The Moto Guzzi V7 - Arcane, Archaic, And Archetypal

Classic, custom, and cutting-edge

Moto Guzzi V7-based Tractor 05
Venier Motorcycles’ Moto Guzzi V7-based Tractor 05.Donatello Trevisiol

Good old Moto Guzzi. I like when an entity finds its schtick and sticks with it. For instance: L.L. Bean and its eponymous boots, Grado and its phono cartridges and headphones (more on that in an upcoming issue of Motorcyclist…), and Antonio Benedetto Carpano and his Antica Formula (it’s a vermouth and it’s delicious). That’s just to name a few. When a brand does a left turn, I don’t like it. To me, Guinness makes stouts. Don’t give me this Guinness Blonde nonsense. If I wanted an “American lager,” I wouldn’t be reaching for a Guinness, now would I? Talk about watering down your legacy. So good old Guzzi. It’s stuck to its transverse-twin guns and the motorcycle world is all the better for it. Guzzi’s proudly arcane, consciously archaic, undeniably archetypal V7 is a balustrade of constancy in an ever-changing, carpet-pulled-out-from-under-you kind of world. I look at Guzzi’s mild obstinacy as a polite middle finger to a culture that praises the Elon Musks of the world while overlooking the Glenn Curtisses; a world that razes its own past to build a blandly uniform, supposedly brighter future. Guzzi cries “b—t” and hardly anyone seems to give a “s—t.” Guzzi, to you we tip our Carpano aperitif. Here, we take a look at the the V7 Sport of the 1970s, a respectful V7 custom, and one of today’s current V7 models.

Classic: Moto Guzzi V7 Sport

1971 Moto Guzzi V7 Sport
1971 Moto Guzzi V7 Sport.Moto Guzzi

To replace the V7 Special, in 1971, Moto Guzzi unveiled the V7 Sport, featuring a completely revised 748cc motor derived from the 703cc V7 tourer.

In addition to new bore and stroke numbers, the Sport motor received lighter valve gear and con-rods and larger 30mm Dell’Orto carbs, all of which brought output up to 52 hp—from 40 hp.

Lino Tonti's new triangulated frame, which used the motor as a stressed member, was one of the bike's strong points. As Motorcyclist praised in the December 1972 issue, "When riding the V7 Sport you can feel the immediate and complete security of a machine which follows the pilot in each movement even when pushing it at high speeds on curvy roads. All this enthusiasm for a motorcycle derives from a fundamental fact which you can feel while riding it. It has exceptionally good handling and stability because it is so compact and has such a low layout."

The first 150 lime green and red Telaio examples were extra special. In addition to its ported heads and polished and matched internals, its bright red frame was made of lightweight chrome-moly tubes, compared to steel on the later models. The Telaio Rosso was meant to grab attention; most models were destined for magazine reviewers, racers, and other VIPs.

The “Sport” badge was applied for good reason. The V7 Sport was a true performance machine in its day. In some ways, it would actually be more appropriate to put the original V7 Sport in the “Cutting-Edge” category and the new V7 III in the “Classic” category. The original strived to be innovative; the contemporary version strives to be an homage.

The V7 Sport’s relatively high price tag prevented Guzzi from putting up big sales numbers, but the bike’s sporting pretension made it everything enthusiasts wanted out of a Guzzi. After some rough decades which demanded the Mandello del Lario marque focus on more plebeian machines, a sporting cycle that reminded the masses of its grand racing heritage was just the ticket.

Custom: Venier Tractor 05

Venier Tractor 05
Did the drilled side panels of Venier’s Tractor series V7s inspire a similar motif in the stock V7s?Donatello Trevisiol

Stefano Venier has been building his custom Moto Guzzi "Tractor" series in Brooklyn, New York, for the past five years or so. The latest model, the Tractor 05, is based on a 2014 Moto Guzzi V7 and features handmade aluminum bodywork expressing Venier's classic, minimalistic aesthetic. It's an undeniably classy-looking motorcycle with a touch of Continental TKC80-shod rebelliousness—like Sean Connery's James Bond wearing Frye harness boots.

Venier classifies the Tractor series as "limited-production motorcycles." He says the goal is more of a redesign rather than outright customization. To that end, the stock frame is untouched. In addition to the handmade aluminum bodywork, there's a hand-stitched seat incorporating an LED taillight, a custom exhaust from Mass moto, adjustable suspension from Ikon, and other aesthetic refinements. To set off the Guzzi's iconic 90-degree transverse-twin engine, Venier replaced the stock valve covers with vintage items.

What distinguishes Venier’s bikes from other custom machines is the considered simplicity of the modifications. He’s left the V7 a V7. He hasn’t transmogrified it into some unrecognizable version of itself. His work doesn’t negate Guzzi’s proud heritage by subverting the original identity of the stock machine. It’s a respectful way to approach customization.

Cutting-Edge: Moto Guzzi V7 III Milano

Moto Guzzi V7 III Milano
The Milano is one of several V7 III variants available in 2018.Moto Guzzi

The modern Moto Guzzi V7 isn’t a leading-edge sport machine like its namesake, but it faithfully preserves the original’s silhouette and its Guzzi heritage. That said, it would outperform the original on basically every level.

Like the Ducati Scrambler line, which offers a plethora of different takes on a each platform, the V7 III is currently available in a range of guises, from the baseline Stone to the full-Gucci Guzzi: the Racer, complete with Öhlins shocks and bling red frame. The Milano keeps it classy with aluminum fenders and side panels and a chrome exhaust.

Some corners of the blogosphere would have it that a consciously retro machine like the V7 is too precious, that's it's destined for an Insta-rider more interested in looks and posturing than actual riding. Which, okay fine; I get it. Here's the thing though: it's an easy bike to wheel out of the garage, it's pretty, and it's functional. More expensive and less practical than something like the ridiculously good Yamaha MT-07, it's true, but the V7 offers something unique to motorcycling. It's a Guzzi.

The V7 has adhered to its own archetypal vision of motorcycling, and that’s all the defense a motorcycle could ever need.