Bringing you the world's best cafe racers, trackers, scramblers, bobbers & custom motorcycles.

PIPEBURN REVIEW: Moto Guzzi’s 2017 V7 III Special & Stone


Posted on September 6, 2017 by Andrew in Review. 44 comments

Written by Marlon Slack.

Moto Guzzi’s are like heroin. You don’t dabble in Guzzi. You don’t just enjoy a little bit of Guzzi over the weekend. If you’re into it and breathe it. Guzzi swallows your life and becomes the entirety of your world and your sole reason for existing.

But I don’t get it.

Moto Guzzi’s V7 III Special in Blu Zaffiro

Which is strange because I love motorcycles that garner obsessive followers. SR’s, XS’s and bevel-driven Dukes. And Guzzi fans are like Ducatistas wound up to eleven. They frequently own dozens of them and they form secretive Guzzi cabals where they discuss important vintage Guzzi issues like sump extensions and electrical repairs.

And until recently it was all lost on me. But after a week on the new Moto Guzzi V7 III Special I’m starting to worry it’s been acting like a gateway drug into the world of shaft driven, v-twin Italian oddities.

…and again in Nero Inchiostro

A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY

To really understand modern Guzzi’s you need to go back to the formation of the company by three Italian amicos after the First World War. The three founders (sans one who died in a plane crash before production was established) managed, in just a few years, to build a bevel-driven, unit construction engine with a four valve head. That’s in 1921, an astonishing achievement at the time.

What followed was a series of race winning, awe-inspiring builds from the Northern Italian manufacturer, the zenith of which was a 500cc V8 that pushed 270km/h in 1955. To fund their racing efforts the Mandello del Lario based company sold a series of reliable, easy-to-service everyday rides to keep the cash rolling in.

The Stone in Azzurro Elettrico

And that’s the spiel that the guys from Moto Guzzi will be quick to parrot, stating that the V7 III is the direct descendent of these early efforts. I’m usually skeptical of advertisers that spit out terms like ‘heritage’ and ‘authenticity’ like they have some obscure form of advertising speak Tourette’s, but in Guzzi’s case it’s a fair claim.

After all, it’s the motorcycle company that’s been in the longest continual production in all of Europe. And I think it’d be a fair crack at the title worldwide – with Royal Enfield changing location in the 50’s and Harley Davidson now producing rides that would make Walter Davidson hang himself with his leather belt drive. While most manufacturers now draw components from across the world, Moto Guzzi are still making machines from all Italian parts up in Mandello del Lario.

The limited edition ‘Anniversario’

FIT AND (UN)FINISH

Now there’s two new variations of the V7 III that I’ve had a chance ride. The first is the entry-model ‘Stone’. It runs mag wheels, matt paint and a speedo-only dashboard. The more up spec model – the ‘Special’ – is the stunning, straight-from-the-late-70’s version with wire wheels and a tacho. Both run the same six speed, air cooled, small block 750cc transversal v-twin that has been the staple of the Guzzi line up for decades, powering such incredible bikes as V7 Sport and less incredible bikes like the Nevada.

And while the two new V7 III’s look exceptional, I think the Special is the pick of the pair. The two colours available – a black with green highlights and blue with orange and silver accents make the Special look, well, special.

Up close the chrome is well-finished and deep, the paint has a nice subtle fleck in it and the powder coating exceptionally well laid on. The way the stitched leather seat runs around the tank and the pleating that adorns the top is one of a dozen features that makes up a bike that the bike as detailed as it is gorgeous. There are flashes of plastic here and there – the most obnoxious of which is the fuel injection intake lines, but there are brushed alloy covers available. That’d be the first thing I’d replace.

I’d also powder coat the footpeg assemblies that run a clear coated alloy finish not found anywhere else on the bike. Down below, the exhausts sound nice at idle, but they’re larger than some motorcycles I’ve ridden.

But all told, they’re exceptional looking bikes.

Italian family reunion

ROAD ODDITY

When you thumb the starter the V7 III coughs into life with a shudder and a sharp push to the right as the air-cooled v-twin spins up. It’s quite dramatic. On my second outing with the bike I made the mistake of putting my brand new Shoei on the seat when I started it. It pitched the helmet onto the ground and smashed the visor.

But underway this torque effect doesn’t come into play at all. The engine buzzes and vibrates and gives great feedback but doesn’t have that strange engine torque behaviour that you’ll find on some older BMW’s where they pull to one side when you’re on the noise. And unlike its Bavarian brethren, the shaft drive doesn’t really cause the rear end of the bike to buck up under acceleration – it’s all very level and sensible.

