Moto Guzzi’s V7 spe­cials

Motorcycle Sport & Leisure - - Contents -

Three vari­a­tions on a theme. The theme is su­per cool Guzzis that stop and go re­ally well. We’re in.

Guzzi keeps the retro V7 mo­men­tum go­ing with three spe­cial editions: Rough, Car­bon and Mi­lano.

Mod­ern bikes are just like any other tech­nol­ogy – al­ways chas­ing the next big thing. More power, bet­ter brakes, more safety; it can get re­lent­less. But af­ter spend­ing a day rid­ing the lat­est rein­car­na­tions of Moto Guzzi’s V7 model, I find my­self ask­ing – do we re­ally need it?

Moto Guzzi should know – they’re steeped in tra­di­tion. The long­est sur­viv­ing Euro­pean mo­tor­cy­cle man­u­fac­turer, Guzzi started mak­ing bikes in 1921. De­spite many ups and downs through the decades, Guzzi bikes are still all made in Man­dello del Lario, a small town on the shores of beau­ti­ful Lake Como, at the north­ern end of Italy.

De­spite the ter­rain – nes­tled in the south of the Alps – this area is heavy with in­dus­try, which al­lows the fac­tory to source its third-party sup­pli­ers from nearby. It’s not a cheap way to make bikes, but her­itage and na­tion­al­ism is im­por­tant to the Ital­ians. Thanks to the de­mand for mod­ern retro-styled bikes tak­ing their own­ers back to ba­sics or a time long-since gone, the V7 is Moto Guzzi’s best seller by a long way. Re­search has shown that many cus­tomers buy a ba­sic V7 Stone, then lav­ish it with op­tions and ac­ces­sories to per­son­alise it.

The Clas­sic brings nicer paint, chrome and spoked wheels to the party and now there are three new ad­di­tions: the Mi­lano, Rough and Car­bon. The three are cul­mi­na­tions of the fac­tory raid­ing its parts bins

and ac­ces­sory cat­a­logues to cre­ate an in­di­vid­ual look – the Mi­lano is based on the higher spec Spe­cial, but has alu­minium mud­guards and side pan­els, cast wheels for a more 70s look, a seat from the V9 Roamer and a gloss grey fin­ish to the tank. The Rough, a name I fear hadn’t been run past any UK staff, comes with mildly knob­bly tyres, spoked wheels with black an­odised rims, al­loy mud­guards and an­odised al­loy side pan­els, a cross brace on the han­dle­bars and a matt –fin­ish to the tank. The Car­bon is based on the Stone but looks racier, with real car­bon fi­bre mud­guards, a smart seat and gar­ish red calipers and rocker cov­ers. So, with five mod­els in the range, there should be a look that suits you and if not, that ac­ces­sory cat­a­logue awaits.

Un­der all the shiny body­work, the bikes are es­sen­tially the same. The en­gine on the V7 III is ac­tu­ally from the V9, but sleeved to make 744cc, an un­for­tu­nate by-prod­uct of Euro 4.

The older V7 II en­gine couldn’t pass the en­gine noise tests, whereas the V9 en­gine has been de­signed with this in mind and has a myr­iad of air­ways in­side to help. This has a ben­e­fit of a lit­tle more power, up to 52bhp @ 6200rpm, with torque up to 44lb-ft at sim­i­lar revs. The dis­ad­van­tage is more weight, up to 213kg fully fu­elled and ready to rock, though it does carry it well. The rest of the bike is re­as­sur­ingly fa­mil­iar, at least to those with an in­ter­est in Moto Guzzi – sin­gle plate dry clutch, shaft drive and that side­ways rock at stand­still as you feed the trans­verse V-twin go-juice.

Be­fore I ride one thing shines out – the qual­ity of fin­ish. Apart from some nec­es­sary but still ugly brake lines (that link the var­i­ous brake parts to the ABS con­trol unit, it­self hid­den nicely un­der the tank), every­thing fits nicely to pro­vide an au­then­tic old-school look. Paint­work, al­loy parts, seat and clocks all re­ally im­press. Retro bikes need to de­liver, but first they must look good.

ON THE ROAD

Ital­ian bikes are of­ten ac­ci­den­tally sab­o­taged with odd rid­ing po­si­tions, but not the V7. To push around it feels lithe and un­threat­en­ing, the weight held low with an easy to op­er­ate cen­tre­stand. Toss a leg over and most will find the seat low and com­fort­able; in fact at 770mm the Guzzi is a hit with those short of leg, yet at over 6ft I felt it nicely gelled with the footrest and han­dle­bars.

The orig­i­nal V9 suf­fered from lanky rid­ers’ legs get­ting too close to the cylin­ders, yet the V7 has none of this.

