Believe it or not, but the bike I’m reviewing is not from the ‘60s or ‘70s. It’s the spanking brand-new Moto Guzzi V7 Racer. It might look old, but it has plenty of classic character and is definitely a feast to the eyes.
Moto Guzzi upgraded the Moto Guzzi V7 Racer, which draws its inspiration from the café racer motorcycles of the 1950s and 1960s. The new generation is equipped with a more powerful 744 cc, 90° V-Twin motor which puts out 50 hp at 6,200 rpm and 58 Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm.
The engine is combined with a smooth five-speed gearbox and a new 22 litre fuel tank which ensures a range of up to 320 km. While maintaining the classic 90° V configuration, the engine – which features 70% new parts and a new external finish due to new cylinder heads – provides greater torque and power even at low rpms, and is also more efficient.
The minute I thumbed the starter of this bike, there was so much of oomph. It fires up with so much enthusiasm, much like the Harley-Davidson V-twins. The new single throttle-body/twin-injector system from Marelli has put away choke-like fast idle with the new V7 solid idle, like any other fuel-injected machine.
Just a few minutes on, and I can feel the V7’s power building gradually – created partly by the motor, which revs generously. The power flows freely, and the power band is broad and linear, making progress easy, if not lightning fast.
One thing I must highlight here is that the V7 Racer is no racer. Make no mistake about it. Then why call it a racer? It’s all to do with the styling. For some reason, the beautiful chrome fuel tank with a studded leather strap seems to capture the whole retro theme very well compared to any other parts on the bike. In fact, the chrome tank is definitely very useful to those who are planning on a long journey, where one has the choice to use a magnetic tank bag.
The retro styling on the bike is further emphasised by a single-saddle suede seat with an aerodynamic seat cowl and ‘70s-style racer number plates. The suede seat is thick and wide, and the ergonomics places the rider in a comfortable and undemanding ‘racer crouch’.
Meanwhile, the V7’s low-handle bars, which is a trademark for any café racer, is well designed. These handle bars allows you to sit in a racing like posture without causing pain to your neck or wrists. And not to forget the rear foot pegs are ideally located, at least that’s what six-foot-me, six-foot-two Noel Chua (my riding buddy) and everybody else who rode the bike thought. Additionally, the slim design of the bike makes it easy to weave and out of traffic.
The V7’s air-cooled 744 cc motor has always been about character. The test bike did not come with its standard exhaust, but instead wore an Arrow exhaust. The standard exhaust is extremely sedate, but the Arrow unit definitely gives it character. The Arrow’s sound is a pleasant balance between the engine note and noise levels – you’re not going to set off any car alarms, but your presence will be felt.
Early in the morning, it takes couple of minutes before this sexy looking machine gets warmed up, despite the fuel injection. I needed to give the bike few guns of the throttle after the first few minutes of after cold starts to ensure the bike was all fired up before the start of the journey to Karak. I was a bit worried initially, but after few kilometres, couldn’t wipe of the smirk from my face.
If you have not seen a Guzzi’s V-twin engine, believe you me, it’ll look quite strange, because of the way it is positioned across the frame, rather than the traditional length of the frame like how Ducati, Harley or Kawasaki does it. Because of this, the momentum of the pistons and crankshaft give rise to a side-to-side rocking motion of the whole bike when revving the engine at standstill. It’s different, but did not curb my riding style at all.
The minute I twisted the throttle on the highway and brought it to 3,000 rpm, traveling at 100 km/h and immediately to 5,000 rpm and 6,000 rpm, the surge of power could be felt. Feeling frisky and free spirited, I decided to push it to 160 km/h on fifth gear. However at that speed, there was a slight headshake. I believe if the windshield is placed a little higher, the headshake will be resolved.
The V7 Racer’s sweet spot is between 2,500-3,000 rpm, and it is smooth as it can be in this region. Once I brought the revs over 3,000 rpm, there were vibrations felt on the handlebars, but acceleration was still smooth enough to 6,000 rpm. The 58 Nm of torque, developed already at 2,800 rpm, seems to be the force that drives the V7 Racer rather than the available horsepower.
Mid-corner dive-ins are something you want to think twice even though the bike looks small, because you need quite a bit of muscle to get your way when you come face-to-face with sharp corners. It can be done, but don’t expect any sort of quick response from the chassis.
Another reason for this is could also partly due to the riding position on this bike, which pushed my weight further forward, thus giving the bike a heavier and less responsive feel. The Racer is very stable in corners, but not agile.
During my ride on the Karak Highway, I didn’t take much notice of the rear shocks’ ability. But in the city centre, on uneven roads, the V7 feels less comfortable, mostly due to a Marzocchi fork that’s softer and plungier at speed; the twin adjustable Bitubos at the rear works better.
Below 120 km/h, roll-on power is more than adequate. If commuting is what you want this bike for, the V7 Racer will get you to work in style without breaking a sweat. It will be a challenge for you to overtake someone on a highway (which I tried and failed miserably), but the sexy Racer can surprise muscle-bound competitors in the corners – the tighter the better, unless you are up against a bike like Ducati Hypermotard. I enjoyed every minute of the ride, but I wished there was a bit more excitement when the throttle gets a twist.
Brakes are decent, nothing to shout about. The rear 260 mm discs work with two-piston calipers, and at the front there’s a single 320mm front disc. Yes, that’s a four-piston Brembo caliper, but you don’t get anything like radial mounting, ABS, or impeccable performance. You can live with it though.
Being a Guzzi, I guess it does have its idiosyncrasies – getting into first from neutral requires gentle clutch engagement, and finding neutral can also be a bit of challenge. The solution is to move the bike forward a bit, and you will find the neutral. Hmm…
Oops, did I tell you that you can’t carry a passenger on one of the most alluring-looking bikes on the road. Ladies and girls will ask for rides, but you’ll sadly have to tell them no.
On the way back home from Karak, while stopped at the traffic light next to a guy in race leathers on a Ducati Diavel, the bike got an appreciative nod from him. Moto Guzzi is only for those who are looking for loads of fun, instead of performance – when I have excess cash, I’ll definitely buy this and keep it in my living room!
THE HARD FACTS
Motto Guzzi V7 Racer 750cc
Tested: 750cc, 90 –degree V-Twin motor, five-speed gearbox
Price: RM 88,888.00
Power/torque: 50hp @ 6200rpm/ 58 Nm @ 5,000 rpm
Top speed: 190kmph (estimated)
Range: 22 litres @ 320km (estimated)
Distributor: SMS AUTO WORLD SDN BHD, 03-5567-9666