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Road Test: 2012 Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Holy handling, Batman! The masked Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX carves corners like a bike with a wheelbase much shorter than it’s 60.4 inches.

Holy handling, Batman! The masked Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX carves corners like a bike with a wheelbase much shorter than it’s 60.4 inches.

Photo Credit: Kevin Wing

Mark Tuttle
September 4, 2012
Filed under Dual-Sport + Adventure Motorcycle Reviews, Moto Guzzi Motorcycle Reviews, Road Tests

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If there are any stretches of paved road left in the U.S. with more than 200 miles between gas stations, I’d sure like to know about them. Highway 140 from Winnemucca, Nevada, to Lakeview, Oregon (part of the historic Winnemucca to the Sea Highway), used to be one, but now there’s gas after about 130 miles at Denio Junction. These days Highway 50 in Nevada, the reputed Loneliest Highway, has enough fuel to keep the typical motorcycle’s five-gallon tank from running dry as well. No problem on the paved roads in Alaska, either. Canada or Mexico may have some long stretches of tarmac between gas stops, but for the most part, with a little planning (and maybe a RotoPax canister, see page 64) you can ride the asphalt in North America on a five-gallon tank without fear.

Things change dramatically when it comes to true adventure touring and the blacktop turns to dirt or gravel. Desolate bucket-list roads like the Dalton and Dempster Highways present enough to worry about without the fear your fuel tank will suddenly fill with air. So, while you may not need an 8.5-gallon gas tank, having one on the 2012 Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 NTX does help reinforce its claim to real adventure-tourer status.

Auxiliary halogen lights, sump, engine and cylinder guards, side cases and a larger windscreen are standard on the NTX. Oh, and 8.5 gallons of go-anywhere fuel capacity.

Auxiliary halogen lights, sump, engine and cylinder guards, side cases and a larger windscreen are standard on the NTX. Oh, and 8.5 gallons of go-anywhere fuel capacity.

The Stelvio is my favorite bike in the Italian company’s current U.S. lineup, and to it the NTX version adds cylinder, oil sump and hand guards, that big tank, a redesigned, larger fairing and windscreen and standard aluminum side cases. Both have Guzzi’s most powerful air-cooled, 90-degree V-twin with cylinders across the frame. The four-valve-per-cylinder, 1,151cc engine has been retuned to move the power a little lower down, but it’s still Guzzi’s rev-happiest mill and therefore surprising to some to find in its adventure tourer.

Looking at the numbers, while this 8V engine (launched in 2009 in the Griso techno custom) does make more power up top, it doesn’t make any less in the midrange than the old two-valver, so you can have your pasta al dente and eat it, too. On the Jett Tuning dyno our last Stelvio test bike cranked out 91.5 horsepower at 7,300 rpm and 69.4 lb-ft of torque at a lofty 6,500, nice numbers for screaming it down the autostrada or up Pike’s Peak. Yet the engine also makes at least 50-60 lb-ft of torque from idle to redline at 8,000 rpm, the kind of consistent grunt you need for clawing along a dirt road, or climbing the 80 hairpin turns over the pass in Italy after which the Stelvio is named.

Taller riders may find the hot left cylinder a little to close to their knee for comfort.

Taller riders may find the hot left cylinder a little to close to their knee for comfort.

That broad powerband is the work of single-overhead chain-driven cams and four valves in each of the NTX’s cylinder heads, which adjust with screws and locknuts every 6,250 miles. Closed-loop electronic Marelli fuel injection feeds a pair of 50mm Weber throttle bodies, and burned gases escape through howitzer-sized pipes that converge in a large single upswept muffler. The oil sump is wet and checked with a dipstick; the single-plate clutch is dry yet has a nice linear feel at the lever. Lubrication and cooling are ensured by a pair of oil pumps—one for pressure and one for volume—and an oil cooler tucked up under the fairing. Power rolls rearward through a reasonably good-shifting 6-speed gearbox and cast-aluminum, single-sided swingarm/shaft drive.

