2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Racer Review
For the motorcyclist who has everything
Redesigned for ’13, Moto Guzzi’s V7 line of stylized standards boast a 12% bump in horsepower and 10% better mileage than last year’s models due to a thoroughly reworked 744cc small-block Guzzi V-Twin. Still, despite its show-stopping looks and retro heritage, the café-inspired Racer is ultimately a niche bike that should be admired for its presentation rather than lauded for its performance.
And that presentation is phenomenal. There’s no doubt this is a beautiful motorcycle. With a chrome tank reminiscent of the original V7 Telaio from the ’70s, soft suede seat, and red frame, swingarm and hubs, the Racer has countless stylistic touches that make it stand apart from everything else on a showroom floor. But there is some sacrifice of function in the name of form. It’s a fine ride around town, but a few shortcomings are exposed when it’s given a challenge.
The air-cooled, 744cc longitudinal V-Twin is classic Guzzi in both performance and appearance. While Editor Kevin Duke felt that the engine was noticeably stronger than its V7 Racer predecessor he reviewed, its output is still underwhelming by 750 standards. For such a visually striking motorcycle that calls itself “Racer,” this is a bit of a letdown. Despite the compression getting bumped to 10.2:1 from 9.2:1, the Racer barely achieved 41 horsepower during our rear-wheel dyno test. By comparison, the original V7 from the ’70s purported 52 horses, although that claim was derived from measurements obtained at the crankshaft.
The V7’s airbox has been relocated under the seat, and revamped Marelli fuel-injection system with a single throttle body (instead of the dual injectors of the previous engine) helps it warm up faster and operate smoother. Still, there’s little point in riding the Racer like a racer or revving it aggressively, because by 6000 rpm, not only have you uncovered all the horses there are to find, but the vibration on the bars is telling its rider to upshift. You’re better to just tool in the 4000-rpm sweet zone and bask in the glow of cool you exude.
The flat seat and under-the-butt rearsets make for a fairly aggressive riding position that puts the rider’s weight slightly forward onto the handlebar. So while maneuverability is decidedly responsive, bumps get soaked up by not only the front suspension (as fine as can be expected), but also by the operator’s wrists and elbows. Such feel is great for the track but becomes tiresome after a couple of hours on the street. On the five-speed transmission, gear throw is a bit long and shifting can be imprecise.
The Racer shares its mechanicals with the other 2013 V7s, the café Special and the blacked-out Stone, but it greatly differs in its cosmetics: the fork gaiters, brushed aluminum side panels, number plates, et al.
Most of its styling touches are just that and, if anything, detract from the bike’s practical performance; for example, the rear seat cowl hides nothing, for the Racer has no rear seat or passenger pegs. Uncharacteristically, one component of its form – and arguably the finest example of it - actually improves the bike’s function. The traffic-stopping chrome fuel tank – covered by a (again, purely cosmetic) leather tank strap – holds a whopping 5.8 gallons of fuel, big even by touring bike standards. At Guzzi’s claimed 64 mpg, one could feasibly reach 300 miles on one tank on the V7 Racer - and given its highway performance, most riders would prefer to do those miles on the street. Think of it: one gorgeous, chromed tank of gas could last the average rider weeks.
Other accessories, such as a rear luggage rack and an Arrow slip-on performance exhaust, are available direct from MG.
The buzzy V7 Racer is a great bike for zipping around the neighborhood, but most of that fun comes from the admiring ogles you get from passers-by – particularly other riders, who truly appreciate what it is you’re aboard. Despite its sporty name and athletic appearance, though, Moto Guzzi’s 2013 V7 Racer is a gently-tuned middleweight that prefers to be cruised.
The Racer’s relatively lofty $9990 price tag will keep it out of reach for riders who want a do-it-all sporting roadster – at that price, it’s $1191 more expensive than the similarly-themed Triumph Thruxton we recently reviewed. For budget-minded consumers, the $8390 V7 Stone or the $8990 V7 Special will be a more rational choice.
However, the V7 Racer and its high-end finishes and exclusive componentry put it in a class of one that would be a unique addition to anyone’s stable of European exotica.