Things were getting good for motorcyclists in the Seventies. Sparks were starting to come electronically, power was jumping up significantly and disc brakes were there to help on the other end of the performance spectrum. Okay, so it took a few more years for suspension to get good, but, hey, development takes time.
One of the Italian stars back then was the Moto Guzzi V7 Sport, a thoroughbred Italian exotic fit to take on all the other performance bikes of the time.
This new $9790 V7 Racer aims to recapture at least some of that spirit. Yes, despite its Racer name, the V7 is only an evocation of racing, even when you preface it with a “café.” That said, the air-cooled 744cc V-Twin has good bottom-end torque and a revvy personality that make spirited runs through the gears entertaining, particularly if you are doing it between sweeping corners. The transmission is typical Guzzi, with long throws and occasional reluctance to enter first at stops. It is simply asking you to pay attention.
The narrow chassis feels ultra-Italian, with a fair bit of effort at the dropped bars to get the bike to change direction. What about the fork and twin Bitubo shocks? First, a historical note: As former Editor-in-Chief Allan Girdler likes to say, “The way they got suspension to work in the Seventies was to not let it.” Thankfully, we are beyond that. It’s no Panigale, but the Racer behaves well, has a good amount of available lean angle and feels reassuring when you are traveling swiftly through corners. It was also delightful to adjust the shocks (all without tools—even preload) and have the attitude of the bike change quite a bit for the better. Still, the Racer is not quite sprung for a 210-pound rider. I vow to eat less pasta…
Especially because of that single front Brembo, which is not particularly strong. It is merely adequate, so the first thing I would try as an owner is new pads.
Minor complaints noted, this is a very fun bike to ride, and the aesthetic treatment is fantastic. The suede solo seat with numberplate rear cowl gives just the right visual cue (and it’s okay for sitting), and the brushed aluminum sidepanels are sweet, indeed. There are also some really beautiful functional components on the bike, like the billet aluminum rearsets with adjustable tips. We admired the nicely made Arrow silencers, then noticed the “for race use only” wording. The cans are a $1364.95 accessory, but barky pipes seem mandatory.
The frame and swingarm are painted red because that’s what the original V7 had, and with the black tank (other markets get chrome, which Guzzi says it will offer stateside next year), the overall presentation is gorgeous and just right for what the Italian maker is trying to do with this bike.
But the greatest success (aside from being Guzzi’s best seller this year) is the fact that it makes you want to get exactly the right riding gear.