2008 Moto Guzzi V7 Classic Review
The retro-inspired V7 in the Italian Alps
Moto Guzzi has pulled another classic model name out of its hat. The V7 Classic is a ’70s-inspired roadster that means the same to Moto Guzzi as the Bonnie does to Triumph.
Moto Guzzi launched its now famous transverse 90-degree V-Twin for the first time in 1967. The engine was a 703cc, then the largest capacity Italian motorcycle, that Moto Guzzi called the V7. A classic was born and in 2008 revived with a 744cc 2-valve V90.
To put the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic into perspective, it can be compared to the Triumph Bonneville and Harley-Davidson XL883R Sportster, but with a smaller, less powerful engine.
The V7 Classic has been tuned for low-down torque and nothing else. As such it resembles the Harley but is 70 kilos lighter. That’s one whole pillion passenger or a lot of luggage for similar performance. Compared to the standard Bonneville, the Guzzi lacks around 17 horsepower and some torque too, but no one buys any of these three motorcycles for its outright engine performance. With its 182-kilo dry weight the V7 Classic is the lightest of the bunch.
The V7 Classic is right in between the two other models mentioned in terms of price and only £400 (based on UK OTR 2008 prices) separates the three where the Bonnie is cheapest and the Harley most expensive.
The main appeal of the 2008 Moto Guzzi V7 Classic is first and foremost the styling. It’s all ’70s retro-naked sports styling, and Moto Guzzi is just as much in its own right when it comes to putting out such a model as Triumph and H-D are – three companies with a whole lot of heritage and 1970s credibility. The V7 Classic is absolutely a stunning little motorcycle and refreshingly different from the same sort of styling era as the Bonnie and Sportster.
It strikes me at first how physically small the V7 Classic is. It looks short and sporty in a classic way. The ’70s-style double seat with a very correct Moto Guzzi logo in white looks inviting. There’s nothing intimidating at all about the V7, and as such it suits the beginner just as much as the biking veterans out there.
I’m at the Moto Guzzi factory in Mandello with the V7 Classic keys in my hands. It’s a gorgeous day and I start riding around Lake Como before heading up into the mountains surrounding the glorious Italian lake. The torque surge hits directly after releasing the light clutch in first gear and the launch is hence very easy. Through a limited but pleasing rev range I reach 6800 rpm where the 48.8 max horsepower is reached. Max torque (54.7Nm) happens already at 3600 rpm, so I only use the whole powerband a couple of times to see how it feels. Most of the time I’m happy to just short-shift through the five-speed gearbox and riding the torque curve.
The air-cooled 744cc transverse V90 sounds great underneath me. I’m very comfortable cruising around the lake as the ergonomics don’t put any strains anywhere on my body. At the same time, when heading up the steep hills and tight corners, I can just lean my upper body forwards a bit and I’m in sports mode.
The V7 Classic makes the transition from cruising to sport riding easy.
The V7 is short with a classy double rear shock and a 40mm Marzocchi telescopic fork at the front. An 18-inch spoked front wheel with a single brake disc graces the front whilst a 17-inch is found at the back. The tyres fitted are high-profile Metzeler Lasertecs. They provide enough grip for the friendly and docile engine performance. The single 320mm brake disc gripped by a 4-piston Brembo calliper provides enough stopping power coupled with the 260mm rear disc.
The V7 being such a small and light motorcycle tackles the tight Alpine corners with great ease. I don’t have to put a huge effort in to turn the bike around and this describes the handling characteristics. The classic twin-cradle frame is the perfect match for Moto Guzzi’s small-block V90. If you wondered why Guzzi haven’t just used the 850 V90, it’s because it’s too big and would have made a completely different motorcycle. The small size and easy handling also makes the V7 Classic one of my favourite choices for town riding.
It’s difficult to imagine a more relaxing and pleasant way to ride around Lake Como on a hot summer day than on the Guzzi V7. When I stopped to collect my impressions at the lakeside I couldn’t take my eyes off the cool ’70s-looking Guzzi in white. I had a busy schedule on this visit to Italy and the V7 Classic was just the bike to take the edge off things. I relaxed, and that’s just what you want on a motorcycle like this. There’s not a thing that I would add or that I miss on this motorcycle.