When Moto Guzzi announced that it was releasing an adventure motorcycle, the author’s initial thought was, “please tell me the boys from Mandello can’t be serious?” When the 2019 Moto Guzzi V85TT was launched during the 2018 EICMA, the bold yellow-white-red colour combination did make it look striking (there is also a grey version for those who prefer to be a little more discrete.)

Adventure bikes these days are a dime a dozen, and every manufacturer has one in the catalogue, some more capable than others. Broadly, these adventure bikes fall into two categories, one is the road-biased machine, capable of long distance touring with a little light off-road thrown into the mix, the other the heavy-duty overlander, built to cross continents.

But, what is Moto Guzzi trying to achieve with the V85TT? Previously, the Guzzi brochure did have some impressive touring rigs, including the Stelvio and the rather more off-road capable Stelvio NTX with spoked wheels, sump guard and crash bars.

That was a decade ago though, and today, what Moto Guzzi brings to the table and into the very hotly contested middleweight adventure touring market, is the V85TT. Middleweight twins being what they are, a very practical and utilitarian engine configuration, it did make sense that Guzzi would fit its trademark transverse V-twin into an adventure touring rig.

To show that it is, indeed, on the road to something new without forgetting the things that made it great, namely that V-twin engine, Moto Guzzi flew a bunch of Malaysian moto journalists out to Phuket, Thailand to sample the delights of the V85TT. But, after the media ride, did we leave with a smile on our faces?

At the first approach, the V85TT looks the part of an adventure tourer with tall-legged suspension and rear rack ready to accept luggage. But, as seasoned touring riders know, looks mean absolutely nothing when you’re thousands of kilometres from home and something breaks.

What we had to ride were two variants of the V85TT – the base model in matte finish red, silver or steel blue and the Rally which comes in two-tone red/white or yellow/white paintwork and Michelin Anakee rubber. By the specs, the V85TT’s transverse 853 cc V-twin is good for 80 hp at 7,750 rpm and 80 Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm.

Those are not shabby numbers for a middleweight motorcycle and Guzzi says the engine is adapted from the V9 street bike, it is not a rehashed version. Instead, a different state of tune is achieved through the use of titanium intake valves, a 30% lighter crankshaft and dual oil pumps, all of which serve to deliver a flat torque curve.

Moto Guzzi claims the V85TT is meant to be an all-rounder motorcycle, designed to fit 95% of riders. In this respect, from the 830 mm seat height, 229 kg wet weight and moderate reach to the handlebars, we can quite confidently say they have succeeded.

The one word that came to mind as we settled into the pocket of the V85TT’s seat was, “comfortable.” This was proven true in our 220 km ride through the countryside around Phuket, on a mix of highway, country roads, village lanes and mild off-roading.

As we set off, we noticed the handlebars were a touch wide and if the V85TT was to make it into the stable, we would be in mind to reduce bar width by about an inch or so. But, this is entirely rider preference and has nothing to do with the way the V85TT performs.

Riding along, we noticed the suspension on the V85TT was a little on the soft side. While the 41 mm diameter upside-down forks and rear monoshock come with adjustable preload and rebound, time available did not permit us to make any adjustments and we rode the V85TT as is.

And as it is, the V85TT, we found, was quite a capable touring rig. The weight on the open road was quite manageable and the handling manners of the V85TT is forgiving almost to a fault.

During one particular set of tight, twisty corners, we took the opportunity to overtake a rider on the outside and touched the foot peg down on the left, despite the 210 mm ground clearance. Let’s just say in the hands of a skilled rider, the V85TT will acquit itself well, though some work is required to do so.

In general terms, the V85TT behaves like a motorcycle should. It does the job efficiently and without fuss, letting the rider concentrate on the ride and with a 23-litre fuel tank, that ride comes close to nearly 400 kilometres.

Braking on the V85TT was adequate, but there were a few instances when we felt a little more braking would be necessary, especially if the bike was loaded up with pillion and luggage. Again, due to the short time we had with the V85TT, this will have to be a test left for when we get the V85TT for a proper review.

For riding aids, the V85TT comes with three ride modes – Road, Rain and Off Road – and while the road and rain modes are switchable from the left handlebar pod, off road mode takes some hunting inside the menus. Off road mode allows for ABS to be switched off for the rear wheel and we discovered this was really necessary during a river crossing as the traction control is really intrusive when it senses grip being lost.

Overall, the Moto Guzzi V85TT delivers what it promises, an all-rounder motorcycle for every rider. However, a detailed review might reveal more about the V85TT’s strengths and shortcomings, which will happen when the bike is launched in Malaysia this end of June.

During the launch, pricing for the V85TT for Malaysia will be revealed. For members of the public, if you are interested in taking a close look at the V85TT and have a short test ride, come to Rimba Valley Motor Camp in Janda Baik on Saturday, 29 June, 2019 from 8.30 a.m.