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ADV BikesMoto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 NTX Review

Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 NTX Review

 A surprisingly versatile big adventure bike that's full of character and style.

Published on 07.27.2015

The Moto Guzzi Stelvio, which was named after Stelvio Pass in Northern Italy, one of the greatest riding roads in the world, was introduced in 2008. For 2012, the Stelvio received a major freshening, most notably an increase in fuel capacity to 8.5 gallons (32 liters)—the largest factory tank in the ADV segment.

The air/oil cooled 1,151cc V-twin has four valves per cylinder and develops 105 horsepower at 7,250 rpm. While horsepower is adequate, it is the 83.3 lb-ft of torque (at 5,800 rpm) that is most useful in the dirt or when managing an expedition load through the slow, narrow streets of a third-world country.

The Stelvio’s engine is simple and has proven to be exceptionally reliable. It starts easily and settles into a heavy rumble, alerting the rider to its displacement. Once underway, the Quattrovalvole has a lustful note on acceleration. Observed fuel economy has been 40 mpg on the highway and about 32 mpg on the trail, thus the need for an oversized fuel tank.

Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200
The Moto Guzzi Stelvio is a genuine, handsome, large adventure bike option. No matter where you park it, other riders seem to gravitate towards it.

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In the Dirt

Off the pavement, our 2014 Moto Guzzi Stelvio test bike—which was fitted with new Continental TKC 80s and the NTX package—was a pleasant surprise. The NTX option includes an aluminum skid plate, engine guards, Hella lighting, hand guards, and high-quality panniers. These panniers have solid mounting, a quick-detach system, look good, and are thoroughly suitable to dirt travel.

Though the pegs come with thick rubber inserts, the inserts can be removed to reveal a reasonably wide, high-traction metal surface. This also lowers the rider position slightly and makes standing easier for taller riders. On my first off-highway foray I rotated the bars up, which made for semi-comfortable on-the-peg riding. A bar riser would make it perfect and we have since added a Rox 1-1/4 inch riser unit, which has greatly improved ergonomics on the trail for my 6-foot-1-inch frame.

Initial off-road impressions were quite good, particularly for a 600-pound motorcycle. Suspension travel is 6.7 inches in the front and 6.1 inches in the rear. The fully-adjustable upsidedown forks are built by Marzocchi, and are exceptionally well tuned. The structure is rigid and progressive, which allows for subtle damping on gravel roads but a reassuring ramping up of both rate and compression valving with big hits. I rode this bike hard and never fully utilized all of the available front suspension travel and only bottomed out the rear shock on a few hard g-outs.

Moto Guzzi Stelvio Review
We pressed the Stelvio to its limits riding some of the single tracks and technical drops we usually frequent with lighter bikes. Although the NTX is not a dirt bike, it never faltered or failed in drifts or jumps, and generally pushed through rocks and steep climbs.

If the rider keeps the Moto Guzzi Stelvio rolling, its weight is hardly noticeable and on par with other big adventure bikes. It is well balanced, and the bars are wide for leverage. Controls are easy to modulate, though I was gentle (perhaps unnecessarily) on the dry clutch.

The ABS is fine in most dirt scenarios, and if needed, is easy to turn off with a single large button on the right switchgear panel (grazie Moto Guzzi). In traction control (TC) position one, the TC is pretty useful on gravel roads and in mud. It controls wheel spin and saves the rear tire for more critical moments. TC position two is the most invasive and designed for conditions like rain. Thankfully, TC can also be easily disengaged, even while moving.

After months on the Moto Guzzi Stelvio and hundreds of dirt miles, including some serious testing at our local proving grounds, I have pushed the bike beyond what 99 percent of most owners would ever consider. I’ve dropped in off of massive granite boulders, jumped it, and rode through hip-deep water and it never disappointed. With each new obstacle I gained confidence in the Stelvio and my concern over its weight seemed to fade away. This bike gives little or nothing up to the best of the big bikes in its class and thoroughly trounces some competitors.

Moto Guzzi Stelvio Review
Water Crossing- With good stability, balance, and an air intake located high under the pillion seat, the Guzzi is well suited for deep water.

