Review by Danny McFadden Racing with images by Matt Anthony
Moto Guzzi, a brand steeped in history and subsequently nostalgia. Despite being an avid and active follower of all things motorcycle media I must admit that the brands current offerings had passed me by.
I have strong memories of reading about their latest offerings during 90s such as the Strada, Daytona, and the impressive MGS-01 all of which were considered niche and unique with the star of the show always been their longitudinally mounted V twin engines, so when the opportunity came to test the V7 Special Edition it was an immediate ‘Yes’ from me.
The Special Edition is one of 4 editions on offer in the V7 range, each offering their own style and all utilising the firms 848cc transverse 90 degree V twin engine which with recent updates has produced a considerable increase in maximum power over the previous model, up to 65 at 6800rpm from 52hp at 6200rpm and more importantly a raise in torque from 60Nm at 4250 to 73Nm at 5000rpm with more than 80% of this figure available from 3000rpm.
The Special edition is fitted with a bespoke twin Arrow exhaust system which further boasts these figures to 66.5hp and 75nm respectively whilst also giving the bike a satisfying level of ‘loud’.
The Special edition also gets an excellent pair of bar end mirror which are a triumph of offering both form and function. It also has beautifully deep high gloss paintwork with various accents such as the red rear shock springs and tank pinstriping which coupled with the various toned engine finishing makes for a truly attractive motorcycle. With all of the various ancillaries required to be fitted and routed on all modern motorcycles such at ABS lines, sensors, lamdas et al Moto Guzzi have done a fantastic job of keeping the bike as uncluttered and pure as possible.
There are many thoughtful and unique details throughout the bike which impressed me considering the price point of the model (RRP £9050 inc. Vat). These items such as the Moto Guzzi badge shape being matched through the LED headlight and instrument cluster. The Special edition top yoke plate which along with the neat cable and hose routing all give the bike a feeling of quality and completeness. Overall my general impression of the V70 is that it can stand comfortable alongside its rivals such as Ducati and BMW on quality of detailing front. Of course, as with any bike of this ilk a fastidious cleaning regime including preventive maintenance sprays will be required to keep everything looking as it should.
With adjustable traction control and ABS the modern basic requirements are covered and despite the rather cold and often damp conditions I tested the V7 in, even on the lowest setting of intrusion and with maximum effort from myself I only briefly managed to engage the traction control which is a testament to the level of mechanical grip on offer from the chassis and a testament to the Michelin Roadrunner tyres. Despite the relatively high wet weight of 218kg the V7 does a good job of hiding it, both at a standstill and on the move. The weight is clearly carried low and relatively centrally along the engine and drivetrain. There is of course balanced weight carried with the cylinder heads which give the benefit of an assisted ‘tip in’ during cornering but is something to watch out for when say, manoeuvring the bike around in the garage.
At start up the bike literally shakes and coughs into life, settling into a off beat gruff v-twin burble with each blip of the throttle sending torsional twist through the length of the bike. It ‘feels’ alive and raw.
After having previously adjusted the beautifully simple and neatly produced gear lever mechanism I found the shift into first gear to be vague without the anticipated ‘click’ indication. This coupled with a blank ‘- -‘ gear indictor display having changed from its previous ‘N’ indication only added to the uncertainty. With the release of the clutch confirming all is well and indeed first gear has been selected this continued to be the theme of my time with the V7. I’m unsure whether it’s a combination of the gear sensor and the shaft drive or a gearbox which feels to have a shorter throw than the norm which resulted in a gear shift indicator that didn’t’ always work unless under load and moving. Neutral was in particular hard to locate due to the slow to re-act gear indicator and it requiring only the smallest of movements to engage (possible confirming the shorter throw idea). These issues I encountered could be as a result of the very low mileage of the test bike and something that might alleviate with time or may well be another of the bikes character traits.
Coupled with this first impression of the bike I had found some irritancy with the rake of the non adjustable clutch lever. Itself noticeable steeper than the also non-adjustable Brembo front brake (which itself was perfect in its span and feel for myself). Not only was the rake different, it was non linear which coupled with a mid stroke clutch biting point meant more thought than usual was needed in pulling away.
I raise these points in the hope of highlighting the benefits of testing any perspective bike purchase beyond the 10 mile or so norm. Beyond the initial positives found with the V7 at a stand still my first couple of hours in the saddle were fraught with not only trying to understand and adapt to the handling, braking and engine characteristics of the V7 I was very conscious of every potential situation requiring feathering the clutch and or trying to navigate the lower end of the gearbox. It was only after several more hours of riding did I realise that the benefit of the raked clutch lever was that it meant I could feather the clutch using just my index and middle fingers, as the raked end of the lever gave room to the remaining fingers of my hand on the grip. This made filtering through traffic or holding a low speed approaching junctions effortless. I also found that the V7 was more than happy pulling away in second, so much so that I rarely used first gear during my time with the bike. The shift from second to neutral was far more successful too. So if I was caught at traffic lights I could take advantage of the engine layout and warm my frozen hands on perfectly placed cylinder heads (did I mention it was cold …) This in turn meant the errant gear indicator became less of an issue than before too.
