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Old 03-25-2009, 07:27 AM   #1
leafman60 OP
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Guzzi Stelvio Test Ride

Ok, I just spent about a week riding the Stelvio (fully broken-in) in a variey of riding environments. Ive reamed the thing out pretty hard and put it through the paces.

First of all, remember, I am as close to a BMW GS man as you can get. Im on my fourth GS, an 07 1200. Ive posted many times about the GS , particularly regarding the reliability problems since the 2000 models: final drives, fuel pumps , on and on.... Im also one of the minority of GS riders who take it off-road into situations harsher than what it was probably designed for.

Ok, the Stelvio:

1. On the road.

The Stelvio is no where near as smooth as the BMW. You get noticeable vibration through the handlebars. The throb. This doesnt really bother me that much (Ive also been riding a HD Shovelhead for 31 years) but its an issue that other riders, especially non-guzzi riders, will notice. The handlebar throb is somewhat like the V11 sport that I have. Perhaps filling it with lead shot would help.

The Stelvio suspension is more sporting than my GS (with Ohlins). The Guzzi feels much more taut. It also tracks very well and handles curvey roads well. Id say as good, maybe better than the GS. Saturday, while leaned hard in a tight right-hander, I encountered a severe bump in the pavement. The Guzzi handled the bump well and never lost its line. The Guzzi is very sporty and hard to ride slow. It loves curves and feel much more like a sportbike than any GS Ive had.

On the other hand, the GS is much more plush; much, much more. For long distance running, cross country etc., the GS would provide a much smoother ride both in engine feedback and in suspension feel. The BMW offers many other creature comforts from years of refinement: ABS, heated grips, much easier computer readouts, gear indicator etc.

I have to make special mention of the Guzzi computer operation. Its very awkward and difficult to program. One has to fiddle with it in order to access the menu page and do requisite programming. Also, the mode/select key seems intermittent and hard to predict.

I was able to program and use the computer but I never figured out the exact the exact method of getting key response. Holding the key over 2 secs results in different computer responses but, again, its hard to predict.

Once programmed, toggling between info readouts is not too difficult but I think the switch layout is a poor design since the mode switch is directly over and close to the turn signal switch which has essentially the same operational range of motion. Underway, one can easily confuse the computer switch with the turn signal, especially with winter gloves. The BMW is much better arranged in this regard, having an easily-operated computer toggle and programmer switch totally seperated from any other switch.

Power on the Guzzi is very different than the GS. The Guzzi feels much more torquey. Its fast. My seat-of-the-pants judgement is that it will out-run the 1200 GS which is no small compliment since the GS aint no slouch. The rush of the Guzzi above 6000 rpm is fun.

Yes, contrary to my original post on this thread, I am now able to feel a "milder" power pull at the lower rpms, 3000 to 4000 rpms. On the road, however, I wasnt down there often. By the way, in fouth gear this thing redlines at over 115 mph. For most sport riding, you never need more than 3rd or 4th gear. On a long straight stretch, I was able to top the Stelvio out at an indicated 140-141 mph and thats with the large Givi windshield.

The Guzzi transmission worked fine most of the time but, occasionally, upshifts seemed sorta sticky if not done crisply and the Guzzi didnt like multiple downshifts. I would often have to "bump" the clutch for the tranny to take a downshift. Thinking an adjustment was needed, I tighten up the clutch lever stroke a bit but maybe something else needs tweaking or maybe some more miles are in order on this new bike.

The thing will run. It sounds good too. With about 2500 miles on the bike, the stock exhaust is offering a much greater bark than I expected and, other than weight savings, I dont know that Id be keen on fitting an aftermarket muffler.

All in all, Id compare the Guzzi-GS match up to that of a Dodge Viper against a Corvette. The Guzzi is much more visceral, comparatively more quirky, less refined and more sporting.

2. Off-road.

The Guzzi wins, hands down. No comparison. If you do much off-road, the Stelvio is far, far superior to the GS. The magazine reviewers are remiss in not noticing this. The determining factor here is first gear running.

