Ask RideApart: Triumph Bonneville or Moto Guzzi V7?

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V7-Stone

We’re turning our reader’s questions over to RideApart readers. This week: retro roadsters. Which bike is better the Triumph Bonneville or Moto Guzzi V7?

This question comes from reader Levon, who writes: “Hi, I’m looking to buy a bike soon. I’m really into the retro cruisers. I just want a bike I can take out on the weekends and hit the open road or PCH in San Diego. Maybe take on a road trip once in a while camping within a couple hours’ ride. I want it to be fun, comfortable, and exuding retro cool.

“This will be my first street bike, but I grew up racing motocross. I’m torn between the Triumph Thruxton and the Moto Guzzi V7 Stone. I’m not a fan of the Thruxton’s direct competition, the Moto Guzzi Racer since it’s too flashy for me. It seems the Thruxton has the V7 in power and after market options. The Moto Guzzi v7 has uniqueness (I see Triumphs almost daily, but have yet to see a Guzzi v7), character, and that giant tank. Guzzi is also less expensive. What do you recommend for me?”

We get a lot of questions here at RideApart. By Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and email. And, while we do a pretty good job of responding to all of them, we figure there’s a greater good that can be achieved by creating a public discussion. So, once a week or so, we’ll collate and publish them and turn it over to our fantastic community for responses. The editors will respond too, right here, where you can all see it. Have a question for us? Email
info@rideapart.com
with “Ask RideApart” in the subject. Try to keep questions relevant and interesting and on topic.

  • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

    Couple Points:
    - DO NOT BOTHER WITH THE THRUXTON OR T100. They cost considerably more than the base Bonneville, which is actually the superior motorcycle. Its cast, 17-inch wheels are lighter and accept cheaper, better rubber. The seat is much better too, especially if you ever plan on carrying a girl.

    - The Bonneville is inarguably faster than the V7, but the V7 is 100lbs(!) lighter and is the better handler.

    - Don’t believe anything you hear about unreliable Guzzis, they’re some of the most well made bikes out there right now. The V7 is largely hand made in Mandello del Lario, Italy and the Bonneville is made in Thailand.

    • Theodore P Smart

      Wes nailed it.

    • Conrad

      I’d also like to add a couple of more points since I test rode both bikes this past August. Other things to consider are the dealer network and the market for aftermarket parts to customize your bike. The Bonneville wins on both accounts, hands down.

      The only two things that I think the V7 did better than the Bonnie was in the front brakes department and that it has a significantly larger tank than the Bonneville. Personally, I LOVE the look of the V7 (in black) and I really, really wanted to like it. But if it was my money, I’d go with the Bonneville (It’ll be about 600-700 bucks cheaper too).

      • Aakash

        The front brakes are woefully underpowered on the Triumph modern classics. Not “underpowered” in the sense that you can’t lock up the front wheel (you can), but “underpowered” in that it requires too much effort to produce good stopping power and lacks confidence inspiring feel too boot.

        I upgraded the front brake caliper on my Bonnie to a 3-piston Nissin caliper off a Honda VFR800. It required some minor machine work (drilling), some easy parts-sourcing, and a day for installation and all the little problems that come from putting non-standard parts on the bike. The result, however, is much improved performance and feel.

    • Aakash

      Wes,

      Let me challenge you on some of your points.

      First, the premise of this particular “Ask Rideapart” is a bit flawed. Which is better, the V7 or the Bonnie? Well, it depends. Are you planning on modifying the bike? Are you going to buy new or used? Do you prefer carburetors or EFI? Are you tall or large (or both?), or are you smaller in stature? Do you plan on doing your own maintenance?

      We haven’t even got to the more subjective questions on styling, noise, feel, etc.

      Therefore, I think that comparing these two bikes on paper-which is faster? which is lighter? which has a lighter wheelset, etc?-is just not useful for most people. Every rider is different; from their physical needs to their mental and emotional needs.

      For me, a stock motorcycle (or even a heavily-modified one) is just a started point; a blank canvas. Do I care that my 2001 Bonneville has boat-anchor steel rims and a 19-inch front wheel? Yes, but I can change that and there are quite a few options to do so. What matters to me is that I was able to pick my 2001 Bonneville up for less than $4k and then spend the difference (in price versus a new Bonneville) on modifications and adjustments that suited ME as a rider and a aesthete. I developed a relationship with my bike that only comes through working on it and making it your own.

      Therefore, before you discount the Thruxton or T100 to some uninformed and unsuspecting potential motorcycle rider (especially those just getting into the culture), consider another parameter: possibility. The Thruxton and T100, while compromised in many ways, offers tremendous possibility for modification. The fact that these bikes have been sold for the last 13 years now means that oem parts, aftermarket upgrades, spares, and used bikes are prevalent.

      I would be long bored of my Bonnie if I wasn’t able to do little and big things to it every few weeks to change it’s character and deepen my attachment to it.

      This is not to imply anything negative about the V7. I’ve carefully avoided commenting on it as I’ve never ridden one nor do I know about the culture of maintenance and modification that comes with owning that bike.

      I can comment on the Triumph modern classics culture. It’s very exciting, to the say the least. These bikes are easy to work on, easy to find parts for, easy to ride, and easy to love. Thruxton, T100, Scrambler or SE; you can’t go wrong either way in my opinion.

      • Richard Gozinya

        Just a minor quibble, but both bikes in question have EFI. The Bonnie switched to EFI in ’08, the V7 has always had it.

