Moto Guzzi's venerable V7 is getting a new lease on life thanks to a bump in displacement and more modern cylinder heads.
The V7 is Guzzi’s best-selling model. It is compact and lightweight with personality and good manners that make it an attractive entry-level machine. On more than one occasion it has gone head-to-head in a comparison test with Harley-Davidson's 883 Sportster, and did not fare too badly.
The V7 engine started life in the mid-1970s as a 350/500cc little brother to the V850, and slowly and very cautiously grew to 650 and then 750cc—a line the engineers thought would never be crossed. Turns out it was possible to enlarge it by another 100cc, as bore and stroke were bumped from 80.0 x 74.0 mm to 84.0 x 77.0mm.
But that was only the beginning: The top end was also completely redesigned, the Heron-style flat head with parallel valves giving way to a compact-profile hemispherical combustion chamber. Valves are still two per cylinder, still actuated by pushrods and rocker arms.
This is not the first time the Guzzi “Small Block” V-twin has been fitted with hemi heads. Back in the 1980s a similarly modified unit was developed to power aerial drones, but that never went into production nor was it used on any motorcycle. The thermodynamic efficiency of the new heads is confirmed by the 10.5:1 compression ratio, impressive for an air-cooled engine. The new heads also feature secondary air-inlet ducts, which work with the catalytic converters in the exhaust system to meet Euro 4 emissions regulations.
Feeding the new mill is a single throttle body diverting into a Y-shaped inlet manifold, same as the latest edition of the V7. The V9 is said to deliver 55 horsepower at 6,250 rpm—7 hp more than the V7. More importantly, peak torque is up to 45.7 lb.-ft. at a mere 3,000 rpm.
Also new are the larger-diameter dry clutch and shaft final drive, the latter now featuring two universal joints for smoother operation. The chassis appears substantially unchanged except for a new longer, wider, cast-aluminum swingarm that increases wheelbase from 57 to 58.2 inches. The steering geometry has also been altered with a reduction in rake from 27.5 to 26.4 degrees, and an increase in trail from 117 to 125mm.
The V9 will come in two models: a rather classic-looking Roamer and a more radical Bobber. Aside from styling and graphics, the biggest difference between the pair is their tires: The former rolls on a 100/90-19 front and 150/80-16 rear, while the latter goes with a 130/90-16 front and 150/80-16 rear for a completely different look. The smaller-diameter front wheel on the Bobber also causes a reduction in trail to 116mm.