With these large and heavy dual sport bikes, when off-road, there are times when going slow is essential. The GS has been plaqued since its inception with a notoriously tall first gear. If you're around GS riders on serious mud or technical washouts, you're going to smell the distinct aroma of a burning clutch since one is compelled to slip the clutch in those circumstances. Yes, the conventional instruction for GS riding is "When in doubt, gas it." Thats a cute California-magazine-type quip, and momentum will carry you through many situations but, the fact is, there are times when that wont work and the GS is a hard bike to ride there. First gear is way too tall and the engine easily stalls.

The Stelvio, on the other hand, will walk itself in first gear in bad situations even with no throttle. I bogged down a couple of times in 10-inch Alabama mud that folded over the rims. The Stelvio would sometimes stop forward motion while the rear wheel gently spinned in the mud with my hand off the throttle! Id paddle forward with my feet and, when traction was finally obtained, the bike would resume forward progress. Chugga chugga chugga, all at idle speed !

On very technical cliff climbing, in first gear, the Guzzi would calmly just walk up the dried, hard rock at a manageable speed with a little throttle. I never had to worry about slipping the clutch or "giving it the gas" to barrel through something that I didnt wanna barrel through.

On speedier dirt, the Guzzi likes to rooster tail. Grab a hand full of throttle in 2nd or 3rd and that rear wheel will break loose easily. For off-road riding this thing needs more aggressive tires but that will require a narrower rear rim.

Specification-wise, the GS has a wee-bit more suspension travel than the Guzzi and a wee-bit more fuel capacity but those points are largely academic considering the more significant advantages of the Stelvio off-road.

Again, the GS has a softer, more plush ride. So, if you are limited to nice dirt roads where technical stuff isnt encountered, the GS wont bounce you around as much. But, if you want to really play in the dirt (as much as a 500 pound+ machine will allow), the Guzzi trumps the GS.

Summary

The Stelvio is a different animal than the BMW. It does some things better and some things not quite as well. Its a work-in-progress that is sure to be polished over time. Its a hot rod. Its immense fun and I encourage you to test ride one. You need more than a casual 20-mile run to really appreciate what it has to offer, however.

Ill be glad to see ABS and some of the other things we expect. Id also be adament about having the narrower rear rim to accept GS-sized tires that offer much more selection for true dual sport riding. If youre not planning too many off-road excursions, the fat rear tire is fine, however.

Anyway, time will tell. Piaggio did well with this bike and I expect it to become perhaps their best-selling Guzzi if more people could try it.

leafman60 screwed with this post 03-25-2009 at 09:21 AM
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Old 03-25-2009, 07:49 AM   #2
tslewisz
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Nice writeup. Thanks for taking the time.
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Old 03-25-2009, 07:55 AM   #3
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+1
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Old 03-25-2009, 10:04 AM   #4
wbrisett
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My question is, where did you get one in the US? I didn't think Guzzi was importing this to the US, yet you mention Alabama in your review?

Wayne
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Old 03-25-2009, 10:45 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wbrisett
My question is, where did you get one in the US? I didn't think Guzzi was importing this to the US, yet you mention Alabama in your review?

Wayne

They're here, I test rode one last year here in California.
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Old 03-25-2009, 10:49 AM   #6
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Best stuff I've yet read about the Stelvio. Thanks.

Mind you, I want it to be good.

So I'm glad you - sort of - liked it.

Your comments about slow off-road work were interesting. And made perfect sense.

I wonder whether the vibes diminish as the beast runs in. There's no balance shaft, but a 90 deg v-2 should be pretty good.
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Old 03-25-2009, 08:10 PM   #7
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Really enjoyed the report-Thanks! I think you are the first to say the Stelvio is better off-road! I'm curious on your mpg. This newer 4v/cylinder seem more thirsty and I was wondering if you found this to be true.
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Old 03-26-2009, 02:29 AM   #8
mousitsas
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One of the best, most concise, to the point and comprehensive write-ups i have ever read.
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Old 03-26-2009, 05:04 AM   #9
wbrisett
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larryboy
They're here, I test rode one last year here in California.
Interesting... MotoGuzzi US doesn't even list it as a model. Their Canadian site does. Makes you wonder how updated their site really is.