        • Aakash

          I see how you may have inferred that mistake on my part, but I meant to refer to the dilemma of picking up a older carb’d Bonnie or a newer EFI one.

          • Mark D

            “Which is better; apples or oranges?”

            • Aakash

              Apples, definitely. More versatile, generally available year-round and easily convertible into boozy beverages.

              • contender

                Lies. Oranges are better nutritionally and make better breakfast booze.

    • Braden

      Second that notion of reliability. My Griso has been one of the most rock solid bikes I’ve ever owned. Easiest to work on as well.

      • David Goldsmith

        I had a Griso 8V, from new, for four years and it was no end of trouble. The dealer network here in the UK didn’t help.

        • Braden

          There seems to be a strong correlation between poor dealers and trouble with new Guzzis. Dealers not performing recalls and tech notices before selling (such as the tappet recall) is almost always a factor that comes out on a forum when owners are having trouble. After I bought mine I took it in once for a small warranty repair and vowed never to return. Nothing was put back together properly. Bolts were missing and hoses left unplugged.

          • David Goldsmith

            Yes, that is the kind of thing that happened at the dealer. I also felt like I was testing the new engine design for Guzzi. I ended up with a leaking main seal that was caused by a known incorrectly made part. No recall had ever been issued for this part, even though they had changed the design to fix the problem in later engines, and they wouldn’t pay up for the repair!

    • Larry

      You guys have beat this drum before on the bonnie…that the larger spoked rims are inferior to the smaller, lighter aluminum rims, the stock bonnie is the better choice, etc…but does this also apply for the V7? Does the Stone with smaller aluminum rims out-handle the cafe racer and/or the classic with larger spoked rims? And if smaller, lighter aluminum rims are preferable on the road, why do you prefer the Tiger 800XC with a 21 inch steel front rim over the standard Tiger 800 with the 17 alumium? It can’t just be ground clearance. Don’t the bigger, heavier rims compromise the handling the XC on the road? Not the mention the dearth of decent road options in a 21 inch front tire. This veered a bit off topic.

    • Nate Terrill

      At least in my area, a Thruxton says “I wanted a café racer, but I am much to lazy to build one, so check out this Thruxton, that looks like every other Thruxton”. BUILD them, don’t BUY them. Just a thought. The V7 definitely has the exclusivity factor.

    • Rich Wentz

      +1 on everything.

  • David Magallon

    If it wasn’t a first street bike, I’d say to consider the Guzzi California for its Art Deco looks and touring capabilities but since it’s a big ol’ beast, the Bonnie is the better option IMO. Although, I’m partial to the Scrambler for it’s looks and sound.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      The California is a 700lbs+ cruiser and isn’t in competition with the Bonneville. The question is in relation to the pictured V7 roadster.

  • George Herbert

    I have been going through the same debate with myself!
    so far id say the v7 has been winning. I have not had a chance to ride either yet but just from sitting on them I feel like the v7 fits me better at a skinny 6’2″

  • Aladino Debert

    I just bought a V7 Classic after testing both the new V7s and Bonnie T100. I’m a new rider as well, so here are a few thoughts…

    V7 Pros: The MG is much lighter than the T100, and it shows. It’s unique and quite rare, at least around LA. I still have not seen one on the streets, but like your reader says, I see several Triumphs every day. It looks retro without saying “look, I’m a retro bike!”. It sounds awesome. Lots of aftermarket parts.

    V7 Cons: The shifter is clunky at times, but after a few days you get used to its “idiosyncrasies”. It has a tendency to stall a bit while cold. Hey, it’s an Italian bike after all…

    V7 Summary: A great looking bike, and a great fun around town (have yet to take it on a road trip).

    T100 Pros: Smooth. The transmission is definitely easier to handle. It looks retro-cool and classic. Lots of aftermarket parts.

    T100 Cons: Dime a dozen. They are everywhere in LA. Much heavier than the MG, and at least for me that was a consideration.

    T100 Summary: Great looking bike if you are ok with it not being as rare. Smooth engine and transmission.

    At the end of the day, the uniqueness of the V7 tipped the balance for me. I liked the idea of having a bike that was retro-looking, but still modern inside and fun to run about. And hey, it’s Italian!

    • crswa

      Regarding the clunky shifter on the V7, I owned a Breva 750 for several years (same bike as the V7 under the skin) and can report that the more miles you put on it, the smoother the shifts get. It’s never going to get as smooth or precise as the Bonnie, but it gets a lot better with time.

      I’ve never ridden the Bonneville, but I loved my baby Breva and would recommend that motor and drivetrain to anyone looking for a simple, reliable bike that’s huge fun on the road.

      • Aladino Debert

        Yeah. I bought mine used and it already has a fair amount of miles on it. I think its a combination of the nature of the shifter and my newbie status! Also, as I learn what the RPM sweet spot for shifts is, I can definitely say it’s much better than when I first got it.

    • http://www.bikeexif.com/ Chris Hunter

      The shift on my 2008-model V7 felt like a tractor when I bought the bike new. With 20,000 km on it now, it’s sweet and smooth. It’s certainly nothing to write home about, but it isn’t agricultural any more.

      • Aladino Debert

        LOL, agricultural is a great way to describe it! Mine has 19000 miles on it already (bought it from someone who rode it A LOT). It’s still not as smooth as the Bonnie, particularly 1st and 2nd. But as I get used to it, I’m finding ways to make it work for me. It may also be in need of a bit of adjustment. Love it tho.

  • Scott Otte

    The only reason I would buy either one of those motorcycles would be for the aesthetics of the bikes. In that area I think the Guzzi wins. It’s also lighter and reportedly better handling both areas that matter more to me than power, especially in bikes like these.

