Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Moto Guzzi Stelvio

Tue, January 12th, 2010

2008-2010 Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200
Initial version had weak midrange. Thanks to a revised engine, the 2010 model has more power than a BMW GS, and is more than healthy enough for the riders this bike appeals to — as long as you realize going in that it's an air-cooled twin, and set your expectations accordingly. Some pundants have suggested that the more 'grunt-y' 2-valve motor would have been a better choice for a dual-sport adventure bike, but they're the same ones who would've whined for the sexier 4-valve mill if they hadn't gotten it.
The Stelvio is tall bike that carries its weight high. Handling is perfectly suitable, as long as you don't go past 7/10th, on or off the road, but it's not a sport bike and it's not a supermotard. Neat driveline geometry eliminates shaft jacking. It can only be considered light and flickable when compared to a heavyweight full-dresser, but that's a worthwhile comparison.
I didn't like the looks of the Stelvio until I sat on one. Then, somehow, it became beautiful to me. This is the classic case of a bike that looks lousy in photos but beautiful in person.
It's a simple, throughly refined, durable Italian bike from a reputable manufacturer. But...it's still an Italian bike.
Perhaps a little too large and ungainly for some riding duties, but it will eat up the miles in comfort no matter what the road conditions are, no matter the distance.
Perfect for self-assured, mature riders. Proof that you don't have to go 200 MPH or scrape your knee on the ground to be taken seriously.
While a big, comfortable adventure bike would suit me, I always found the looks and details of the BMW GS off-putting. But from the moment I swung a leg over the Stelvio, it went on my dreambike list...near the top.