Moto Guzzi V7III Racer Triumph Tiger 1200 XCA
It’s been a long time since I had a ride on a Guzzi. Those memories aren’t good. In fact, I didn’t like that Guzzi at all. The unfortunate machine of my disaffection was a Lemans 850 Mk3. So, when editor Scaysbrook asked me if I’d like to road test this Guzzi for OBA, I thought I’d better put thirty-four years of prejudice behind me and just get on with it.
The V7 111 Racer is a variation of the current 750 V7 111 made up to look like a café racer of the day. Moto Guzzi under its current owners is actually building some nice-looking bikes. What I was keen to find out was, do they work? My first impression was of a solid, if slightly old-fashioned bike. Everything you want is there, ABS, engine mode control, traction control, all selectable on the move by a switch on the right switch-block. Twin instruments with a digital multi view panel in the speedo. One thing that I loved was the “feel” of that lovely vee twin engine. You can feel every pulse as though it was a living being. At idle there is a faint rocking from side to side. Blip the throttle and you can feel the bike tilt to one side, although on the move you can’t. The fit and feel is good with everything done very well. The footrests are carved out of billet alloy with multiple adjustments. It looks and feels like quality stuff. Ditto for the switchgear. Wearing a backpack, (hate them) is the only way to carry anything though.
Handling wise the Guzzi felt a bit slow. Front end geometry is 26.6 degrees rake and 106mm trail. These dimensions should give a reasonable feel. Wheelbase is a touch long at 1463mm, but that should be in the ballpark. What does affect the feel is, in my opinion, the 18-inch front wheel with a 100/90 front tyre on a 2.5-inch wide rim. There is a smaller option front tyre of 110/80 that I would recommend. It’s not a huge issue, just noticeable. Otherwise the Racer peels into corners very well, helped by the Pirelli tyres. Grip was very good, promoting confidence. Ground clearance could be better. With the engine producing 38 kW at 5200 and 60 Nm at 4900 it will pull nicely from as little as 2,500 in top gear. And all this with that lovely throbbing that you only get from a vee twin. It retains the air-cooled, two-valve, pushrod, longitudinal-crankshaft design with 80 x 74mm bore and stroke, but it’s all new – cylinders, heads and pistons. The crankcase assembly has been updated with a new sump, crankshaft and breathing system. Moto Guzzi has used a lot of black anodised alloy to give it a quality look. This engine looks, feels and sounds unburstable. Clutch action is nice and linear with a light pull. Gear change is good and, whoopee, first goes in without that awful clunk of so many motorcycle gearboxes these days. Don’t ya love single plate clutches. Front suspension comprises 40mm conventional forks with no adjustment and 130mm travel. Damping rates have been well chosen and the forks work well. Rear end is fitted with Ohlins piggyback units with compression, rebound adjustment along with spring preload adjustment. They worked extremely well and the standard settings are just fine for road work. It gives the owner the scope to change settings for any track days or spirited back road fun. What is strange is that the rear drive is the old-fash- ioned shaft without any decoupling link. It worked well though. Twin channel ABS and a new adjustable MGCT (Moto Guzzi Traction Control) system that can also be disabled are standard features. The MGCT system is adjustable with two sensitivity levels, one more conservative and ideal for use in poor grip situations such as wet or slippery roads, and the other designed to optimise safety and stability on dry roads. Traction control settings (level 2 – level 1 or off) can be instantly selected on-the-fly. I found the more conservative setting a touch intrusive. Actually, the day we did the photo shoot I had the traction control and rev limiter light blinking away like Christmas tree lights. Another modern adaption of the MGCT system is the ability to recalibrate the rear tyre circumference, compensating for tyre wear or the use of different profiles so that the traction control system remains accurate. I enjoyed my time on the V7 111 Racer. It’s a different take on modern motorcycling with roots to the classic café racer. This variant is not a tourer, but day runs along your favourite back roads will end with a smile on your face.