Did you ever wish you could get your hands on a time machine? Well, now you can. The amazing thing is that it’s powered by a longitudinal-mounted, 744cc 90-degree V-Twin and travels nowhere near the speed needed to warp space and time. Yet somehow Moto Guzzi’s 2011 V7 Racer has achieved what Einstein postulated was possible with his 1905 Special Theory of Relativity. Okay, we admit the trip back is in the mind, and you can only travel back as late as the ‘60s and early ‘70s. But dang it, it’s a damn good trip nonetheless.
Based on the frame work provided by the standard Moto Guzzi V7 Classic and Cafe, the V7 Racer is a throwback to the time when the Rockers vs Mods scene was in full affect and “Cafe Racer” described a rider just as much as a motorcycle. If you didn’t know any different you would think that this 2011 model is a masterfully restored repli-racer that at one time blasted between Ace Cafe in London and points asunder. Just looking at this latest iteration of the V7 makes me wish I was there to see the scene in its heyday.
The styling is virtually spot on as far as I’m concerned for a modern-retro motorcycle. Look at the long, gloss black tank with its leather strap, the saucer shaped front number plate, and the rear cowl complete with numbers and tell me you don’t want to strap on a leather helmet and blast through the European countryside. The design crew at Guzzi went full tilt with the look,
Number pates and other touches such as the leather tanks strap really give the V7 Racer a retro feel.
adding touches such as drilled out side panels, exhaust hangers and rear-sets. A red frame and hubs, gators on the 40mm Marzocchi fork and a fully adjustable Bitubo rear shock complete the Racer’s transformation. The end result is a cohesive piece that doesn’t look like a halfhearted attempt at a retro model. This thing is the full monty. Even the throttle bodies look nostalgic, though they are equipped with modern fuel injection. Perhaps some of the hardcore fans of the Cafe Racer may find fault with the present-day looking Brembo brakes and plastic switch gear, but with those modern touches come modern reliability and performance. A fair trade, I say.
Powering the V7 Racer is the very same powerplant that resides in the Classic and Cafe models. The traverse cylinder, 90-degree V-twin, in true Guzzi fashion, is just as much a statement of the uniqueness of this bike as is the styling. Two-valve heads actuated by pushrods protrude from the heart of the V7 and rest just ahead of the rider’s knees. A compression ratio of 9.6:1 and a bore/stroke of 80 x 74mm pumps out 38.11 hp and 37.26 lb-ft of torque. Not exactly impressive numbers, but I guess they can be claimed as period-correct. The five-speed transmission feeds the power through a single-plate dry clutch to a shaft-driven rear end, standard Moto Guzzi fare.
Firing up the V7 Racer, although equipped with fuel injection, takes an old school touch of adjusting the fast idle like you would a choke back in the day. So often we now take for granted the instantaneous perfect fueling provided by modern FI systems. Setting of the idle on the start actually gives you more of a connection with the bike right off the bat. It’s a conversation about what is expected from each of you for a great ride. Once the engine is warm and ready, turning of the throttle produces the always entertaining torque twist from the Guzzi mill. You can’t help cracking a smile.
When riding the Moto Guzzi V7 Racer it is easy to imagine what it would be like ripping from cafe to cafe in the late 1960’s.
The rumble, shake and twist of the two-valve motor is visceral and fulfilling and really does put out an old-school vibe. Once underway the engine smooths out to the trademark purr that makes Moto Guzzis so awesome on the open road. Acceleration put forth by the V7 Racer is nothing to get excited about, but the torque is flat and usable at just about any rpm. This makes for a fun ride in the city and canyons as you concentrate on carrying momentum rather that squirting from apex to apex as you tuck down to minimize aerodynamic drag.
In a full tuck or sitting upright and relaxed, the cockpit of the Guzzi is laid out well. A nicely spaced reach to the bars works well for any average height human being, while the sweptback position of the controls feels racy without undue pressure on the wrist. Just the right amount of sportiness is provided by the billet rear set footpegs and controls. The suede seat is classically narrow yet plush at the same time.
The styling of the Racer tends to suggest that it has serious handling capabilities, and it does for the type of motorcycle it is. Don’t expect modern sportbike cornering performance from the V7 and you won’t be disappointed. It feels just as a vintage racer should – a bit flexy, possibly unhinged if you push too hard, but always in communication. The feedback from the front end is positive, as is the entire chassis. You know where you stand at all times with the Guzzi, and that is what makes it such a fun bike. You know how hard you can go, and there is plenty of warning when you over step the bounds of a sane pace. On the straight bits the ride is firm, but never harsh, which just adds to the feeling of being on something special from another time.
Braking from the single 320mm front disc mated with a 4-piston Brembo caliper is adequate, but nothing to rave about. The rear is on the same level with its 260mm disc. The easiest way to describe the braking performance is, well, retro.
The V7 Racer backs up its look with a ride that is truly a blast back to the Cafe Racer era. Style, usable speed and sporty ergos make this Moto Guzzi special, as the numbered limited edition plaque on the top triple clamp suggests. It really is a time machine, and at $9790 it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than building your own. With less than 100 available finding one might be difficult, but well worth the effort. No other motorcycle off the showroom floor can do retro like the V7 Racer can.