  • Mathew DeLano

    I can’t decide between one of these and the cb500x. I know it’s not in the same class, but it just does so many things right.

    • Guillaume Béliveau

      No ABS on the retro-cool bikes.

      • appliance5000

        For what Guzzi charges it’s strange. For the same scratch you could have a ktm 690 duke.

        • Piglet2010

          I’m saving for the Duke 690R (and hoping KTM imports it for 2014).

      • 200 Fathoms

        Next year. It’ll have to be standard soon.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      CB500X.

      • Mathew DeLano

        You think the overall better refinement/engineering is worth it over the uniqueness of the v7? I haven’t ridden either yet.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Absolutely.

          • Toly

            May I post someone’s great quote here: “Bonnies / Guzzis are quite special but not really good, whereas CB500 is quite good but not really special”

            • Piglet2010

              The Bonnie and Goose are the type of bikes that let you forgive their flaws. Not something one thinks about the CB500F.

              N.b. I really like Honda, and currently have two (three if one counts the cage).

    • appliance5000

      More comparable would be the cb500f – naked road bike. Modern,ABS, nicely proportioned, and handles beautifully. The engine loves nothing more than a swift kick in the butt – fun. Most of this is also true of the x but I’m not a beak man.

      And you save a few grand. Yeah – I own one.

  • Moritz

    Great question! A friend of mine has a V7 and i rode it last year. Test drove a Bonneville this spring and decided to buy a T100 after all. I don’t like the Mag-Wheels as they look to “futuristic” on the old-school bonneville and with the new T100 Black you can even get them blacked out. Overall i can report that myself and my MG-driving buddy are super happy with our bikes and it’s really a preferential decision based on looks and customization possibilities I think.

  • Scott

    Valve adjustments will be easier on the Guzzi. But if I were you, I’d throw a Sportster in the mix at the same price range, better aftermarket than either of those, more dealers, no need for valve adjustment, engine can go up to 1200cc, and equally or even more retro cool.

    • Mykola

      The 883 Iron could be turned from cruiser to roadster if you’re willing to throw some coin into the suspension. If you like the extra gas range or the basic ability to carry a passenger that the other bikes get standard, it’ll cost you extra too. You may also have to deal with, or be lumped in with the Hog Culture at times as well for what that’s worth.

      • Richard Gozinya

        If you’re going to go down the Harley route, better off buying a used XL1200R, or the XL883R. They’ve been discontinued, of course. But those Roadsters actually had pretty decent handling. Would have to spend a lot less on aftermarket stuff to bring it up to the handling of a Bonnie or V7, and the initial price would be a lot less. The Iron’s handling is so horrible compared to either it’s just not worth the effort.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Let’s be honest, you’re never going to be able to make a Harley handle as well as a Bonnie or V7. First, there’s the weight. 395lbs for the V7, 495lbs for the Bonnie (huge difference), then the Iron 883 is a staggering 574lbs.

          Then there’s the suspension geometry. Look at a side-on shot of a Sportster; the swingarm pivot is LOWER than the rear axel. That simply equals a handling disaster.

          Then there’s all the other Sportster problems: limited rear suspension travel, poor brakes, bad ergonomics etc.

    • akaaccount

      Thanks, if either of these is comparable to the Sportster I’ll rule them both out.

    • Von

      thanks, but I would never buy a Harley. just me

  • Freeman Jones

    Just sold my Scrambler and picked up a V7 racer over the weekend. Go with the V7, it exudes class and sophistication. Everyone has a Bonnie and honestly the bikes don’t have much personality apart from their looks. In terms of soul the Triumph is Paul Simon, the V7 is Smokey Robinson.

  • Nick Gerber

    I ride a Thruxton and have been incredibly happy with the machine. I would defiantly recommend the bonneville as a great choice. I love that Triumph continues to make a machine that is pure and to the point with this series of bikes. They have everythng you need to get out and ride and nothing that is a gimmick.

    • Alpha_Geek_Mk2

      …except the whole “fake carbs” thing. Doesn’t stop me from wanting one though. :)

      • Nick Gerber

        True the fake carb thing is a bit much. But I understood why they did it.. Hey Alpha what are you riding on? Also love to hear what people are into.

        • Alpha_Geek_Mk2

          Ninja 650R (2006). I’m torn between going to a Ninja 1000 for the fully-faired sport tourer, or the Bonnie SE for the retro-awesome. Although this article has me considering the V7 too now… if only there were dealers anywhere nearby.

          • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

            Ninja 1000.

            • Piglet2010

              The correct answer is both.

              • Alpha_Geek_Mk2

                Oh man, I wish.

            • Stuki

              Are you getting the new one, with nice bags and newnew electronics, for a test? See if it gives the Vstrom a run for the “best two up bike ever” crown…….

              Nothing against the ‘Strom, but two up means no tailbag, means saddlebags, means the width of the darned thing becomes downright atrocious…

          • 200 Fathoms

            Retro-awesome.

          • Justin McClintock

            Have you considered the Honda CB1100? It sorta splits the difference between the Ninja and the Bonnie. Obviously still not faired, but it’s got a ton more power than the Bonnie does and would presumably be better for touring.

            • Alpha_Geek_Mk2

              I hadn’t, but wow that’s pretty cool too! I dig the new-retro styling, it’s like the “new Mustang” of bikes. :)

      • 200 Fathoms

        It is a bit absurd.

