RideApart Review: Moto Guzzi V7 Racer Record

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v7-record

Believe it or not, but the bike I’m riding here wasn’t made in the 1970s. It’s the brand-new, 2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Racer Record. And, while it might look old, has plenty of classic character and ticks all the right boxes in your heart, it’s also reliable, safe and comfortable. The best retro yet?

Photos: Scott G Toepfer

What’s New:
There’s a couple things going on here, so let’s start at the beginning.

First, Guzzi’s V7 range has been comprehensively refreshed for 2013. The engine is 70 percent new and equipped with a distinctive, single, central throttle body. While a power increase from 48 to 50bhp may not sound like much, but it makes that peak power at 6,200rpm, 500rpm lower in the rev range and as much power as the previous model’s peak 1,000rpm lower. That’s a notably more full mid-range. Fuel economy also benefits, now 55mpg the V7’s 5.8 gallon tank delivers an incredibly useful 310-mile range.

Torque increases only a single pound-foot to 44, but arrives at the same, ultra-low 2,800rpm.

Much of that is down to a new ECU, new dual O2 sensors and a new head shape that raises compression from 9.2 to 10.2:1. Pistons are also redesigned to be stronger, without adding any weight.

The base V7 Stone. A fair bit different from the bike you see here, huh?

The look of that engine has also been cleaned up, especially around the valve covers. Broader fins also equal better cooling.

There’s other minor, but still meaningful changes elsewhere too. An aluminum tank replaces the old plastic item, while adding capacity. Wheels, across the range, lose weight, including the spoked items seen on the Racer. Forks remain unadjustable, RWU, 40mm items, but are now equipped with improved damping.

With that Aluminum tank, Guzzi is also importing the chrome V7 Racer to the States for the first time. At $9,990, that model brings a $1,600 premium over the base V7 Stone, but also adds seriously nice rearsets, clip-ons and spoked wheels, as well as stand out design features like the red frame, leather tank strap, numbered badge on the top yoke, billet aluminum throttle body guards and single seat fairing. More substantially, there’s also new, remote-reservoir Bitubo shocks.

So far so good? The Record is an add-on kit for that Racer. Retailing for an additional $1,990, it brings the fairing, screen, an all-new single-seat design with a kicked-up tail, plus all mounting brackets to seamlessly integrate the above.

The bike you see here is also fitted with the $1,190 Arrow slip-on exhaust system, which sheds weight and adds power in both the top-end and mid-range, but requires no ECU re-programming. It’s not road legal, but isn’t annoyingly loud.

The Ride:
I’ve been riding the Record around Los Angeles for a couple weeks now. Through heavy traffic, it’s a revelation thanks to the newfound slimness brought by the clip-ons. Power is easy and the performance confidence-inspring, if not hugely fast.

One of the best things about the V7 range is their low weight. At just 394lbs (wet), they’re a full 100lbs lighter than the Triumph Bonneville. While that bike remains a touch faster thanks to its 67bhp, the V7s are lighter on their feet and noticeably easier to push around. That pays dividends for novice and experienced riders alike, there’s simply not a bike out there that feels more natural from the get-go than a V7.

Highway miles brought to light one unexpected advantage of the Record — long range comfort. Sure, the fairing does an admirable job of reducing some wind blast, but it’s really the riding position and seat that make it feel much more modern and comfortable than other models in the V7 range. That seat is hard as a board and narrow, but supports your sit bones in exactly the right position, leading to zero posterior discomfort on long rides. And believe me, I’m sensitive to posterior discomfort right now.

The rear-sets also increase the leverage your legs are able to apply, without cramping them. Ground clearance is also boosted. In fact, I touched nothing down during my time with the bike, something I can’t say about virtually anything else that doesn’t come with at least three Rs in its name.

Clip-ons, too, do a great job of shifting just enough weight forward to aid control, while actually managing to move the ergonomics in a more modern direction, which increases comfort.

And those new ergonomics are what led to the biggest surprise with the Record. Sure, the stock V7 is a fun, broadly-capable little bike that’s more than able to get a little sporty, but headed up Piuma from Malibu Canyon, I found something else entirely. That weight over the front, the new motor, the Racer’s improved suspension and your feet up a little bit turn the Record into a little canyon carver. It’s no 600, but in its own torque, quirky, characterful way, it’s solid fun to ride fast.

I was riding in jeans in these photos, so kept things dialed back, but had I worn some leathers, knee down for these photos would have been no problem. The ergonomics make body position easy and you can get plenty of lean out of the stock tires.

What’s Good:
Pulling up at a stoplight next to a guy in race leathers on a GSX-R1000, the bike got an appreciative nod. Doubly so at the next light, after I’d beaten him there through traffic.

