New Guzzi V7
One very special retro
Refinement is always the key to a great bike and more often than not, getting that perfect balance is a direct result of many years of development and evolution. And that’s exactly what has happened with the new £8702 Moto Guzzi V7 III Special. The third generation of this popular retro middleweight is now absolutely bang-on the money. And pleasingly it’s all happened as the V7 celebrates its 50th anniversary, which is a happy coincidence.
On paper getting a retro bike right shouldn’t be that hard, but in reality it’s a bit of a minefield. Manufacturers need to walk the fine line between allowing an engine’s character to shine thorough without making it irritatingly full of vibrations or clunky, yet at the same time avoid it feeling flat and soulless. The chassis needs to look period-correct, yet handle with modern precision and all this now must be backed up with electronics such as ABS and traction control. And as if that wasn’t enough, the whole thing has to pass stringent Euro4 emissions laws, which on an air-cooled motor is no mean feat.
Guzzi have hit all of these targets with the V7 III Special, which is an impressive achievement in itself, but more importantly they’ve ensured the V7 still feels like it has that historic spirit of Mandello del Lario coursing through its oil ways.
Looking at the V7 III Special (there’s also a £8002 base-model Stone and £9002 chrome-tanked Anniversario in the new V7 line-up) you would be forgiven for thinking not a lot has changed, but you’d be wrong. It may have the same retro styling as the outgoing V7 II, but the III features a new chassis with more agility thanks to altered geometry and shocks with improved damping characteristics.
The restyled V7 has a new seat and riding position, tweaked for comfort and now there’s a locking fuel cap. But the biggest improvements come from the alterations within the classic transverse V-twin motor.
More power, slick gears
To allow the 744cc air-cooled transverse V-twin engine to meet Euro4, Guzzi have used the same trick as they did on the V9 motor, which is effectively a new head with improved cooling via air channels and new oil ways. However, far from simply stick this on the old V7 motor’s bottom end, they’ve taken the opportunity to not only gain a 10% increase in power (up to 52bhp and 44.2ftlb), but also refine and lighten the clutch and gearbox’s action as well as alter its ratios. And what a difference it all makes.
Such is the gearbox’s smooth lever
action I had to double check I’d engaged first gear as I pulled away. There’s no clunk and you don’t feel like you need to wear hobnail boots to protect your feet from every change of cog. It’s unbelievably smooth and all backed up by a lighter-than-light clutch action and delightful throttle response. But that’s not the best bit about the new V7 III’S motor.
On a retro you always hanker after a bit of spirit and soul. At low revs the V7’s transverse twin delivers exactly that. It thumps and vibrates pleasingly, twisting due to the torque reaction when you blip the throttle.
But here’s what surprised me the most: when you get to 5000rpm the V-twin subtly changes character and smoothes-off. You’re then left with an engine that feels refined and plush with virtually no vibration.
When you lust after a bit of spirit and character as you accelerate the Guzzi delivers it, but when you want a hassle-free ride (cruising at 60mph, for example) the V7 is pleasingly plush. It’s a lovely trick as it makes the Guzzi feel as relaxed as Triumph’s smallcapacity parallel twin Bonnies. It delivers a healthy dose of Italian flair and spirit that’s so necessary on a Guzzi, but slightly lacking on the Triumph. And the surprises don’t stop at the motor – the uprated chassis is also a joy.
Proper suspension at last
I get so annoyed when a retro bike handles like it was built in the 1970s and not the 2010s. The Guzzi is a bit stingy in its ground clearance, but this is really only highlighted as the chassis is so much better than before. The bounce and jolt from the poorly damped V7 II’S shocks has been replaced by a well controlled rear and the V7 III now turns with proper agility.
It’s really good fun to ride through 60mph twisties and the ABS and traction control (which has two levels) stay hidden in the background and don’t interfere with this enjoyment. On a dry day you’d struggle to get the electronics to activate but I’m pleased they’re there. The V7 tends to attract newer urban riders (it can easily be made A2-legal via a new fuel map), so rider aids are reassuring safety nets.
I’m not often surprised by an updated bike, but the V7 III Special is a real eye opener. It’s not the fasted retro, but performance was never its big selling point. The V7 range wins fans through cool looks, an iconic name and its easygoing nature – features that have all been enhanced in this model.
There’s not much to dislike. It feels and looks bang-on what this style of retro should be – especially the Anniversario with its chrome tank.
Great job Guzzi. Now can we have a sportier, larger-capacity model to take on BMW’S R ninet please? A Le Mans for the next generation perhaps…
‘I’m not often surprised by an update, but the V7 is an eye opener’
Authentic retro looks but not it handles better and has more power and torque
Classic chrome-surround style but with space for a few mod cons thrown in
Guzzi have got it bang on with the latest V7 range