This is Guzzi’s new smallblock

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Would you believe that Moto Guzzi’s definitive 700cc 90º v-twin began life as a conceptual powertrain for the original Fiat 500? Since its introduction in 1977 it’s gone through many iterations, none prettier than this latest.

It’s hard to put a finger on what makes this new 744cc so distinctive. Nothing intrudes on the cleanly-designed cylinder heads but the exhausts. Over last year’s engine, the plug leads are disappeared, as are the two throttle bodies, replaced by a single, central manifold. That makes Guzzi’s distinctive longitudinal V-twin as absolutely pretty as possible. Aside from the looks, there’s also an increase in compression and a subsequent boost in power to 51bhp and 43lb/ft.

Of it, Guzzi says, “And so, the search for greater performance opened the door to a new design, rich with innovative solutions that project this engine among the most advanced in its category with more than 70% new parts, equal to more than 200 new or redesigned mechanical organs.”

The engine is fitted to the 2012 Moto Guzzi V7 range, which sees some nice new colors and the normalization of last year’s special edition V7 Racer into a regular production model.

“The square finning, legacy of production from the 1980s, passed the baton to a rounded shape which is reminiscent of the first generation of two cylinders from Mandello.”

“The valves cover is also a homage to the origins of the V7; made in aluminium, it faithfully covers the profile of the finning, showing off the Moto Guzzi signature in bas-relief. Another element which is immediately recognisable is the disappearance of the two intake manifolds and relative throttle bodies: in fact, the new small block is the first single throttle Moto Guzzi engine.”

“The manifolds were replaced by a single Y manifold made of rubber, completely ribbed and straight (diameter of 36 and 39 mm respectively from the injector groups and the throttle body) which links to a single Magneti Marelli MIU3G 38 mm diameter throttle body.”

“This is a modern unit which allows two lambda probes to be managed, thereby obtaining a mixture to the cylinders which is more uniform with consequent improvement in fuel economy and harmful emissions, besides contributing to the increase in performance, which was the goal of the entire design. For this purpose a new head was designed, working on the intake ducts, now larger in diameter and better linked to reduce losses and increase turbulence, as well as repositioning the spark plug hole more centrally, thanks to the use of a more modern plug with d=10mm threading and a prominent electrode.”

“The squish area and the compression ratio is also increased, thanks to the use of new, higher performance pistons which increased the ratio by one point, going from 9.2 to 10.2. In addition to the pouches obtained at the top of the piston, the bottom of these are completely redesigned to make the structure more sturdy without increasing the weight. The segments are also new, with more modern sizes, material and shapes, and they contribute to improving efficiency and oil consumption.”

“The general efficiency of the engine stems from the contribution of the new cylinder finning, greater dimensions and wheelbase which lowered average operating temperatures, and the new filter casing, redesigned to accommodate the “breathing” needs of the two cylinder from Mandello.”

“With this new configuration, the two cylinder from Mandello became significantly more sturdy in engine torque and above all in maximum power, growing 12% with higher inclination for spurts and a power curve which expresses its additional horses already from 3500 rpm.
The transmission has also been revamped, still five speeds, but with a new pre-selector which has made control more precise, smooth and quiet.”

  • muckluck

    will it be in the same price range as the earlier models? I think I’d rather have the Guzzi over a Triumph now that it’s 51bhp!

    • Wes Siler

      Most likely the price will remain unchanged.

    • fasterfaster

      Agreed, this thing is shaping up to be the perfect little casual all-rounder.

  • Brad

    Heh, mechanical organs…

    • Gene

      “completely ribbed and straight”

  • Edward

    This is awesome. Glad to see Guzzi developing their product so well.

  • dan

    My 84 LeMans makes 81 hp. Wake up MG.

  • BuellDoc

    Clarity Please. Triumph had the Tiger with a single carb,Bonniville with 2 for performance. HD has a single,Dual for the XR750 for Performance.Buell had single then Dual for Performance..the move to single is a cost saving in production,parts and design?

  • Campisi

    Everything I have previously disliked about modern Bonnevilles has been addressed by the modern-classic Guzzis, with so much more thrown in for good measure.

    • Devin

      Everything except 16 horsepower…

      • Campisi

        “I shall solve this problem using bravery!”

        • Grant Ray


  • zipp4

    Not trying to be a smartass here, but how is this any different than H-D’s ideology? Antiquated engineering and underwhelming performance, all in the name of a”cool” looking vintage product.

