Moto Guzzi Norge GT 8V – Cycle Torque Magazine

12 Jun 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Moto Guzzi Norge GT 8V – Cycle Torque Magazine
Moto Guzzi 650 GT

Alternative touring

Test and pics by Chris Pickett

IT’S probably fair to say that the majority of riders in Australia who like touring wouldn’t generally consider a Moto Guzzi Norge GT 8V. That’s not because it’s not a good machine, rather Moto Guzzi is a bit off the radar when it comes to that type of bike. In fact Moto Guzzi actually has two big bore tourers, there’s the Stelvio as well, but besides being a very handsome bike, especially in white, the Norge GT is a comfortable and very capable mile eater.

Before the ride

The Norge GT shares essentially the same 8-valve 90 degree V-twin engine as the sportier Griso and as a result power and torque is up (now a shade over 100Hp 100Nm) so a lack of grunt isn’t an issue. Moto Guzzi claims much work has gone into the engine management and fuel injection systems to make it a smoother and punchier motorcycle and after riding the big tourer we can’t argue with that.

Feeding the power to the road via the six speed gearbox is Guzzi’s trademark CARC shaft drive which has a ratio of 12/44, so gearing is on the tall side, just what you want in a tourer. It’s not ugly like most shaft drives of the past. This one not only works well it looks as cool as too… All this is housed in a chassis which is a mix of steel and alloy, not that you see much of it because of the expanse of bodywork.

Only the fastest of touring riders would play around with the suspension, other than the cursory preload changes and the like, so Moto Guzzi has seen fit to equip the Norge GT with 45mm conventional forks (preload adjustment only), and a monoshock which has adjustment for rebound and preload, the preload being adjusted via an easy to use dial.

Most fast tourers have decent brakes these days and the Norge is no different, and ABS comes standard. Dual 320mm discs and four-piston calipers up front, and a single twin piston caliper at the rear.

On the ride

While the Norge is a pretty big bike it’s not overbearing. This in part is due to the 810mm seat height (you can get a gel low seat option which is 30mm lower) and the bend and rake of the handlebars, and the fact it tips the scales at 257 kilos which puts it at the lighter end of its competition. Even though I’m 6 foot and 95 kilos, I’m confident the majority of riders wouldn’t find this bike intimidating to ride in traffic or at lower speeds.

I’m not generally a fan of touring bikes which have ’bars pulled right back, almost cramping the rider. Luckily the Norge isn’t like this, its riding position still has a very slight lean forward, even though it’s almost imperceptible, and the seat/ ’bar/ ’peg ratio is spot on for watching the trip meter dial tick over constantly for hours on end.

An electrically adjustable windscreen lets riders tailor their best setting. Personally I found it worked well enough and buffeting was reasonable – I hate screens which bobble your head around like a nodding dog, the Norge’s screen isn’t like that – but also this generally comes down to the shape of the screen rather than the fact it can go up or down. I like the fact Moto Guzzi has put an electric screen on the bike though, because when you’re paying this type of money you want a bit of bling.

There’s plenty of info on the instruments. Many late model machines have a mix of digital and analogue, and while this is fine, the Norge has big speedo and tacho dials which are easy to read, and just a little bit old school cool.

There have been complaints that previous models had suspension perhaps a little less than it could have been. I tested the Norge GT along some pretty average roads and came away impressed with how the front and rear ends coped with decent bumps and undulations. When we tested an earlier model it would bottom out on big dips in the road no matter where you had the rear shock adjusted.

Moto Guzzi 650 GT

I’m glad to say this wasn’t evident unless you were fully loaded and it was a ‘big’ dip. The suspension allows a high average speed over rough roads without giving the rider hits to the spine, and is a great mix of sport and tour. In other words, it soaks up the bumps admirably but can also cope with a set of sporty corners without feeling overwhelmed.

One area which took some time to come to grips with was an inherent understeer. It was almost as if the front tyre was down on pressure but after this was checked OK it obviously came down to the ‘feel’ of the front end. I didn’t find it an issue at all after I did some miles, I just adapted my riding to suit the bike.

It’s not a bike to be rushed, but if you adopt a smooth style you can hustle it along very nicely thank you.

The engine doesn’t like to be rushed either. It would rather you use the ample torque on offer, and hold a gear or two, turning the throttle as you enter right hand corners to allow the engine’s natural reaction to tip you in tighter, while rolling the throttle off as you enter left handers to let you fall in. All bikes have a natural ‘feel’ which separates them from others, and bikes like the Norge are at the extreme end of this ‘feel’.

It might be an old saying but you need to ride a Moto Guzzi more than just around the block so you can appreciate it and adjust yourself to suit. Top speed would be around 210-220 kilometres an hour if you wanted but that’s not what the Norge GT is about, it’s about being constantly quick for long distances.

The engine ran well during the test, with the only complaint being it didn’t fire to life at the first stab of the button when cold on a couple of occasions. And with the 23 litre fuel tank you won’t need to refuel every 200 kilometres or so either. Colour matched panniers come standard and are easy to whip off if you need to do a spot of commuting.

While there’s a few tourers around with more outright power than the Norge it’s still a fast machine on the road, including night time because the lights are bloody good! It handles well and rides the bumps nicely. Luggage capacity is right up there, and it’s comfortable.

Can you ask any more of a tourer? Probably not, and it’s a bit different to boot…

Moto Guzzi 650 GT
Moto Guzzi 650 GT

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