As Moto Guzzi refines its retro range, the V7 II Special becomes that little more, well, special
It is nice to have valid competition; it pushes you to do better,” Gianni Versace once said. And from one stylish Italian to another, Moto Guzzi gives us its updated retro range: the V7 Series II.
It mightn’t look much different from its pretty predecessor (why fix it if it ain’t broke?) but the updated V7 range gains subtle modernity and welcome improvements including a new close-ratio six-speed gearbox, a redesigned clutch as well as ABS and traction control for added confidence. The small block V-twin has even been slightly tilted forward for a bit more knee room from those transversely mounted cylinders.
The headline news, however, is the embracement towards customisation with the introduction of more than 100 accessories for purchase individually or via the choice of four distinct kits to showcase the V7’s versatility.
The Daper, Dark Rider, Legend and Scrambler kits offer strong and diversified personalities from the standard bikes and are all adaptable to each V7 II model. These include the entry-level Stone ($14,000 ride-away), the Special as tested here ($14,500) and the flashy Racer flagship, which is expected to be priced around $16,000.
And the kits? Between $4500 and $5200 plus fitment. You can otherwise fit it yourself. That may sound like a lot of coin when combined and creeping towards BMW RnineT money (from $20,950 plus on-road costs) but you’re getting a high-quality kit that’s fully homologated and covered by Moto Guzzi.
Think about it. Start ticking BMW option boxes, too, and the price gap becomes a chasm.
The customising kits of these beautiful bikes build near Lake Como, in northern Italy, couldn’t come soon enough, with the proliferation of retro rides and two-wheeled individuality. The scene has grown so substantial that major manufacturers are increasingly getting in on the act, so there’s clearly money to be made and crowds waving their cash. Moto Guzzi’s path to customisation is via a dedicated website (www.GarageMotoGuzzi.com) to build your own creation, download the details then take it to your dealer for ordering. Prego.
Of the three base canvases, the entry-level Stone is identified by its muted single-colour matte paintwork and cast-alloy wheels. The Racer remains the flamboyant sibling of the trio, with a mirror-like chrome and leather-strapped tank, race number boards, offset by a rich red frame.
We reckon the pick of the bunch is the Special, which pays direct homage to its V7 ancestors of the 1960s and ’70s via historic two-tone liveries and spoke wheels, tastefully modernised by black rims and Pirelli Sport Demon tyres.
A direct comparison reveals the older bike has a more elongated appearance, with a lower, stretched out tank, longer seat and what looks like a longer wheelbase. There’s no denying the striking family resemblance, though, thanks to that iconic engine layout, punctuated by the familiar-shape tank and flat seat.
THE EVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED
The latter-day V7’s updates are evolutionary – not revolutionary – but, when combined, make for much-welcome improvements over the outgoing model.
The 744cc 90-degree V-twin’s performance outputs of 37kW (50hp) at 6200rpm and 60Nm at 2800rpm sadly don’t even get the slightest fettle, but the engine itself has been made perfectly horizontal by lowering the front mounts in the frame. This creates better alignment for the shaft drive, the universal joint out of the gearbox’s secondary shaft, and the final drive pinion, thereby improving the whole efficiency of the drivetrain, according to Moto Guzzi.
The slight tilt also gives the V7 II a cleaner, more inline look, while adding 3cm extra knee room for taller riders. Seat height has also been lowered by 10mm to 790mm, which invites vertically challenged riders and provides even better low-speed balance, thanks also to the slightly lower footpegs.
The most noticeable improvement, however, is the new gearbox, which adds a sixth cog and a much smoother, more positive shifting action. In our review of the outgoing V7 Racer in the first edition of Cafe Racer magazine, we mentioned how the gear selector felt like it was submerged in a vat of Vasoline with a long, syrupy action instead of a positively light ‘snick’. It was also easy to miss a gear if you weren’t forceful enough. It’s still a bit of a long throw, but the new gearbox is now a Vasoline-free zone and much, much better.
Unlike the V7 Racer’s wide goose-neck clip-ons, the upright V7 Special and Stone siblings offer natural ergonomics for day-long comfort.
The modern machine remains compact, lightweight and nimble between your legs like yesteryear’s bike while also offering decent performance and contemporary stopping power – now with a two-channel ABS system and traction control for added surety in crappy conditions. Adjustable levers remain amiss.
