2009 Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200

By Marissa Baecker

Trying to decide on an adventure bike? It can be a tough decision between the manufacturers. Honda has the Varadero; Suzuki the V-Strom; BMW the GS series, etc.

Pretty much every manufacturer is competitive in the adventure touring market. I have tried out several models and then found a hidden gem – the 2009 Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200.

While browsing bikes at a dealership, the industrious gun metal grey with black accents and chrome caught my attention.

“What’s a Moto Guzzi?”

For some reason, Gucci watches, purses and shoes passed through my mind instead. Maybe not the same designer but this bike could have been a show stopper on a runway.

Dual front headlights provide plenty of visibility both on and off road and the adjustable windscreen will shield the weather and the wind. The rear hard case saddle bags are the same size on both sides and the mounts go around the mufflers so you don’t lose any storage space and the bags open at the top for easy access to cargo. Want to travel light? The hard bags can be removed for an off road adventure not requiring excess gear. Heated hand grips are a welcome feature but you may find the clutch lever a little difficult but it is dial adjustable to suit a variety of grips.

Being an Italian motorcycle, the Stelvio 1200 appears to be built for necessary agility required to navigate those narrow European streets.

One of the first things you may notice about the bike is the engine – rather than an inline (front to back) engine like the majority of its competitors, the Stelvio offers a 90 degree V-Twin, four-stroke 1151 cc engine paired with a 6 speed transmission. That means the engine is sitting side to side and puts out plenty of heat in front of your legs. There are guards to prevent burning but that extra heat will only be welcomed in a cooler season and not in the heat of a long July ride.

Plenty of get-up-and-go in the city and ample torque on the highway and back-country with a compression rate of 11:1. The 18 litre fuel tank has a 4.5 litre reserve. With a full tank, and the side to side engine, the centre of gravity of this ride sits just before the rider and makes the bike easy to handle. Curb weight is 551 lbs. which sounds like a lot but is evenly distributed for easy operation.

Now remember this is not a ride for everyone. As it is an adventure model, seat height, although adjustable, is 33 inches. The average 6’0” tall person has an inseam of 34” – you get the picture.

When you take to the street on this bike you will be surprised. Pull that throttle and you will be gone. Instant power. The sound may surprise you. Picture yourself zipping through the narrow streets of Italy. This bike has a distinctive sound that can be compared to a Buell or something you would expect from motorcycle in a James Bond movie. Not the roar of a cruiser, definitely not the whine of sport bike but the raw whir of helicopter blades best describes the sound. Unique.

The Stelvio comes with ABS brakes but unique is the double disc floating front brake and the rear single floating disc. Tubeless tires are mounted on spoked rims. Front inverted forks to absorb impact in changing terrain and a rear adjustable suspension creates a dynamic ride in comfort.

If you are interested in the Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 ABS they are difficult to find. There are three dealers in B.C. Valley Yamaha in Chilliwack has a red Stelvio and the gun metal black version that I rode can be found at Kelowna Yamaha.