It was a cold March morning, exactly six years since I had previously tested the Moto Guzzi V7II Stone (again in black). Although on this occasion, I was sitting astride the more powerful, newer version at Motech in Newcastle. This bike was the much-heralded bigger engine/more power version, and as such, it should be called version IV of the V7 that was re-made in 2008. The first V7 came out in 1967 and was a 700cc shaft drive v-twin (90 degrees) air-cooled bike. Hence the V7! Strictly speaking, the 2008 onwards model should have been called the V75, and again, strictly speaking, this version should be called the V85. However, Guzzi already has a V85 bike which is a dual purpose on/ off-roader, like the BMW GS range so it stays as the V7.
It was interesting to look back at my test ride six years ago. Back then it too was the Stone version (not the “special” chromed version), but the bike was essentially the same. It comes with matt black paint and an engine with black exhausts and cast, black wheels rather than spokes. It looks mean. It has what is called ‘attitude’. It would grace any biker scene – from café cruising to scratching around the countryside and is probably what non- biking members of the public think a bike should look and sound like.
The 2008 onwards bike had a 744cc engine, but it’s the same push rod type fuel-injected design as in this, but it only had 48 BHP. Similar single discs front and back (Brembo now) and with the Guzzi shaft and not chain driven.
This bike has minimal electronic gadgetry. It has ABS and simple traction control with no modes to switch between. After all, is that not what these types of retro bikes should have?
Talking about retro – Moto Guzzi started making bikes in 1921, and you can still
buy the Anniversario models from last year. This air-cooled v-twin configuration is the Guzzi trademark and is known throughout the biking fraternity for this. It’s different to the Ducati v-twins and the Harley v-twins which are the other well-known brands. Each has its own power delivery and unique qualities.
What would this be like to ride? Would it be better than the previous version? Spookily, it was Neil again at Motech who showed me around the bike as he did 6 years ago! There is exactly 25 per cent difference in BHP from 48 to now 64 BHP for this model. It has been updated and tweaked. There are small state-of-the-art smoked indicators, and the paint and general quality of the instruments and metalwork are deep and appealing. I think the cast wheels show the bike off best. A low seat height of just under 31 inches and the unmistakable start-up sound of a Guzzi with the bark and sideways sway as one big cylinder kicks in and then the other. It’s not the quietest of bikes at standstill but that’s what you expect. Off out the yard onto the main road. My first impression was that the footrests were further forward than I expected when I had to put my foot down. Lovely noise of a rumble at low speeds. It was so nice I decided to travel to the coast down the A1068 to show the bike off to my son who has always wanted a Guzzi after my 1100 Sport café racer in 2000. He loved the look of it. None of these retros are the best motorway tools. You would need a fly-screen at least but that’s not what these bikes are sold for. They are sold for nostalgic reasons but in a modern package. The fact that this bike walks the walk and talks the talk is, I think, the real deal here.
I got back to down-shifting with a double- declutch, which I used to do on my old Guzzi, just to hear the sound of the exhaust and feel the sway of the engine as it does so before sharp bends, for the sheer heck of it. This is a great handling bike. I can remember looking at an older Guzzi before 2000 in a garage, and the salesman told me that you have to ride Guzzis and get used to them. Wise words, at the time for older models, but newer models still have the previous character, but those ride difficulties are now a thing of the past.
I re-visited the Vale Café, which is the usual bikers’ haunt on Front Street in Rothbury, for a mug of tea and a bacon sandwich. I was going to do an Italian-themed café photo opportunity, but it seemed right to go back there on this bike.
This bike is a direct competitor to several current retro bikes – the Triumph Bonneville/Street Twins, which also have an uprated engine; the Kawasaki W800; the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650cc and the Yamaha XSR.
Which one to pick? My money is on the Guzzi. It’s “authentic”.
It’s not just because of my history with Guzzis, but they evoke a fondness and characterful appreciation due to their quirks. This has been brought up to 2022 standard, but these bikes are bought with the heart, not with the mind or the wallet. Having said that, this bike will do 63 mpg and only costs £95 per year to tax. The question you have to ask
yourself is “do you want to become one of the Guzzisti?”Thanks to Neil at Motech for the loan again, and as I said in my previous article, “any day spent on a Guzzi can’t be a bad day.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0191 2533509.