Turn the key, hit the starter but­ton and the bike set­tles down to a typ­i­cal Guzzi rock, though never at risk of shim­my­ing off the side­stand. The new clutch is much lighter than the pre­vi­ous en­gine, gears have a light but def­i­nite se­lect and the fly-by-wire throt­tle feels di­rect and, well, not like a fly-by-wire throt­tle…

First is low and the steer­ing lock is great, giv­ing a very non-Ital­ian ease of use at slow speed or in tight spa­ces. The shaft drive gives a slightly jerky gearchange un­til you get used to be­ing slightly smoother, but the V-twin pro­vides lovely en­gine brak­ing and town rid­ing be­comes a dod­dle. Head out of town and you start to no­tice the V7 has to be worked to get up to speed quickly; but it’s fun. Twist­ing a throt­tle to the stop with­out fear of tak­ing off brings a sense of achieve­ment that more pow­er­ful bikes never ex­pe­ri­ence and the rid­ing po­si­tion is so adapt­able you can just move about on the seat to ac­com­mo­date your pace. For at least half an hour 70mph works per­fectly, show­ing up the only dis­ap­point­ment, a rather soft seat that be­comes un­com­fort­able when in one po­si­tion for more than a while. Try­ing to over­take from any­thing above 60mph takes a lit­tle think­ing about, but then that’s like say­ing an Aprilia RSV4RR isn’t very good at car­ry­ing camp­ing gear.

With the Moto Guzzi fac­tory sur­rounded by Lake Como, and Lake Como sur­rounded by fan­tas­tic, quiet moun­tain roads with hair­pins and con­stant ups and downs, there’s no sur­prise that the V7 ex­cels at this sort of rid­ing. The test rid­ers must love their job. Up through the gears, flick left, flick right, the steer­ing easy, light and to­tally for­giv­ing – the re­laxed rake and trail giv­ing no threat of head-shak­ing, look ahead and carry on. Get to a hair­pin and if you change down too many gears at once the rear wheel ob­vi­ously locks up, but treat it as you would if it were yours (jour­nal­ists strug­gle with this), change gear when you should and use the beau­ti­fully set up brakes to get you in if the en­gine brak­ing isn’t enough. And de­spite the Euro 4 non­sense, the ex­hausts may be larger than be­fore but still emit the char­ac­ter­is­tic sound­track you ex­pect, es­pe­cially with the high moun­tain sides echo­ing it back to you as you ride. It’s fab­u­lous fun and such a shame these roads are so far from the UK.

Those brakes need more than just a fleet­ing men­tion. The front end wears just a sin­gle disc but al­lied to the strong rear it gives more than enough stop­ping power for the speed and weight. Plus there’s ABS should you

need, though I couldn’t get it to ac­ti­vate, even with the av­er­age Pirelli De­mon tyres fit­ted. The elec­tronic ABS also means the V7 has trac­tion con­trol which has two lev­els, plus you can turn it off. Again, I couldn’t get it to op­er­ate, but in the wet it could prove help­ful.

The V7 is one of the eas­i­est bikes I’ve rid­den in ages and I’ve used it be­fore, but the word un­threat­en­ing comes into mind; how­ever this is in no way a pa­tro­n­is­ing state­ment.

Why does a bike have to scare you to be ex­cit­ing? These three new mod­els all ride in a sim­i­lar way and have sim­i­lar rid­ing po­si­tions, so it re­ally is a case of pick­ing the one you like the look of the best.

A lot of su­per-scooter rid­ers in the UK are look­ing at the V7 as a next step, ac­cord­ing to Pi­ag­gio UK. Al­lied to new rid­ers, A2 li­cence rid­ers (the V7 can be made A2friendly with just a sim­ple remap) and those who would like a clas­sic Moto Guzzi but ei­ther find it dif­fi­cult to kick­start or don’t want the is­sues of main­te­nance, then there are a lot of peo­ple com­ing to the V7.

We know it doesn’t have power over­flow­ing, but then it comes from the same sta­ble as the Aprilia RSV4 – if you want power, try that. In­stead, the V7 is about en­joy­ing the sheer plea­sure of rid­ing a bike, of em­brac­ing the free­dom. This will, ad­mit­tedly, be trick­ier rid­ing down the M1 mo­tor­way for tank af­ter tank, so choose a dif­fer­ent road.

With low de­pre­ci­a­tion, low run­ning costs and low num­bers com­pared to the likes of Tri­umph Bon­nevilles, the Moto Guzzi V7 Mi­lano, Rough or Car­bon are a great way to dis­cover – or per­haps to re­dis­cover – the love of rid­ing bikes.

ABOVE: Each of the new mod­els has the same 744cc trans­verse V-twin en­gine.

WORDS: Matt Hull PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: Mi­la­gro

TOP: Red ac­cents cer­tainly make the V7 III Car­bon stand out. ABOVE: Clear and func­tional clocks. The Mi­lano and Rough get two, but the Car­bon lacks a tacho.

The V7 III Mi­lano is easy to ride and looks stun­ning with chromed pipes.

BE­LOW:

RIGHT: The Car­bon’s lonely tacho.

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