  • bounty320i

    I think Wes got it spot on. Both are great retro bikes with tons of character. Contrary to common belief, Guzzis are well built but the only thing going against them is the dealer network and availability of parts. I wouldn’t swap my Griso for anything..

  • HammSammich

    I love my Bonnie but jumped at the chance to test ride a V7 a couple of years ago. Back to back, my 2007 Bonnie (Carbureted w/ the 19″ wire spoke front wheel that Wes hates so much) felt signficantly faster and better handling. At the time, I chalked that up to the various aftermarket upgrades I’ve done, but reading subsequent reviews and comparos it seems the V7 is significantly down on power.
    Regardless, the Guzzi made the Bonnie feel downright cheap, which is saying something since the Bonnie is a well-built motorcycle in it’s own right. The quality of the materials, controls and switchgear on the V7 is just that impressive. Not sure if that helps in deciding between the two, but it’s certainly something to consider.

  • webbiker

    Owned a Scrambler and have tested the V7. I now ride a Griso so I have some real world experience in Guzzi tech in general. I would go for the V7. The finish seems a bit better and the shaft drive is a nice thing to have. I never felt the Scrambler was overly heavy but lighter is always better too.

  • John

    I lean Moto Guzzi for the light weight, cool design and shaft drive. But never had a chance to ride one. Didn’t like the feel of the Triumph when I sat on it, it didn’t have even remotely the plush feel that 1970s standards did.

  • Ken Lindsay

    The only problem I see with a guzzi is thwt the local San Diego dealer closed. If you can find a reliable shop, then I’d say by one and be a bit unique!

    • BillW

      GP Motorcycles closed? You wouldn’t know it from their web site, but then web sites can live on, I suppose, and the owner was seriously injured in an off-road accident a while back. Or are you referring to some other dealer? Sonny Angel?

      • Ken Lindsay

        Google maps showed it was permenantly closed. I didn’t see any bikes out front when I drove by last weekend. Could be a fluke!

        • BillW

          Well, they’re normally closed on Sunday and Monday. Was it Sunday?

          • Ken Lindsay

            Very well could have been. I ran so many errands last weekend…

    • Von

      they’re still around. just called. thanks for the concern though

  • Sean Cunningham

    what about royal enfield?

    • Sean Cunningham

      The RE bullets are cool retro cruisers with character. Just sayin

      • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

        They’re also incredibly poorly made and unbelievably slow.

        • Peter Chen

          I thought the same thing too last weekend…

          pulled the clutch on a RE, the numbness made me think = “poor quality”.

          Reference is a 2009 Suzuki Savage/S40

    • LS650

      I had an Enfield 500. The reliability is not as bad as some claim, but yeah, it is not a fast bike. Fun for commuting or trundling along at 55mph on the back roads, but I wouldn’t recommend taking one on a busy interstate.

  • bernhardgrave

    Mentono! The 2013 Guzzi V7 DOES NOT actually have a 5.3 gallon tank, it is closer to 4.3 gallons, so do not use that as a “pro” in your desision. Commuting daily in DC I get a decent 50-52 MPG riding aggressively/briskly and have run it to empty at 233 miles. That being said, it’s weight and size are nice in the cut and thrust of rushhour (lanesplitting is not illegal in DC). And though it is a little BUZZY, I like my V7 Stone more than my previous 2007 Bonnie Black I had a for a couple of years.

    • Loftness

      The 2013 V7 does have a 5.8 gallon tank…but the fuel light comes on extremely early.

      • bernhardgrave

        Well, Loftness, if it does, then the light coming on at 160 miles, then the motor quitting at 230 miles means that there is a gallon plus sitting at the bottom, unused. Did you tilt your bike up on end to get that gallon+ to get to where the pump can use it? or did you cram a tube into the part where that extra gallon is and syphon it out, then pour it back in? How do you get it to not go back to that unaccessable area of the tank? TELL ME? I desperately want to go 300 miles on a tankfull of gas like you must be getting! I have read the owners manual 4 times over, and it does not indicate anywhere, indiquer n’importe où, indicar en cualquier lugar, or indicare da nessuna parte, how to access that extra 1.4 gallons when the motor goes putt, putt, puththththththt…

        • bernhardgrave

          My apologies to everyone else, who may have actually read what I wrote….

        • Loftness

          The tank is 5.8 gallons. I’d guess around .5 of that is not accessible. I’ve not gone to, nor tried for, 300, but I do get 250 or so before I fill up again. From what I’ve read on other peoples’ comments I feel pretty confident about this range. There are a couple good discussions on the subject at wildguzzi.com. The 4.3 number you mentioned, I’m assuming of useable gas, is low. I could see 5 gallons though.

          • bernhardgrave

            I sincerely appologize to you Loftiness for my snippiness: if you are saying you really do go 250 miles before bothering to even fill up, then the problem is surely mine. Does your light come on around 160~170miles as well? Do you fill above the bottom of the fill collar(perhaps that is where the extra fuel is found)? I am truly perplexed, since I am absolutely getting 50-52 MPG. Of course I am perfectly happy to know I can go over 200 miles safely, I bought it with higher hopes…
            Happy Trails

    • 200 Fathoms

      Yeesh. Fuelly.com tells me that I get an average of 120 miles out of my Bonnie tank.

      https://www.fuelly.com/driver/ra/bonneville?fu=4161296

      • Piglet2010

        Yes and no. The low fuel light in my 2013 base Bonnie generally comes on between 120 and 130 miles on the trip odometer, but only takes 2.8 gallons at this point, leaving 1.4 gallons in reserve.

