Wet weight: ........................666.0 lbs.
Carrying capacity: ..................424 lbs.
Battery: ..............................12V, 18Ah
Ignition:..lnductive discharge, digitally
Alternator Output: .................... 550W
Tank capacity: ......................8.45 gal.
Fuel grade: ..........................Premium
High/low/avg. mpg: ....39.8/34.7/38.0
Slick transmission and very controllable brakes
Remarkable handling from a 666-lb. motorcycle
Very effective suspension for exploring back roads
Scalding heat from left side cylinder head fins
Sidestand needed pavement grinding for hard cornering
Moto Guzzi needs more dealers and better parts backup
Oil & Filter ................0.5............$21.56+31.10 $40.00
Air Filter....................1.0 ..........$12.94 ..........$80.00
Valve Adjust ...........1.5........... $28.28.........$120.00
Battery Access ..........0.5 ............MF ..............$40.00
Final Drive ................0.5 ..........$14.50 ..........$40.00
R/R Rear Whl. ..........0.3 ................................$24.00
Change Plugs............0.2 ..........$15.96 ..........$16.00
Synch EFI..................0.75 ..............................$20.00
* MCN has changed the estimated labor rate to $80 starting March 2007
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