MOTO-GUZZI V7 (2021 - on) Review
- Charismatic retro with largest and most powerful engine yet
- Finely honed balance of tradition and modernity
- Still enough trad’ Guzzi charm for brand aficionados
At a glance
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
I’m a sucker for the Moto Guzzi V7. Since its arrival in 2008 the back-to-basics Italian has surely represented what a retro should be: a famous old model reimagined, with plenty of traditional character and old-school charm but served with modern quality, civility and rideability. Oh, and it’s always had plenty of what all manufacturers strive for with their throwback models. Authenticity.
When you think ‘Guzzi’ it’s an image of a V7 that pops into your bonce. The Italian factory has knocked out bikes with engines of assorted capacity and configuration since it started production in 1921, from dinky two-strokes (their Motoleggera 65 ‘Guzzino’ was Europe’s best-selling motorcycle for over a decade) through eight-valve overhead-cam Ducati challengers to 1400cc behemoths. But it’s air-cooled 90˚ pushrod V-twins that have been their signature since 1967 when they launched the V7 powered by a V-twin displacing 700cc. Easy to see where the moniker came from...
Later V7s, including the iconic Sport of the early 1970s, grew to 750 and evolved into the legendary Le Mans. The firm’s success was built on the pushrod V-twin and V7, so when Guzzi created a new retro-style bike for 2008 it had to be a seven-fifty and had use the celebrated name.
The softly tuned, back-to-basics naked has been a success, with various updates and technical tweaks keeping it fresh. However, with rivals like Triumph’s Street Twin offering additional oomph and a luxurious feel, from 2021 the V7 is an 850. (Which means it should really be called the V85, but of course that’s something else entirely.)
Earlier 744cc V7s always got the balance of then and now just about spot-on. Some retros, like Royal Enfield’s Bullet and the Benelli Imperiale 400, are just like riding an old bike, while machines like the Triumph Speed Twin and Yamaha XSRs are modern tackle in period costume. But with traditional feel and sensations mixed with modern quality, manners, ease of use and reliability, the Guzzi has always seemed reassuringly genuine. It’s still the case with the 853cc bike. It’s still a doddle to ride yet with surprisingly capable handling, still nicely made and still provides rich sensations, only now with a little more meat on its bones. It’s both faster and more flexible, without damaging the character that’s made the V7 popular.
Becoming an 850 doesn’t really change the Moto Guzzi’s positioning, though. The V7 is still classier, nicer made and gruntier than a Royal Enfield 650 Interceptor, but three-grand more expensive; and it’s still less punchy than a Triumph Street Twin and way slower than a Yamaha XSR900, yet more authentic and charismatic than both. As before, the V7’s most direct rival is Kawasaki’s underrated parallel-twin W800, which outclasses the V7 on period detailing but like all other retros falls short in one vital area. It doesn’t say Moto Guzzi on the tank.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Moto Guzzi’s V7 is simple to ride whether bobbing around town or bend-swinging through open countryside. Comparatively slim wheels and easy ergonomics give breezy low-speed control and agility, and with an 18in front wheel and weight carried quite low there’s plenty of roadholding on flowing routes.
Suspension is hardly sophisticated, but the Kayaba twin shocks (slightly stiffer and with increased travel for the 850) and 40mm right-way-up forks give decent ride quality and good feedback, and the chassis gives plenty of confidence. With its Dunlop Arrowmax Streetsmart tyres the V7 giggles as you cheerfully wear away its footpeg blobs on familiar roads. Or unfamiliar ones, actually. Just watch abuse of the left ’peg – once the blob has worn away the stand drags and can lift the rear wheel off the floor.
Just a single disc brake out front (function following form), but the four-piston Brembo caliper is plenty strong enough for typical Guzzi antics. The rear brake gives particularly pleasing control.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Previous V7s were ushered along by a 744cc motor, but this has made way for Guzzi’s 853cc unit also used in the V9 and V85 TT. It’s essentially the same air-cooled V-twin as before with two valves per cylinder, pushrods and a single throttle body with Siamesed inlet, but with a larger bore and longer stroke (84 x 77mm, rather than 80 x 74mm).
For the V7 the engine is in identical tune to the V9 Bobber, so has a claimed 53.8 lb.ft of torque at 5000rpm giving maximum power of 64bhp at 6800rpm – that’s a 25% hike over the old engine, though the peaks have snook up the rev range by 750rpm or so. There’s definitely more wallop: the new 850 pulls harder at around 3000rpm, and when ridden with gusto there’s certainly additional pace. However, low-rev fuelling isn’t perfect (not helped by the feeling that the engine management is over-managing below 3000rpm in first gear), and in ‘normal’ riding you don’t overly notice the 850’s extra meatiness.