  • Dan Ketchpel

    I own a 2013 MG Stelvio and have test ridden the V7. I have also ridden the Thruxton. I wanted to love the V7 but honestly I was a bit disappointed with it, at least in stock form. It’s vibey and very cramped. Apparently the motor smooths about big time with a ECU reflash so that is a consideration. I would lean toward the Bonnie or one of it’s variants myself. It’s a bit heavier, but overall very well sorted, smoother, and not as cramped feeling. I think you have to ride them both to see which appeals to you best as they ride quite differently.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Remember that the V7 was thoroughly updated for 2013 with a new motor etc. It’s a much improved motorcycle.

      • Dan Ketchpel

        The V7 I test rode was a 2013.

    • Loftness

      There isn’t an ECU reflash for the 2013 models. The dual throttle body 2012 and earlier models do benefit from one though. For what it’s worth I don’t find the newer V7s to be vibey at all (normal Guzzi quirkiness aside). As far as cramped, obviously that depends on size. At 5’9″, 175 I find it to be a great fit. I could see it being cramped for someone over 6’1 though depending on riding position.

  • eric

    A used Ducati SportClassic GT could be a contender, albeit at a higher price point and maintenance intervals (valve adjustments every 6,000 miles). It’s not much heavier than the V7 and has 92 hp.

    That being said, if I was looking for my first streetbike I’d probably go with the V7. I have a Griso as a commuter / day trip bike and yes, there’s definitely something to be said about the “uniqueness” factor. Plus, the Guzzi motor is very solidly built and and bike is a pleasure to own.

    • Stuki

      By the time a Duc is financially in the mix, I would swing for the fences and get a CB1100.

      • Aakash

        Not so much. The Honda is about $2k over priced and about 100lbs too heavy.

        Also, Triumph is due to release a updated Thruxton very soon. Talks are of a 1000cc, water-cooled engine, USD forks, dual front brakes, and a single rear shock (I think, but it’ll most likely be Ohlins). Think of it as an updated Thunderbird Sport or a classier streetfighter.

        • Mr.Paynter

          Give it time, you can already pickup K0 lookalike tanks and side-covers.

          Japan will come to the rescue with a bunch of mods for the CB1100 if you give them enough time!

        • eric

          Ah yes, if Triumph could put the 1050cc triple in the form factor of a Thruxton, and then BMW comes out with its R1200 roadster while Ducati launches the Scrambler, we’d have a real wealth of choice on our hands.

          • Aakash

            And let’s hope that they don’t charge a premium for a “properly” styled motorbike (like Honda, Triumph and Moto Guzzi are doing right now).

        • karlInSanDiego

          But a wet Thruxton will give away the game and ruin the looks with a big ugly radiator. And remember how the dual brakes of the Duc Sport classic completely covered the front spoked wheel? Not a positive in my mind. What’s lacking in the Thruxton’s power now? Goes faster than a real vintage bike, and unless you got a 350 lb. pillion, you’re all good. I’m kinda shocked Wes thinks the Thruxton is not a better bike than a Bonnie. He’s all about looking good, and the Thruxton’s just that much better (if you NEVER put one of those ugly bug fairings on it)

          • Stuki

            Thruxton’s rearsets are just too darned rear for sub tonne speeds. OTOH, Bonnie is just too upright, with pegs too far forward to be lower back friendly. Thruxton bars with CB1100 pegs, CB1100 abs and normal sized (honda 500s) wheels for good tire selection…… now, that would be some bike..

          • appliance5000

            Actually Wes gives good reasons regarding the wheels, tires and resulting handling for buying the standard over the thruxton. But if a seat cover and cigar silencers are considered engineering coups – so be it. There’s abundant irony in your statement.

            Anyone buying these, of course, isn’t really concerned with modern performance and engineering – and seem willing to pay a premium for chrome and a round headlight.

            For half the money money you could buy a really good cb750 circa 70s. Or a 4 cylinder goldwing you could strip and have, both a better engineered bike, and an oddly compelling one.

            • karlInSanDiego

              Well, I don’t think someone who had run a new and old Bonnie (or Thruxton) would argue that the old ones were better engineered. But the retro bikes aren’t really about making them the most modern engineered they can be. They’re striking a pose with some serious compromise. No argument from me about a CB750 being cheaper than a new Thruxton, but let’s be honest about the dedication level to own/run each on a daily basis (San Diego). And we’ve had that debate before about 70′s bikes suitability for new riders. I think it’s a great idea, but some will argue that the last thing you need when you’re just learning is brakes catching on fire, broken wheel bearings, leaking carbs, etc. Yeah, my 79 XS650′s rear brake was literally on fire during my first 6 months of riding.

              Goldwing was never a great bike, imo. Sorry. It’s a pig. Even when it only weighed 583 lbs….dry.

              I guess Wes has a sensitive butt, because handling difference from the weight difference in the wheels would likely be lost on most of us, though the 19″->17″ probably changes the steering feel at low speeds. But the spoked wheels, to me, are an inherent feature of a classic bike. You can’t play retro while emulating the transition bikes that were the downfall of the British Motorcycle era. Might as well build a modern Triumph Hurricane.

              • appliance5000

                In relation to modern bikes these are poor machines. My point was that Wes was arguing regarding engineering and you’re arguing looks yet you implied the opposite.

                Regarding the goldwings – I was half joking but I have a fondness for them. Take off the fairings of a gl1100 and you’re within spitting distance of a Triumph (around 500lbs!) What’s 80lbs between friends – we’re not talking moto gp here.

