Moto Guzzi V7 II Special review

Date 20.7.2015

Presented by
  • Motorcycle Trader

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Moto Guzzi V7 II 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 predecessor (why fix it if it ain’t broke?) but the updated V7 range gains subtle modernity and welcome improvements including a close-ratio six-speed gearbox, a redesigned clutch as well as ABS and traction control for added confidence. The small-block V-twin has been tilted slightly forward for a bit more knee room from those transverse cylinders.

Moto Guzzi has introduced more than 100 accessories for purchase individually or via the choice of four distinct kits to showcase the V7’s versatility.

The Dark Rider, Scrambler, Legend and Daper kits offer strong and diversified personalities and are adaptable to all V7 II models.

These are the entry-level Stone, the Special as tested here ($16,990) and the flashy Racer flagship, expected later this year.

Pricing for the kits is yet to be announced by Moto Guzzi New Zealand but expect over $5000 plus fitting, although you could be able to fit it yourself to reduce the cost.
Combined, it may sound like it’s creeping towards BMW R nineT money (from $25,290 plus on-road costs), but you’re getting a high-quality kit that’s homologated and covered by Moto Guzzi. Think about it. Start buying BMW accessories and the price gap becomes a chasm.

We reckon the pick of the bunch is the Special, which pays direct homage to its V7 ancestors of the 1960s and ’70s, as you can see here, via historic two-tone liveries and spoke wheels, tastefully modernised by black rims and Pirelli Sport Demon tyres.

moto-guzzi-v7-8-500

A direct comparison reveals the older V7 Sport has a more elongated appearance, with a lower, stretched tank, longer seat and what looks like a longer wheelbase. There’s no denying the family resemblance, though, thanks to that iconic engine layout, punctuated by the familiar-shape tank and flat seat.

OLD vs NEW

The latter-day V7’s updates are evolutionary – not revolutionary – but, when combined, make for much-welcome improvements over the outgoing model.

The engine 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 forward tilt also gives the V7 II a cleaner, more inline look, while adding 3cm of knee room for taller riders. Seat height has 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 gearbox, which adds a sixth cog and a much smoother, more positive shifting action. Our review of the outgoing V7 Racer we mentioned how the gear selector felt like it was submerged in a vat of Vaseline 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.

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 absent.

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ON THE ROAD

For gravel roads, 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 interference 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 shocks), sapping confidence through mid-corner bumps. No such problems for the V7 II Special which remains composed and communicative enough for its intended role.

GO TEAM

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. Acceleration is never neck-snapping but it’s never a problem to outrun traffic, thanks in part to a claimed wet weight of just 198kg.

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.

It sounds pretty good straight out of the box, too, but you know the Italian opera awaits you.

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. If not, it will protest to your impatience with embarrassing stalls in the presence of admirers.

THE  VERDICT

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 company now offers us the opportunity to express our creativity. And, a bit like the company’s high-fashion compatriot, it comes with a bit of exclusivity.

THUMBS UP
– Striking looks
– That engine

THUMBS DOWN
– Could do with more performance

SPECIFICATIONS

MOTO GUZZI V7 II SPECIAL

ENGINE:
Type: Air/oil-cooled, two-valve per cylinder, 90-degree V-twin
Capacity: 744cc
Bore & stroke: 80 x 74mm
Compression ratio: 10.5:1
Fuel system: EFI

TRANSMISSION:
Type: Six-speed
Final drive: Shaft

PERFORMANCE:
Power: 37kW (50hp) at 6200rpm
Torque: 60Nm at 2800rpm

CHASSIS & RUNNING GEAR:
Frame: Double-cradle tubular frame with detachable subframe
Front suspension: 40mm fork, 130mm travel
Rear suspension: 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: 21L

OTHER STUFF:
Price: $16,990 (plus on-road costs)
Colours: Black (Nero Essetre) and red (Rosso Essetre)
Warranty: Two years, unlimited kilometres


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