As one of the more famous driving, and riding, roads in the world, the Stelvio pass is on the bucket list of many petrol-heads worldwide. It is also near enough to Mandello del Lario, on the shores of Lake Como, Italy, and the birthplace of one of the more fabled names in motorcycling, Moto Guzzi.

As a motorcycle company, and Italian at that, Moto Guzzi has suffered the vagaries of financial fate that has befallen other names in the industry, such as Ducati and MV Agusta, to name a couple. However, the current trend of retro-styled motorcycles, harking back to a “golden” age of motorcycling, has seen Moto Guzzi come back to Malaysia with the V9 Bobber, priced at RM74,900, including GST.

Retaining the trademark transverse V-twin, the V9 Bobber comes with suitably old school styling, although the engine is an all-new design. Now, retro bikes are very trendy with the motorcycle buying public, and almost every manufacturer has one – well, except Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycles, their bikes are basically unchanged designs from 1950.

With a design capitalising on demand for motorcycles with old school looks, the V9 Bobber takes a 70s design ethos, and attempts to translate it to the current day. But is this necessarily better, and did Moto Guzzi succeed in what it set out to do?

When the V9 Bobber and its stablemate, the Roamer, along with a quartet of V7 models using the previous-generation V-twin were launched, we were indeed curious, since the last Moto Guzzi we rode was a 1,000 cc Daytona, also known as a ‘Dr John Special’. If you don’t know what that is, or seen one ridden in anger, you’re likely to be too young and know very little about exotic Italian motorcycles, or motorcycles in general.

On the first approach, the Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber is low, and long. A striking feature is the fuel tank, which looks like it was lifted off a 1972 Triumph X-75 Hurricane, with the back-end tilted up. If you don’t know what a X-75 Hurricane is, or the name Craig Vetter, well, see above.

Prominent are the cylinder banks of the tranverse-vee sticking out on either side under the tank, the design which would have been new when bell-bottoms and Blue Oyster Cult were still in fashion. The low flat seat, at 780 mm, makes getting a leg over easy on the V9 Bobber, and we can see many riders liking it for what it is.

But what is it supposed to be? That the V9 Bobber is targeted at a certain rider demographic is certain, and that rider is less concerned about pure performance as opposed to the way a motorcycle looks and not following the mainstream. With that in mind, the V9 Bobber’s 55 hp at 6,250 rpm and 62 Nm of torque at 3,000 rpm, coming from 853 cc, is not going to win speed runs.

This does not mean the V9 Bobber does not have get-up-and-go though, as we found out. Thumbing the starter button to life, you encounter the first of the V9 Bobber’s, or any Moto Guzzi for that matter, idiosyncrasies. Giving the engine a healthy fistful of throttle, the bike immediately heels over the left.

If you’re not prepared for it, you might likely think the bike is falling over. It is not, it’s just the engine’s torque reaction, something all tranverse twins exhibit, including some of BMW Motorrad’s Heritage series machines like the R nineT.

Settling into the somewhat flat saddle, the V9’s controls fell easily to hand, with the medium-rise handlebars having a nice sweep to place the rider’s wrists in a comfortable position. The V9 Bobber review unit we received came in a shade of matte grey, called Grigio Sport in the Moto Guzzi catalogue.

Fitted on the V9 Bobber is a rear seat pad, which covers the top portion of the rear mudguard. The pad is removed or installed using hand tools, converting the bike for pillion duties, or not, at the rider’s discretion. Personally we preferred the V9 Bobber without the pad, making the bike look more slimmed down.

Putting the six-speed gearbox into first, we took off on the V9 Bobber, and cruising down the road, were reacquainted with another of Moto Guzzi motorcycles trademark behaviours – jackshaft effect from the shaft drive. Opening or closing the throttle in a corner raises or lowers the rear end, and to those unused to this behaviour from a bike, it can be a little unsettling.

Fast riders, though, use this to good effect, twisting the throttle open a little while heeled over to get a few millimetres more cornering clearance. We elected not to do this on our review bike, coming as it does with 16-inch wheels front and rear.

Suitably fat and rounded in section, the tyres did make the V9 Bobber behave a little like a certain VF750F we know. There was enough meat in the thread for cornering fun, but on the edge feedback was a little lacking.

Discretion being the better part of valour, we elected to remain within the V9 Bobber’s performance envelope, and took it out for a long run on the highway. In this environment, the bike performed well.

Definitely not high-speed cruising, not with the lack of any sort of wind protection, but the V9 Bobber would cruise at 130 km/h all day, every day. The flat seat made finding a comfortable position easy, and long-distance comfort wasn’t really an issue, as the 15-litre tank would give near on 200-ish km in range before the little amber light came on.

Hustling the V9 Bobber through the twisties was interesting, and there was enough handling in the suspension to make things, shall we say, lively. Careful about cooking it into corners though, as there is only a single disc front and rear to stop you, and 199 kg of Moto Guzzi.

We did not manage to fade the brakes, but if you are wanting to ride the V9 Bobber like a sports bike, might we suggest you consider something else. In this case, Moto Guzzi’s retro machine is more suited to a laid back riding style.

Ridden without hurry, the V9 Bobber becomes a fairly versatile machine, and we can see it being put quite easily to medium distance touring duties, with long trips up north bot being out of the question. The addition of a couple of saddlebags and a clear windshield would increase the capability of the V9 Bobber, for not much capital outlay.

That the V9 Bobber is a sparse motorcycle would be something of a misnomer though, as there as some mod cons included in the build. Inside the cockpit, the round instrument pod contains everything the rider needs to know, and two-channel ABS and two-mode traction control is standard.

We did like the medium height of the handlebars, placing the rider in a comfortable position for riding, and allowing for heads-up view of the road ahead. However, as mentioned earlier, if long distance riding in on the cards, then some thought needs to be put into the installation of a windshield of some sort.

So, who needs the 2017 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber, at RM74,900? At this price point, it has no real direct competition, although the Triumph Bonneville Bobber, with identical pricing, comes close, but it carries a 1,200 cc twin and thus comes in a different class. The Ducati Scrambler series, starting from RM61,000, is somewhat on par, but is really more on the sports side of things.

That the V9 Bobber provides an entertaining ride cannot be denied, especially if you like your riding 70s vintage style. It has to be said that asking 74 big ones for a low-tech motorcycle like this is asking a lot.

If you march to the beat of a different drummer, and all-out performance is not what you are looking for, then the V9 Bobber might fit the bill. Just make sure you have your gear-jammer boots and ten-speed wallet. If you don’t know what those are, then you are definitely too young.