Oozing style and heritage, we welcome Moto Guzzi with open arms
Good things come to those who wait, and with the arrival of Moto Guzzi in the Philippines, our local motorcycle market is starting to feel more fleshed out. Moto Guzzi has been around since 1921, and for those who are not familiar with the brand, is Europe’s oldest continually producing motorcycle manufacturer. All their motorcycles are built in Mandello del Lario, Italy, and have a rich racing heritage dating back to the 1920s all the way up to the 1950s, with performances in Isle of Man and Moto GP. What does all this mean for all of us in the Philippines? We’re finally getting a slice of that pizza that is known the world over for their unique air-cooled transverse 90° V-twin engines, and a fantastic amount of style and craftsmanship.
Stop and Stare
We recently got our hands on Moto Guzz’s V7 II Racer courtesy of Bikerbox Inc. and, naturally, being a limited-edition motorcycle, ours was numbered 268 out of 1000 in the world; we ogled at it for a good 10 minutes before anything else. The air-cooled, transverse V-twin layout not only looks good but also makes sense mechanically. The crankshaft aligns with the gearbox, and in turn, the shaft drives to the rear wheel. Then there’s the bodywork the Mandello factory has draped across the V and along the top of the transmission, which recalls the era of the best-looking motorcycles. From the get-go, your eyes will catch the satin-finished tank with a handsome leather belt, then there’s the black/metallic grey paint job that’s matched at an angle emphasized by a red line that is virtually a continuation of the distinctive and eye-catching V7 Racer red frame. The blacked-out look on the side panels, mirrors, exhaust brackets, and footpeg guards add great contrast to the motorcycle. Seating is strictly solo, with a comfortable seat stitched in red with a prominent embroidered Moto Guzzi eagle. Oh, and take a look at those wheels, hubs, and rims, which round out the retro style of this Guzzi perfectly. Never did anodized matte black, red, and drilled aluminum look so good on a motorcycle. The bars scream café racer, together with the seat cowl, all that’s missing is a racing number. There are so many tiny details here, such as the cleanest wiring I’ve ever seen on a motorcycle so far, that you’d be hard-pressed to find any imperfections, save for maybe the fingerprints and stares this kind of motorcycle attracts, not that the latter is a bad thing.
We love riding our motorcycles much more than staring at them in the garage, and once I worked up the courage to take a seat on the Guzzi, I immediately noticed the slightly aggressive riding position. With a seat height of 790mm and low footpegs, my tall frame was accommodated comfortably; slightly bent forward, offering more feels for the updated front forks and chassis compared to the older model. I turn the key and the classic instrument cluster lights up; just a simple speedometer and rev counter, with the usual warning lights and the indicators for ABS and traction control. Yes, despite the classic looks, Moto Guzzi has thrown in some very welcome safety features. I thumb the starter and the engine rumbles to life with a slight swaying motion from the transverse orientation, similar to the boxer engines of BMW, but with more character (meaning they sway more). First gear is easy to find thanks to the crisp and smooth 6-speed gearbox, despite the dry-clutch technology. You’d expect the lever to be a bit harder to pull, but despite the lack of a hydraulic assist, I found the clutch to be effortless. Rolling off requires a bit more throttle input, but that’s okay since the sound coming from the bike is great, even with stock dual cans. At 47 bhp and 44 lb/ft of torque, the 744cc motor is pokey fun with a torque curve that is broad and flat from 2,800 rpm all the way to 6,000 rpm, with a noticeable push north of 4,500 rpm. Peak horsepower occurs at 6,250 rpm, so around-town acceleration is effortless, yet there’s still ample power when the revs climb to highway speeds. At idle, engine shake is more like a back and forth wiggle, causing the mirrors and fender to quiver in a way that’s refreshing, rather than annoying, while at speed, vibration is virtually nonexistent. Suspension up front is decent, with 40mm forks that were okay for around-town duties. The rear suspension is a different story with nice Bitubos that are adjustable for rebound and compression thanks to a twelve-setting adjustment knob. At 190kg, it’s slightly top heavy and it felt like it always wanted to fall right into a tight lean for a sharp corner, but ultimately, very nimble and balanced. It’s an easy-to-ride bike, and it’ll teach you a thing or two if you go fast; you have to put in the work and it will reward you. In the end, the V7 constantly gives you needed rider feedback.
Braking duties are done by a single 320-mm floating front rotor and a 260-mm rotor out back gripped by Brembo calipers; the front is a four-pot design, and the rear is a floating, two-pot version. The pads offer great initial bite, cold or hot, and braking action is smooth and progressive. ABS is there to save your butt when you’re busy ogling at yourself in shop windows and not paying attention to the road. I also had the traction control kick in a few times when I was pushing hard out of a corner, but it was predictable enough.
Buying a motorcycle based on its looks alone doesn’t seem like the most sensible way to spend your money. Then again, buying any motorcycle doesn’t seem sensible to many people, although they’re undoubtedly wrong. For the Moto Guzzi V7 II Racer, the looks alone could sell this bike. Retro styling that leaves nothing left to the imagination, and some modern technology to boot. We’re glad that another Italian marque has made it to our shores, and with a price tag of Php 750,000 pesos for this looker; there are suddenly a lot more choices and hard decisions to make.