Until you downshift, that is. A strange marinade of the torque and the fuel mapping causes the bike to dive hard if you’re too high in the rev range when you want to go down a cog. It’s unsettling at first, but you can get used to it.

Clean and classic

Through corners the V7 III feels planted and very predictable but has a surprising amount of heft. In the grand scheme of things it is on the light side, but isn’t a featherweight like the Triumph Street Twin is. And for whatever reason pushing the bike around at in a garage is a bit of a chore. It’s not like muscling a groaning K100 uphill and backwards through a carpark but it’s caught me out on one or two occasions when I nearly let it slip when I was lazy or distracted staring at my own reflection in a shop window.

“Through corners the V7 III feels planted and very predictable but has a surprising amount of heft”.

The suspension is a little over-sprung but otherwise surprisingly passable when compared to some competition. I’d still be looking at some quality rear shocks and some progressive springs for the front.

Power wise it’s not going to win any outright horsepower competitions – think of it as something like a 883 Sportster that can navigate perilous terrain – tricky things like speed humps or corners. But the engine puts out enough power to get yourself in trouble. It’s only 50-odd horses but they’re bloody charming horses, like those big fat ones with hairy hooves.

Clean and classic. And shiny

Working your way up to it’s peak power at around 6,000RPM might have you fighting the gearbox. And it’s not that there’s anything wrong with the clutch itself – it’s light and offers good feedback and feels like a modern clutch should. But putting the bike into gear, whether it be from neutral to first or even banging up and down the gearbox is a strangely disconnected affair. There’s not much feedback and it lacks the classic ‘kerchunk’ when popping down into first when taking off.

But overwhelmingly the sensation is of an engine and a bike that has something that most modern classics don’t – personality. It’s got quirks and foibles and confusing touches – like the three traction control modes I still can’t figure out a week later (one of which seems to only serve the flick up a bright yellow warning light) but at it’s most basic level it’s an old fashioned, simple, air-cooled v-twin. And it feels like one. It’s got bucketloads of rumbling, vibrating charm that’s sorely lacking from much of the competition.

IN THE WORKSHOP

It’ll also feel like one if you ever have cause to open it up. The small block series has always tended to live in the shadow of its bigger brethren but in recent years it’s come to be synonymous with reliability. People have been chalking up ridiculous kilometers on the things.

For the most part.

Once in awhile the factory tends to spit out a model that’s been built on a Friday, at 6PM, by an apprentice who is drunk and quite likely, blind. It’ll might have a leaky gasket or two or a grumpy electronic start on cold mornings. But in fairness they’ve become rarer and rarer over recent years. And for the most part, Guzzi have been quick to fix these issues.

“In recent years it’s come to be synonymous with reliability. People have been chalking up ridiculous kilometers on the things”.

But for the vast majority of owners the V7 III will offer a lifetime’s worth of riding. The servicing will be simple too – the community of Guzzi obsessives know their bikes inside out and there’s very strong and active clubs around to support you in the years to come. They’re like Branch Davidians, but friendlier.

And it’s got screw and locknut valve adjustment. In 2017. How good is that?

V. QUIRKY. V. GOOD.

All of these features, the bizarre traction control modes, the confusing throttle delivery, the unnerving tendency of the bike to destroy very expensive helmet visors might have you thinking I don’t like it. Maybe it’s a little too odd, a little too curious and a little too… Italian for my liking.

But it’s the exact opposite.

The Moto Guzzi V7 III straddles a perfect line between eccentricity and reliability. It’s got curious Italian quirks but underneath it all it’s a fantastically fun bike to ride that’s drop dead good gorgeous and capable of doing huge kilometers without any fuss at all. It actually does feel like an old bike to ride – but without any real downsides. It’s an eccentric, charming little thing.

Although this year’s model is up 10% in power on the last year’s V7 III I can’t help but wonder if the V9 engine will eventually make it’s way into this frame. That’s more like an extra 20% of power on top of that. And as fun as the Guzzi is to ride, I wouldn’t say no to a little more power.

But goddamn is it a fun bike as is. As soon as I give the bike back, I’ve a funny feeling I’ll be jonesing for another. In fact I’m going to start learning the codewords and secret handshakes that Moto Guzzi owners use to identify one another because, sooner or later, whether it be a V7 III or some other model I think… I think I’m going to own one.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

To celebrate the 50th year of the V7 Moto Guzzi have a limited edition ‘Anniversario’ model that’s being shipped out to dealers. Limited to only 750 units worldwide, it features a chrome tank, brushed alloy guards and brown leather seat and tank retainer. It’s quite a looker. And for not much more than the V7 racer. It might be worth a look if you want a good looking bike that can blind strangers from over a hundred yards away.

