Tractors and Elephants

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The Guzzi’s big 1151 c.c. 90-degree V-twin is thumping gloriously beneath  me.  The new Stelvio is effortlessly propelling me northbound on Alberta Hwy. 44 to Slave Lake.  It’s the first big highway trip with the new bike and I imagine this is what it’s like to enter into an arranged marriage.  It takes time for the two partners to get to know one another.

Highway 44 is a good, two-lane road that runs through mostly boreal forest.  Trees line the highway and there isn’t a lot of scenery to  soak in.

Northern Ontario is a rocks and trees, rocks and trees, and then still more  rocks and trees experience.

Alberta’s Hwy. 44 is a trees and trees, trees and trees, trees and trees experience.

But I spend this ‘quality’ time with the new Stelvio to ‘critically assess’ its virtues and flaws.  It’s the analytical road tester in me, and I can’t help critiquing the vehicles I drive.

One of my good friends, Kevin, recently acquired a new Triumph Tiger Explorer and my new Stelvio and the Explorer were sitting next to each other parked on the pad at a gas station. We talked about the design differences between the British and Italian manufacturers.

In the end, we agreed the Italians have given  a certain design ‘flair’ to the Guzzi that’s missing from the new Triumph.

As the Guzzi pounds its way towards Slave Lake (my spur of the moment destination for the day’s ride) I contemplate our discussion about the Moto Guzzi’s sense of style.

Looking down at the broad 32-litre, deeply sculpted fuel tank, I have to agree this is a thing worth admiring.

But what do ‘Tractors and Elephants’, the title of today’s post,  have to do with the Moto Guzzi Stelvio?

Anybody who knows motorcycles will inevitably bring up reference to tractors when Moto Guzzi is the topic of discussion.  ‘Agricultural’ is a word often used to describe Guzzis in past.  Today, as I ride the Stelvio, I think how, despite its refinements – fuel-injection, ABS, traction control, the Stelvio NTX is still very agricultural and tractor-like.

Ahhh, but it’s very ‘refined’ so I think the new Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX should be thought of as an Italian sport tractor; that’s a descriptor plenty of people will understand.

One characteristic of the Stelvio, in addition to its massive, black fuel tank between one’s knees, is its very tall riding position, due to the bike’s long suspension travel.  ‘Command seating’ is what auto manufacturers call it, when referring to their SUVs.

The ‘command seating’ position on a motorcycle is new to me.  It makes me feel big and  powerful.  On the road in the middle of northern Alberta, it occurs to me this must have been how Hannibal felt, crossing the Alps with a herd of massive, powerful, war elephants.

Moto Guzzi’s new, giant trailie raises an interesting notion – is it an Italian sport tractor or a war elephant?  Which descriptor rings true for you?

More updates on the new Stelvio NTX coming.  See you back here soon.


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