“I would know the sound of a big Guzzi in my sleep. It concentrates its aural energies in your upper chest, ringing through your bones. It is … the sound of joy.”
— Melissa Holbrook Pierson, The Perfect Vehicle: What It Is About Motorcycles
When we find joy, we hold it close and nurture it. Woven throughout Pierson’s book, arguably one of the best ever written about motorcycling, is a romance between the author and Moto Guzzi. When searching for her first motorcycle, it was love at first sight: “a 500cc V-twin Moto Guzzi, red-and-black, a workhorse, and I thought it was beautiful.”
Like any true love, Pierson’s passion for Moto Guzzi ran deep and transcended appearance. She fell under the spell of the Italian V-twin’s syncopated beat. She dedicated her mind, body, and spirit to learning to ride, doing her own maintenance, and enduring long hours in the saddle through stifling heat, bitter cold, and drenching rain.
Moto Guzzi is a storied marque that celebrates a century of continuous production this year. Every Moto Guzzi — from the 1921 Normale, a 498cc single, to the 1955 Otto cilindri, a liquid-cooled, DOHC 500cc V-8 GP racer that topped 170 mph, to present-day models — has been built in the factory in Mandello del Lario, Italy, on the shores of Lake Como.
Three models — V7 Stone, V9 Bobber, and V85 TT — are available with a special Centenario color scheme for 2021 that pays tribute to the Otto cilindri. Their silver fuel tanks are inspired by the racebike’s raw alloy tank, their green side panels and front fenders are a nod to its iconic dustbin fairing, and their brown seats and golden eagle tank emblems further set them apart, though all 2021 models/colors display 100th anniversary logos on their front fenders.
Helmet: HJC RPHA 90
Jacket: Joe Rocket Classic ’92
Gloves: Joe Rocket Cafe Racer
Pants: Scorpion Covert Pro Jeans
Boots: Highway 21 Journeyman
Over its long history, Moto Guzzi has designed and built many notable models, but the V7 is a true living legend, the very soul of the brand. After two decades of building small, inexpensive motorcycles after World War II, Moto Guzzi became the first Italian manufacturer to offer a large-displacement model when, in 1967, it introduced the 700cc V7. It was the genesis of the engine configuration that came to define Moto Guzzi: the “flying” 90-degree V-twin, with its air-cooled cylinders jutting outward into the wind and its crankshaft running longitudinally. The V7 also had an automotive-style twin-plate dry clutch, a 4-speed constant mesh transmission, and shaft final drive.
Today’s V7 maintains a strong connection to the original, from its round headlight, sculpted tank, and upright seating position to its dry clutch, shaft drive, dual shocks, and dual exhaust. The V7 Special ($9,490) is classically styled, with spoked wheels, chrome finishes, dual analog gauges, and a traditional headlight. The more modern-looking V7 Stone ($8,990) has matte finishes, a single all-digital gauge, black exhausts, cast wheels, and an eagle-shaped LED set into the headlight.
I’ve ridden a variety of Moto Guzzis over the years — the Norge sport-tourer (named after the Norge GT 500, which Giuseppe Guzzi rode to the Arctic Circle in 1928), the carbon-fiber-clad MGX-21 Flying Fortress hard bagger, the classic California 1400 Touring, and the red-framed, chrome-tanked V7 Racer, among others. Each was unique, but all shared the distinctive cah-chugga-chugga sound when their V-twins fired up and the gentle rocking to the right side when their throttles were blipped at idle.
Riding a Moto Guzzi feels special. It’s a visceral, engaging, rhythmic experience. The V7 Stone brought me back to the simple pleasure of motorcycling — the feel of the wind against my body, the engine’s vibrations felt through various touch points, the exhilaration of thrust. Although the new V7 has a larger 853cc engine, variations of which are found in the V9 and V85 TT, output remains modest — 65 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 54 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm, measured at the crank. But that’s enough. The V7 is one of those motorcycles that gives you permission to relax, to take your time and really savor the moment. What’s the rush?
Moto Guzzi made many useful, subtle updates to the V7 platform. Reduced effort from the single-disc dry clutch. A stiffer frame and a bigger swingarm with a new bevel gear for the cardan shaft drive. Revised damping and a longer stroke for the preload-adjustable rear shocks. An updated ABS module. A wider rear tire (now 150/70-17). Vibration-damping footpegs. A thicker passenger seat.
All are appreciated, but if I’m honest, I thought about none of them as I rolled through curve after curve on California’s Palms to Pines Highway, climbing higher and higher into the rugged, snow-dusted San Jacinto Mountains. For the better part of a day, I just rode the V7. I didn’t try to figure out its riding modes (it doesn’t have any), nor did I connect my smartphone to Moto Guzzi’s multimedia app. I rolled on and off the throttle. I shifted through the gears. And I smiled. A lot.
The V7 Stone is solid, predictable, carefree. Its engine doles out torque nearly everywhere, but it feels happiest chugging along in the midrange. Throttle response is direct, the exhaust note is soothing. Thanks to its modest weight, low seat, and natural ergonomics, riding and handling are effortless. Braking, shifting, suspension — everything dutifully meets expectations. Like the Guzzi that stole Pierson’s heart, the V7 Stone is a workhorse, and it’s easy on the eyes. Well, except for its peculiar-looking taillight, which has a constellation of red LEDs that look too sci-fi for this style of bike.
The V7 Stone Centenario carries the weight of Moto Guzzi’s century of history with confidence. The brand is an acquired taste, favored by connoisseurs rather than the masses, and it inspires a cult-like following. When I interviewed Melissa Holbrook Pierson for the Rider Magazine Insider podcast, I asked about her first encounter with a Guzzi. “It was chance,” she said. “I just happened upon the bike that was literally perfect for me.”
