This coming September, Moto Guzzi will celebrate its 90th anniversary and is already brushing its bushy tail for the event. At Mandello del Lario, Guzzi is hard at work refurbishing the factory and, more importantly, its line of motorcycles. Focus first is on the two models introduced at the 2010 EICMA show: the Norge GT 8V sport-tourer and Stelvio NTX maxi-enduro. Here, we’ll concentrate only on the Norge.
One of the latest steps in the evolution of the Norge GT is the fitment of the 100-horsepower, 1.2-liter, 8-valve version of the 90-degree Guzzi V-Twin. This engine has received a lot of engineering attention, including efforts to make it quieter, more flexible, smoother-running and more reliable. The camshafts have a new grind that Guzzi claims limits the noise generated by the “cam-in-head” valve-operation system. Keeping engine temperature in check is an oil radiator that is now more effectively located down in the lip of the lower fairing and cooled further by a thermostatically controlled fan. The engine castings have been upgraded, as well, with the crankcase reinforced for better rigidity and the cylinder fins modified for better heat exchange. Moto Guzzi claims the engine produces 102 hp at 7000 rpm and 75.5 foot-pounds of peak torque at 5500.
Overall, the Norge is more polished, elegant, muscular and effective in terms of high-speed comfort. The revised electronic windshield offers superior weather protection, and the heated handgrips are a blessing when the temperature plummets. Chassis changes include revised settings for the Marzocchi 45mm Magnum fork, as well as for the shock fitted to the single-sided swingarm. Braking is handled by a pair of ABS-controlled, four-piston Brembo calipers with 320mm discs up front and a two-piston caliper pinching a 282mm disc out back.
My first impression after climbing onto a Diamond White testbike was that the well-contoured, 31.9-inch-high seat (an optional 30.7-in. gel-cushion saddle is available) and slightly lower, easier-to-reach handlebars provided a comfortable riding posture. The footpegs, however, were a little high and far forward for my tastes.
Due to the massive silencer on the new exhaust system and the reduction in mechanical noise from the reworked valvetrain, the engine is noticeably quieter than before. A new and fully integrated engine-management system has greatly improved throttle response and torque delivery through a wider rev range; the GT 8V is capable of clean, shudder-free acceleration from below 2500 rpm even in sixth gear.
Riding the Norge on the breathtaking mountain roads above Florence, Italy, I discovered that the steering response is quicker and more neutral through curves than on the previous rendition. I would, however, prefer a lower handlebar in order to get a bit more weight over the front tire. The fairing design has been honed almost to perfection: Its ability to offer excellent wind protection for the rider, while retaining good aerodynamic qualities, allows effortless 90- to 100-mph cruising. Getting it stopped from those speeds isn’t an issue, either, thanks to the mighty braking power provided by the Brembo systems.
Compared to the previous-generation model, the $15,990 Norge GT 8V is highly refined; quality is finally the name of the game at Moto Guzzi. With the Norge, Guzzi has achieved what every company sets out to accomplish with a sport-touring machine: excellent engine and handling performance combined with long-range comfort and a reasonable amount of storage.