On the Road

One of the Moto Guzzi Stelvio’s strengths is its refined road manners and broad power band. I have found it to be the most comfortable of any of the bikes in this segment. The saddle is wide and supportive with a generous pad and ergonomic shape (at least for my backside). The windscreen is also a pleasant surprise: It is easy to adjust, exceptionally protective, and imparts minimal buffeting.

Moto Guzzi Stelvio Review
The stock seat is wide and supportive and is without a doubt the most comfortable factory seat I have tested. The front tapers in near the tank, which provides a comfortable position when up on the pegs and easier rider access.

The cylinder heads do produce a lot of heat, especially on hot days. One midsummer ride from Los Angeles to Arizona (a record heat day) was particularly uncomfortable on the knees and upper thighs. Of course, the warmth will be welcomed during colder months.

A few other minor criticisms include the factory mirrors with integrated turn signals. Vibration obscures details and I found they simply don’t work. They will also be costly to replace if (when) the bike is dropped. Cruise control would be nice, but is unfortunately not available. I also noted that the Stelvio’s heated grips were warm, but off the mark compared to other models.

The Moto Guzzi Stelvio is a comfortable adventure tourer, and I have enjoyed 8- to 10-hour saddle days without much complaint. Once the road gets twisty, the well-tuned suspension and torque from the big twin does not disappoint. I have ridden this bike nearly daily for several months and we are getting along fantastico.

Moto Guzzi Stelvio Review
The big twin is most noted for its torque and proved to be a pleasure for daily riding duties. Its grunt is also appreciated on the dirt, though a lower first gear or a wet clutch would be an improvement to control and durability. In winter the air-cooling is appreciated as the cylinder head pushes warm air to the rider’s legs. In summer the hot air is less welcome.

So far the Stelvio has been reliable, but we need more miles to weigh in on its long-term durability. With a retail price of less than $16,000 with all the goodies (almost $9,000 less than a similarly equipped BMW R1200GS Adventure), the Stelvio is an excellent value. Future plans include a weeklong dirt trip through Southern Utah, where I can push the Guzzi even further afield and into more technical terrain. In the meantime, I am going to fire up that magical Quattrovalvole. Ciao!

Favorite Features:

  • Supreme road comfort, wide saddle, and big windscreen.
  • Large 8.5-gallon fuel tank.
  • NTX package with quality luggage and crash protection.
  • Genuine value given the features and overall performance.
Minor Gripes:

  • Weight (especially with full tank).
  • Mirrors are not appropriate for off-road riding.
  • Fuel economy lags behind industry.

Top Big-Tank Adventure Tourer Specs Comparison

Adventure Bike Models HP Torque
(lb.-ft.)
Wet Weight
(lbs.)
Suspension Travel
(Fr./Rr.)
Seat Height
(in.)
Fuel Capacity
(Gallons)
Price USD
 Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 NTX10583.35986.7/6.132.08.5$15,990
 BMW R1200GS Adventure12592.05738.3/8.735.07.9$18,340*
 KTM 1290 Super Adventure160103.35497.9/7.933.97.9$20,499
ADVPulse.com  
* Base model pricing.

Moto Guzzi Stelvio Up Close:

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Visit the Moto Guzzi website for more information about the Stelvio 1200 NTX.

Author: Scott Brady
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Comments
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16 thoughts on “Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 NTX Review

  1. I’ve been riding a 2009 Stelvio NTX for 4 months and 7,000 km by now. I actually didn’t know what to expect since I fell in love with her look, but couldn’t test her that long. Didn’t want to go for a GS which I felt as a commonplace. Now I can say day by day I’m getting more and more familiar with her and she’s a great ride to travel either on highways or twisty mountain roads, where she doesn’t pay any toll to her weight and dimensions: she climbs light and smooth, with her V engine torque always reliable and pushing forward.
    Thanks for your review which here in Italy sounds fairly unique: according to most of the Italian magazines the Stelvio is regarded as the dear, ol’ one to look at as when you look at an old man who tries to do what he used to do when he was young “Ok, tough, that dear old sound, the romantic V twin… but this, but that.. the clutch, the rear shock… bla bla…” When compared to the other of the segment is the last in the rank 2 times out of 3..
    Nice to breathe some “fresh air” from the US, really. Also because this can be regarded as a real, consistant review compared to those week end rides in the most cool locations we are used to read about on Italian magazines. Thanks a lot for sharing your impressions.