                • karlInSanDiego

                  I conceded that many of these are compromised, but calling them poor machines is inaccurate. Poor choice for you, maybe. I only argued (snydly) that Wes is a fashionista, so of all the bike reviewers I read, he’s most likely to value the form vs. the function, occasionally form over function, and Sean sometimes does too. The best reviewers let their passion get in the middle here, and that keeps it fun. So let’s not use Vulcan logic to size up bikes intended to stroke your ego and strike a pose. And please kill me when I choose a utilitarian bike over all else because its specs are the best. BTW, let’s not forget these underpowered (for their displacement) bikes, tend to get better mileage, the Enfields in particular.

                • appliance5000

                  I don’t want to fight – If you’re really looking for utilitarian the v-strom or the cb cbr 500s are modern bikes that have modern dynamics, suspensions and efficiency. The nc700 is perhaps the ultimate in utilitarian.

                  To argue that retro bikes are utilitarian is a little far fetched. They’re expensive for what you get; they sell on fashion and a perceived beauty. (In the case of the V7 Stone I’d have to agree.)

                  If you think they’re beautiful and like them that’s wonderful – but to argue they’re utilitarian, or function over fashion is not going to wash. That’s all I’m saying.

                • karlInSanDiego

                  You misread my post. They are the opposite of utilitarian, and I prefer retro bikes to the Mercury Sable’s of the motorcycle world (read NC700). As I said, “Please kill me” the day I choose one (a utilitarian). I ride an authentic old bike, but I appreciate the retro’s as a good alternative to those.

                • appliance5000

                  I guess I misunderstood.

                  Fashion and style are things I can appreciate. If this is the style you like and are willing to give up dynamics I also understand that.

                  I’m no fan of the nc700 but it’s no Sable; dynamically it’s better than any of the retro machines. Let’s drop that one – it is an anomaly.

                  But there is also the joy of riding a machine that is responsive and challenges what you thought possible.

                  So while fashion is paramount with these machines, in the modern world you can get both.

                • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

                  Not quite. I have a “naked” GL1100 and even minus the luggage and fairing, it’s still well over 600 lbs. It’s a bruiser. The bike dynamics couldn’t be further from either of these bikes under discussion. It’s great in its own way, but just not even on the same planet in terms of how the bike behaves.

      • 200 Fathoms

        A bit hard to get excited about this bike.

    • Aakash

      Let’s all patiently wait for the Ducati Scrambler to touch down. I foresee the wildly inflated used SportClassic prices plummeting shortly thereafter.

      • Clint Keener

        I’m crossing my fingers!

    • Beale

      The SportClassic GT is a beautiful bike but has been almost fatally poisoned by the expanding plastic gas tank problem. Ethanol in our gas has been causing problems in other brands of bikes but none more so than the SportClassic series Ducs. They distort so bad that the mounting pucks can no longer fit on the frame and the tank could potentially come off in a crash. But, more importantly, they don’t look good (Hey, this IS a Ducati we”re talking about here.)

      I’ve ridden the Bonnie and Goose. The Bonnie engine is too smooth and car-like for my taste. I prefer the more mechanical feel of a Moto Guzzi. It feels like a proper motorcycle. If you do go with a Bonneville, the SE is much better than T100. The T100 bars must have come off of a wheelbarrow and the seat, good god , it’s awful.

      Of course, all of these bikes have a healthy aftermarket and can be dialed in as you see fit, That’s the fun in both of these bikes.

      • Piglet2010

        Can a seat be worse than the stock base/SE Bonnie seat? Even the optional gel seat is barely acceptable.

      • Grant Liu

        true story on the tanks. I own one, and there’s no permanent solution aside from coating the tanks (still reports of spreading post-coating, and long term durability is not guaranteed), or a very costly aluminum replacement that is on the market recently.

  • Loftness

    I put my Bonny up for sale immediately after taking a V7 Stone out for a test ride. The numbers comparison played a very small role in my decision. What sold me was the character of the bike. I really liked my Triumph, but something about the thump thump thump and sideways pull of that Guzzi engine made my Bonny seem stale when I got back on it. Even the stock pipes felt (and sounded better to me). I’ve never once regretted my decision, and the more miles I’ve put into the break-in the wider my smile has grown.

    As for the aftermarket argument…I suppose that’s true, but all the ‘standard’ upgrades are available for Guzzis, and there is actually a very strong, and helpful, base of riders and techs to be found. Dealer support depends on your location. For me, there are TWO Guzzi dealers closer than the nearest Triumph dealer. And for home maintenance, honestly it doesn’t get much easier than working on a V7; even for valve adjustments.

  • wood

    while i may not be of any help, i have owned a 2005 T100 since new. It was still carbed and made in England. It has been a great bike. It’s not the best at anything, but it is good enough at everything. It has been off road, on all the twisties, in heat, in rain, anywhere from sea level to 14,000′, and on 700mi+ days. I have thought about selling it a few times, but just can’t bring myself to do it. By the way, I usually get about 50mpg and I don’t baby it. I think somehow mine gets better than most carbed models.

    • Sal Paradise .

      I have the same bike, in black and white. Not the best at anything, but good at everything just doesn’t say enough.. Its an awesome awesome fun bike. that I will never sell. Can’t tell you what makes it so great and that doesn’t matter… character, soul, handling, ….its just a grin machine.

