Moto Guzzi V7 Sport
As Moto Guzzi entered the 1960s, it could claim one of the finest sporting traditions of any motorcycle manufacturer. Few could match its total of 14 world championships, but even Moto Guzzi became a casualty of the motorcycles sales slump during that decade.
Saved by the new V7, and its suitability for police use, the idea for a sporting version grew out of the successful, record-breaking machines of 1969 that set 19 world speed records. Following this, chief engineer Lino Tonti was briefed to build a street bike suitable for production and production-based racing. It needed to be capable of 200km/h, weigh less than 200 kilograms, and have a five-speed gearbox. Thus the V7 Sport was born.
When Tonti unveiled his creation in June, 1971 the press was stunned. Not only did the new Sport look purposeful, unlike any other sporting bike it had shaft drive.
Homologation of the V7 Sport for production racing saw the first examples built in the racing department, these being the Telaio Rosso, or ‘red frame’ models. Now highly prized by collectors, the Telaio Rosso featured many individually crafted components. Soon, regular production started although later examples like the one pictured were not quite as exotic. V7 Sport production lasted until 1974.
SHRINK TO FIT
To enable the engine to fit a lower frame, Tonti began by reducing the height. A smaller 180-watt Bosch alternator was mounted on the front of the crankshaft and, to conform to homologation requirements for 750cc production racing in Italy, the capacity was reduced slightly, to 748cc. The V7 Sport received a new camshaft with more valve lift and increased duration. With a claimed 70hp at 7000rpm, it was one of the most powerful bikes in 1971.
While the engine modifications were significant, it was the design of the frame that really set the V7 Sport apart. With more space between the cylinders, Tonti created a long, low frame with the backbone between the cylinders. Along with the fully detachable lower frame rails to facilitate engine removal, the double-cradle chassis used nearly straight tubes and would eventually feature on the entire range of large twins. The result was an extremely compact motorcycle with a seat height of only 750mm. To accentuate this lowness, 18-inch wheels with alloy rims were fitted front and rear.
Brakes were drums but, during 1974, twin front discs were also sometimes fitted, with a rear disc available as an option. The 35mm forks with polished alloy sliders were manufactured by Moto Guzzi and included sealed internal damper cartridges. Although they were a highly innovative design, cartridge-type forks later becoming normal, these forks were not particularly sophisticated or as effective as more conventional ones.
The V7 Sport abounded with quality components, including Koni rear suspension, a hydraulic steering damper and clip-on handlebars that could be adjusted both fore and aft and up and down. The petrol taps were solenoid operated and the rear stainless steel guard pivoted to allow the rear wheel to be removed. Neat touches were everywhere and there was even a courtesy light that operated when the seat was opened.
Although the V7 Sport represented a remarkable transformation from the V7, it still wasn’t exceptionally light. Only through excellent chassis design was its 206kg disguised.
When it came to performance, however, the V7 Sport lived up to expectations with a claimed top speed of 206km/h, making it one of the fastest production motorcycles available in 1972. Italy’s first real sporting superbike, the Sport could match anything else available. Built as the embodiment of an engineer’s ideal – not compromised by economics, fashion or marketing – the V7 Sport was one of the greats, not simply a great Guzzi.
THE VALUE PROPOSITION:
– New $2695 (1972)
– Fair $15,000
– Perfect $30,000
Moto Guzzi V7 Sport
• The first sketches for the V7 date back to 1958 when the great engineer Giulio Cesare Carcano drew up plans for a 500cc V-twin engine to power a sporting Fiat car.
• When Moto Guzzi went into receivership in 1966, the entire workforce was sacked, including Carcano. Although invited to return, Carcano was too proud to do so, leaving the V7 project unfinished until Lino Tonti became chief engineer.
• Tonti came from Bianchi but had been associated with Benelli, Aermacchi, Mondial and Gilera. Like Carcano, Tonti also had strong racing connections, being involved with the Paton and Linto racing machines that bore his name.
• Due to strikes, Tonti, with the help of former Aermacchi colleagues Francesco Botta and Alcide Biotti, built the prototype V7 Sport frames in his own workshop.
• To ensure the V7 Sport was competitive, British legend Mike Hailwood tested it at Monza, afterwards proclaiming the V7 Sport as the best handling street bike he had ridden.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
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