    • Thanks for the kind words. Sometimes a bike adds up to more than just the numbers on its stats sheet. It’s about the pleasure of the riding experience. The Stelvio is a well-rounded adventure motorcycle that’s easy to fall in love with. A bike that you just want to go ride. Those owners that do take it off-road seem to be very pleased with the performance. And we’ve also witnessed that it can take a fall pretty well too!

  2. Down here it’s quite hard to get such a motorcycle (costs a fortune to import and so on) but it sure looks like a dream machine… looks overly solid and reliable, not to mention that amazing engine. One day, kid… one of these days…
    All the best to all of you.

  3. I truly enjoyed your review of the Stelvio.
    I have a 2013 that now has 19000 miles on it. We have been cross country twice now, clocking in as much as 1000 miles in a day & averaging 650 miles per day on both trips. Which brings up my biggest complaint with the bike, no cruise control. When Guzzi finally adds this I will be trading up.
    I have a Mistral exhaust, high flow air filter & remapped ECU. These mods have made a good bike even better & has given me an average of 45 mpg, the same my riding buddy gets on his liquid cooled BMW GS. On a good day of travel I have seen as much as 48 mpg. Can’t complain about that as far as I’m concerned, especially with an 8.5 gal fuel tank.
    Replacing the mirrors with Norge mirrors and directionals also from a Norge (they are the European units for the Stelvio) will cure the vibration problem. The stock mirrors post are hollow leading to the vibration issue.
    I only wish I have had the opportunity that you have had for off roading. That said I become more confident with the bike when I do get the chance to get in the dirt thanks to riders like you that have pushed the Stelvio here.

  4. With 68,000 miles on my 2012 Suzuki DL650 VStrom as of now (April 2016), I’m starting to see the 100,000 mile comping up at the end of 2017, when I will relegate this bike to my winter bike here in upstate NY, and I have my eye on the Stelvio NTX. Nice to see an in use writeup, I’d love to hear your follow up a year later with more miles on the bike. Thanks.

  5. Thank-you for the best, most comprehensive review of the Stelvio on the internet. I owned a 2010 Stelvio, which I put 14,000 kms on before sellling it for a KTM 1190 Adventure (the non-r version) based on glowing reviews and presumed superiority in the dirt. It was probably a mistake to buy the regular adventure – nervous front end, buzzy at high rpms, narrower handlebar than than the r for less leverage and a mediocre performer in the dirt. Working on it was also frustrating – you’d have to remove the entire gas tank to access the airbox (on the Guzzi, you just take the seat off!). Anyways, I sold it less than a year later and bought a new 2013 Stelvio on clearance. I’m very happy with my decision 12,000 kms later. I also own a 2015 Griso, so I’m a little biased towards the brand I’ll admit, but I’m also lucky enough to have a used 2013 ktm 690 enduro r as my true off-road enduro – so I do have some perspective! My takeaway is that the Stelvio is a massively underrated bike that is a phenomenal tourer and very capable on the dirt for non-single track applications (which is probably true of most of these big bikes).

    Firstly, the weight. Like the review says, it’s heavy, but the weight melts away once moving. The weight is also nicely balanced, such that slow-speed manoeuvring is a doddle. If you do drop it (as I have on more than one occasion), picking it up is easier than you think with proper technique. Mine was fully loaded with gear and lying on its side down a gentle slope and I was able to right it by myself by simply cranking the front handlebars over and using the distal end as a fulcrum. Perhaps adrenaline was helping too…