Wayne
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Old 03-26-2009, 05:49 AM   #10
John in Leeds
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leafman60
First of all, remember, I am as close to a BMW GS man as you can get. Im on my fourth GS, an 07 1200. .... Im also one of the minority of GS riders who take it off-road into situations harsher than what it was probably designed for.

2. Off-road.

..... The determining factor here is first gear running.

With these large and heavy dual sport bikes, when off-road, there are times when going slow is essential. The GS has been plaqued since its inception with a notoriously tall first gear. If you're around GS riders on serious mud or technical washouts, you're going to smell the distinct aroma of a burning clutch since one is compelled to slip the clutch in those circumstances. Yes, the conventional instruction for GS riding is "When in doubt, gas it." Thats a cute California-magazine-type quip, and momentum will carry you through many situations but, the fact is, there are times when that wont work and the GS is a hard bike to ride there. First gear is way too tall and the engine easily stalls.

The Stelvio, on the other hand, will walk itself in first gear in bad situations even with no throttle. I bogged down a couple of times in 10-inch Alabama mud that folded over the rims. The Stelvio would sometimes stop forward motion while the rear wheel gently spinned in the mud with my hand off the throttle! Id paddle forward with my feet and, when traction was finally obtained, the bike would resume forward progress. Chugga chugga chugga, all at idle speed !

On very technical cliff climbing, in first gear, the Guzzi would calmly just walk up the dried, hard rock at a manageable speed with a little throttle. I never had to worry about slipping the clutch or "giving it the gas" to barrel through something that I didnt wanna barrel through.

On speedier dirt, the Guzzi likes to rooster tail. Grab a hand full of throttle in 2nd or 3rd and that rear wheel will break loose easily. For off-road riding this thing needs more aggressive tires but that will require a narrower rear rim.

...... But, if you want to really play in the dirt (as much as a 500 pound+ machine will allow), the Guzzi trumps the GS.

Summary

........Id also be adament about having the narrower rear rim to accept GS-sized tires that offer much more selection for true dual sport riding. If youre not planning too many off-road excursions, the fat rear tire is fine, however.
Now that is brilliant analyisis. Cheers Leafman
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Old 03-26-2009, 06:48 AM   #11
bigtex
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wbrisett
Interesting... MotoGuzzi US doesn't even list it as a model. Their Canadian site does. Makes you wonder how updated their site really is.

Wayne
Apparently they haven't realized the web can be a marketing tool and only update it once every couple of years. The Stelvios showed up last October at most dealers. I bought a red one since they are faster.
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Old 03-26-2009, 08:19 PM   #12
leafman60 OP
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Thanks, guys !

Yes, theyve been offered in the US for some time now. This one came from Sander's in Pensacola FL. He has a black one still on the floor.

Gas mileage ? Well, I havent really paid too much attention to that since that depends so much on riding habits and Im sure my floggings havent been rewarded with miserly fuel consumption!

During more-responsible running (read : before radar detector installation), my sense was that I was getting in the upper 30's mpg range. But, hey, if youre gonna play, you gotta pay and Im not too worried about it at this point.

My GS in pre-break-in days gave me a nice 45 mpg range but that quickly gave way to 30's numbers once I started romping on it.
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Old 03-26-2009, 08:35 PM   #13
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Cry Stelvio

Interesting timing and awesome writeup. Just stopped into the Guzzi dealer today and lo and behold they have one on the floor - in Albuquerque. Nothing on their web site but scooters though. Unfortunately too much $$ for me........
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Old 03-26-2009, 08:53 PM   #14
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Thanks I always liked the looks of the Stelvio, good report I realy like v-engines, they seem to balance better. Are they BMW $$$$?
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Old 03-26-2009, 09:21 PM   #15
tslewisz
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Originally Posted by 805gregg
Are they BMW $$$$?
$14,990 according to this dealer site:

http://www.vespaedwardsville.com/new...57&pov=1087631
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