New Guzzi V7

One very spe­cial retro

Motorcycle News (UK) - - News - By Jon Urry MCN GUEST TESTER

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

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