Long-term test: Moto Guzzi V7 Stone review

A perfectly agreeable machine, after a fashion

Posted: 11 November 2013
by Steve Farrell

I'VE been riding a Moto Guzzi V7 Stone for three weeks and my firm conclusion is that I've got mixed feelings about it. At first I liked it. Then I didn't. Now I think it's appealing but a bit too expensive.

"A bike's just been delivered for you," an office security guard told me. "It's a nice looking one." He was correct. The V7 is a good looking motorcycle. I'd seen them before, and ridden one last year, but I didn't remember it being as handsome as this, with its matt black paint, shiny chrome and sticky-out cylinders.

It's an archetypal motorcycle. It doesn't buffet on the winds of change. It looks the same as a motorcycle did 50 years ago. The tank isn't an enormous swelling of steel that comes up to your chest. It's just a motorcycle petrol tank. The pillion seat isn't a perch half up your back. It's just a seat behind you.

The engine isn't hidden somewhere. It's shoving its air-cooled elbows in your face, and a stressed member, carrying the swing-arm, which incorporates the shaft drive. It's a highly space-efficient configuration, allowing the 744cc V7 to be small. A configuration that sends sideways rotational forces through the chassis which you can feel when you open the throttle. It rumbles and rolls. I was in no doubt: this was a motorcycle. Riding through London felt good. I caught people checking it out. I'm going to like this, I thought.

Two things tainted that early enthusiasm. The first was riding the bike a bit more. The V7 has too-soft suspension. It feels like a rocking horse, and it doesn't make up for it in comfort. It clatters over bumps and potholes. The gearbox can feel stiff and sometimes goes into neutral instead of second. The bars are too high.

After a few days, the nature of the riding experience overshadowed the initial impression of style and character. I started to wonder if that sideways rotation, which at first had seemed like personality, was actually just not very good.

The second thing was a custom café racer exhibition in London's fashionable Shoreditch, where the streets are rivers of tortoise shell glasses and curly moustaches. The exhibition was an orgy of turn-ups, tattoos and key chains. I saw a C-list celebrity. Café racer-style gloves were on sale for the price of an iPad.

And I thought: this isn't motorcycling. It's fashion. I'd been wrong. Buffeting on the winds of change, of fashion, was exactly what the V7 represented. It and all its café racer ilk were motorcycling's equivalent of the fixed gear bicycle, only worse because there is actually a practical case for those. Fashion is the only real argument in support of café racers and fashion is always a compromise of form. It makes matters worse that Ewan McGregor fronts Guzzi’s marketing campaign.

I wanted to ram-raid the exhibition on a pink and lilac jelly-mould CBR600, the motorcycle that taste forgot, and set fire to it. Although Shoreditch 'hipsters' would probably think the CBR was fashionably ironic.

The V7 Stone is the third bike in my long-term comparison of machines suitable for A2 licence holders. That means it makes 48hp, the same as Honda's CBR500R, my running favourite, but at £6,832 on the road, costs £1,733 more. Where is that money going? It's not as though the V7 feels like £1,733-worth of extra quality. The brake pedal, for example, touches the exhaust when pressed hard. The CBR's doesn't, because it's Japanese, not Italian.

They're very different to ride. The CBR is pleasingly torquey. The V7 is all torque, blustering forward from about 2,000rpm. There's no redline on the rev counter and it doesn't need one. There's not much north of 6,000rpm except noise and shaking, so there's little incentive to go there. It's more fun to change up, and keep it bubbling at about 4,000rpm.

I got 52.5mpg from the V7, including motorway and town, and 164 miles between fill-ups of the 22-litre tank, including 15 miles with the fuel light on. The CBR500R delivered 67.4mpg, giving a theoretical 232-mile range from its 15.7-litre tank.

Despite its lack of fairing, I didn't find the windblast too annoying riding the Guzzi from London to Derby and back. Possibly the clocks do some deflecting. I wonder if the rider's position, with arms straight out in front, almost horizontal, puts him at a good advantage to withstand the blast. Although the seat looks reasonably padded, I was shifting about after a couple of hours.

