Groovy Guzzi | Euro Notes

Lino Tonti’s Small-Block Gets a Long Overdue Update

By Aaron Frank | Photography by Moto Guzzi

[Last year marked the 90th birthday of the legendary Moto Guzzi brand, founded in 1921. More than 20,000 Guzzisti from 52 countries descended on Mandello del Lario to mark the momentous occasion with three days of factory tours, bike shows, demo rides, a rock concert and a massive parade.

It’s not immediately obvious, but Moto Guzzi’s V7 platform gets a new engine for 2012. We already published reports of an all-new, liquid-cooled, big-bore Guzzi motor expected to debut in 2013 (Euro Notes, March 2011), but the appearance of this redesigned air-cooled mill at the recent Milan Show was unexpected. This is the first significant upgrade of Guzzi’s small-block V-twin, which traces its roots back to 1977, in well over a decade. This is proof that parent company Piaggio intends to fulfill previous promises to invest in the long-ignored brand.

The goals for this new engine included more power, better high-rpm response, improved fuel economy and lower emissions. It’s still a 90-degree transverse (longitudinal crank) V-twin, displacing the same 744cc, but it’s 70-plus percent revised with 200 new or redesigned components. Twin throttle bodies have been replaced by a single, centrally located 38mm Magneti Marelli unit, said to deliver a more consistent mixture. Larger intake ports and a higher, 10.2:1 compression ratio contribute to a claimed 12 percent power increase, to 51 bhp at 6200 rpm. The transmission has also been upgraded with a new “pre-selector” mechanism for smoother, quieter shifts.

The new engine will power the Modern Classic line consisting of the V7, V7 Special and V7 Racer, as well as the Nevada cruiser. Engine aside, the V7 lineup is essentially unchanged: The base model gets new lightweight cast-alloy wheels, while the V7 Special and Racer still roll on traditional spoked rims. Piaggio says Moto Guzzi sales have been growing despite a sluggish motorcycle market. The company sold more than 4300 bikes worldwide during the first 8 months of 2011—an increase of 31 percent over the same period the previous year. This new motor is just the beginning of rebuilding the resurgent brand: Piaggio has earmarked more than 40 million euros to invest in Moto Guzzi over the next 5 years, including major improvements in the Mandello del Lario factory. It’s about time!