As motorcycle reviewers, Barry and I get access to many motorcycles that are a real hoot to ride (no way anyone would dare send a potato to the sales floor!) and some even better that leave us wanting more. Oh for the want of a “million dollars of motorcycles collection” filled with all the bikes on my wishlist. That exists beside a “if I had a big garage” dream. While I love motorcycles in general, I adore those that take rides a whole level up and earn themselves a place in this dream garage.
The Moto Guzzi V7 II Racer is one of these models. Sure the V7 III is coming soon, it’s a sub-litre bike and it is bare in tech when everybody else is putting out motorcycles with Traction Control, cornering ABS, slipper clutches, LED lamps and the like, you get where I’m going with this. But here’s the deal, I won’t give a ninny about this spartan setup because this Guzzi has made itself special. It’s engaging, cheeky and tells you exactly how it feels. It communicates with the rider in a way decades older machines do, unlike the tech laden machines we get these days that border on sterile at times. The machine just screams I Am-a Italiano unapologetically and finds a way to tell you “I’m not like every other bike you’ve been on”. It is proud, it is particular about how it is ridden, it is sexy and it is seductive.
Moto Guzzis are not common on our roads. Right out of the crate, the V7 II Racer tells you how exclusive ownership is with a metal plaque on the triple tree with its numbering on the production sequence. The one we had was #299 of #1000. Yup, this V7 II has a limited production run and features references to Moto Guzzi’s racing heritage with the red powder coated frame, swingarm and black rims with the company name in what else but red. Paint is also matt finished in 3 tones and silky to the touch. Eyeball it carefully and you’ll realize the guys from Mandello Del Lario made sure they aligned the red stripe on the tank with the downtube on the frame. My OCD is indulged and satisfied. A black leather strap runs across the length of the tank with the brand embossed in it and secured with brass bolts, waiting to be aged and patinised. There is harmony in the paint and colour selection.
Clip-ons on the front in place of handlebars are low, while footpegs are slightly rear set, creating a less compressed rider triangle than other production café racers. I’ll excuse the lever clamp mounted mirrors – the clip-ons are narrow enough that bar end mirrors wouldn’t be practical at all. I can live without the bar-end mirrors this time. Doing the café racer tuck at a legal 90 km/hr on our expressways seems all “racer boy wannabe” but who cares when the plexiglass screen bolted to the flyscreen creates an excuse for uh, I’m just checking to see if the tank is clean officer… That also brings you closer to the clocks on the Racer. Oozing classy sophistication, Miles and Km are printed on the dials, Km in the smaller font so reading it takes a while to get used to. Especially on our heavily speed-regulated roads. Digital readouts for two trips and odometer on one side, temperature and time on the other. Simple, not ostentatious or unnecessary. ‘Nuff said.
The engine and gearbox are the star of the show. Particular in how you treat them, they’ll keep you on your toes. Warming up is necessary, there is no compromise. Skip that and the clutch engagement is choppy, the engine feels fickle when moving off from a standstill. Giving it a few minutes to warm up and the difference is night and day. Clutch engagement becomes smooth and rolling from a standstill is far more fluid, making coordination between throttle and clutch modulation far easier. On the go, the torque is almost flat between 2000 to 3000 rpms, picking up gradually between 3000 to 4000. Beyond that and the Italian twin produces a surge that can catch you off guard, keeping the momentum up until slightly beyond 7000rpms. The gearbox is light and playful on this one. Just like I said, “I’m not like every other bike you’ve been on”. That surge is addictive and makes you question if that really is 750cc between your legs. For this level of fun though, it will be good to keep an eye on the speedo. The needle travels north quickly. The transverse mounted configuration also means both air-cooled blocks receive a good flow of cooling air making heat management a walk in the park. The valves are push-rod activated too, great for keeping the blocks slim and compact. Power is transferred to the rear wheel via a drive-shaft, I dig anything that doesn’t mean I have to oil a chain. I’m not saying no to chains, but just not keen on always digging for a can of chain lube . The drive shaft is integrated into the swingarm, keeping the rear end tidy. That drive assembly sits to one side, making the bike lurch sideways when the engine is revved. Similar to what you get on BMW’s boxers. I dig it, friends dig it, we love the visual drama it creates. Boys and their toys, ssshhh, I know.
Suspension wise, I never ask for a magic carpet ride. I like feeling the road and the suspension transfers that feel from the tyres just fine. Bumps, speed limit strips, humps and potholes don’t jolt me around the seat either. The adjustable rear Bitubo units were ample and set up just right for my weight. I’m 80kg, or about 176 lbs, within the range of the average Asian motorcyclist. Forks are conventional telescopic and non-adjustable, but friendly on my wrists. No dramatic dives under heavy braking either. Rear cowling over the supple leather on the seat is a one up on machines in the market that sell as Café Racers but still need add ons to complete the package for the look. Such generosity is appreciated.
The V7 II Racer doesn’t have a lot of tech to boast about amongst the bigger tech boys out there but instead, Moto Guzzi boldly chose to keep with the styling and manners of older machines. True, manufacturers are still riding the neo-retro wave and churning out newer tech-ed up models based on their current line-up, but for the character, styling and somewhat fickle yet endearing attitude of this machine I’d say it stands out from the rest, presenting a tough contender that edges out its rivals in the category and leaves me wanting to see one of these in my dream garage one day. – TGA
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The Moto Guzzi V7 II Racer retails for SGD $26,500 with COE and Road Tax at Mah Pte Ltd.
Professional photos as always taken by Barry Seah – The Motorgrapher. As the Motorgrapher, Barry creates original and creative professional portraits for his clients and their beloved machines, while injecting inspirational touches making them one off centrepieces. His work can be viewed on http://motorgrapher.com/ and http://www.barryseah.com/.