Riding the NTX is a sense-sational experience involving all but smell and taste. While the 90-degree Vee has perfect primary balance and the rider feels very little bothersome vibration, it still provides plenty of throbbing pulse feel to let you know you’re riding a Moto Guzzi without looking down. The bike’s longitudinal crank leans the bike characteristically to the right when you rev the engine at a stop, and it serves up a wonderful, growling roar (with a side of valve clatter) when you twist the throttle hard at speed. The bike is playful, fun and delivers both midrange grunt as well as top-end power for any kind of riding, whether you’re on the highway, in the corners, solo or two-up and loaded.

Sump protection is effective but kind of boxy.

Sump protection is effective but kind of boxy.

Offroad you’ll want to ride with care, avoiding anything tougher than rutted dirt roads, as that big engine and the NTX’s additional equipment bump its weight up to 661 pounds with a full tank. Even half-full it still weighs significantly more than its rivals from Germany, England and Japan. Fortunately there’s traction control and ABS (both of which can be switched off) to help keep you from getting in over your head. Decent ground clearance, generous suspension travel, and the sump, cylinder and hand guards all contribute to the NTX’s off-pavement creds, as do its standard Scorpion Trail tires, which are a good compromise between street grip and some dirt capability and are tubeless as well. This eases plugging flats and allows more tire choices, and its aluminum wheel rim/steel spoke combination should take more abuse than cast alloys, though the spokes penetrate the rims and use a sealing system that complicates truing.

Removing cases reveals the large muffler and open rear wheel.

Removing cases reveals the large muffler and open rear wheel.

Back on the pavement you’ll enjoy steering, suspension and brakes on the NTX that give it sport-tourer handling and a compliant ride. The tubular-steel, twin-spar frame uses the engine to enhance stiffness and response, and Guzzi’s Compact Reactive Shaft Drive feeds torque from the final drive into the frame and prevents throttle inputs from jacking the rear suspension up and down. Despite its 60.4-inch wheelbase, the bike can’t help but steer quickly and lightly with that yard-wide tubular handlebar, yet I really had to work in tight corners to touch anything down. The stout, long-travel 45mm Marzocchi male-slider fork dives a bit under braking but is fully adjustable, gets progressive springs on the NTX and soaks up bumps really well. In back, a Sachs single shock with a stiffer spring for the NTX adjusts easily for spring preload with a remote knob, and has a screw on the bottom to dial-in its rebound damping for sportier riding or loads. (To get at the screw have someone sit on the bike to move the progressive link out of the way.) Impressive-looking floating rotors and Brembo four-piston radial calipers up front provide immense, smooth stopping power, and the rear disc brake feels strong and linear at the pedal. The ABS works smoothly, too, and is easily switched off for offroad riding with a button on the handlebar.

Compact Reactive Shaft Drive maintains rear suspension composure.

Compact Reactive Shaft Drive maintains rear suspension composure.

Styling updates are led by a wider fairing that blends into the curvaceous lines of that big plastic fuel tank (which lost the integrated storage pocket when it gained capacity). The increased width enhances the Batmanlike appearance of the black mask around the twin headlights. Overseas, the front turn signals are nicely integrated into the new fairing, but for some reason U.S. models still get them in the mirrors, which shake and blur at speed. An exotic-looking LED tail/brake light incorporates the rear turn signals. The windscreen is taller and wider and adjusts up and down three inches, and wind protection is further increased by a pair of new, small side deflectors. There’s decent wind protection and no buffeting behind the screen and deflectors, though I found it noisy enough to require earplugs.

Ergonomics are an NTX strong suit, primarily because it’s one of the only adventure tourers with a stock seat height that adjusts down to a reasonable 32 inches from 33. That’s still tall, but my inseam was misplaced at birth and I can get both feet on the ground. The wide, tubular handlebar and footpegs are well placed for a comfortable upright riding position, the two-piece seat is comfortable enough for long rides and the big, cushy passenger pad is flanked by a big pair of grab handles. In the luggage department the standard side cases hold a lot, detach easily and have built-in strap anchors, but they lack carrying handles and ours leaked and had fiddly locks. More importantly, in order to clear the muffler on the left the cases get symmetrical tubular-steel bolt-on mounts that stick out an equal amount on the right, making them a full 41 inches wide on the bike—about two inches wider than the handlebar per side. Lane-splitting is doable, but nerve-wracking.