  • sospeedy

    Levon, I will start off by saying that I have ridden neither of these two bikes. However I did, like you, grow up racing motocross. Once deciding to get a road bike, I went through three different styles of bikes before getting to the “right” one…for me. I will advise you this….think really hard about what you desire in a bike based on your key likes from the mx days. What is most Important to you? Light weight? Handling? Power? Comfort?

    Above all! I found I craved handling (a direct connection and “feel” with the front end), and a torquey (but not overpowering) engine and precise throttle control.

    If this lands you in this class of bike them great, next step is which one has the best attributes for YOU. Good luck!

  • Piglet2010

    This turns me off from buying anything from Piaggio. (Sorry about the poor Crackberry photo quality.)

    https://scontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/995104_142201795985081_914523036_n.jpg

    • Clint Keener

      Why, the spelling error?

      • Piglet2010

        Two errors: “loose control” for “lose control”, and “posses” (after them rustlers, boys!) for “possess”.

        To me, these type of errors indicate disrespect for the customer.

    • Mykola

      Why? It’s just a bit of legalese, comes right off with a razor blade. Do you have a new-ish motorcycle handbook? Try counting the times it says “Do Not _______, ________ May Result In Serious Injury Or Death.”

  • kevin

    I own a 2013 Moto Guzzi V7, and I love it. I think based on what you said you want to do with it, It’d be a great bike. The light weight compared to the bonnie is a really great advantage, especially to a new rider, and it makes the bike a blast on twisty roads. I swapped my stock handlebars for more cafe style clubmans which I find makes freeway riding more comfortable because the more forward leaning position helps to manage the wind. Ride both, see what you like best! I will say that if you’re a speed freak though the bonnie is faster stock, and there’s not much in the way of aftermarket support for small block guzzi’s like there is for the triumph twin.

    EDIT: as a new rider though, if you do choose the V7, make sure you get an engine guard for it. Moto Guzzi sells one for ~75 bucks. Accidents happen, and the disadvantage of the transverse V-twin is that if you drop the thing, you drop it right on one of the cylinders…

  • CP

    V7 for my money

  • Justin Turner

    Just test ride them both, you’ll want the Guzz. I rebuilt a CB350 and a Lemans of the same era back to back this year, really made me appreciate Moto Guzzi. Every nut and bolt is thoughtfully engineered. The smallframe (V7) is one of Lino Tonti’s best designs, and then they effing build them by hand. I’ve not once cursed the engineers during routine maintenance- can’t say that for the CB…

  • Motorcycle Extremist

    When comparing the Moto Guzzi V7 to the Triumph Bonneville, there are some trade-offs and some pluses that need to be considered. One tradeoff is that the Bonnie has more power, but the flip side of that is that Guzzi weighs 100 lbs. less. Another tradeoff is that while the Bonnie has pretty good build quality and materials; the Guzzi is even better in that regard. For the most part, those are the main tradeoffs I see, so it’s up to you to decide what is most important to you among them.

    One big difference between these two bikes to consider is, and especially if you want to or plan to do these services yourself, is that the valve adjustment type is very different, and this is a significant one. The Bonnie has the “shim” type adjustment, which means a fair amount of work, time, special tools, and special parts when valve check and adjustment time comes around, although required much less often than the Guzzi, it’s still something to consider. The Guzzi has the real old-school screw type adjusters that are a veritable cinch to check and adjust, so that’s a big plus for the do it yourselfer in my book, plus the way the Guzzi engine is mounted, which is a special kind of transverse V-Twin where the cylinders are out to the sides and upward facing rather than front and back; you can see how easy doing that valve work will be, and there’s probably none simpler.

    Besides the other things I’ve mentioned here, another major difference between these two is that the Guzzi has a much larger fuel tank and gets considerably better gas mileage than the Bonnie, so that right there would make it better on long trips, and also various luggage options are offered, including hard luggage as well. Another interesting thing is that Guzzi has engineered a new lightweight shaft drive system, so there’s no chain and sprocket maintenance to deal with. All in all I think the Guzzi is worth some serious consideration as far as these classic styled bikes are concerned, and should not be discounted from anyone’s consideration.

  • Mr.Paynter

    I’m not gonna get in to the ins and outs of lighter/faster/better.

    I’ve ridden both, they are both great bikes, the only niggle for me is when I rode the Guzzi, a friends low mileage V7 Racer, the clutch and gear selection was super clunky and stiff, that’s all that stood out as being negative and it may loosen up!

  • icehawk_os

    I haven’t ridden the updated V7 but unless miracles have occurred that motor is a real nut burner. I looked at one a few years back and really wanted to love it but the heat coming off the motor and it’s location was a no-go for me. I purchased a Bonneville SE in January this year…

    • 200 Fathoms

      As a friend said: “going out for a ride on the woodstove.”

    • Piglet2010

      Very little heat comes off the Bonnie – of course being a mostly liquid-cooled engine (look at the size of the oil cooler) helps.

    • blood brain

      I own a ’13 V7 Stone and haven’t felt any of the heat you describe. I’ve never ridden a pre ’13, though.

  • LiberalNightmare

    I was really interested in the moto-guzzi, Great bike. Havent tried a triumph yet

  • Justin McClintock

    Too bad we don’t get the W800 in the US.

  • Jeremy

    If you lived anywhere but southern California I would say Triumph for the dealer network. Moto Guzzi has very sparse dealer representation compared to Triumph.

