This month we’ll be looking at the Moto Guzzi V7, a retro-inspired motorcycle who’s Italian heritage dates back to the original V7 of the 1960s. In this article we’ll continue from discussing the history of the V7 last week, and take the motorcycle out for a ride to see how it performs and give some initial first impressions.
The Moto Guzzi V7 is a motorcycle that I’ve kept my eye on for a long time, I even tried to buy one or two over the years, but could never come to terms with the value for the price. A friend leaving town for a couple months suggested I could ride his Moto Guzzi V7 in exchange for taking care of it while he was gone, and I gratefully agreed.
After sufficient time checking tire pressure, adjusting mirrors, and generally just admiring the beautiful lines of this bike, it was time to hit the road. That’s where I encountered the first hiccup. Downshifting from neutral into first gear felt awkward, almost too smooth, and releasing the clutch as I gently rolled the throttle would reveal that while the Guzzi was telling me it was in first gear, it wasn’t. The Neutral light was off, I had kicked the shifter down, but it had not engaged first year.
I should add that this is a 7 year old Moto Guzzi with 30,000 kilometers (about 19,000 miles), and it wasn’t hot out, but the Guzzi was fuel injected (more on that later), and downshifting shouldn’t be effected. I clicked back up to neutral, back down to first gear, and then revved up the engine, and that seemed to be the winning combination to wake the Guzzi up and set her in motion.
The initial onset of the transverse v-twin mean that when the motor is turning at low RPM, in other words when you first turn it on or shut it off, you can feel a sideways push from the motor. It’s not enough to be unnerving, but it is noticeable, like so many other Guzzi traits I would come to learn.
The Moto Guzzi was comfortable on the streets of Toronto. It’s no racing machine, but it has enough low end pull to take off briskly compared to cars on the road, and the v-twin pulled up big hills at relatively low RPM compared to what a parallel twin equivalent would have required.
New riders will appreciate the Moto Guzzi’s low seat height at red lights and stop signs. The Guzzi’s short wheelbase also makes it fairly easy to handle, although it does weigh in at around 400 lbs wet.
Once warmed up, the V7 downshifted smoothly, and clutch control and play felt on point, despite the motorcycle giving the impression of being as agricultural as it is refined.
That same combination of agricultural vs refined feeling transmitted into the sound. While the Moto Guzzi V7 I was on did come with just the stock exhausts, I have to admit to being one of the best sounding stock ever. The exhausts speak to the tractorlike quality of the motor, with a low rpm gurgle that must sound exquisite… once you install some aftermarket pipes to really let out the motor’s full musical potential. But there’s a weird, very electric whirring sound on deceleration when coming down to a stop. It’s noticeable enough to remind you that in spite of it’s retro looks, and ‘charismatic’ motor, you’re still on a modern motorcycle.
Attentive riders will be able to feel a difference between right turns and left turns. The left side of the motorcycle feels lighter, due to the V7’s shaft drive being on the motorcycle’s right side. Again, not enough to be annoying, but enough to be noticeable. That seems to be the theme of this bike.
Likewise, both of the Moto Guzzi’s head gaskets were leaking on this 2014 model. Once more, not enough to be annoying, but enough to be noticeable. This is despite the fact that the motor had only 30,000 kilometers (19,000 miles) on it. I suspect the motorcycle may have been dropped on both sides, which could have resulted in damage to those gaskets, but these are only suspicions.
As I park the Moto Guzzi my fit slips off the side of the kickstand, not once, not twice, but at least thrice. I would have to reach down with my hand to avoid being stuck on the motorcycle. This would come down to a broken exhaust heat shield that was getting in the way, and speaks more to the state of repair the V7 I owned was in, rather than the build quality of Moto Guzzi.
I love the look and the lines of the Moto Guzzi, and it’s also left me pleasantly surprised with the motorcycle’s character and torque. However, these motorcycles do come at a premium price-point, and there are a lot of little things on this particular unit that have me a bit skeptical of whether or not the V7 really is the motorcycle for me.
Stay tuned for my next ride update, my final Moto Guzzi V7 I review, to see if the V7 grows on me, or grows to annoy me!