2012 Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

2012 Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Adventure-touring and sit-up sport-touring riders will appreciate amenities like the halogen auxiliary lights, adjustable brake and clutch levers, dual electrical accessory outlets, centerstand (that requires too much effort to deploy) and even the unusual luggage rack, which works well even though it’s just a hoop with a couple bungee anchors on it. The NTX also comes prewired for optional heated hand grips. A complete trip computer built into the LCD display alongside the analog speedo includes a chronometer, shift light, lap timer and ambient temperature and fuel gauges. Our test bike delivered an average of 36.5 mpg, for a range of one gazillion miles from its 8.5-gallon tank.

OK, maybe a few less than a gazillion, like 310, which can probably be improved upon with a gentler throttle hand. But along with a lot of power and torque, character, comfort and handling, the Moto Guzzi NTX does have fuel range only rivaled by the BMW R 1200 GS Adventure’s 8.7-gallon tank. And as the saying goes, you can never have too much gasoline unless you’re on fire.

2012 Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX
Base Price: $15,990
Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles
Website: motoguzzi-us.com

Guzzi’s Quattro Valvole engine makes good power up high and down low.

Guzzi’s Quattro Valvole engine makes good power up high and down low.

Engine
Type: Air-cooled, longitudinal 90-degree V-twin
Displacement: 1,151cc
Bore x Stroke: 95.0 x 81.2mm
Compression Ratio: 11.0:1
Valve Train: SOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Adj. Interval: 930, then every 6,200 miles
Fuel Delivery: Magneti Marelli multipoint sequential EFI w/ 50mm throttle bodies x 2
Lubrication System: Wet sump,
3.7-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated dry clutch
Final Drive: Shaft, 1:3.67

Electrical
Ignition: Digital electronic
Charging Output: 550 watts max.
Battery: 12V 18AH

NTX’s larger windscreen adjusts up and down three inches and offers good coverage.

NTX’s larger windscreen adjusts up and down three inches and offers good coverage.

Chassis
Frame: Tubular-steel twin-spar w/ engine as stressed member, cast aluminum single-sided swingarm
Wheelbase: 60.4 in.
Rake/Trail: 27 degrees/4.9 in.
Seat Height: 32.0/33.0 in.
Suspension, Front: 45mm male-slider fork, fully adj., 6.7-in. travel
Rear: Single linked shock w/ adj. rebound damping & spring preload w/ remote, 6.1-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm floating rotors w/ 4-piston opposed radial calipers & ABS
Rear: Single 282mm disc w/ 2-piston pin-slide caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Tubeless spoked aluminum, 2.50 x 19 in.
Rear: Tubeless spoked aluminum, 4.25 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 110/80-VR19
Rear: 150/70-VR17
Wet Weight: 661 lbs.
Load Capacity: 429 lbs.
GVWR: 1,090 lbs.

Performance
Fuel Capacity: 8.5 gals., warning light on last 1.8 gals.
MPG: 90 PON Min (avg) 36.5
Estimated Range: 310 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 3,200

(This Non-Stop Adventure article was published in the September 2012 issue of Rider.)

Comments

11 Responses to “Road Test: 2012 Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX”

  1. Michael King on September 6th, 2012 3:54 am

    I have the Australian version of this bike and really only have one comment: GET ONE! I have also owned an earlier model Stelvio, a BMW R1150GS and a Suzuki V-Strom 650. The latest Guzzi is my favourite by a mile. I know the 1200 BM is a completely different beast to the 1150, but they are like a**holes- everybody has one. Ditto the V-Strom, although it is a very capable bike.
    You just can’t beat the character and kudos of an Italian bike, and a Guzzi moreso.
    Just my $0.02 (+ GST/VAT)

    [Reply]

  2. Clive Hallatt on September 10th, 2012 4:46 am

    I have the Stelvio abs model,looks great but has poss the worst suspension i have ever had in 44yrs of riding,even Laverda triple of late 70s had better ride. Front has zero complinance yet dives badly under brakes, the ride is painfull,it hurts,i HATE the bloody thing.The springs in forks arent even progressivly wound, come on Guzzi its 2012 get real!!!!.
    Get np reply from aust dist. JS GRP, the dealer sais thats normal and wont help. Melborne expert wants $1000.00 to replace springs and valves, which is needed but seems sad refection on Guzzi.Cant afford that and then have to rebuild the rear after that,,what a great fraud this is and also the motorcycle press who gave this heap so much praise in mags!!!. This is my 3rd Guzzi but all have been let down by poor suspension, how long can they keep that bloke employed in their suspension dept..he cerainly never rides this horrible things!!!!