    If you haven’t ridden a modern Guzzi, you need to try it. The sound and visceral sensations are so unique and make cruising in a straight line surprisingly enjoyable. You will either love it or hate it, but those that love it are addicted for life. The engines break in considerably over time, and you’ll find it improving with age over the first 10,000 to 15,000 kms. The handling on this bike is amazing: I haven’t ridden anything that corners so confidently as this bike does on the road. The wide handlebars make it easy to turn in, but once on its side it holds it’s line firmly. The Guzzi engine is all about the torque, which is fantastic in most riding situations and for carrying gear and a pillion. You won’t get the high rpm thrills of bikes like the KTM or Ducati Multistrada, but my experience is that to access that power (at least on the KTM) you get into a very buzzy rpm range that is unpleasant to be in for any extended length of time. What’s more, the speeds where that power is relevant will have your bike impounded in no time here in Canada (40 km over the speed limit). The Stelvio will have you speeding at 140 km per hour on the highway effortlessly at 5,000 rpm, and I have no problem hustling this bike through the corners aggressively like a sportsbike. Having said that, if your background is high-performance sportsbikes, you won’t understand this bike. Performance modifications are easy. Guzzitech offers ECU reflashing that greatly enhances the bike’s responsiveness throughout the rev range, particularly at slow speeds (i.e. below 20 kph), where the Guzzi needs a fair amount of clutch feathering to smooth things out. I have used their products on both the Stelvio and Griso – the result has been transformative.

    I’ve owned a few Guzzis now, and they have all been extremely reliable by virture of their simplicity and proven engineering. That is not to say they don’t occasionally have bugs that need to be sorted, but they are the kind that once dealt with do not recur and are common amongst most manufacturers. The biggest issue I’ve had was with the 2013 Stelvio where the clutch would “groan” under acceleration from a stop. Seemed to be most pronounced as the bike was warming up. This is not an uncommon complaint regarding earlier models on the internet, but seems to be dismissed inmost cases as being normal. My situation was odder than most in that the clutch would sometimes grab and stall the bike. Very unusual. My dealer was very responsive and put in a warranty claim for the clutch. Turns out it was a badly machined clutch from a third-party supplier. New clutch is butter smooth and makes no groaning noise whatsoever!

    The Stelvio doesn’t get much press these days, but you should really consider it in your shopping for a large ADV bike.

    • Well one thing we’ve noticed is that Stelvio owners are some of the most enthusiastic about their bikes. Thanks for sharing your detailed review of the Stelvio. Further evidence its worth a look for anyone in the market for a Big ADV!

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  7. Fantastic review for a seemingly fantastical, unique bike. You are able to capture the sensibility in this machine, compared to other ADV bikes, while not leaving out all the qualities that would make it an emotionally satisfying ride. Original writing like this is anything but ubiquitous in this day of copy-cart journos. Kudos.

  8. I love to see the actual measured weight of this bike. Especially compared to the BMW GS, or Tenere. You guys had a set of scales laying about?

  9. I’ve just about decided to get one and this review has put me over the top with the decision. I have been on the stupid fast Kawi ZZR1200 sport tourer for years but want luggage capacity, wind protection, and a sit up and beg riding position. To be honest I don’t care about offroad at all but the ability to take very bad roads is desired. ,I am looking for a touring rig. i should mention I am cheap and looking for used, sub $10k.

    I should want a Concours or FJR but simply don’t want those for various reasons. The BMW RT or GS would fit but I despise the boxer engines character. Numerous 2010 and later Multistradas are available but the luggage capacity and wind protection are not so good and then there is the maintenance. Aprilia Caponords are stupid cheap but I am very wary of electronic problems going forward with them, parts and service are almost non existent and those electronics need dealer service @ $$$/hr. I haven’t had a bike at a dealer for service since 1981.The Tenere leaves me cold. Triumph Tigers? Well I should look into them I guess.

    Oh, I owned a 73 Guzzi V7 Sport and always envisioned owning another.

  10. Re fuel consumption: Just got mine up to 20,000 km so not really run in, back in July in Spain I got 63 mpg and out there was averaging 55. In the crowded UK it will slip down to 45 in traffic or pushing it. Longest day 10.5 hrs and 650 km mostly back roads, no motorways, just dial in 4,000 rpm and cruise. Love it.

  11. Pingback: Moto Guzzi Stelvio Retired: Which Concept is a Worthy Successor? - ADV Pulse

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