Stelvio 1200 is certainly worth making a pass at
APART from Moto Guzzi's storming new adventure bike, there are just two other things in the world famous for bearing the name 'Stelvio'.
One is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps, featuring 84 hairpin turns, and an adjacent summer skiing area.
The other is an allegedly philandering European prime minister with a penchant for belly dancers and 'bunga bunga' parties. Oh no, hang on – he's called Silvio.
One must presume, therefore, that the powers that be at Moto Guzzi chose to name their stunningly able V-twin after one of the greatest driving roads in the world – good call, given that it's one bike I would definitely choose to negotiate the pass on if time was short.
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First introduced in 2008, the Stelvio underwent several tweaks last year to make it more competitive. Featuring an eight-valve 1151cc V-twin, it's certainly no slouch, and with big wide bars and some top spec components, there's nothing to stop you hustling this bike along. The transverse cylinder heads ensure there's a fair bit of vibration, particularly noticeable at tickover, but this smoothes itself out as the revs pick up for a gutsy, determined and characterful ride. With six gears to charge through, top speed comes in at a very respectable 130mph.
It's certainly not lacking in standard form, with ABS, basic traction control, sat nav, heated grips and an aluminium luggage system. Go the whole hog with the NTX version and you can also have protective sump and engine bars, spotlights and spoked wheels for an extra £1,000.
The twin-position seat is hugely comfortable, as you'd expect on a mile-muncher such as this; the screen is manual and easy to operate, and the suspension is fully adjustable. Worth noting, too, is the enormous 32-litre tank which gives a range of well in excess of 300 miles.
The initial disappointment at seeing a 150-section rear tyre soon gives way to ear-to-ear smiles when you realise just how quickly you can flick this machine from one side to the other, especially with those big flat bars. As standard the Stelvio is fitted with excellent dual-purpose Pirelli Scorpion rubber. But the key reason for the narrow section on the rear is so it can accept a wider variety of seriously knobbly tyres if you're dead set on a bit of Dakar action. Add to the mix some native Brembo radial calipers and upside-down Marzocchi forks and you're looking at a very well put together piece of equipment that soaks up the worst of Bristol's numerous pot holes while still giving the confidence to push the envelope on winding B-roads.
It certainly looks different to almost anything else on the road. It's imposing, too. That's one BIG set of headlamps that appear in drivers' rear view mirrors as they duck out of the way to accommodate you. The rear lights are cool LEDs while the functional digital clocks add a touch of modernity and feature a host of useful information, from outside temperature to average fuel consumption – in my case a pretty impressive 45 mpg over three tankfuls.
The Stelvio is dripping with Moto Guzzi logos, which, let's face it, is what you want if you've bought one of these. You choose Moto Guzzi because you like the heritage and the desire to stray from the pack. Aimed squarely at the likes of BMW's R1200GS, and the big KTMs, the Stelvio represents an awful lot of bang for your buck at just £11,230 on the road, considering all the wizardry that comes as standard.
Having broken through their 90-year anniversary last year, if Moto Guzzi continue to make bikes as good as the Stelvio, I can see no reason why they shouldn't carry on for a good few more years yet.
â The new Stelvios are available from Fowlers in Bristol in Guzzi Black, Moon White and Sienna colour schemes, while the NTX will flaunt a brand new colour concept on a black satin finish base (Lava Black). For more details, or to book a test ride, call them on 0117 977 0466.