The V7’s air-cooled 744cc motor has always been about character, gently plinking as you walk away, but now it’s about smooth performance too. The power band is broad and linear, making progress easy, if not lightning fast.

The Arrow exhausts strike the right balance between engine note and noise levels. You’re not going to set off any car alarms or tell the cops you’re coming, but you are going to feel like you’re riding an honest-to-god motorcycle.

The rear shocks works very well, with tangibly decent damping and the correct spring weight for sporty riding with my 168lbs frame aboard.

Feel through every component is superb, even if capability is somewhat limited compared to a modern race replica. That equals plenty of confidence whether you’re in town, on the highway, or in a canyon.

Every. Single. Time. You climb onboard you will feel like you’re embarking on a memorable adventure. Isn’t that what riding bikes is all about?

What’s Bad:
The 320mm single front disc/four-piston Brembo/braided steel line front brake sounds decent, but lacks outright stopping power. An upgrade to the pads and maybe even master cylinder is needed if you really plan to ride it fast.

The non-adjustable forks remain overly soft and under damped. Ride quality is excellent, but the bike wants to move around a little too much once you start dialing in Gs.

It’s disappointing that, for $1,190, the Arrow cans aren’t road legal. It’s not as if they’re loud, you get the feeling the budget just wasn’t there to homologate them.

The detailing is a little over the top, making the bike feel a little too self-conscious. A nice brushed finish to the aluminum tank would be less flashy than chrome and the number plates are just over kill.

The clutch is going to be a little on the heavy side for the small-framed women and novices that will otherwise find the V7 absolutely perfect.

Despite the fuel-injection, the first few minutes after cold starts can leave the bike a little reluctant to pull away from a dead stop without big throttle and much clutch slip.

You can’t carry a passenger on what’s surely one of the most provocative-looking bikes out there. Girls will ask for rides. You will have to tell them no.

The Price:
$9,990 + $1,990 for the Record kit + $1,190 for the Arrow exhausts = $13,080. That’s a lot of money for a bike with 50bhp and fairly basic components. That’s just a couple hundred dollars less than the Ohlins-equipped Triumph Daytona 675R.

A stunning bike to look at, strong character and modern reliability make the Record absolutely unique though. These are going to be a rare sight and their owners will be happier for it.

What Others Say:
“The 2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Racer is much more than a transportation appliance; it’s a fun bike that backs up its solid hardware with a healthy dose of race-inspired Italian style. It’s polished, capable and fun. And perhaps most poignantly, it made me feel like a 17-year-old high school kid again, going off on another memorable motorcycle adventure.” — Cycle World

“My general feeling for the Guzzi is that it has a relevant place: providing the rider with a stylish, classic, and fun riding experience. It has the best tank paint job of all time (chrome), the power is sufficient, it will accelerate fast enough, it’s not a track bike but it will hold its own comparatively. It’s the kind of bike that more people should ride and enjoy.” — Thor Drake

The Verdict:
The guys from Guzzi just emailed and told me I have to bring the Record back tomorrow. I’ve got a few, much faster bikes in the garage to replace it, but I’m genuinely gutted to return the V7. It’s memorable in a way most modern bikes just aren’t any more, at least outside those rare, crazy 10/10ths moments.

More fun, more capable and better looking than anything else in the V7 range, the Record is possibly the best looking bike on sale right now complete with finance payments and a warranty and no oil leaks. If you’re looking to recapture a vintage riding experience without the hassle, you can’t do any better than this.

RideApart Rating: 8/10

Gear:
Helmet: Schuberth S2 ($700)
Jacket: Vanson AR2 ($500)
Gloves: Racer Sicuro ($240)
Armor: Alpinestars BioArmor ($40)
Back Protector: Alpinestars Bionic Air ($140)
Jeans: Levi’s 511 ($40)
Boots: Corcoran Jump Boot ($120)

  • http://www.facebook.com/noah.abbott.58 Noah Abbott

    Nice review Wes. Seriously thinking about a V7 Stone as my first new bike purchase, ever. Hope all is well. – Noah from Henry St., BK

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Hey Noah!

      • http://www.facebook.com/noah.abbott.58 Noah Abbott

        Hey bud, been lurking on the site for a while, glad its going so well. Sorry to hear about your spill (and even sorrier I looked at the pictures.) Gimme a shout if you’re ever back in NYC.

