By David Harrington
Goldilocks Picks Tiramisu-Flavored Porridge.
I probably shouldn’t work on motorcycle articles when I’m hungry. Still, “just right” porridge and hazelnut/chocolate Italian deliciousness are apt, as the motorcycle I’m writing about is the Moto Guzzi V7.
Established as a business in 1921 (the first motorcycle prototype was produced in 1919) Moto Guzzi has been building motorcycles for quite some time. Ownership has changed several times over the years and since late 2004 Moto Guzzi has been part of the Piaggio group – the same people who bring us Aprilia motorcycles and Vespa scooters. I had owned a couple of Moto Guzzi in the 1970s and 80s (Lemans, 1000S, that sort of thing) and was very happy to see the V7 come back (unveiled in Milan in 2007). I’m a fan of standard motorcycles, from Brit bikes to UJMs (Universal Japanese Motorcycles) to BMWs. Upright seating, neutral handling, relatively light weight, good performance and considerable customization possibilities have pulled me to standard motorcycles for decades (more decades than I’ll admit to). Having recently moved from the “big house” to a townhouse and, more importantly, moved from a two-and-a-half car garage with a workshop AND a cement two-car carport to a MAYBE one-and-a-half car garage, I had to trim the two-wheeled collection a bit. I needed one motorcycle that could handle everything from parkway cruising to weekend touring.
I gave serious thought to finding a nice older Honda CB750, or maybe a mid-90s Nighthawk 700. Thoughts of yet another BMW airhead twin or even a newfangled oil-head came and went. I wanted reliability with minimum maintenance. I wanted fuel injection. I wanted lightweight and nimble handling. The new Honda CB1100 looked great on paper, but it was too big and heavy in the flesh. Triumph’s Bonneville (especially the T100) looked like the best choice for a do-everything standard, and then I took a close look at the Moto Guzzi V7. Some research to verify that the new V7 really was reliable, a chat or two with Sev Pearman (he’s very fond of his V7) and a visit to Bob Hedstrom’s showroom and I was hooked. The V7 is even lighter than the Bonneville, and I found it more comfortable. The tough part was settling on one of three V7 models.
The Moto Guzzi V7 came in basic (Stone), classic (Special) and factory café (Racer) versions. I could eliminate the Racer tight away. It’s GORGEOUS, but clip-ons, rear-sets and the accompanying riding position were not what I wanted. Stone or Special, Stone or Special…. The Special has breathtaking spoke wheels and tank graphics that take me right back to the early 1980s, but it’s mechanically identical to the basic Stone with cast wheels and $800 more expensive. That $800 would go a long way toward getting the accessories I wanted, so the basic Stone, in glossy white, it was.
The V7 Stone is powered by a 744cc 90-degree V-Twin that makes about 50 horses and 43 foot-pounds of torque. It’s fed via Weber-Marelli fuel injection and meters power to the rear wheel through a dry single plate clutch, five-speed transmission and shaft final drive. Handling duties are covered by a 40mm telescopic front fork in the front with an 18-inch 100/90 tire and an alloy swing-arm with two adjustable Bitubo shocks in back with a 17-inch 130/80 rubber. Brembo disc brakes front and rear (320mm and 260mm respectively) with a four-piston caliper up front scrub off speed with efficiency and no drama. Wheelbase is 57 inches, seat height is 31.5 inches or 30.5 with the optional OEM lowered gel seat (which I have on my bike). The bike weighs 395 lbs. dry. Yeah, that was a biggie for me. You might think your 480-lb. Bonneville is light and nimble, but you’d be amazed the difference 85 lbs. can make.
As alluded to above, my new Moto Guzzi V7 went out the door from Mill City Motors/Scooterville with the optional lower gel seat from Moto Guzzi. That was the only change from dead stock for the first few months. During the first few hundred miles, the ONLY niggling mechanical issue was a slightly noisy transmission that was a little rough, especially between 2nd and 3rd. Otherwise I experienced (dare I say it) Honda-like reliability and functionality. The V7, fuel injection notwithstanding, is a touch cold blooded, but warms up quickly and anything you thought was a rough idle disappears. Speaking of disappearing, the transmission was smoother and glitch-free after about 300 miles. I’ve been getting about 50 miles-to-the-gallon of fuel, which is what I expected. A lot of my urban riding and commuting over the past several years has been on scooters, so I was a spoiled by my 70 – 90 MPG averages, still 50 MPG is acceptable to me for this bike.
After the V7 was broken in, I started adding to it. First up was some luggage. After a lot of research, I went with the Hepco & Becker hard luggage and chrome mounting system. I went with the 40-liter sized bags and they’ve held what I need them to, lock on securely and look great on the bike. Though the V7 looks GREAT naked, I decided to add a small front screen to take some of the wind blast off my torso. A nice medium-sized Givi did the job. I’ve got my comfy gel seat, hauling capacity, and a little wind deflection. Sounds like it’s time for some Wisconsin back-road time to me.