 

what_we_liked_01
– Incredible looks
– Loads of personality
– Easy servicing

what_we_didnt_01
– A little porky
– One or two plastic nasty bits
– Throttle response oddness

[Photos by Half Light. Helmet from Shoei. Jackets from Roland Sands and Triumph. Pants from Draggin. Boots from Stylmartin]

The fine print: In an effort to keep things as legit as possible, we feel it’s best to mention that Moto Guzzi paid for Marlon’s trip to Sydney to see their new bike and also shouted him food, drink and lodgings. Rest assured that if the bike wasn’t up to scratch, we’d have no problems saying it. We will always endeavour to give you the best reviews possible without fear or favour; bike companies bearing gifts included.








  • martin hodgson

    Great review as always Marlon! The heroin analogy is spot on LOL it wasn’t until I had a neighbour who was obsessed with them and chased the dragon myself that I finally got it.

    This really looks like the best of the modern Guzzi small blocks so far, even the little things like the rocker cover design gives the engine a cleaner, beefier look than on the first incarnation.

    But that Anniversario is absolutely beautiful! Given its price point, that’s the one I’d be grabbing if I was shelling out for a new V7, Guzzi’s barely lose value as it is, but that could be one that is a collectable in years to come and if it’s not, it looks a million bucks just standing still!

    • Fido Zombie

      Agreed. A most enjoyable article Marlon – witty, concise, addressing the points of question – lack of power, quirkiness, etc.

      • Marlon

        Thanks mate!

    • He’s a keeper, that Marlon. For a Melbourne guy, he’s still pretty cool. 😉

      • Marlon

        Pfft. Says the Sydneysider!

  • Greybeard1

    It was a 2000 V11 Sport led me off the path of righteousness and away from the unwavering loyalty of a R1150R.

    That husky voice through Termignoni’s, the way it willingly accepted my arms wrapping around the tank to the clip-on’s promising a ride I’d never forget.

    But shortly, imperceptibly, the sharp edges of her personality wore through the makeup letting me know this was a full-on example of “Hollywood Nights”.

    ” They drove for miles and miles up those twisting turning roads
    Higher and higher and higher they climbed…

    All those big city nights
    In those high rolling hills
    Above all the lights
    She had all of the skills.”

    Show me they solved the electrical and component fitment quirks, give me 1100 cc’s, YES, I’d do it again in a flash!

    “She stood there bright as the sun on that California coast
    He was a “New England” boy on his own…”

    • Fantome_NR

      I have a heavily breathed on 2001 V11 Sport, love it. Never had any issues with the electronics, but I went ahead and upgraded everything anyway. If you’re still curious, you could get a Griso. That’s what I’d do if I didn’t love mine as much as I do.

      • Greybeard1

        Tonti frame next.
        Carbs, etc.

        • Fantome_NR

          Never ridden a Tonti framed goose, so can’t say first hand, but in my opinion the obsession with them seems to be irrational and driven by nostalgic sentimentality. But hey, to each their own, and I love my old bikes too, though they can’t compare with modern aluminum cradle and spine framed bikes.

          Same goes for carbs. I hate carbs. Fuel injection is a miracle and has only gotten better.

          • Greybeard1

            I understand your position but I have no interest in getting hung up with comparisons.
            Self-limiting and a waste of energy.
            It’s the experience that counts.
            EFI or carbs, hard tail or MotoGP, I love ’em all.
            So many bikes, so little time!

          • guvnor67

            Yup!

          • Fantome_NR

            Agree entirely regarding “so little bikes, so little time!” And in reality, I do love them all. I rode a Harley Dyna for the first time last fall out west, and while I’d still never own one, I kind of “get it” now. And my choice of words about carbs might have been strong, I really hate cleaning and maintaining and tuning them is what it comes down to. Riding carbureted bikes is fun though. Anyway, I wish you more two wheeled joy and to get yourself back in a Guzzi saddle sometime. Cheers!

      • The Griso does often get a good wrap.

    • SO romantic…

      • Greybeard1

        Eat yer heart out ;p~~~~~

  • Fantome_NR

    The current V7 in fact is not a descendant of the original V7 Sport from the early ’70s, as the original had conventional cylinder heads, the modern one has the flat combustion chamber and vertical valve “Heron” head design, which is a fantastic way to rob an engine of horsepower. The V7 is a descendant of the V35, V50, V65 and V75 Guzzis.

    • Marlon

      Honestly I’m so out of the loop that I wasn’t aware they moved away from hemi heads at all – but it does seem the hardcore Guzzi guys are welcoming it!