    • http://www.facebook.com/moto.guzzi.9 Moto Guzzi

      Should go for it Noah, I own a 2009 V7 Classic, use as my daily commute and it´s brilliant in and around town, fun for blasting around country roads too, alas a bit lacking in the power department. Add a Zards exhaust and your ready to go, racked up 30´kms on it with no problems whatsoever

    • Ray

      Hey Noah, I’ve got a green V11 Sport over by Columbia St. I’ve had only minor annoyances, nothing I haven’t been able to deal with myself. Had it since 2002, nearing 30k miles on it…

      • http://www.facebook.com/stempere Sean Tempère

        Done a few thousand miles on a V11 sport naked (the dark purple one, the green looks awesome) and i have to say it has so much caracter…. this is trully an awesome bike, brings a smile on my face just thinking about it.
        It did have some issues though (gearbox spring broke twice, some electrical issues…).

        • yipY

          Big block Guzzi owner logic.+

  • http://www.facebook.com/corey.cook.549221 Corey Cook

    I sat on one of these at the dealer that I’m pretty sure was a 2013 but may have been a 2012 and one thing struck me immediately. The suspension was complete and utter garbage. I only weigh 145 pounds and I was able to bottom it out with just a little bump on the seat. It felt like sitting on a moped. I really hope that was a 2012 and that 2013 has been VASTLY improved.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Did you ride it? Sometimes just looking at something as it sits still doesn’t translate to actual riding experience.

      • http://www.facebook.com/corey.cook.549221 Corey Cook

        No, it was just the Racer model with the Bitubo shocks that had this issue. The Base V7 felt completely normal. I know a thing or two about suspension and that little fella was just plain scary…

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Sounds like yours wasn’t right then. The shocks on this thing aren’t bad.

  • yipY

    The puffing and pumping up of peoples expectations of owning one of these old b-grade eighties designed Guzzis will only lead to disappointment when reality bites.A low miles mid-west barn-find Honda CX 500 sport would be far superior and faster,for example and comparison .The price is extreme for what you actually receive.Apart from the shaft drive unit it would cost Guzzi about the same to make as a GS500 Suzuki.When Italians do cheap,they really do cheap.More chicken than condor here I’m afraid.

    • http://www.facebook.com/paul.redican.7 Paul Redican

      YipY I thought I was grumpy but you are getting to be a bore.

      • yipY

        The last guy who I saw on one of these V7 things was crying,yes crying,at a stoplight pleading for someone to work on his bike for basic maintenance as the dealer who sold it new refused to touch it.I can’t make up tall tales as good as that rider’s reality.

        • http://www.facebook.com/paul.redican.7 Paul Redican

          well that a shame. my daily (and I mean every day) ride is a 78 Guzzi SP it has been the most reliable thing in my life and hey it seems to be going up in value given the offers I have had (not that I’d ever sell her)

          • yipY

            The big Guzzis are good bikes.The small twins are not.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000943035360 Travis King

          Are you saying a rider was actually crying. I’m calling BS. You did not see a guy at a stoplight crying and pleading for help. Who was he pleading to? Just crying and pleading to random motorist hoping one worked on Guzzis?

          • yipY

            Strange but true.I asked him what the bike was like at a stoplight,he started bawling.He told me Guzzi dealers would not work on the thing and asked me if I could.I said no thanks:get rid of it.I have seen similar crying teenage girl behavior in Italian bike owners a handful of times over the years.I’ve worked on just about every bike and two types I will never lay a hand on are:small Guzzis and old Ducatis owned by caffeine-amped emotional paupers.The guy rode off with tears running down his cheeks,as his clutch clunked and slipped.

            • http://www.facebook.com/jason.e.cormier Jason Evariste Cormier

              And Japanese bike riders are punk Squids with a deathwish and no regard for maintenance, and Harley guys are overweight bad-boy wannabes with small penises, and BMW owners are arrogant old farts who don’t wave… Plenty of stereotypes to go around.

              • yipY

                For all the current distain of stereotypes,they are wonderful minimal information systems that deliver consistent results in real world use.

        • bwatx

          I owned a 2010 V7. I had no problems and had a VERY responsive and helpful Guzzi dealer/service center. It was a fun, beautiful, basic bike, and it was not heavy as you mentioned elsewhere.

    • Justin Turner

      Bullshit. These Lino Tonti-designed bikes will out handle ANY Honda of that era, theres a reason they still use his frame. A CX500 is still a Honda. Everything that rolled out of Mandello in the 70s was overbuilt and cleverly designed, can’t say that for ANY honda of that era that I’ve torn into. Its frustrating and disappointing owning THOSE bikes. Between a small frame Guzzi and its Honda copy, I know which one I’d recommend.

      • yipY

        Honestly I can’t think of a worse flexy weird frame than the Tonti’s small Guzzi one.I have worked on the horrors.The “big” Guzzi frames like the Lemans and T etc are not that bad.The two types have little in common.

