The Moto Guzzi V7 has its origins in antiquity, but the latest Stone shows that it isn’t stuck in a tech timewarp
PAHANG, MALAYSIA — Only a handful of bike makers can churn out products that even a blind person could identify, and Moto Guzzi is one of them. Take any of its models and grope the cylinders (assuming you see nothing wrong with groping a model’s cylinders) and you instantly recognise how, uniquely in the biking world, they stick out perkily on either side of the frame.
Or you could just twist the throttle and feel that little sideways kick you get from the crankshaft’s longitudinal rotation.
Either way, Guzzis offer something unique and traditional. But that doesn’t mean they’re trapped in a tech time warp, even if the bikes themselves don’t look to have evolved much. The entry-level V7 range is a prime example; between the II edition and the III you see here, it’s gained a new frame, new engine and new suspension set-up. That’s quite a jump, though I’ll be damned if I can tell the difference between them just by looking.
As before, you can have your V7 in three trim lines: Racer, Special and Stone, in descending order of fanciness. The V7 III Stone here, at $18,000 for just the machine, is pretty much biking at its plain and retro best.
There’s a simple single headlight, a low, flat saddle, and the upright riding posture that fosters a nicely laid-back style of riding. The instrumentation is dead simple, too, with only a single analogue gauge (a speedo) inside which you’ll find a small LED screen with readouts that you toggle through. If you didn’t know any better you might mistake the V7 for a classic bike, which would probably make its designers’ day.
One thing worth noting is a total absence of chrome, which you’ll either find refreshing or turn your nose up at. If you ask me, the extensive matte black finish is a godsend to anyone whose idea of Hell is an afternoon spent kneeling by a bike with a tube of Autosol. Bikes are for riding, not polishing.
If you share that philosophy, the Stone is your kind of machine. For something in the 750 class it’s no ball of fire, but it’ll handily outrun, say, a Harley Sportster. More to the point, it corners, too. The Guzzi tips into bends with little effort, and there’s a surprising amount of lean angle available, so before long you find yourself hustling through twisties with loads of confidence.
Obviously you won’t keep up with your sportsbike riding pals, but you’ll probably arrive in better shape, with your spine more or less as God intended it to be, hands you can still feel and wrists that don’t feel like they’re about to fall off.
I covered more than 1,300km on the Stone and another Guzzi, the V7 II Racer, while filming a promo video for Moto Guzzi with The New Paper’s Biker Boy. Through plenty of mountain roads and diabolical twisties, we only grounded the pegs a couple of times between us, and the overall impression of the Stone is that it’s a retro machine with modern manners.
If you’re planning to tour on the Guzzi, however, you’ll find the lack of wind protection a weakness, unless it’s your aim to build a neck as thick as a chestnut tree. There’s enough space on the saddle to strap a weekend’s worth of clothing, too, so if you’re headed for a weekend away, the V7 is more than up to it. There’s plenty of touring range from the 21-litre tank, too, especially since you’ll get 22 to 24km out of a litre, even at a pretty smart pace.
But it’s an urban setting where the Stone feels most at home. The low saddle makes it easy to handle at walking speeds, and the bike’s low centre of gravity helps it to feel light and manageable. In town you won’t hanker as much for more braking power, too, unlike on the open road, where the single disc front set up requires a pretty hard squeeze on the lever whenever you have to shed big speed in a hurry.
Yet, it’s probably worth remembering that you’re probably not meant to do much on this bike in a hurry. The V7 III Stone can be hustled along with surprising ease, but it’s ultimately an urban machine that’s comfy and built more for style than speed. Think of it as a two-wheel equivalent of a classic Alfa or Fiat. You can blat along quite nicely in those, but would probably take it easy most of the time. In the Guzzi’s case, that just makes it that much easier for others to take a long, lingering look at those perky cylinders.
NEED TO KNOW Moto Guzzi V7 III Stone
Enginetype 744cc, 4V, V-twin
Bore x Stroke 80.0 x 74mm
Gearbox 6-speed manual
Max power 52hp at 6,300rpm
Max torque 60Nm at 4,900rpm
0 to 100km/h 5 seconds (estimated)
Top speed 180km/h (estimated)
Wet Weight 209kg
Seat Height 770mm
Agent Mah Pte Ltd
Pictures Leow Ju-Len and Haiqal Anwar
III is greater than II
The advances between V7 III and V7 II models might not be readily apparent, but getting to ride the V7 III Stone back-to-back against a V7 II Racer shone a light on just how much progress has been made between generations.
When you ride them the most immediate difference is in the clutch action; the V7 III’s engages more progressively, allowing you to pull away from rest more smoothly. It seems to help the six-speed transmission to feel less clunky as you flick the lever up and down.
The V7 III also has a new, adjustable traction control system that comes in handy when it’s wet; it’s the sort that cuts in unobtrusively, so it feels more like it’s aiding you than admonishing you.
There are significant engine changes between II and III, too, involving new pistons, cylinder heads, a lighter crank and a new lubrication system. Even the exhaust is new. The net result is a small rise in power (from 48hp to 52hp), but the real objective of the revisions was to clean up emissions.
The chassis sees some revisions to the geometry, but given that the Stone and Racer have different setups and riding positions anyway, it wasn’t possible to suss out what differences in handling characteristics are down to the new design.
Riding the older Racer model did reinforce just how pretty a bike it is, though, with its scarlet frame, slim form and exquisite details. Thankfully, all of that is being carried over into the V7 III Racer. Updating a bike is important, but knowing what not to change, even more so.