2009 Moto Guzzi Norge 1200 GT Review: Touring Motorcycle

Gran Turismo Motorcycle Test

Whether riding on freeways, canyons, city, track or dirt: practically all motorcycle disciplines are gratifying to me. But on most Sundays, you can find me blasting up the freeway for 60 miles to the serpentine roads snaking through the Santa Monica Mountains where another 150 miles are added to the odometer before heading home again. It’s a long day but the right motorcycle makes the routine more enjoyable. One motorcycle that fits this weekend escape perfectly is the Moto Guzzi Norge 1200 GT.

It is really no secret that my typical “rides” are sport bikes, so a decent performing “sport touring” machine” is a welcome mount for making that Sunday loop. The Moto Guzzi Norge fills this gap quite nicely. But the Norge does something else for me; it carries a certain amount of Italian nostalgia. Designed and built in the same Mandello del Lario location as the original 1928 Moto Guzzi (the bike with the world’s first swingarm), the Norge is a tribute to its predecessor in design concept as it provides modern rider protection and comfort for long-distance excursions.

Yes, the ergonomics are comfortable and confident, the wind protection is close to best in class and the short wheelbase is responsive. With a claimed dry weight of 542 lbs, the Norge does what one would expect from a modern sport touring motorcycle. The major distinction from the competition is the industry-exclusive transverse 90-degree v-twin.

The new and improved air-cooled engine has been punched-out to 1151cc. It is more powerful than the predecessor and delivers rock-solid low-end torque. The torque is brilliant for maneuvering at slow parking lot speeds, for 6th gear highway passes and for accelerating on canyon road bends. The v-twin engine note is subtle, the dry clutch rattle is welcome, the torque roll adds character, and the engine rumble provides a subtle hint of performance. It is highly capable at speed on the highway but what you gain with the bottom-end; you lose on the top-end compared to the inline-fours in this class.

The front and rear ABS with Brembo brake components work seamlessly. The three-spoke, light-alloy wheels are accentuated by the rear single-sided swing-arm. The Compact Reactive Shaft Drive with a steel frame and a fully adjustable suspension system help guarantee low maintenance and maximum ride comfort, even when carrying a passenger and luggage.

At speed, the Norge cuts the wind like a knife and the wind buffeting is minimal. The electrically operated windshield can be adjusted to adapt for more or less wind protection but either way, I enjoyed the aerodynamics of the motorcycle. Powerful headlights provide a clear view even on poorly lit roads and add to the personality of the motorcycle.

Removable locking side-cases matching the body color provide plenty of room for a weekend getaway. Unlike others, these panniers do not affect the total dimensions of the motorcycle or project beyond the rearview mirrors. With the 6-gallon fuel tank and impressive fuel mileage, you get extended range capabilities. And with a standard two-year factory warranty and 24-hour roadside assistance, comfortable and performance are assured in genuine Gran Turismo style.