On the move the gearbox itself was wonderful, not once did I suffer any form of ‘false neutral’ or a missed shift. Also if pressing on and the mood so takes, up and down shifting can be completed without the use of clutch with a correctly timed throttle adjustment.
The fuelling is excellent, with just the right amount of throttle slack built in so as to not result in unwanted throttle inputs when dealing with rough and bumpy roads, which living in the Fens is virtually every road for me. I’m not kidding when I say there are roads where standing up like a race horse jockey is required no matter what type of motorcycle you are riding.
With the only possible suspension adjustment being rear preload, I found the overall ride quality of the bike to be exactly in line with the model’s performance requirements. That being a good compromise between comfort and sporting prowess. With myself being at the lighter range of the design brief there were instances on said bad roads and at speed where a series of bumps resulted in the rear wheel losing contact with the ground whilst the bike tried to re-compose itself. Whilst I could mistakenly go down the road of making the case for Moto Guzzi to upgrade the model to higher quality adjustable suspension, I feel it would actually be a mistake. Aside from the unwanted increase to price I feel it would lose the bike its soul. Currently everything works in synergy. Despite initial concerns on only having a single front disc and caliper not once did I feel the brakes couldn’t reign in the bike safely. The feel is great from the Brembo set up and the front suspension manages to cope with the braking force on offer. The Michelin tyres performed perfectly in the cold conditions and dealt with all the chassis, suspension and brakes could muster. Their size and profile helping the suspension with the flex they deliver, which also has the added benefit of generating heat in the cold conditions.
With all this in mind I feel that should a notable improvement be made in any single area the end result would simply highlight that the limits have already been reached elsewhere.
Seemingly as with all past Moto Guzzi models the engine is the star of the show and the 850cc engine fitted to the V7 is no different. Whilst its happy to pull all gears from as low a 2000rpm it really is at its best from 3000 to 7000rpm. It really is a case of an engine far exceeding its written specs (as with other engines such as Yamaha 700cc twin) producing more than enough performance for the road. Its tone and vibes change throughout its rev range further making it feel like a living breathing thing. It provides a guttural sensation of thrust that you can feel starting at the cylinders, moving along the crank and through the shaft drive before finally reaching the back tyre. This results in an excellent feeling of connection between the throttle grip and the rear tyre.
It revs faster and harder than I anticipated and as a result can lead to hitting the relatively soft limiter just north of 7000rpm. I was particularly impressed with the engine braking fuel management which is consistent throughout the rev range. The resulting predictability this gave meant I could often just use a timed down shift along with the use of good rear brake to turn the bike with less lean and therefore risk than I would simply railing around corners. With the bike neatly at the apex I could then use the torque of the engine to fire out of the corner usually with the bike twisting and moving around which was tremendous fun and draws me to make the tentative comparison of the V7 to that of the early muscle bikes of the late 70/early 80s, albeit a modern equivalent with more real world performance.
Just like with those models you can feel flex, the suspension is compliant and can be used to significantly change the handling characteristics at any given corner should you not anticipate the road ahead. The tyres clearly have a range of performance they can offer before you can literally feel them protesting which is usually around the time ground clearance can come into play. Those engines were also torque filled, short geared visceral things too. The brakes thankfully are a significant improvement on those times!
The riding position on the V7 also reminds of the era too. A slightly forward cant to the nice wide bars, which themselves are rolled further towards the centre of the yoke than other models in the sector which places more weight over the front of the bike resulting in a high level of confidence from the front during riding, particularly I found at slower speeds around town.
With an almost flat foot position, slightly forward of the seat line my legs where bent to the point of my knees been slightly raised. As well as being comfortable this had the added benefit of allowing me to easily put weight through my legs during cornering to help steer the bike The forward cant of my upper half also meant it avoided my body weight being carried straight down my spine, which usually quickly results in a sore lower back/numb behind. The riding position along with the excellent seat, itself sculpted provides a soft backstop meaning that even after several hours of riding I had no such aches or pains.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the V7 and at time when the world is looking for the next ‘thing’ to be lighter, faster and stuffed with as much technology as possible I found the V7 to be a refreshing change. It has everything it needs and nothing it doesn’t. It is engaging, characterful and different.
During my time with the bike it garnered more looks and questions from the public than any previous model I’ve ridden. A common theme amongst them was ‘I didn’t realise they still made bikes’ which whilst I appreciate gives a feeling of exclusivity to existing owners I feel is a real disservice not only to the brands offering but to the riders that could be riding a thing of joy rather than opting for the more visibly marketed and in some cases soulless alternatives available.
As well as thanking Moto Guzzi for the opportunity to test the V7, I would like to also extend my gratitude to Helmet City for providing me with apparel more in keeping with the heritage of the bike rather than donning my race leathers, full review of these items can be found across my Social Media platforms – Helmet City are one of my racing sponsors and together we are able to offer readers a 15% discount, please use code DMR15 at checkout : www.helmetcity.co.uk
Thank you to Matt Anthony Photography for capturing the spirit of the bike perfectly.