Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTx – life with the italian monster trailie after 5 weeks 8245 km. Part 2

2012 ColoradoDSC_3570-205 (800x531)

Giving up the Honda GL1800A Gold Wing (which has a reputation for anvil-like reliability and ultra low maintenance costs) for the exotic Italian Moto Guzzi was a decision I didn’t take lightly.

One doesn’t buy a Moto Guzzi (nor a Ducati or BMW for that matter) without knowing full well that maintenance will be more frequent and costly than the typical Japanese offering.  I bought the Guzzi with my eyes wide open.

Italian corporate giant Piaggio bought Moto Guzzi a few years ago.  Piaggio manufactures (in addition to Aprilia motorcycles and Piaggio/Vespa scooters) airplanes.  That helped convince me that this large corporate entity would typically have rigorous quality control measures in place to ensure their airplanes don’t regularly fall out of the sky.  My thinking was such QC measures would by now have been integrated into the Moto Guzzi assembly line.

So far, my expectations of a good quality ‘build’ in the NTX have been met, but there have been a couple of acceptable glitches.

Minor problems to date.

Fork seal leak.  Just after picking up the brand new Stelvio and riding to my son’s home, the left front fork leaked.  The bike had 9.8 km on the odo.  I turned around and took it back to Echo Cycle and they diagnosed the problem as an incorrectly installed fork seal.  No problem.  This issue is a fluke and my friend Rick says a new Honda VFR800 he bought a few years back did exactly the same thing in its first week on the road.

Paint abrasion from main saddle.  Somewhere in Colorado I removed the saddle to adjust the seat height, discovering the right leading edge of the saddle had been rubbing the fuel tank and wore through the black paint  the white primer about the size of a twenty-five cent piece underneath.  Aggravating to say the least, but a piece of black electrician’s tape has masked that zit.

Reflector on right side pannier
rack gone.  The NTX’s standard equipment panniers (SW Motech ‘Trax’, available for other bikes and offered as an optional package on the Honda Varadero when it was introduced in Canada) always stay on the bike.  After returning from my Colorado tour, I removed the luggage to wash the bike and found the right side reflector mounted on the rack with double-sided adhesive foam tape was missing.  Again, no problem.  Moto Guzzi Canada provided two reflectors (identical to the missing one) in a bag of ancillary pieces (such as the 3 matched lock sets) that come with the new bike.  The extra reflectors are supposed to be attached to the sides of the reflectors, but Guzzi Canada wisely allows the owner to do that only if they choose to.

Fiddly pannier locks.  The standard equipment SW Motech panniers had fussy locks when the bike was new.  In the first few days, two of the locks’ spring-loaded sliding covers that gets pushed aside when inserting the key, jammed closed.  (Each bag has two locks; one for the lid, one for the clasp that clamps the bag to the rack.)  With the lock’s sliding cover jammed, you can’t get the key.  The dealer lubed the locks, eliminating that problem but the locks required inserting the key and twisting it back and forth until the pins aligned with the key’s teeth.  That minor irritation has since disappeared, presumably with use, the locks and key have ‘broken in’ and now work relatively smoothly.

Thin aluminum panniers.  The OEM aluminum panniers have thin skin.  Rap your knuckles on aluminum panniers of a new BMW R1200GS Adventure then on the NTX’s and you’ll hear the difference.  What led me to notice this is that a couple of barely visible ‘bubbles’ have appeared on the lids of the luggage.  I surmise that this is the result of having filled the cases to capacity then throwing in a couple of drink bottles and closing the lids down on them.  The drink bottles have slightly pushed out dime-sized ‘blips’ in the lid.  My adventure bike enthusiast friend Wolfgang says, “Don’t worry about it.  It’s an adventure bike.  It’s supposed to have bumps and scratches on it.  It’s patina.

Fueling.  Moto Guzzi’s advertising bumpf for the new NTX proclaims major improvements to the bike’s fuel-injection with the addition of a second Lambda sensor (now one for each cylinder, where in previous models one sensor ‘averaged’ the readings for both cylinders.)  Owner reports on various Moto Guzzi owners forums say the 2012 Stelvio indeed has much improved fueling, but it’s not perfect.  (To experience fueling perfection, ride a Honda Gold Wing GL1800 or ST1300.)  At low RPM just above idle, there’s still some roughness and at around 3500 rpm the big V-twin displays noticeable vibration, a condition that many owners are attributing to imperfect (lean) fueling.  There is a fix, according to the owners’ forums, by way of Guzzi Tech, an aftermarket supplier of re-flashed ECUs, the Power Commander electronic fuel control device and low restriction exhaust pipe.

More to come.  See Part 3 for rideability and how the Stelvio NTX fares as a long distance tourer.


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