    • Eric

      HD’s ideology leads to my neighbor removing his mufflers and riding around looking grumpy. The Guzzi ideology doesn’t involve so much noise and unpleasantness.

      • zipp4

        That doesn’t make sense.

    • Liquidogged

      +1. The lower emissions are great, truly. But if Harley put this out HFL would’ve been crapping all over it.

      The engine makes for a relatively low performance, relatively expensive motorcycle. This is not very different from Harley’s approach to the market.

      • muckluck

        Just out of curiosity how many hp does a sportster 883 put out? I don’t see it listed on there website. Also where is the oil filter located on the Guzzi I know back in the day they were under the oil pan

      • Grant Ray

        Absolutely not true. That Forty Nine Sportster came so close to being a perfect product out of the box. It just needed a touch more function like midsets along with a higher saddle-seat for better control, a rear fender rack, and slightly more ergonomic bars with bar-end dampers. Then that thing could have gone anywhere, just like the Harleys of yore that many of us have all pined after, but know better that to bother with.

        • zipp4

          Right, so why not be a little objective here and call a spade a spade? This is an over-priced poseur machine, just like the forty nine.

          • Grant Ray

            I’m really tired of the “poseur” crap. Sticking to that kind of 80s leftover misanthropic macho bullshit is what is rapidly killing this industry.

            You own and ride a bike? Awesome. Do you want to be associated with a bunch of grumpy old assholes? No, you say? Oh, you just want to ride a bike that looks cool, performs alright, doesn’t break down regularly and have a good time? Maybe do a little commuting, maybe just ride on the weekends when you can spare time from your really busy life? That’s great.

            End of discussion.

            • zipp4

              I’m sorry if I struck a nerve. A lot of cruiser bikes fit the characteristics you mentioned, yet I don’t see them on this site. If you have a thing for Guzzi, just come out and say it, thats all. But an engineering marvel, this is not.

              Ben, you’re right, the heart wants what the heart wants.

              • Grant Ray

                No worries. I just get really tired of the “real biker” schtick that this culture has gotten itself into, which is currently proving to be detrimental to the long-term health of the US bike industry.

                As for those cruisers fitting my list, I’m not seeing a whole bunch of them for less than 13K or with design/paint/chrome that isn’t directly tailored to the boomers. I’m not a boomer. Not to mention that 13K and up is seriously deep into luxury consumer territory, and I expect a certain high level of quality from purchasing a luxury good.

                • Paul B

                  883 Sportster starts out @ $7999 which I think would be a direct competitor for this bike. I’d also being willing to bet that 883 will have a LOT less issues then a Guzzi.

                • Ben Incarnate

                  Paul – I’m not sure the Sportster is a direct competitor. Different ergos, about 100 lbs of weight difference, different chassis dynamics, etc etc etc. The Triumph Bonneville is really the nearest competition.

                  Of course, I’m not sure anyone buys a Guzzi because it’s the best practical choice.

          • Ben Incarnate

            To many, myself included, there’s an appeal the classic style of bike. Guzzi does a better job on introducing modern performance to that equation than HD.

            There are many bikes out there that are much better performers for less money. Those would be a more practical choice. My last motorcycle choice was one of practicality. My next one won’t be.

            I still lust after the Griso 8V SE. My head says, “Slap some new parts on the Z1000 and ride it for a few more years. It’s a great bike. The Griso is heavier, offers comparably crappy performance, and it’s $15k.” My heart, however, is a filthy cheating whore.

          • Campisi

            To be fair, the V7 line is much more reasonably priced than the vast majority of Harley-Davidsons. Why pay over eight grand for a Sportster that “real Harley” owners will just piss all over you for riding, when you can get a V7 that has all the classic character while also offering UJM-style breadth of ability and no cultural baggage?

        • Ben Incarnate

          Well, it could go anywhere as long as gas stations were plentiful enough for it’s 2.1 gallon tank.

    • aristurtle

      As you can clearly see from the picture, the difference is that this engine is sideways.

  • BMW11GS

    I dont know why people are getting all negative…its a great looking product!

  • rvltng_bstrd

    not negative, just saying that for some hamburgers may be just as gratifying as pizza, even HFLM tells us otherwise

  • oldblue

    It’s a black Honda CX500.

    And I mean that as a compliment!

  • Liquidogged

    So… it’s cool for a bike to have low performance and a high pricetag, so long as it looks cool?