If you’re planning on scrambling up your V7 in readiness for gravel roads then remember the new electronics don’t offer selectable modes and cannot be disengaged so you won’t be going anywhere fast or smooth without electronic intervention and you won’t come to a dirt-digging halt in a hurry. On sealed roads, where the bike is really intended, they’re fine and welcome.
We also recall the outgoing V7 Racer as having a basic and soggy Marzocchi front end with plenty of brake dive (despite fully adjustable Bitubo rear shocks), sapping confidence through mid-corner bumps. No such problems for the V7 II Special where it remains composed and communicative enough for its intended role.
The pushrod V-twin is flexible enough to dig itself out of a cog too high and is happiest spinning between 2500 and 7000rpm where it gives a nice lumpy vibe and plenty of mechanical theatre [*inserts Italian hand gesture*]. Acceleration is never neck-snapping – as befitting its objective of easy riding in style – but it’s never a problem to outrun traffic, thanks in part to a claimed wet weight of 198kg, which is more than 25kg lighter than Triumph’s iconic Bonneville.
Feeling its characterful torque twist at the flick of the right wrist never grows old, likewise the slight gyroscopic effect with asymmetrical behaviour in turns thanks to the unorthodox engine configuration. The bike’s performance is far from race-winning, but it’s nice to feel the laws of physics help stand it up as you accelerate out of a left corner. It’s pure Italian character. But if only it had more mumbo.
It sounds pretty good straight out of the box, too, but you know the Italian opera awaits you, the maestro, to unleash the dramatic crescendo with a pair of lighter, louder and better-breathing pipes. In this case, the choice of curvy Agostini Mandello slip-ons ($1100) or an Arrow system which, at $1000, is some $500-odd cheaper than before in V7 series one guise.
Be sure to spare a moment to warm up the engine properly, though, because the oil/air-cooled V-twin isn’t a morning person and needs a moment to awake from its slumber, enjoy an espresso and don its fine suit before you head off. If not, it will protest to your impatience with embarrassing stalls in the presence of admirers.
So is it worth the spend? Absolutely. It’s nice to have valid competition, and Moto Guzzi has pushed itself to do better, just as Versace said of his own work. Its engineers have fixed the V7’s flaws and the Italian company now offers us the opportunity to further express our creativity through the bike’s individuality. And, a bit like the company’s high-fashion compatriot, it comes with a bit of exclusivity.
Could do with more performance
Aims at the goths with that murdered-out look. Robert Smith’s choice.
Vintage off-road style with high-mounted 2-into-1 exhaust, cross-braced ’bar, off-road ’pegs, number plates, leather side bags and a tool bag.
A modern interpretation of the bike used by the Italian Army, the Moto Guzzi Alce. Styling highlights include olive green paint, high pipe, cross-braced ’bar, luggage rack, larger seat and leather side bags.
No surprises where the name came from, ol’ chump, but curiously short of a ‘p’. The V7 II Racer for impatient, fast-going types who can’t wait for the V7 II Racer.
SPEX | MOTO GUZZI V7 II SPECIAL
TYPE: Air/oil-cooled, two-valve per cylinder, 90-degree V-twin
BORE & STROKE: 80 x 74mm
COMPRESSION RATIO: 10.5:1
FUEL SYSTEM: EFI
Final drive: Shaft
POWER: 37kW (50hp) at 6200rpm
TORQUE: 60Nm at 2800rpm
CHASSIS & RUNNING GEAR:
FRAME: Double-cradle tubular frame with detachable rear subframe
FRONT SUSPENSION: 40mm fork, 130mm travel
REAR SUSPENSION: Cast ally twin shocks with preload adjustment
FRONT BRAKE: 320mm disc with fully floating four-piston Brembo caliper, ABS
REAR BRAKES: 260mm disc with twin-piston Brembo caliper, ABS
WHEELS & TYRES:
FRONT: 18 x 2.5-inch wire-spoke wheel with 100/90-18 Pirelli Sport Demon tyre
REAR: 17 x 3.5-inch wire-spoke wheel with 130/80-17 Pirelli Sport Demon tyre
DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES:
WET WEIGHT: 198kg (claimed)
SEAT HEIGHT: 790mm
FUEL CAPACITY: 21 litres
PRICE: $14,500 rideaway
COLOURS: Black (Nero Essetre) and red (Rosso Essetre)
WARRANTY: Two years, unlimited kilometres
BIKE SUPPLIED BY: Moto Guzzi Australia
Article by Chris Harris / Photography Ben Galli