When Guzzi launched the entry-level retro-styled V7 to the world in 2008 it looked the part but was more an exercise in style over substance – yes, the styling was gorgeous and while it had character, charm and authenticity by the bucketload, its asthmatic 42bhp powerplant let it down. Badly. It just couldn’t compete with rivals such as the Triumph Bonneville or Ducati Sports Classic.
In 2012 Guzzi concentrated their efforts on thoroughly refreshing their 744cc V-twin lump, replacing or revising all of the components apart from the crankshaft and cases. The results are impressive. As well as increasing power to 51bhp, the engine feels more refined and offers better fuel economy (Guzzi claim a 12 per cent increase) and improved emissions. The only downside to this refinement is that the engine has lost its signature square cam covers for rounded ones.
The chassis remains unchanged, but the new models’ wheels are significantly lighter – 1.44kg less at the front and 0.86kg at the rear, which results in a machine that feels agile.
Swing a leg over the saddle and the first thing you notice is just how small the bike is. It’s tiny but relaxed. Everything falls to hand and the feels light and easy to manoeuvre.
Thumb the starter motor and the bike burbles in to life with a pleasingly deep exhaust tone. Guzzi’s team of engineers spent a lot of time perfecting the sound of the bike and it shows; they’ve got it spot on.
The engine feels perky and eager. Open the throttle and the engine makes itself heard in two ways – through the sideways rocking of the sideways rotational forces through the chassis and the fruity, burbling tone emanating from the exhaust. There’s no redline on the V7 and it doesn’t need one. It’s all about torque, not revs, and will willingly shove you forward from as little as 2000rpm. Change up early, sail along on a sea of torque and savour the views.
The only area the V7 suffers is with its suspension, it’s just too soft. It’s perfectly adequate at lower speeds, but the lack of damping sees it struggle when the speed increases, clattering over over bumps and potholes like bikes of old. But then again this isn’t a performance bike, so for many riders this won’t be an issue.
The V7 is a glorious mix of sublime detailing and retro looks, but it now has the performance it deserves. It’s a retro-styled bike that manages to look contemporary while still remaining true to Guzzi’s roots. It’s a tricky balancing act to pull off, but Guzzi have mastered it with ease.
The Stone is the base level model in the V7 range and comes with cast wheels and is available in black, green or red.
The Special is arguably the closest to the original 1970’s V7, and comes with wire wheels and two-tone paint.
Manufactured in a numbered limited edition as shown by the commemorative plaque on the steering yoke, the sporty V7 Racer shares the same engine and chassis as the Special but gets a red frame, red hubs, red wheels and a red swingarm. It also gets a chrome tank, drilled alloy side panels, a single seat suede saddle with race number, rearsets, clip-on bars and an upswept exhaust.
PRICE £6932 (Stone), £7132 (Special) and £8132 (Racer)
ENGINE 744cc, air-cooled 90º V-twin
TANK CAPACITY 22 litres
TRANSMISSION 5-speed, shaft
SEAT HEIGHT 805mm