Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX – Life after 5 weeks 8245 km. Part 3 Conclusion

2012 ColoradoDSC_3622-257 (800x531)

Rideability and Tourability  I didn’t buy the Stelvio NTX with single-track off-road riding in mind.  For me, the upright riding position, reasonably capacious luggage, and long suspension travel to soak up abysmally broken pavement in my part of Western Canada were the main selling features.  Not to mention the Guzzi’s gloriously unique 90-degree V-twin, shaft-drive powertrain.

Overall, the Stelvio NTX has earned a respected spot as a capable touring motorcycle when compared to the touring bikes I’ve owned.  (Listed from most recent, 2007 Honda Gold Wing GL1800A, 2004 BMW R1150RT, 2003 Honda ST1300A, and 1992 Honda ST1100A.)

Weather protection.  The Stelvio NTX’s standard “extra large” (according to Guzzi) windshield suits my 5’8″ physique remarkably well.  This ‘shield and tank-mounted side deflectors are new for 2012.  I’ve found adjusting the screen to the fully extended position reduces wind turbulence to a minimum, and even when riding in 110 degree Fahrenheit temps in Colorado last month, I preferred the lower turbulence (and less air flow) to the screen in the low position.

While the Stelvio NTX does not, obviously, provide as much weather protection as the Gold Wing, the Guzzi’s aerodynamics seem to have kept more grunge off my jacket than even the Honda’s barn door-size fairing.  It’s quite impressive.

Riding controls.   The Stelvio’s hydraulic clutch engages near the end of its travel, a characteristic that’s been observed by NTX owners on various forums.  I made this observation when I picked up the bike from the dealer, who bled the system to ensure it was working correctly and the engagement point hasn’t changed.  That’s just how it is.  Clutch pull is light (waaaay lighter than the Charles Atlas grip strength needed to pull in the clutch of my 1983 Le Mans III).  The Brembo disc brakes are powerful but hard braking causes the long 45mm upside down fork to compress and the front end dives noticeably.  But I’ve gotten used to it.

Digital readouts.  One thing Guzzi got right is the digital speed readout. I typically don’t like vehicles with digital speedometers, put off by early models which were overly sensitive and the speed ‘flickered’ up and down annoyingly.  Guzzi has built a nice buffer into the speedo so the readout does not change if the bike’s road speed varies slightly.  Kudos.

Forget about relying on the average fuel consumption readout.  It’s highly inaccurate (just like that on the Honda ST1300 and virtually every new car I’ve road tested.)  And like most manufacturers, the average fuel consumption reading is optimistic, indicating you’re using less fuel than you actually are.  The only true way to gauge fuel consumption is to do it the old fashion way:  (Litres of fuel consumed)/(kilometres traveled/100)= litres/100 km.

Trip meters.  What the heck??  Trip meters 1 and 2 read only up to 999.9 km.  Guzzi (and Honda, apparently, as evident by the trip meters on the GL1800 and ST1300) believe riders only go on tours of less than 999.9 kilometres.  C’mon!  I want a trip meter that’ll record my total touring distance, like my recent 6,000 + kilometre trip to Colorado a few weeks ago.

Other good things-the clock and ambient temperature are displayed continuously.  There’s no need to push buttons and scroll through menus (like on the Gold Wing, which requires pushing a button to see temperature.)

Engine heat.  A common question is, “Is the Guzzi’s V-twin uncomfortably hot on a hot day?”  The answer is yes, but surprisingly, it’s not bad.  For some reason, the Stelvio, even when riding at 110 F, feels cooler on the legs and torso than on my old Le Mans III.  Don’t ask me why.  Let’s be truthful here.  When it’s 110 F, any motorcycle is going to produce heat that the rider will somehow feel.  This is not a deal-breaker.

Panniers.  The standard equipment SW Motech ‘Trax’ aluminum panniers are rated at 37 litres and are the smaller versions offered by the German company.  They work just fine, except for the previously mentioned thin aluminum that is prone to minor distortion damage if you close the lid on a hard object.  Also, the panniers require the use of a key to open the lid; it would be much more convenient to have the option of leaving them accessible without using a key.  Finally, the Trax luggage has a lip (that holds the rubber seal against which the lid closes), making the opening of the cases slightly smaller than their overall length and width dimensions.  (BMW’s R1200GS Adventure aluminum boxes don’t have such a lip.)

Powertrain.  The 6-speed transmission is impressively slick.  In fact, the Stelvio’s tranny is one of the smoothest shifting bikes I’ve ridden and it’s hard to believe how good it is compared to the slow, long arc shifts needed for my Le Mans III and T3.

The 105-horsepower engine is tractable and once warm, seems almost impossible to stall no matter how low the rpms are when releasing the clutch.  Power if plentiful enough for me and my style of fast-ish touring.  Most of the time, I simply roll-on the power in top gear to pass a slower vehicle.

Fuel economy is quite good.  Our 6,000 km tour to Colorado netted a 49.5 Imperial miles per gallon trip average (or 5.8 l/100 km) and that’s with sustained, high speed segments in remote Wyoming, Idaho and Colorado.

Fueling is still imperfect and the bike exhibits the very slightest roughness off idle, and there’s a rough spot at approximately 3,500 RPM.

Headlight and auxiliary lights.  The Stelvio’s headlight and auxiliary lights are BRIGHT!  I traveled with a group of riders on BMW R1200GS Adventures and a Triumph Tiger Explorer who ran with their aux. lights on in daytime for increased conspicuity and everybody commented that the Stelvio NTX’s headlight and aux. lights were by far the brightest and most visible of the bunch.  Alan, riding the Tiger Explorer 1200 said, “Sometimes you fall back and I can’t see you in my mirrors.  The next thing I know, you’re behind me again, and it looks like the Starship Enterprise is behind me.”

Oil consumption.   Since the first service at 1,500 kilometres up to the current 8,245 kilometres, the Moto Guzzi has not consumed any oil at all.  That’s not what I had anticipated.  I had assumed the Italian V-twin would be similar to my 2004 BMW R1150RT oil-cooled flat-twin, which used about 200 c.c.s of oil every 10,000 kms until it ‘broke in’ at 20,000 kms where it ceased burning any oil.  (That pattern of a bit of oil consumption in the first 20,000 kms is a well-documented pattern according to various RT owners’ forums.)

Overall, I’m happy.  The Guzzi has loads of character.  The 1200 c.c. V-twin engine, despite being well muffled, has one of the most grin-inducing exhaust notes in motorcycling.  The Stelvio NTX is proving to be one massively fun motorcycle.

More later.  See you back here soon.

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