Moto Guzzi V7 Classic


By Kevin Ash

Pictures: Double Red

Moto Guzzi has been having a hard time of it, with sales falling from a low 10,000 or so in 2006 to an even more dismal 8,900 in 2007 – it’s amazing after years of these desperate figures and one crisis or takeover after another that the famous old Mandello factory still exists at all.

Yet I’ve ridden every new Guzzi in recent years, and there’s nothing wrong with the bikes – in short, you can’t blame the product, so ultimately the management has to be at fault for not improving marketing, distribution, spares back up, the dealer networks and the company’s over-strong reliance on the Italian home market, where 50 per cent of its sales are made.

MotoGuzzi_V7_Classic_38Click on image for galleryNothing wrong with Guzzi’s 2008 product either, the V7 Classic, a bike which draws on the company’s rich history for its styling, and the existing, proven engine and running gear for its mechanicals. The original 703cc V7 of 1967 was the father of all Guzzi’s transverse V-twins, including the accomplished V7 Sport on which the new Classic’s look is most closely based, as well as the best known Le Mans sports bikes from the mid-Seventies.

The V7 Classic though is no sports bike but an entry level machine designed to be easy to ride, especially for those moving up to their first big bike. As such it’s up against machines such as the Triumph Bonneville, and what a fine job it does. Visually it’s an exceptionally good looking bike, with its beautifully styled fuel tank finished to perfection in white with the old V7 Special-style red and blue striping, and the finish is good quality too. The instruments have sophisticated faces in white on black with chrome surrounds, the foot controls and grab handles are chromed or polished and the whole look is well balanced without trying too hard – it gives the Bonneville the air of a real budget bike in comparison.

MotoGuzzi_V7_Classic_23It’s not a big motorcycle, making it easy to manoeuvre for the inexperienced but nor is it so small that larger riders feel awkward on it. You could easily consider touring as well as commuting, although inevitably the 48bhp power output means you won’t be blasting down autobahns at very high speeds, and two-up with luggage the engine will struggle, especially in hilly terrain. But the motor compensates for its lack of outright horsepower with outstanding flexibility, pulling strongly and smoothly from low rpm, right down to 1000rpm in fact and still the transmission doesn’t protest. The power builds steadily from there to the 5000-6000rpm range where the engine is happiest, and although there’s some vibration is not really intrusive unless you try revving the motor hard – this isn’t rewarding in terms of performance anyway, so that doesn’t matter.

What is important is how willing and eager the engine feels, far superior to a Bonneville in this respect. Turn the twistgrip and the bike responds crisply and predictably, making it not only easy to use but fun as well – the low power doesn’t seem to matter much. It has character too, burbling away in a friendly manner that’s endearing to the rider.

MotoGuzzi_V7_Classic_42The chassis is as simple as the motor with its tubular steel design – but that’s the point of the retro look – and like the engine it works very well. The steering as with all of Guzzi’s current 750 twins is exceptionally good, turning the bike sweetly and with perfect neutrality so hairpin bends and mini roundabouts are simple to negotiate without the bike dropping too far into the turn. Raise the pace and the bike remains neutral, offering good stability but still changing direction willingly and reasonably quickly too.

Wind it on and the suspension starts to feel a little stressed, allowing slightly more bounce and wallow than is ideal, but to experience this you have to push the bike harder than the majority of its owners will ever do. In more considered riding the ride quality is good, if a little choppy at the front end, and wheel control in cornering isn’t an issue – nor is ground clearance.

MotoGuzzi_V7_Classic_17Braking comes from the ever dependable Brembo, so inevitably even with a single disc up front there’s sufficient stopping power which is also easy to modulate. Even the rear brake works well, important on a novice bike as new riders tend to favour the rear for fear of locking up the front.

This is one of those motorcycles which adds up to more than the sum of its parts. It’s light and easy to ride, well proportioned and good looking, certainly, yet it comes across as quite outstanding in the class, an easy first choice ahead of the Bonneville. In fact, although the base model Triumph is cheaper than the Guzzi, the T100 Bonneville with a higher spec that’s closer to the Guzzi’s costs more anyway, strengthening the case for the Italian bike even more.

bumper's picture
Joined: 25/10/2008

This is such a cool looking bike! I was thinking about the Monster 696 but I def could be tempted by the Guzzi instead. Not the Bonneville tho, that's an old fart's bike, lol Bx

Joined: 25/04/2010

I bought one of these last year and agree with Kev's review. It's easy to ride, and looks knockout. I put lower shocks on it as I'm a shortarse and they're better than the stockers too. Very comfy, good handling.

Tortious's picture
Joined: 31/03/2010

With the recent news of the Moto Guzzi V7 Scrambler, I've been tempted back to this article again. The only problem I have with the V7 Classic is that I look like I dwarf the bike. I'm only 6 ft, but for some reason I seem too big for the bike and I look foolish. Very similar to the way I looked on my 250 Ninja. Therefore, I'm hoping that the Scrambler has a higher seat height. If all else fails, the Stelvio still beckons, but that is a comment for another article:)


Thoughts on the upcoming Guzzi Scrambler and California?

kevash's picture
Joined: 05/10/2008

I didn't know anything about the Scrambler until I just saw it on Hell For Leather. The stock V7 is indeed very compact and I look daft on it too. More daft.
The Scrambler should be a bit taller though I don't know if it will be enough, and that exhaust looks a bit gawky.
I've always like the California and the new one is generally a slick new style that retains the main cues, though I'm not convinced by the cylinders poking into the tank silhouette like that. The 1400cc capacity's interesting though...
I'll chase up Piaggio UK for more info and pics.