      • Fantome_NR

        The Heron head Guzzis were developed and released in the late 70s, I believe the first one was the V35 in 1979. They are simpler and cheaper to produce, but they are very lame in terms of power to displacement and weight. Which is why the retro modern V7 lineup has been kind of “meh” to me, up until now at least. But then, I’m a big block Guzzi guy, I have a V11 Sport 😉

        • All I know is that Hemi engines are the shit. Hey Charger!

  • Elaan

    My Anniversario should arrive with in the next two weeks, and I can’t wait. FYI, I know everyone keeps saying “limited to 750”, but it’s actually 1000. I know a guy who has an Anniversario marked 830/1000. Not sure when Moto Guzzi changed their mind, but in true Piaggio fashion, they’ve conveniently forgotten to mention it.

    • Flying W

      Thought you meant cc’s for a moment, got all excited…

    • Marlon

      That’s very cheeky of Guzzi to do.

    • The photo above has ‘/1000’ on it.

    • Elaan

      I’ve had the Anniversario for just over two weeks now, and couldn’t be more pleased! I’m fine sharing with an extra 250 people.

  • guvnor67

    Really kool bike, nothing overstated, even the shiny tank looks right. I’d like the truck too, got a soft spot for Lo-Riding old pickups.

    • Bang on about the pros and cons Marlon. It’s amazing what a fork kit, new shocks and an updated fuel map does to these bikes!

      • Rob DC

        Have an Anniversario for about 3 months – 100% needs an updated map to help low throttle jerkyness

        New shocks? Which ones?

        • http://www.guzzitech.com mate. Check the forum section and the store section, Toddy has all the good stuff!

        • Paul Schwartzberg

          As Retro & Custom Motorcycles noted Guzzitech has good stuff, but they can be very slow in getting it out. I upgraded to Matris front suspension and rear shocks for my V7 II and it took them some time to fulfill the order, but it is very good stuff and definitely improved the bike. It took them even longer for my upgraded brakes, but I think that might have been more on Brembo’s end than Guzztech.

      • Marlon

        Cheers mate. If it was mine (and I’m close to getting one) a power commander or similar would be high on my list.

    • Hahahahaha!

  • Rob DC

    Good review. Have had an Anniversario for 3 months. It is better than I expected – the trans is much better than was reported in the V7 IIs – I think it’s very slick. Clutch is light as reported.

    Tank size is excellent.

    Exhaust sounds deeper than I saw on the V7 I and I on YouTube. Very nice.

    The details of the anniversario made it worth it to me…although the leather seat and strap are a bit of a pain with rain and bike washing.

  • the watcher

    Like MS’s style much more than these throwback Guzzis. Putting f/I on a 50 horse 750? Pah! Why don’t they build the bastard thiings with the 11/1200 motor and give people what they want? This sort of bloody-minded, moher-knows-best horseshit will bite ’em in the arse one day. And I love MG.

    • I’m all for a more is more approach to engines, but never forget Euro Emission standards. It makes everything more difficult and bigger engines = more emissions = more anti-emissions equipment = more weight etc.

  • Steve from Perth

    So reading between the lines it’s not up to modern standards like the Triumph Street Twin, which I own. When reviewers start talking about “character” isn’t that code for it’s really not good enough when you are paying top dollar for a brand new bike……..

    • Guzzto

      The street twin will leaves these for dead.

    • Marlon

      I had the T100 for a three months and did a pretty rambling review of it on YouTube.

      On paper the T100 would be better. It feels lighter, handles better, has one of the best gearboxes I’ve felt in living memory and will be, by all accounts, very reliable. I’d say the only area that the Guzzi clips it would be better feeling brakes and maybe a little quicker – and certainly more torque.

      BUT (and this sounds like marketing BS, but I promise that it’s not) the Guzzi really has something about it. So much so I’d probably buy one over the T100/Street Cup etc.

      The triumph might be better on paper but if it was just about statbooks we’d all be riding maxi scooters. Which is a horrible thought.

  • tylerpoppe

    Love my 2015 V7. The throttle response issue is gone once you get a nice tune on the bike, and then suddenly you find it absolutely brilliant.

    Great review. Felt like you really got it when most reviewers are numbers guys and so they don’t really get it because they ignore the “feel” part of riding.

  • Eric

    Great review, and it sounds like they’ve refined it a bit, always a good thing. I absolutely HATE the new side covers, though.

  • Brett everitt

    Currently riding a 2008 Nevada classic gifted to me from my old man. I’ve owed a lot of bikes over the years including zzr1100, zrx1200 and Fj1200. As I get a little older I’ve become a guzzi v7 convert. Have @ 75,000 km on the Nevada and it’s been as reliable as the sun coming up. The new v7 III looks great and when it comes time to upgrade from the Nevada I’m hoping a test ride will seal the deal.