2012 Moto Guzzi V7 Lineup Review
Three new V7s tested, from entry-level to retro superbike
When the Piaggio-owned version of Moto Guzzi decided to re-launch the old V7 model, it did so with the V7 Classic in 2008, V7 Café Classic in 2009 and V7 Racer in 2011. Moto Guzzi has evolved its V7 range for 2012 into the V7 Stone, V7 Special and V7 Racer with nearly all-new engines and lighter components.
It always strikes me how small the V7s are, which is a good thing because they handle so well. And while all of the V7s catch the eye, the V7 Racer especially stands out. The finish is extraordinary, and its chromed fuel tank is now metal (instead of nylon) like the other 2012 V7s.
They now hold 5.8 gallons—a full 1.3 gallons more than the 2008 V7 Classic with a plastic tank. Guzzi claims a 300-mile range. The metallic fuel tanks will make life easier for a lot of prospective V7 owners, as it allows the choice to use a magnetic tank bag when touring. Moto Guzzi also claims new dry weight figures 11 lbs lighter than before, landing all three V7s at 395 lbs.
The air-cooled transverse 90-degree V-Twin is the real gem and, despite being very compact, sounds like a liter-class Twin. The 2012 version of the classic 744cc V-Twin is heavily improved, so much so it could almost be called new. New cylinder heads, lightweight pistons, new cylinders, new intake manifolds, new gearshift selectors, new airbox and even new spark plugs! Benefits are much better low-rpm torque response and a smoother top end.
The changes have led to a boost in power from 48.8 hp at 6800 rpm to 50.0 hp at 6200 rpm, and a boost in torque from 40.3 ft.-lb. at 3600 rpm to 44.3 ft.-lb. at a low 2800 rpm. These new figures are only impressive when you also look at the lowered rpm range that the engine now achieves these figures. It makes for a much more responsive engine from the word go. Compression has been increased by a point (now 10.6:1) due to new engine parts and the combustion is more efficient. This leads to a 12% lower emissions value according to Moto Guzzi.
Around Lake Como the V7s ride with great ease, which is to be expected as these are the very roads Moto Guzzi use as their testing grounds. The steering is slightly slower on the Racer than the V7 Special and V7 Stone, but that’s to give more cornering stability at higher speeds.
My 6-foot frame is actually slightly too tall for all the V7s, but as they are nimble motorcycles, it didn’t bother me. The improved suspension feels plush and is a very good compromise between sport and comfort. The V7 Racer doesn’t fail in either departments, but naturally it’s not as comfortable as its siblings, the V7 Special and V7 Stone.
Keep the V7 Racer between 2500-3000 rpm and it’s smooth as butter. Bring the revs over 3K rpm and there are some vibrations to go along with its smooth acceleration. Still, the 44.3 ft.-lb., rather than outright horsepower, that really motivates this Guzzi.
The V7 Special and V7 Stone have almost identical riding positions which are upright and fairly comfortable. They steer with more ease than the V7 Racer which is due to the more conventional handlebar. The differences between the bad-boy V7 Stone and the V7 Special are mainly in the styling department.
Whilst the V7 Special sports spoked wheels on aluminium rims, the V7 Stone has more modern-looking cast-aluminium wheels. Our V7 Special test bikes were fitted with aftermarket saddlebags which also fit the Stone, making both bikes equally practical. Shaft-drive is standard on all three models, adding to their practicality.
The gearbox selector is also new to provide for smoother upshifts. It works, as I didn’t experience any trouble hitting false neutrals or such gremlins. The suspension has been upgraded on all models to provide a more comfortable ride, and the V7 Racer has new twin rear shocks. All the V7 range features the Pirelli Speed Demon tires in a 100/90-18 front and a 130/80-17 rear.
When riding the V7 Special with a pillion, we adjusted the rear suspension for a harder set-up. She reported decent padding in the seat but not enough leg room. Also, due to the pannier mount she couldn’t hold on to the grab rails where she would have liked to. The little 744cc Twin struggles with a pillion aboard, requiring a lot more revs to keep up with the group. The V7s are great solo bikes but slightly under powered for lots of pillion riding.
The V7s are both retro and modern to varying degrees. The V7 Racer is the obvious bling retro ride and can easily get you in amongst the cafe racers of the ’70s. It’s around $2200 more than the V7 Special and V7 Stone, so definitely the premium V7 for the enthusiast and the collectors.
The V7 Stone is the black sheep of the family and perhaps the most versatile as minimum maintenance is needed for a hassle-free everyday commute or joyride. The V7 Special is for those that don’t want to pay the premium for the V7 Racer and also for those who don’t want the forward leaning riding position. The Special is the V7 most true to the original and perhaps the most grown up.