  • yipY

    “Believe it or not, but the bike I’m riding here wasn’t made in the 1970s”. This model Guzzi was first built as a 350cc in about 1979 and is basically the same bike.

    • Scott Steves

      not counting the lighter-stronger wheels, vastly improved suspension, fuel injection, updated riding position, and loss of ~70lb’s, you’re entirely correct!

  • Justin Turner

    I have a square fin Guzzi with almost double the horsepower, but the look of this (very old design) small block still gets my heart thumping. Unfortunately, my brain would make me buy the Daytona 675 instead.

  • Tyler 250

    Wes, you weren’t bothered by excess vibration at all? I’ve read some people complain that their feet were rattled off their legs from the vibes above 5K. Kevin Ash mentioned it, too, but he said you just need to ride it differently. I assume you were taking it up above 5K pretty regularly?

    • yipY

      A heavy shaft drive bike with a 90 degree twin pumping out around 38BHP (at a guess) at the rear wheel? And it shakes the pegs over 5K Rpm? If you want to play retro rider buy a new SR400 or a W Kawasaki.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      No real problem with vibrations at all, strange.

      • Tyler 250

        I wonder if the rearsets make a difference. I wasn’t bothered by the Classic, but I don’t tend to wring bikes out, especially on a test ride.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.zipprian Tommy Zipprian

    Fast forward 20 years… our kids think the same way of these as we think of Sportsters. Underpowered, overpriced, antiquated fashion accessory.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.berndt.73 Jonathan Berndt

      fast forward 20 yrs??? they are like that now!

      • http://www.facebook.com/tom.zipprian Tommy Zipprian

        True. And for some reason everyone loves these Guzzis, and everyone hates a Harley. Pretty hypocritical.

        • yipY

          One big difference between the two bikes is the Sportster is about twice as good as a 1980 model and the Guzzi is almost the same spec.

        • Campisi

          Not to speak for others, but I like V7s and simultaneously dislike Harleys for sound and non-contradictory reasons. Harleys insist on a riding position that simply doesn’t work for me, they’re far too heavy, their engines aren’t smooth enough for my tastes, they don’t handle well enough, and I dislike Harley’s styling conventions. The V7s are superior on all of these fronts by my estimation.

          It’s not hypocricy, it’s differences in tastes.

  • abenormal

    “And believe me, I’m sensitive to posterior discomfort right now.”

    And then a few paragraphs later…

    “I was riding in jeans in these photos”

    Yeah.

    • yipY

      It seems a dirge soundtrack by The Cure,Joy Division or the Smiths would slot right in here,as he motors past filthy smokestacks in a Manchester wasteland in the sunrise morning murk.Or is it just me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.sciannameo Dan Sciannameo

    The V7 racer graphics just too over the top. But today I commuted on my 1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans 3 with La Franconi competizione exhaust. Just over 4,000 miles. Dual front discs, Tonit frame and 81+ horsepower. Ill take the old.

    • yipY

      Yup.Agreed.

  • Ray

    I’ve mated a similar R90s fairing to my v11 Sport, and Airtech’s LeMans1 or Ducati 750/900ss fairings would work well too, for a fraction of the price. Stock fairing is likely a Magni.

  • luxlamf

    Every time I am up at Pro Italia the V7 draws me, its a head turned indeed even in a room full of Duc Super bikes, Monsters, Triumphs, MV’s etc… Great design.

  • Tazturtle

    Briliant bike for the road – the twistier the better. I ride with a lot of Italian and Japanese bikes and the V7 Racer always holds her own. yipY – get a hobby dude – seriously, 12 hate rants about the one test? lol Guzzi have been rolling out the Small Block frame and engine configuration for over 35 years – a brilliant Tonti design and a well sorted roadbike that has passed the test of time.

    • yipY

      Don’t believe me then,fine by me.Just read the post of the guy who rides a real big Guzzi,with a good chassis and twice the horsepower.: Dan Sciannameo.

      • Tazturtle

        My last bike had more than twice the horsepower – completely wasted on the road. Do yourself a favour and actually take one for a ride instead of relying on other’s opinions. Cheers.

        • yipY

          I’ll pass.I think I might fire up the Vincent,the CBX,one of the race bikes for a track day,drag out the gaggle of dirt bikes or jump on the maxi scooter to go have a espresso.As you can imagine a life of leisure has a great distraction of a myriad of choice.I have ridden a couple of small block Guzzis:yucko.I seldom rely on others opinions.

