Moto Guzzi's two new stars for 2009 are the V7 Café Classic and Griso S.E. MCN Executive Editor Phil West has just sampled them in Rome. Here are his first impressions.
"The Café Classic is a café racer version of the V7 Classic retro roadster launched last year. That bike, powered by the 750 Nevada V-twin powerplant in an 'old school' twin shock chassis with styling inspired by the Guzzi V7 of the early '70s, proved to be a sweet, easy-going roadster in a similar vein to Triumph's 800 Bonneville. Two things set it apart: the Guzzi's style, finish and detailing was in a class above the stock Triumph's... even if its aging, 50bhp lump couldn't quite match the 61bhp more modern Brit.
"The new Café Classic, with its lower cafe racer clip-ons, racy single seat and hugely evocative V7 Sport mimicking lime green paint, gives the cute little (and it is little; great for novices and ladies but six-footers should steer clear) even more presence and style. It's a mouth-wateringly beautiful bike. Despite appearances, the riding position is easy and the handling and character crisp and enjoyable. In terms of performance it can't quite match a Thruxton or Ducati Sports Classic but it's still very pleasing.
"The other newcomer (apart from an updated Nevada 750 with new dials and detail touches) is the Griso S.E., a special edition based on the 1200cc four-valve version of Guzzi's brawny, stylish roadster. For £9109 (£300 over the stock bike) you get flash black anodised alloy wire wheels, a sultry matt green paintjob evocative of Guzzis racers of the '50s and a posh brown seat. Think Bentley-style mix of retro and modern and you won't be far wide of the mark. Riding-wise, it's unchanged: the Griso's a big and butch bouncer of a bike with steering and balance that belies its weight and girth. No. it's not as lithe or can quite fly like a Ducati or KTM, instead it's got a beastly charm all it's own, is comfortable and versatile and is sprinkled with the sort of components, classy touches and build quality the match of anything in Europe."