Moto Guzzi Bellagio Test Review
Moto Guzzi has been steadily churning out an ever broadening range of desirable motorcycles of late, the latest being the hot rod cruiser styled Bellagio. We rode one, and got a surprise.
Moto Guzzi has been steadily churning out an ever broadening range of desirable motorcycles of late, the latest being the hot rod cruiser styled Bellagio.
Although the name Bellagio is perhaps better known these days as an expensive casino on the neon strip of down town Las Vegas, this Moto Guzzi is named after the beautiful resort on the shores of Italy’s Lake Como, across the water from the Mandello Del Lario based Guzzi factory. Bellagio is accessed by winding narrow roads that run along the mountainous shores of the lake, and it is here that Moto Guzzi test their charismatic machines.
It’s no small wonder then that a machine – said to be pitched against the Harley Sportster in the market place – should retain so much sporting character. After riding the satin black beauty, I’d say it doesn’t need to be pitched against anything to sell, it’s a machine that can hold its head up against anything when it comes to pure motorcycling enjoyment. Despite it being lighter, more powerful, and better braked than the Sporty, I’d doubt your average Harley buyer would be thinking of anything other than a Harley anyway.
Like all Moto Guzzis, the Bellagio is a transverse v-twin, a twin cylinder slice off the front of a V8 if you will, this one 940cc that puts out around 75 horsepower. The same charisma that defines a Chevy powered hot rod resides within the fuel injected twin. A pleasing lumpy shimmy at idle, a gentle torque rock to the side when the engine is revved at standstill, all part of its charm. Under way, it’s apparent that this is no 300 kmh sports bike, but still rushes forwards with a pleasing roar, from both exhaust and induction.
The drive train has the typical Guzzi backlash, although much reduced over previous models. After all this time, I guess youd better get used to it! A few kilometres under the belt and this – along with a slightly clunky but firmly positive gear change – are soon adapted too. The twin plate dry clutch, car style, offers a different take up than the more usual multi-plate wet unit found in other motorcycles.
A big surprise awaits you at the first set of corners though, in spite of its flat black hot rod looks, and high pulled back bars, the Bellagio is a highly capable road machine. It can be pushed through a mountain pass quite quickly, and more importantly, quite easily.
Steering was neutral and light, it turns in easily and was rock solid stable at the speeds at which we tested it. I cant imagine many buyers would be riding this machine at warp speeds, it’s much more fun to power from corner to corner on the flat torque curve, enjoying the roar from those two big chrome cannons.
With something like 80% of the torque available from under 3000 rpm and up, the six speed box is hardly necessary, but handy if the pace is spirited. Stopping it is easy, twin 320mm floating discs, grabbed by dual piston Brembo calipers provide progressive yet powerful de acceleration. Rear braking is similar, a single disc with a twin piston Brembo on a 280 mm rotor.
In the quest for style, Guzzi has gone for a classy looking set of spoked wheelson the Bellagio, a fat 5.5” x 17” on the rear, and a 3.5” by 18” on the front, which look great but the 18 front may limit tyre choices. The forks are Marzocchi 45mm conventional, and adjustable, as is the rear shock. Front and rear are tied together with the expected tubular steel frame, the power transmitted through Guzzi’s so called “Reactive Shaft Drive System” which is a single sided swingarm/shaft drive system.
Motor wise, the Bellagio gets its 75 horses, – and that lovely flat torque curve – out of its 940cc with the use of twin spark plugs, Magneti Marelli EFI featuring 40mm throttle bodies, and electronic ignition from the same maker. Those 55 kilowatts are reached at 7200 rpm, about a thousand revs past its fat 89nm torque peak, but you wont be watching the tacho, in a bow to style, there isn’t one. Sitting on the coal black beast, you’ll notice a retro styled chrome instrument pod, containing a speedo, and an LCD screen containing a trip computer.
The seat is very comfortable, and only 780 mm from the ground, pegs are positioned slightly forward, and the pulled back drag style bars make for a comfortable riding position. The pillion seat provision is small but not too bad comfort wise. A couple of small niggles here. The oddly placed pillion grab strap meant unless you sat a long way back it would be awkward to hold, and the lack of a guard on the exhaust would mean if you attempted to “toe” the pegs in more sporting riding, big foots like myself would find the rear of your boots mark the hot exhaust. Minor stuff though.
On our day long test ride, the Bellagio was accompanied by a Suzuki Bandit 1200, and swapping back and forth highlighted what Guzzi calls character. Whilst a capable and fast all rounder, the Bandit felt decidedly bland compared to the raw feel of the Italian twin. Like the bigger and more racy 1200 Sports Guzzi we reviewed and loved, it was hard to put your finger any one thing that was great, just an overall pleasant motorcycling experience was had.
I can’t pinpoint any particular niche the Bellagio will fall into, and it’s a shame that its cruiser looks might mean it is passed over by some prospective buyers wanting something capable in the corners assuming the handling will match its flat black paint, and dont take a test ride to discover otherwise. It goes, stops, handles, and most importantly, sounds great. It could serve as a commuter, a weekend fun bike or at a pinch a tourer. And of course, as Moto Guzzi intended, as a cruiser.
And if you closed your eyes – …wait, maybe don’t do that at speed– well, you could imagine you are rumbling down that narrow winding mountain side road out of Lecco, high above the glittering waters of Lake Como, on your way to Bellagio.
A short Motoaus Video featuring the Bellagio