I remember liking the Moto Guzzi V7 when I first saw it at the Sydney Motorcycle Show, just after it had been released. It was white – as were quite a few bikes. (White was the “in” colour that year!). On many bikes white I thought just didn’t work; but the V7 looked great in its white livery. I liked the retro look of the bike too, and it was comfortable to sit on. I subsequently tried to get a ride on one, but no demo bikes were available. Fast-forward a few years and a new bike shop in my area, Carr Brothers Motorcycles, are Moto Guzzi dealers, and they had a demo of the very latest Mk 2 version available for me to ride. So I finally got to ride one! It was the first Moto Guzzi I’d ridden too. The model I rode was the Stone, which has a lot of matt-black in its finish. There’s an option of the tank coming in the same matt-black colour, which I think always looks like an undercoat, but the orangey-red colour of the test bike I think is a lot better. Other models available include the sporty-looking Racer, with its drilled side-covers and racing-number on the back. It looks sporty, but with less than 40kW to play with, it’s never going to live up to the sporty looks. Then there’s the Special, which still has lots of matt-black around the engine and rear guard etc, but has “racing-stripes” on the tank. Moto Guzzi say that the Special is “the closest of the V7 II range to its V7 ancestors.” The Stone has cast wheels while the other two have spoked wheels. The Stone is the cheapest of the three. You pay an extra $500 for the Special, and another $2,500 on top of that for the Racer. I’d take the Stone, thank you – provided it comes with the painted tank.
IN THE DRIVEWAY
The Moto Guzzi V7 is first and foremost a retro bike, inspired by the V7 Sport of the early 1970s: so it’s got that old-style look about it. Moto Guzzi say that the mechanicals are new-tech: but are they? The engine is the familiar Guzzi V-twin, mounted longitudinally. But it’s a fairly low-tech thing, boasting a moderate (by bike standards) compression-ratio of 10.5:1, and overhead-vales (not overhead cam). The engine is also in a fairly low state of tune. Take a look at the figures in the Specifications, below: output is about what you’d expect from a moderately tuned 600, not a 750. It’s developed at comparatively low revs, which makes the power more easily accessible, though. There’s a fair bit of weight for that to pull around too, so you get the immediate impression that it isn’t going to be fast. But then it is a retro, remember. Showing that it actually does have a few new-tech bits, the bike comes standard with ABS and traction-control. ABS is good to have, but with its limited amount of power I don’t reckon you’d need the traction-control – unless you were being particularly heavy-handed on a wet road. The longitudinal placement of the engine means that when viewed from the front of the bike you’re looking at the end of the engine, not the side as is more usually the case. I don’t think the end-view of engines is particularly attractive, so that spoils it a bit for me. (Same comment applies to boxer-type BMWs). From any other angle than front-on, the two big cylinders poking out to the side become a prominent feature of its appearance. It gives the bike character, and a purposeful look. Other than the front-on view of the engine, the bike looks good! Remember I said I liked this when I first saw it, and I still do. The seat looks like something out of the 1970s or 80s – you know, back when seats were softly padded with pleated coverings. I like that! And the looks don’t deceive: this seat is comfortable – yep, just like those old seats of the 1970s. The bars are wide, which suits the style and also gives good control. The foot-pegs are a bit less old-school though, being positioned fairly high, which results in a knees-up seating position – for a lanky old bloke like me anyway. The instruments are very retro / traditional, with two round analogue dials telling you speed and revs. The revs one is numbered in double digits, which I found a bit confusing at lower speeds – I wasn’t sure if I was looking at the tacho or the speedo. You’d get used to that though (and it ceases being a problem when the speed gets into triple digits).There are also a couple of small LCD displays . I don’t know what they do: odo and trip-meters no doubt, but there could be more. Controls are easy to find and easy to use. Particularly pleasing were the brake-lever and gear-lever, which were both where you expect them to be and easy to use. I mention the brake-lever and gear-lever because I often find bikes today tend to tuck these levers in, making them harder to get at. The only thing I did find a bit awkward was the side-stand, which is a bit hard to get at and slightly awkward to use. I mentioned weight above, and at nearly 200kg ready to ride there is a fair bit of weight there – but it doesn’t feel like it. The bike carries its weight down low, so it feels much lighter than it is. And that makes it easy to control, not only out on the road but also when stationary and wheeling it around the driveway.
OUT ON THE ROAD
Start up the big twin and you’re greeted with a lumpy, uneven idle. There’s a nice throaty sound from the twin pipes. If you blip the throttle there’s a bit of side-to-side rocking motion (inherent in longitudinally-mounted engines), but not much. The clutch takes up very quickly: there’s very little movement at the lever between it being disengaged and engaged. But you soon get used to it. The gear-change is delightfully easy to use. Clutchless up-changes aren’t quite as smooth as you’d expect, even with the appropriate roll-off of the throttle, but use the clutch and it’s hot-knife-through-butter stuff. Final-drive is by shaft, but you’d never know that from riding it: there’s no slack or snatch at all. Well, okay, maybe just a bit at low speed, but at higher speeds it’s smooth and snatch-free everywhere. That lumpiness at idle continues as the revs build, with quite a bit of vibration under 3,000rpm. It’s not shake-your-teeth-out vibration, but it’s certainly there. Some people would call it “character”, but to me it was just a bit unpleasant. Above 3,000rpm it starts to smooth out: by 4,000rpm the engine is smooth, the exhaust goes quiet, and all is peaceful and relaxed. That’s a good way to be really: when you’re working it through the gears – like blasting around the burbs or tighter open-road sections – it has all that character and the lovely throaty exhaust sound, but when you’re cruising on the highway it goes quiet and smooth – which makes cruising a lot more relaxing and enjoyable. The engine revs very freely. There’s no red-line on the tacho, so I don’t know when you’re supposed to stop. I had it to a bit over 6,000rpm and it was still going strong. It performs much better than you’d expect, given its modest power out-put. You mightn’t win any drag-races against your mates, but once underway a decent twist of the throttle sends it surging ahead, gaining speed quite rapidly. There’s enough power here for what you need: it never feels under-powered (which I kind of expected it would do). The throaty exhaust note gives it great character as you do blast around. Top gear runs at 26kph per 1,000rpm, which I reckon is perfect for this bike. Cruising at 100-110kph the tacho is just nudging over 4,000rpm: smooth and relaxed! A retro-styled bike with loads of European character. The engine looks big (which adds to the character), but isn’t really: and there’s not a lot of power there.But it goes better than you’d expect. It’s a bit jerky and jiggly at low speeds, but very smooth and pleasant at higher speeds. A worthy up-dated recreation of an iconic Moto Guzzi model from the past.
Engine: 2-cylinder, 744cc. Power: 37kW at 6,200rpm. Torque: 60Nm at 2,800rpm.
Suspension: Front: 40mm telescopic fork, 130mm travel. Rear: Twin shock, 100mm travel.
Fuel capacity: 21litres.
Weight: 198kg (ready to ride).
Seat height: 790mm.
Wheels / Tyres: Front: 100 X 18. Rear: 130 X 17.
Brakes: Front: Twin 320mm discs, Brembo calipers. Rear: Single 260mm disc, Brembo caliper.
Price: $14,000 (ride-away).
2017 brings a significant upgrade to the classic Guzzi. The styling has been tweaked a bit, and the suspension has been modified too, with different steering geometry. The engine gets a few tweaks, increasing the maximum power to 38kW (only an increase of 1kW by my figures) with maximum torque remaining at 60Nm.
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