2008 Moto Guzzi V7 Classic

The past is now

| September/October 2008

2008 Moto Guzzi V7 Classic
Claimed power:
48.8hp @ 6,800rpm
Top speed: 115mph
Engine: 744cc OHV, air-cooled 90-degree V-twin
Weight (dry): 182kg (400lbs)
Fuel capacity / MPG: 17ltr (4.5gal) / 45mpg (est.)
Price: $11,000 (est.)

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. Bombing down the dramatic roads that twist and turn along the shores of Lake Como in northern Italy on an air-cooled 2008 Moto Guzzi V7 Classic, the time-honored designation “V7” emblazoned on its side panel, I can almost imagine it’s 1966 all over again, not 2008.

The very first Moto Guzzi V-twin was the loop-framed V7 700 of 1966, developed here at Mandello del Lario in what must be the most impossibly romantic setting for a motorcycle factory. On the original V7, the “V” referred to the V-twin engine configuration and the “7” to its 700cc capacity. The brand-spanking-new Guzzi I’m riding, the 2008 Moto Guzzi V7 Classic, has the same displacement as the very last Moto Guzzi model to display V7 on its flanks — the legendary, low and lithe 750cc Moto Guzzi V7 Sport of 1972-1974. And it’s still a transverse, 90 degree V-twin pushrod, similar in every important way to the Sport’s. Talk about continuity.

Forty years later 
So what’s changed in 40 years? In some ways, not very much. Although essentially a restyled Breva, the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic is an undeniably good looking motorcycle. Guzzi has dug into its heritage and picked out key styling points from past models to make a medley of the best bits. Following Guzzi’s V-twin/shaft drive concept — and there’s nothing wrong with shouting out proudly the Italian version of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” — and using the proven and reliable 2-valve Breva 750 fuel-injected engine, Guzzi designers have welded on a tubular subframe to cater to the “classic”-looking twin-shock rear end, along with a slight mishmash of parts like the attractive chrome-spoked wheels from Guzzi’s own Nevada cruiser model, and clocks and instruments from a batch originally destined for Ducati Monsters.

The fuel tank, in plastic rather than steel, mimics the lines and shape of the curvaceous tanks on the V7 Sport and Mk1 Le Mans. The triangular side panels with slatted black edges have elements of both the V7 Sport’s and some of the V7’s. The long dual seat, with room enough for a pillion, has “Moto Guzzi” printed in white on the rear so everyone following knows what you are riding, and it’s a nice touch. The engine and transmission are finished in black, and chromed rocker covers make the famous cylinders stand out. The black-faced clocks with chrome bezels remind of earlier Guzzis, as do the chrome passenger grab rails. The chrome is deep, the pearl white paintwork is lustrous, and the tank decals are classy — and so much better than the cheap plastic oval logo Guzzi used on some models up until now.

The Moto Guzzi V7 Classic on the road 
Starting up the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic reveals no surprises. Under the warm Italian sun gracing my test ride the bar-mounted choke is barely needed, and after thumbing the starter button on the right cluster, the bike quickly settles into a regular and familiar idle. I should disclose that I like old Moto Guzzis, and in fact a couple from the mid 1970s reside in my garage. And while I’m trying hard not to make comparisons, isn’t that what Guzzi wants us to do by calling this bike the V7 Classic? I was worried the bike would sound watered down, muted, but the deep throb from the chrome Lafranconi silencers is impressive enough, especially when you’re sitting next to eight other bikes making the same sound. They must have worked at getting the right note: After all, anyone buying an Italian V-twin wants it to sound just that, and the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic makes the right music, in a polite and inoffensive manner.

12/3/2010 7:45:01 PM

I have started seeing the new V7s around St. Louis and they are beautiful. I love my 2008 Triumph Bonneville T100 and wouldn't trade her for the world, but if I could afford a second bike I'd park a V7 classic next to the Bonnie.

Chris H
1/14/2009 12:43:58 AM

I'm with you there. I can't imagine a better bike for a relaxed riding style, and it looks simply stunning.

Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway

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