The six-speed gearbox is polite, and does the usual Guzzi trick of slipping into first gear to the lightest of touches without any sound or physical restriction. With the V-twin’s longitudinal crank and shaft final drive there’s a hint of torque reaction, but it adds character rather than being annoying.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Quality is good. Very good. Paint is deep, running gear has a resilient finish, and Guzzi’s laid-back V-twin engine is proven and exceedingly dependable. Buy a V7 and it won’t let you down. Some of the components aren’t the flashiest, but everything about the V7 feels classier than its eight-grand-or-so price tag implies. Owners of previous versions rave about the reliability and finish of their bikes, the only grumbles being about the rear shocks – which are improved on the 850.
Your V7 will need looking after for year-round use, though. There are several fasteners and smaller parts that will grow fur and try to corrode if they get anywhere near road salt without first being bathed in something protective, and the V7 Special has lots of chrome and alloy finishes that need an eye keeping on them.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
The V7 Stone (matt paint, cast wheels) costs £8000 on the road, or £8200 in limited-edition Centenario colours. The V7 Special (gloss paint, chrome and polished parts, spoke wheels, grab rail) is £8600. It’s competitively priced: Triumph’s Street Twin starts at £8200 and a Kawasaki W800 will set you back £8645.
The Guzzi is there or there about if you’re addicted to monthly PCP payments, too. Monthly payments are higher than rivals and it’s guaranteed future value is a little lower, but this means a more affordable optional end payment if you want to keep the bike at the end of the finance – which you will, given how easier the V-twin is to bond with. Over 36 months, 3000 miles a year and a deposit of £860, the more desirable V7 Special is £128.65 a month (8.9% APR) with an end payment of payment of £3578. On the same terms a Street Twin in zingy Cobalt Blue is £101.52 a month (7.9% APR) with a £4398 end payment, while a W800 is £117.16 a month (5.9% APR) with an end payment of £4689.
Running a V7 is a little more expensive, though. Insurance is group 12, which is same as the Triumph rival, and the frugal V-twin does 63mpg in brisk use – with the handy 21-litre tank that’s a range of almost 300 miles. However, the V7 needs servicing every 6200 miles with new spark plugs and valve clearance check every time. At least there’s no drive chain to lubricate…
The cheapest V7 model is the Stone, which has a matt paint finish and black exhausts, cast wheels, fork gaiters, and a daytime running light with the profile of the firm’s eagle logo. It costs £8000 in either black, light blue or orangey-yellow. There’s also a limited-edition grey and green Centenario model for 2021 only at £8200. The more appealing version is the V7 Special though, with deep glossy paint, chrome pipes, machined cooling fins, spoke wheels and a grab rail. Choose blue or grey while handing over £8600.
Buying a V7 isn’t about shimmering technology. This is a proper retro, so switchgear is simplistic and electronics are limited to ABS and basic two-level traction control. The Stone has a new round digital display, but the Special retains analogue dials with a basic LCD inlay rather than multi-colour TFT fireworks. You’re paying for high quality and a fine finish instead.
|Engine type||air-cooled pushrod 4v V-twin|
|Frame type||steel tube open cradle|
|Fuel capacity||21 litres|
|Front suspension||telescopic fork, no adjustment|
|Rear suspension||twin shocks, adjustable preload|
|Front brake||320mm disc with four-piston calipers. ABS|
|Rear brake||260mm disc, two-piston caliper|
|Front tyre size||100/90 R18|
|Rear tyre size||150/70 R17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||63 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||-|
12 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||64 bhp|
|Max torque||53.8 ft-lb|
|Top speed||110 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||1291 miles|
Model history & versions
- 2008: throwback V7 launched with classic spoke-wheel styling, powered by a 744cc air-cooled V-twin with alloy pushrod timing gear with two valves per cylinder and a claimed 48bhp. Five-speed gearbox, shaft final drive.
- 2014: updated to become the V7 II, with a tweaked chassis, a smidge more power, a redesigned gearbox (now six speeds), ABS and traction control. Three versions: matt finish and cast wheel Stone; shiny spoke wheel Specia; and head-down Racer. Later there are versions called the Rough, Milano and Carbon with cosmetic fiddling. There’s also a scrambler-style V7 Stornello offered for 2016 only.
- 2017: out pops the V7 III with the heron cylinder heads from the V9, 10% more power, a slicker gearbox with a lighter clutch, plus a reworked chassis with better rear shocks. Improved riding position and comfier seat, too.
- 2021: Roman numerals dropped from the name, and the 744cc engine replaced by the 853cc unit from the V9, ramping power up to 64bhp. Rear shocks further improved, headstock altered, tweaked styling, LED indicators and cool taillight.
Owners' reviews for the MOTO-GUZZI V7 (2021 - on)
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