  • Nate Terrill

    I ride a 2013 Mag Wheel Bonnie as my daily bike and also considered the V7. The only V7 my local Guzzi dealer had was the racer. Over all a beautiful bike, but I couldn’t get past all the number plaques on it. I felt like all the 7s everywhere really took away from the aesthetic of the bike and even felt it was somewhat poseurish to plaster “racing” numbers all over a bike that was this slow. That’s just my thinking and I know it’s meant to be retro. Riding that around would have every bro on a Gixxer revving on me at every stop light, retro or not.

    The Bonnie loses the looks battle, hands down. Yet, for my daily ridden bike, the Bonnie does just about every thing better than the Guzzi. I would include handling in that statement (again, yes, I rode both back to back). Also keep in mind that you will hate the stock Metzlers and try to go through them as quickly as possible. When it’s time to switch to better tires, the Bonnie gives me much more choice in what tire I upgrade to. Build quality on the Guzzi was outstanding. The Bonnie was just adequate.

    The peg set up on the Bonnies is weak. A zero mph drop into sand resulted in my having to replace not only the peg, but the entire out rigger and there are plenty of owners who stood on the pegs for a second to absorb a bump and ended up minus one in the peg department.

    Lastly, the Bonnie has extremely nice aftermarket support (get a new seat ASAP).

    Keep in mind these are just my subjective impressions and based on zero scientific testing. The thing is, I don’t buy bikes based on science, so Bonnie wins as the most useable retro bike for my particular situation.

    It comes down to form or function with these two.

    • Piglet2010

      I would think riding a bike with a “number plate” would attract unwanted attention from the Carabinieri, er traffic cops.

  • LS650

    My heart says Guzzi, but my brain says Bonneville.

  • Von

    I am a ‘he’. haha

  • Joe Bielski

    I have to agree that the Moto Guzzi racer is Waaaaaay too flashy and the stone is a beautiful, low key machine!!! I’ve looked at one, I’ve sat on one, I’ve left a stain on the seat right by the tank on one….. I want one soooo bad!!! The Triumphs are cool, but everyone’s got one and for city riding (what I do mostly), I’d take the 100 lbs lighter, weaker machine.

    Just my two cents and some knuckle babies.

  • Mike

    I am in the same boat folks. I am in my early 40′s, and have owned a few bikes – last one being a Honda Valkyrie Interstate. Prior was an 87 Magna (loved the styling, but a longer commute made me yearn for a larger bike) an old full dressed Silverwing, Older Kaw KZ900 – the list goes on and on and my tastes have changed over the years along with my body LOL (First bike ever was I forget the year Yamaha Maxim 400, and throw a Suzuki 650 twin into the mix as well somewhere along the ways.) Now, I live only 6 miles from work, so don’t have a long commute, and being within easy reach of some nice riding areas, I want to get in the wind again “simply”. The big Valk was awesome in it’s own way, but was almost a chore to do all the things needed to get ready to go out for a ride – and doing all that to go to work seemed like a waste and at the time “pleasure” riding was limited. Now, I just want something out in the garage to jump on and point in a new direction to ride for pleasure – and the occasional quick jaunt to work. ;-)

    I was convinced I wanted a new ’13 Bonny SE. Personally, I like mags vs spokes. I arranged for a test ride just within the past week. I was ready to fall in love – I was building “my” bike on Triumph’s online configurator – I just knew “in my head” I had better test ride one before ordering anything. LOL Nothing I read prepared me for the ride however.

    Function wise, it was perfect. It was fun. I was smiling. But in 15 miles or so, I started getting the familiar stitch in between my shoulder blades, and I knew my lower back would soon follow suit. But more than that, was the peg position. I am just shy of 6′ (depending on who measures lol) and I don’t think I have long legs (jeans say 32″) but it felt like my ankles were entirely too close to my butt. It was not a comfortable bend to my legs, and I knew that in very short order. I am 200lbs, so not a huge guy but not what I used to be either….. the Bonny had no problems hauling me around. I just could not get over my feet posistion or the rather immediate stitch in my back. (I have always gotten it while riding…. praying for the day I find a bike that doesn’t do that to me. That bike I’ll never get rid of.)

    I should mention that I was at a Victory tour / ride event at a local dealer…. and rode a few Vic’s prior to the main even of the Bonny. None of the Vic’s did it for me either BTW. (I have ridden my Father’s Road King and vairios Harleys over the years and know that scene doesn’t fit me either.)

    My wife now rides, and I am fixing up an older Honda 500 Magna for her as her first bike. (Won’t out grow that like a Rebel 250!)

    Calls to the “local” (45 min drive) Guzzi dealer today went unanswered to see if they had a V7 for me to check out. (And I called during business hours….. not a good sign.)

    All of this to ask: I have seen differing opinions about V7 vs Bonny fitting guys around 6 feet. Am I going to get the same feeling of sitting on my ankles on a V7? I am hopeful that when I finally get to check one out that some comments about people thinking the pegs are a bit too forward for them will actually be to my liking! Opinions? I am more concerned with fun to ride vs doing a bit of wrenching – and want some exclusivity as well. I am so tired of seeing nothing but Hogs at work. I do like engines the rev and exude some character…. the Bonny reved, but as others have said, was a bit “sewing machine-ish”. Not a deal breaker if it would’ve fit me better!

    Hope I haven’t hyjacked the thread. Just funny I stumbled across it as it seems others are in the same quandry as I am. I’d buy another “used” bike, but damnit! For once I’d like to buy new! Thanks!

    • http://www.bikeexif.com/ Chris Hunter

      Mike, I’m 45, 5’9 and have a 31″ inseam. The seating position on my V7 is just right.

      • Mike

        I will continue the efforts to get with the “local” Guzzi dealer then :)
        Thanks Chris!