          • Tazturtle

            Bollocks. You are whining and carrying on like a 15 year old! Do you even have your licence? lol

            • yipY

              When you have paid the bank loan on the Guzzi,spread the word with great tidings of joy.

  • Campisi

    I think I’d rather install the clip-ons, rearsets, shocks, and exhaust on one of the Stone models. Chrome tanks are for Hodakas, and the spoked rims and number plate arrangement are a touch fussy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604170249 Amira Esk

    I’ve had this bike for almost a year (I bought a second hand 2011) and I love it. I’m a female who does a lot of city riding and it’s the perfect bike. The comfort is top notch and it’s super easy to ride. I would highly recommend this bike.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nikos.pappas7 Nikos Pappas

    PLEASE HELP ME GET THE GUZZI OF MY DREAMS

    The Racer is love at first sight for me. Apart from it being gorgeous, I have a thing with the Guzzies. My father used to own one some thirty years ago and I have many loving memories associated with it. And I’d love my four-year-old son to get similar memories from his dad with a fine bike like this. But with a price
    tag of 10000 euro and the lame economic state of my country (Greece) and mine, it will always remain a dream for me. Now thank to a contest organized by Michelin-Greece I have the opportunity to win one. All I need is to get the most votes until 31/5/2013. It will take only 4 minutes of your time to help me
    by voting in my favor. The procedure is very simple:

    Step 1: go to the following link (The page is in Greek – on the top you can choose another language by clicking on the appropriate flag. Nevertheless, in order to vote you have to go to the Greek version through the provided link below.)

    http://perfect-road.michelin.gr/%CE%94%CE%B9%CE%B1%CE%B4%CF%81%CE%BF%CE%BC%CE%AD%CF%82/3106

    Step 2 (optional): check the proposed route by clicking on the foto tabs
    Step 3: press the last blue button on the right in the series of 1 green + 3 blue buttons, which appear just under the graph of the route, that looks like this ΨΗΦΟΦΟΡΙΑ (it means vote).
    Step 4: log in the Michelin contest through your facebook account (after you press the button of step 3, the system will automatically generate the log-in-through-facebook option/button)
    Step 5: allow the Michelin app to connect with your profile (when done you will be found again in the original page)
    Step 6: press AGAIN the blue button mentioned in step 3 a couple of times until your vote is registered. Then the system will produce a box saying that your vote got accepted (in Greek!), the button in question will get deactivated and the number in the green box would have been raised.
    Step 7: have a nice day, knowing that you have just helped a man make a dream come true.
    Thank you.

    • Gomer Pyle

      really?…..wouldn’t it be easier just to MAKE more money,,,and spend less,,,,,,,,then you can buy this yourself without begging

  • Michael Baron

    I have just had the opportunity to test a 2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Stone and I can advise that this Yippy character who keeps popping up here is so detached from reality, it is scary. Yes, the V7 is based on the crankcases of the old V50 and V35. And the frame is the same. But that’s about it. Even so, the V50 weighed 50 kg less than a Honda CX500 and the Honda drank gas at the same rate as a Yamaha RD350LC two-stroke. I know – spent three days riding both bikes with some buddies, swapping back and forth. The Honda was a good bike, but taller and way heavier than the V50 Guzzi. I have ridden a very wide range of motorcycles over the past two decades, and I agree with the tester, Wes Siler, that the new V7 can put a smile on your dial just riding at the speed limit. The 2013 definitely has more bottom-end and mid-range punch compared with the earlier (2010) model, the the gear change is also a vast improvement. So, go test one and find out for yourself. As a simple push-rod design, any competent home mechanic can maintain one. The oil drain is easily got at (no vast array of panels to remove or exhausts to work around), and the filler is also in plain sight. I reckon this bike has the qualities of the Ducati Darmah with none of the drawbacks. And it actually has a seat you can take your wife for a ride on without her wanting a divorce afterwards. Glory be – a proper passenger seat on a motorcycle. Who’d a thought?

  • Michael Baron

    Perhaps the most rational layout for an air-cooled engine in a road-gong motorcycle ever invented?

  • Gomer Pyle

    over priced , cartoonish looks,, and WAY underpowered

  • Rags

    Are you joking about the CX500? A contender for one of the top 10 ugliest bikes of all time. It was unreliable too. It disappeared from the Honda line up because it was excrement. If you wanted to be laughed at in the UK you rode a CX500. It was as cool as being a trainspotter. The V7 is cool. I’ve never seen a cool Honda. They’re good bikes )but not the CX500) but soooooo boring.

  • Pino

    Two plastic tanks later now stainless, one manifold ( rust ) coming apart, a rear wheel ( rust ) coming apart, right handle bar ( rust ) coming apart. 1 year old 34000 km