    Well, I happen to agree, and I think that since style is a big topic around here, it makes sense that HFL staff are going to have their preferences. Fine. It’s just that in all the harleyhating around here, weak performance and high price are usually used to portray hd product as totally off the mark. Now here we have a pricey bike using dressed up 70′s technology getting a thoughtful and almost reverent examination. Really, the bias is quite clear, and if you guys just admitted how important style is for you – in some cases, significantly more important than performance – then this kind of article would go down easier. But you don’t get to crap on one company’s pricey, slow bike and praise another’s pricey, slow bike as if the fact that one is superior is self evident. The fact that you deem one superior is, especially in this case, completely subjective. Which is totally fine, as long as that’s out in the open, and we’re not pretending this guzzi engine is any farther ahead of a sporster lump in the performance department.

    • Grant Ray

      DId you not read my previous response to you about Harley’s Forty Nine Sportster? And when have I ever claimed that style was not important to me?

      As for comparing lumps and being secretly biased, go ride all of the available air-cooled retro twins for at least a day trip over varied terrains and then tell me which bike was the most fun and which bike consistently left you the most frustrated.

      • Liquidogged

        I did read that response and I hear you loud and clear. And I did not mean to say that you, personally have claimed style wasn’t important. It’s not really about Grant Ray but about the general editorial stance here. Sorry I wasn’t more clear on that.

        I’d love to go ride all those bikes, but I can’t. You guys probably can though, so I come here to see what you have to say. It’s just frustrating because instead of lucid commentary on why hd engines blow compared to guzzi (a thought I’m totally willing to entertain, by the way), I get general slop about how harley basically just isn’t cool enough. If that’s the opinion of HFL, cool. But you guys really shouldn’t be surprised that readers want a little more objectivity out of a site that publicly craps on print mags for not being objective.

        Again, Grant, this isn’t to single you out – it’s a bigger theme running through all HFL content. It’s not about this one article, it’s about all the articles and the editorial slant on everything. I dig that slant in many ways, but in some ways there’s some overreach and some inherent bias that is flavoring the content in ways that I don’t think make things better or more understandable for riders.

        But hey, that’s just my opinion.

        • Grant Ray

          I understand, and I didn’t take it as a personal dig.

          The 883 Sportster platform shakes like a jackhammer compared to all the other air-cooled retro twins available on the market and is at least 50 lbs. heavier than the Triumph Bonneville line, the Guzzi V7s as well as the non-sidecar Urals. Sure the 883 has more power than the Ural but considerably lower quality suspension and brake components than the Ural.

          The 1200 Sportster puts out more power than the 883 but weighs significantly more as well. That weight and mass are also higher in the chassis, directly effecting handling.

          I really, really want Harley to build that stylish go-anywhere retro bike like what they made in days of old. But until they do, a plastic and chrome-plated spade is a plastic and chrome-plated spade. As a result, the other retro bikes like the V7 Classic are considerably more refined riding machines and just more fun.

          • muckluck

            I thought Harley had something going with the 883R, having a full seat to move around and all. I was considering one and even sat on one and was really surprised how heavy they actually are. Are those cast wheels heavier than the spoked ones?

          • Liquidogged

            Excellent points. I think especially with the air-cooled platforms, weight is a really big deal. It’s got to look solid and timeless without weighing a gabillion pounds. I was also unaware of the difference in suspension and brake spec between the Harley and the Ural, but somewhere in my mind I just assumed the Guzzi had better suspenders and stoppers. Certainly the stance is going to lead to more responsive handling.

            All that said, seriously: the Guzzi is a much, much better looking bike IMO.

            • Grant Ray

              The Guzzi handles great thanks to great balance and weight placement. I haven’t pushed the suspension, but I’m betting I’ll get a chance to soon enough. I did a lot of bombing around Brooklyn and the V7 Classic did great dodging and occasionally absorbing the potholes.

  • Matthew

    When making a big purchase like this style is a huge consideration.

    This matte black V7 will probably be my first “new” bike after I finish my first year learning on a 1986 Honda Nighthawk S precisely because I like the style.

    Side note: I rode a sportster Iron 883 a friend had at work. It’s the only HD I would consider stylewise but compared to the 25 year old Nighthawk it drove like a piece of crap.

  • 80-watt Hamster

    Dear Moto Guzzi:

    How about bringing back the Breva 750? It was better looking than any of the V7s anyway. And if you throw in a decent fork/shock setup at the same time, I might have another contender on my next bike list.

    Sincerely, A Motorcyclist