If ever there was a bike that makes you want to dig out your Cuban heels and flares it’s the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic. This remade take on an old favourite epitomises those funky 70s like John Travolta, Evel Knievel and Slade rolled into one neat retro package. It takes me back to a time of endless hot summers and helping a local hero to clean his big noisy motorbike, a machine that first captured my love for all things two wheeled and started me on a slippery slope into petrol-fuelled addiction.
When it was released at the end of the swinging 60s, the original V7 was without a doubt an iconic milestone for Moto Guzzi. Billed as Italy’s first superbike, it’s a machine steeped in history and is noted for helping to promote the firm on the world stage.
That original bike featured a transverse 703cc Vtwin and was aimed squarely at the experienced motorcyclist who could handle its unbridled power! The all-new V7 is a pussycat in comparison to most modern superbikes – easy to handle, unintimidating and fuss-free.
The booming modern classic segment is one of the fastest growing markets at the moment. Mid-life crisis, disposable incomes and a need to pose rather than go fast are some of the symptoms of this affliction and there are plenty of models to choose from if retro eases your need. Virtually every manufacturer has realised the merit in cashing in on nostalgia and past success by building modern variants of earlier classic models. This bike is no different and like many it utilises the factory parts bin, including the chassis and 744cc engine from the Breva. Style-wise the design is simple, uncluttered and compact.
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I found it hard to ride the V7 without drawing comparisons with Harley’s 883 Sportster. Both machines have that lazy feel to them, they’re both relatively compact and will suit riders who may be put off by larger bikes. Style-wise there’s quite a bit of difference though and for many riders Italian steeds are the only choice when it comes to bikes. Winter isn’t really the best time to be cruising. Your chrome soon gets ditched, alloy goes furry and cleaning those lovely spoked wheels after every ride is a bitch. However, beggars can’t be choosers and with a cold wet weekend in Morecambe Bay to look forward to it was time to see if this cruiser could handle more than a Sunday ride-out. Despite the 744cc beneath the ample saddle the V7 isn’t built for speed, the V-twin produces its 47bhp in a lazy fashion, though it does pull quite well. Press the starter and the familiar Guzzi vibration rattles the handlebars and footpegs as I’m sure any Guzzi rider will relate to.
The engine note isn’t loud or obtrusive. In fact, it’s fairly quiet for a V-twin and the five-speed box is both well spaced and smooth, so shifting through the gears is easy, just as it should be. An uncharacteristic warm spell at the end of November came as a relief as me and a mate set off on our respective machines for a 130-mile blast. The first leg included 40 miles of M1 and the Guzzi cruised fairly well at just a tad over the national speed limit with enough in reserve to just about hit the ton. With the motorway quickly despatched we took the scenic Trans-Pennine route where the V7 enjoyed its natural habitat. The bike glides around corners and although the brakes aren’t over powerful they give enough bite to haul the machine up in plenty of time. Most corners can actually be attacked by simply using the oodles of useful engine braking to scrub off just enough speed. The engine pulled well over the moors as we headed for Manchester and despite the lashing rain the bike coped well and never felt flustered, even though we weren’t taking it steady.
I found the V7 Classic easy to ride, frugal (around 47mpg) and well mannered. Heavy rain had no effect on those Italian electrics and I soon munched those miles without any aches or pains. The bike is quite comfortable, as you’d expect really, even after a few wet hours in the saddle I was still enjoying the ride but the bright lights of downtown Morecambe beckoned and the V7 turned a few heads as we blasted along the neglected seafront searching for my flea pit of a B&B – £17 a night doesn’t go too far in the north these days!
With the bikes chained up safely outside the digs it was time for an unwanted cold shower before hitting the town for some serious binge drinking and a much less enthusiastic ride home on Sunday morning.