    [Reply]

    Marc Reply:

    Clive , you don’t know what you are talking about.

    [Reply]

    James Reply:

    Hello Clive and others. I am very late to this discussion (this being June 2014!) but I had to put my tuppence worth in. I have just bought a very low k’s 2012 Stelvio NTX in Australia and couldn’t be happier. No suspension issues that fussed me and the bike is a joy to ride around these parts. Great build quality, really nice MG branding details on the bike and fun to own. The only comment I offer is that the Stelvio doesn’t strike me as a bike for anyone under 180cm – I am 183 cm and just manage to have both feet on the ground under normal conditions. Cheers James

    [Reply]

  3. ham on September 19th, 2012 12:41 am

    Clive.
    You are a BMW plant. Nothing you wrote is true.

    Be reassured eveyone…the suspension is a gem…just read all the reviews.

    Or better yet go ride one.

    [Reply]

  4. Andreas Schück on November 19th, 2012 5:49 pm

    I used to change motorcycles every year. From V-Star 1300 to Kawasaki Concours 1400, everything beneath. But since I got the Stelvio year 2010, I get stuck on it. It’s by far the the the most exiting bike I owned. Driving is a real pleasure. Cornering a dream and easy. Besides the Stelvio I have a Vulcan 1700 2011, just for get bored driving it. Driving the Stelvio is pure shot of adrenaline and fun into the vein. Since short I tried the BMW GS 1200 2011, gotcha, what a disappointing ! Never, but never I will change the Stelvio for this piece of garbage. Make yourself a favour and get the Stelvio instead the BMW.

    [Reply]

    Hrvoje Reply:

    you don’t have stelvio. you are bmw boy .

    [Reply]

  5. Keith on May 4th, 2013 4:56 pm

    I purchased a new 2012 Stelvio NTX here in Canada. I really love this bike, I have no complaints with it and it just seems to ride better and better as I clock up the kilometers on it. It is a life long keeper and makes me really want to add another guzzi to the stable.

    [Reply]

  6. Hrvoje on December 14th, 2013 7:00 pm

    I have stelvio ntx for year Designed excellent ,drive on road excellent because high weight and good balance but not good in city and slow speed .long Travel better . Sound excellent, consumption average but true, relaxing position for travel brake outstanding good ,vibration yes but nothng critical, simple engine designed, off road ok,
    Now bad thing. my display get melt on little and they replaced wit new , also clutch making noise when is cold during start but look’s like that is normal for them will not effect anything
    Happy and planning to keep it for long time
    H
    Croatia

    [Reply]

  7. de doncker michel on April 28th, 2014 1:06 pm

    Have my stelvio ntx 2 years now , driving 30.000 km with it and love it more and more. Shure there are som minor isues like vibrations around 3500 rpm . The brakes are gooud but the bike deserves top notch .
    Have had kawasaki mach 2 , yamaha xt 350 , ducati 750 ss , 2x honda cbr 600 , kawasaki 900 zs , suzuki bandit 1200 , But realy not one off them can compeet with the stelvio in cornering , comfort , fun , looks .
    The stelvio feels like they made it to fit my boddy.

    [Reply]

  8. Hrvoje on June 3rd, 2014 5:10 pm

    Stelvio NTX 2012/2013 in Croatia .
    driven excellent .designed excellent, autonomy excellent , deal excellent, consumption excellent, suspension very good road off-road, vibration not bad like they comment always ,more heavy but not problem for me actually is better for high speed on motorway, engine arrangement is nice set in cause to do some work.
    Bad things : clutch when is cold make funny noise like crunch ( waiting from dealer get new),third time my indication display start to melt little on edge .Every time they replaced it but they don’t know what is problem .
    Front suspension seal small leak but my fault drive like crazy off-road where all other guys slow down except me and I end up in deep hole .
    I pass my Stelvio to some friends with BMW and they get suppressed how good is. they couldn’t hide that .

    [Reply]

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