The Moto Guzzi V7 Racer

Good-looking and fun to ride, the new Moto Guzzi V7 Racer adds another flavor to the café crowd.

| September/October 2012

2012 Moto Guzzi V7 Racer
Claimed power: 48.8hp @ 6,800rpm
Top speed: 115mph (est.)
Engine: 744cc air-cooled OHV 90-degree V-twin, 80mm x 74mm bore and stroke, 9.6:1 compression ratio
Weight (wet): 198kg (436lb)
MPG/Fuel capacity: 40-45mpg (observed)/4.5gal (17ltr)
Price now: $9,990

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: Regardless of how cool it looks, regardless of how much attention it draws with its go-fast boy racer good looks, the Moto Guzzi V7 Racer is emphatically not a racer. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the coolest retro bikes on the market.

The latest in Moto Guzzi’s V7 line of retro classics, the Racer draws a straight line to Moto Guzzi’s illustrious past and, more specifically, the bike that put it on the American performance map, the original 1971 V7 Sport. The V7 Sport posted notice that Moto Guzzi, known best at the time stateside for its large V-twin cruiser, the Ambassador, was equally capable at the performance game. Importantly, the V7 Sport laid the foundation for a generation of sport bikes from Moto Guzzi, including the immortal Le Mans in 1976.

Moto Guzzi’s star once burned bright in the U.S., but over the last several decades the American market hasn’t been quite so brilliant for the Italian maker. In a market that rewards flash with cash, Moto Guzzi has had a hard time measuring up against the continuing Japanese proliferation of models and the mechanical brilliance of rival Ducati. The V7 Racer doesn’t change all of that, but it does give Moto Guzzi an effective weapon in its arsenal.

Building up

We’ve been following Guzzi’s developing line of retro classics since the introduction of the V7 Classic in 2007. We praised the 2008 Moto Guzzi V7 Classic model (Motorcycle Classics, September/October 2008) for its mixture of good looks, character and simplicity. “New motorcyclists wanting a traditionally styled bike would do well to consider the V7 Classic alongside other retro models as a first bike,” we wrote. Our favorable impressions continued after a 10-day trial aboard the sportier 2010 Moto Guzzi V7 Café Classic (Motorcycle Classics, September/October 2010), which we called “one of the best looking bikes on the market, a simple, honest machine with modern equipment and modern reliability dressed with classic sensibility.” Our favorable impressions continue with the V7 Racer, which broadens the line in character and style, both of which it has in spades.

Where the Classic is all about moderation, an approachable, unassuming machine with classic styling cues, the Moto Guzzi V7 Racer is all about excess and exuberance. From any angle, this is a bike that shouts to be noticed. The loud and proud café racer theme starts at the front with a tiny front windscreen/number plate wearing a huge “7” and continues to the rear with a plastic seat cowl, also festooned with a similarly-sized “7” on its flanks. In between are clip-on “swan neck” handlebars eliciting memories of Guzzis of yore, perforated pressed-aluminum side covers with “V7 Racer” decals, rebound-adjustable Bitubo piggyback shock absorbers, and punched and folded aluminum muffler hangers.

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