2021 Moto Guzzi V7 Stone
Base Price: $8,990 Price as Tested: $9,190 (Centenario edition) Website: motoguzzi.com Engine Type: Air-cooled, longitudinal 90-degree V-twin, OHV w/ 2 valves per cyl. Displacement: 853cc Bore x Stroke: 84.0 x 77.0mm Horsepower: 65 hp @ 6,800 rpm (claimed, at the crank) Torque: 54 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm (claimed, at the crank) Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated dry clutch Final Drive: Shaft Wheelbase: 57.1 in. Rake/Trail: 28 degrees/4.1 in. Seat Height: 30.7 in. Wet Weight: 480 lbs. Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gals.
Isn’t saying, “Reduced effort from the single-disc dry clutch” similar to saying, “with decent effort the kick start works” or “it’s easy to tickle the carburetors”? My lengthy experience with dry clutches, in the previous century, left me with a firm commitment to avoid them in the future. Is there something magic or “new” that renders the Guzzi’s dry clutch something special . . . or actually desirable?
No magic involved. Moto Guzzi revised the actuation mechanism to reduce the load on the lever. Simple but effective. Clutches, dry or otherwise, have improved quite a bit since the 1900s.
I’ll take your word for it. That said, what explains that the wet clutch is the setup of choice for the vast majority of motorcycles? In my experience, dry clutches are grabbier, harder to modulate, wear out faster and are a lot noisier – similar to how my wife describes me.
I have a 1994 Ducati with 33,000 miles on the stock dry multiplate clutch.
And the single plate dry clutch on my 2017 MG Griso has given me no trouble so far.
So dry clutches are not a problem.
Some may wish for more power, but that is not the point of a bike like the V7.
I have never had an issue with dry clutches, one of those was on a BMW K12 brick and the clutch was still going strong passed 100,000 miles, I covered 76,000 of those. Recently changed the wet clutch on my Himalayan because it started slipping at 18,000, so no I wouldn’t be put off
The V7 Special in blue is a fine looking motorcycle.
It really is. The blue Special is my first bike after a long hiatus from riding and i couldn’t be happier I fell in love with the styling and the “uniqueness” of the bike.
Even took a 4 hour bus ride to find the right one lol
I too share the compelling appreciation of Melissa Pierson towards the Moto Guzzi. My first experience with the brand was a lightly used V65C, an underappreciated model of the 1980’s. Unlike their products of today, this was a constant work in progress. I would not call it unreliable, and it never left me stranded, but I did quickly become intimate with it’s inner workings. With the dedicated support of my mechanic, Eish, I thoroughly enjoyed the many miles we spent on the road. It had soul. But life moves on and I remember the day when I told Eish I was moving to BMW. “Well, what’d you go and do that for?” he said with a look of disappointment.
Fast forward and todays Moto Guzzi are far better machines. Reliability a chief attribute, with excellent build quality and the engineering foresight to use a single throttle body. No more synching of the cylinders. A dry clutch suits me fine, while keeping engine oil separate from the gear box. Air-cooling and no chain to mess with makes for easy maintenance. And the choice of tire size won’t send me to the poorhouse. How they continue to keep it Euro 5 compliant is a mystery, but I’m glad it lives on. I still relive the visceral appeal of that “small block”. The v-twin from Lake Como is calling.
the only thing I’d change is the digital gauge. amazing bike.
Go for the special then. They keep the analog gauge, and i agree analog gauges are a much better fit for this bike, and pretty much in general IMO
I love the Special in blue, but I hate wire spoke wheels. Sorry but I like tubeless tires. Maybe they could all learn a thing or two about spoke wheels from BMW.
Fortunately for me the Centenario is sharp looking. But then I do like the orange too, and it’s a few bucks less.
Now if they only offered cruise control…. Mmmmmmmm… Not a deal breaker though.
I have seriously considered a V7 on at least two separate occasions, but the lack of a dealer in my state and the thought of tackling a valve adjustment every 4,000 miles (I have no garage in which to work and average over 20,000 miles per season) has sent me looking elsewhere.
Still… A timeless-looking machine that refuses to fade from my eventual cycling bucket list.
The dry clutch and separate gearbox from engine block go a very long way to increasing engine life and oil life. Gearboxes and clutches shear oil and greatly reduced its life and the lubrications quality of the oil. Your engine will thank you for not having to share its oil with the transmission 🙂.
Are the spoked wheels tubeless, like on the V85TT?
No, the tires have tubes.
Highway cruiser bikes are big, heavy and not much fun on local roads or in city traffic but the new, smaller and lighter Moto Guzzi V7 bikes can handle all of that and then some, very nicely. With a 5.5 gal gas tank it can cruise at 80 mph and with a set of rear bags it can make local grocery runs. The V7 series considerably updates the V7 III series, borrows from the proven V85 series and it seems unlikely Moto Guzzi would consider making it any bigger than it now is. This really is a great bike.
Why not the 80 hp tune from the the V85tt? I’m attracted to the look of this bike but my Yamaha Tracer has the same displacement, same weight, TWICE the hp, and similar to 20% better torque over a 7000 rpm spread. MG, you have to try a little harder. 100 hp/liter is now the bottom end of acceptable even when ‘tuned for torque’ (which just means the designers moved the peak torque lower in the rpm band)
You have to note that this is their entry bike, if they want to go all out like that, then you lose desirability for people who are starting off and want a Guzzi. Sometimes keeping it under stressed and old school is the best bet.