The V7 had been performing admirable in Twin Cities commuting duty and it gobbled up I-94 into Hudson, even flitting around the inevitable heavy truck traffic with ease. Exit at Carmichael Road and head more or less south. Twisty two-lanes with sudden changes in elevation are what the V7 exists for. The V7 takes and holds a line in the corners with minimal shaft-rise felt from changes in throttle input. The brakes are responsive, easy to modulate and create no surprises. 50 horses don’t seem like a lot, but on a 395-lb. bike they are enough. No, I didn’t set any new personal speed records or grind away the pegs, but that’s not what I wanted to do. I’d call my pace brisk and the ride exhilarating. This is what I wanted – a standard bike light enough to be effortless around town and with sufficient performance and comfort for light duty touring and rewarding weekend runs. The Italian Tiramisu flavor is just a bonus.
By Guido Ebert
Moto Guzzi’s V7 Stone Rolls Nicely
I’m going to start with my summation of Moto Guzzi’s V7 Stone: It would make for a wonderful commuter. It’s light, nimble, and with enough torque to squirt you through traffic. Add to that useful accessories like the windscreen and bags that we had on this test bike, and its good for most things you ask of it.
It’ a perfectly modern bike, but its performance and overall feel very much reminded me of a bike from the 70s and 80s – thus, I suppose, a “Modern Classic.”
The V7 Stone is one of three V7 models offered by Moto Guzzi, a Piaggio-owned brand. Also available are the V7 Special ($9,290) and V7 Racer ($10,990). All three offer the same mechanical make-up but offer vast differences in packaging.
The fuel tank and fenders offer the only opportunity for color on the Stone.
The chassis, engine and alloy wheels are black and allow the chrome silencers, headlight ring, instrument cluster profile, mirrors, shocks and cylinder cooling fins to prominently contrast.
Swing a leg over the V7.
The first thing you notice is how slim the bike is – despite the engine jugs jutting out from either side.
Up top, hand controls on either end of the wide chrome bars are standard configuration. The ignition is offset to the left, just beyond the bar clamps. There’s an analog speedometer and tachometer, and small digital windows within the two gauges that offer mileage/trip meter and engine temp/time. Above the gauges are indicator lights for high beam, neutral, turn signal, low fuel, low engine oil and service.
Fire the V7 up.
Like corn popping on the stovetop, the bike sounds docile at idle or when it’s air-cooled engine isn’t under a lot of strain. Twist the grip, though, and the chrome exhaust emits a deep baritone bark, leaving folks around you wondering if that audacious sound truly just came out of that humble looking two-wheeler.
Seating is perfectly Standard, and as comfortable as sitting on the commode. At 5’9” and inseam-challenged, I utilized the balls of my feet during two-footed stops. Alternatively, I was able to stand flat-footed with a single-foot stop.
There were a couple of issues here, though. First, the location of the engine jugs relative to the rubber-mounted foot pegs may have your leg positioned between the two. When starting off, remember to raise those feet. Second, I found my seating position to be quite far forward. I realized this after the inseam of my jeans continuously got caught up in the small gap between the seat and the fuel tank. Taller riders may feel like a bear on a bicycle.
Once on the road, the fuel-injected 744cc V-twin spun up nicely. Typically, oversquare engines such as this produce a lot of power for their displacement and rev high at the expense of low-end torque. The 50 hp and 42.7 ft. lbs. of torque don’t feel inadequate moving this 430-lb. package.
The engine spins 3,100 rpm at 50mph in 5th (top) gear, 4,200 rpm at 70mph, and 4,900 rpm at 80mph. Maximum torque comes on at 5,000 rpm, all of the horses are unbridled at 6,200 rpm.
The Stone felt well-damped. Already easily maneuverable because of its size, the bike’s 40mm stanchions and handlebar set-up offer a lightweight feel and its dual chrome shocks deliver minimal feedback through the seat. Surprisingly, given the engine’s shaking, there wasn’t much vibration coming through the handlebars.
Rolling stock comes in the form of six-spoke alloy wheels shod in Pirelli Sport Demon tires, 100/90 R18 fore and 130/80 R17 aft – a lot of rubber that adds to the bike’s smooth operating character.
Braking with the single 320mm front disc, 260mm rear disc and Brembo calipers felt progressive and linear.
The one most obvious mechanical drawback I found came with the transmission. Well, not the transmission per say, but how the shifter engages. Whereas the engine is Modern, the shifter is long-throw Classic. It doesn’t like to be rushed, but instead responds best to slow, deliberate foot action – which, when I come to think of it, really serves as another summation of the entire bike. It isn’t a model to be rushed, but instead asks for easy rider inputs that are rewarded with equally smooth output.
As for the actual transmission, the shaft-drive – hidden behind the exhaust – is barely visible at a glance. Surprisingly small, it’s nearly indistinguishable from the opposite side swingarm. And that’s perfect, because there’ll likely be no need to service it for many thousands of miles.
As for those miles, Guzzi says a full 5.8 gallons of fuel will get you a range of 310 miles – or, a trip from Minneapolis to Duluth and back.
Once parked, it was always endearing to watch how the bike shook itself to sleep when the power was cut.
Ultimately, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Moto Guzzi V7 Stone, a bike that’s perfect for around-town riding and, together with bags & windshield, could comfortably handle some light touring duty.
Editor’s Note: The Moto Guzzi V7 Stone profiled is a 2013 model that retailed for $8,390. The latest iteration of the V7 Stone is dubbed the V7 II Stone ABS ($8,990) and comes with a new six-speed gearbox, a revised clutch offering softer action and a more even release, anti-lock brakes and electronic traction control, revised engine position for improved weight distribution, lower footpegs to better accommodate taller riders and a new rear light cluster.