With the copy deadline approaching for this issue I half-heartedly asked if there were any demos available. I was told yes — the brand new V100 Guzzi which is call the Mandello. Deep joy. I have been waiting for this bike to come out for over a year. The Eagle Has Landed (as you film buffs will chuckle at) — the eagle is the iconic symbol of Motto Guzzi, in remembrance of one of the founders who was in the Italian Airforce in the First World War and then sadly died after starting the Motto Guzzi factory. The factory is still in the same place at Mandello Del Lario in the North of Italy.
This is a funky looking sports tourer perhaps in the RS1250 BMW mould. However Guzzi always do it differently.
There is a huge range of bikes available for any biker to choose from. Many are brand loyal and others like to chop and change. The brand loyalty of Guzzi riders is akin to Harley riders. They hardly ever come up for sale, secondhand as they are kept by owners for yonks. I had a brand new V11 sport for 9 years.
Off to Mo-Tech in Newcastle and Neil was casting concerned eyes at the sky as it had been raining off and on in a very wet March. It had taken them ages to clean this demo bike which had only 58 miles on it on its last run out. I assured him that it wouldn’t rain.
The striking white basic model (the S has electronically adjustable Ölins suspension, heated grips, quickshifter). It’s a very clean low and slim bike on first view. Gold cast alloy wheels really set it off together with a single sided swinging arm which neatly hide the shaft drive but with those huge two transverse V-twin gold and carbon fibre covered pots sticking out beside the knees and now liquid-cooled. That 1042cc DOHC engine is a big part of the bike and everything revolves around it — it’s not shy and it’s not hidden away. Being shown around the controls as I sat on the bike, the TFT was an engaging one and interestingly I got to grips with it straight away which was some feat for me. We agreed “ride” mode of ride/tour/rain/sport. The cruise control looked particularly easy to use. Little touches impressed: the single-angled tire valves on the wheels; the sign on the handlebar clamp proclaiming this was a V100 Mandello made by Moto Guzzi with the year 1921 on — heritage — and the attention to detail including the daytime running headlamp in the shape of an eagle. There is much more if you carefully look round the bike.
Off through the crowded streets and a decision to head West for better weather. Characteristic engagement of Guzzi gears but none the worse for that at lower speeds. After getting out of the traffic which was a breeze to go through on a big bike, the V100 was yearning for the open road. I bashed along the A69 West towards Hexham but decided on a whim to turn off and head South on the A68 which is a great swooping and fast road which I thought would suit this bike. A little spit of rain and I managed to sort out the electrically adjusted windscreen straightaway on the TFT display. I was looking forward to engaging the rain flaps on the side of the fairing just above the knees which I’d heard so much about.
The back passed the Hipkin acceleration test, motoring up steep gradients in fifth and sixth gear without pausing for breath. I was having great fun swinging round the bends and the peaks and troughs of the A68 when the heavens opened. Marvellous. Perhaps it was the same weather had I test rode it straight from the factory in Northern Italy in March!
I switched so easily to rain mode I surprise myself, on the go, and lo and behold the Thunderbirds like rain flaps extended. I was officially a stealth bomber pilot now! The combo of the flaps and the extended screen created an excellent protection against the rain by which time it was “stotting” down. After 20 minutes or so of this even with the best rain protection on I thought it might be time to pull over to avoid the spray of the big lorries passing in the opposite direction on the A68. The Manor House Inn at Carterway Heads hover into sight so I pulled in. A log fire, cracking cup of cappuccino and an irresistible triple choc brownie with ice-cream was the saviour as I made my notes up. As soon as I’d finished, the sun came out and the rain stopped. If I’d continued I would have had to look out for Noah’s Ark.
I decided to swing around and go back down the A68, accelerating downhill on those lovely curves, crossing the A69 and then back up the A68 North for as far as I wanted to go to prove this bike’s mettle. Swinging it around again I came back and then took the Military Road through the Heddon on the Wall which is another glorious run on a bike like this. A69 and back into town and it was all too soon that I had to hand back the keys. I offered to and did help wash down the bike because it was “hacks” by then. Washing your bike always brings out an appreciation of its finer points and this was no different.
I commented how easy this bike was to ride. I actually forgot about my riding position and comfort because it simply wasn’t an issue and it was only when I got off I realised how comfortable and involved this was. The start-up was the usual big Guzzi growl/bark and rumble and the old trick of blipping the throttle in neutral causes the bike to sway to the left and back. On my run downhill on the A68 I was double de-clutching it for the heck of it as I used to on my own V11 Sport and it became a really involving, all senses engaging, ride. That description together with the uniqueness of this type of bike and its heritage is probably the selling point. It is not an anodyne riding experience. I couldn’t use all of the 108 bhp but I think you will agree the photographs make you want to look twice at this bike. You certainly don’t want to think twice about arranging a demo — get on down there!
Mark Hipkin is a Partner/ Head of the Personal Injury and Civil Litigation department. He welcomes your e-mails or calls on the law (or your biking experiences) at email@example.com or call 0191 2533509.