But at length I concluded the V7 is a perfectly agreeable machine. I warmed to it again after swapping it for the boss's ZX-6R for a couple days. The Kawasaki would be superb if I wanted to learn to do a fast lap somewhere. In London it's thoroughly sub-optimal. The red line is at 16,000rpm but you'll be lucky to get above 4,000. It can't weave through stopped traffic because the steering lock is at about five degrees from straight. With my arms aching from supporting my own weight, and my neck aching from looking up at the road ahead, I thought: This is why people don't buy sports bikes anymore. It was an actual pleasure to get back on the V7, with its upright riding position and good natured, burbling, chassis-twisting V-twin.

It would have been a pleasure to get back on the CBR500R too. I can't say the Guzzi is a better riding experience than the Honda. It has shaft drive over the CBR's chain, a genuine advantage for an easier life. Otherwise style is the only justification for the extra seventeen-hundred quid. You might call it Shoreditch tax.

There's nothing wrong with style. The question is, is it worth that much? What else could that money do?

What I'm saying is, buy the CBR and give the £1,733 to charity, you self-regarding moustachioed Shoreditch bulb.

Model: Moto Guzzi V7 Stone

Price: £6,832

Power: 48hp

Want more? Sure you do

Long-term A2 test: CBR500R part 1

Long-term A2 test: CBR500R part 2

Long-term A2 test: KTM Duke 390

Long-term test: Honda CBR500R review

Read or add to owners' reviews of the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic 


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Discuss this story

So if you just want a two-wheeled vehicle, get the CBR,
If you want a motorcycle get the V7..?

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 02:00

Another great article in the series. Thoroughly entertaining and informative as well. Keep up the good work.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 03:11

I've had a V7 for four years and it's a fun motorcycle that after a bit of modification does all I want from a bike. Can't say I recognise the Shorditch reference as I'm still stuck with the impression that Guzzi owners like nothing more than roll up fags, beer and camping in a muddy field; but then that's my own particular prejudice showing.

I suppose as a lot of bike riders are using their machines for recreation rather than utility then you will get fashions rearing their ugly heads, but then isn't that what sports bikes and adventure bikes are all about? In my day (Here we go!), there weren't Kings Road boutique bike clothing shops, only army surplus or Lewis Leathers if you had a few bob to spare, only because bikes were mainly get you to work vehicles. Just goes to show how much things have changed, don't it?

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 08:50

I don't understand the comparison with a CBR, why not compare it to a vespa or a Can-Am for that matter. Two totally different bikes. Fashion? What fashion...? THE V7 Stone you rode is a standard motorcycle, and not a cafe racer.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 09:19

52 mpg x 22 litres(4.8 gallons) theoretically gives a range of 249.6 miles. Mine does 60 mpg. Sure the light comes on too early but when you've filled it up a couple of times you realise how much further you can go. Great bike. Gearbox on mine is very smooth too!

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 17:12

Great stuff I suppose but irrelevant, because what we really want is a test report on the V7 Racer.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 17:16

Don't expect there to be that much difference apart from more pose value. The Racer is the same bike in a different dress.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 17:24

it would be the guzzi for me,

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 17:56


JTH
The extra 1,733 quid probably has something to do with the fact that the CBR is manufactured by child slaves on some nameless factory assembly in Thailand and the Guzzi is largely hand-assembled in Mandello del Lario, Italy in a factory that has been producing sought-after motorbikes since 1921.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 21:18

Some great comments on this one especialy jth.To me the cbr is a machine styled by a commitee and engineered by robots and computers,This is what they want sort of thing because our focus group says so.The guzzi looks fantastic and has a few things that niggle,just like people,,,,,

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 22:50

The Honda is not built by child slave labour in Thailand its built in an ultra modern hi tech plant by men and women minimum age must be 18 , they earn basic salary £380 per month which by thai standards is way more than average wages the plant is clean and well run , with canteens , it is also Unionised (which is a downside) and has medical and welfare facilities ......But i would prefer to buy the Guzzi its got soul something the Honda does not have , also the Honda has a proven serious engine design fault , high oil consumption from over pressuring of the breather system .

Posted: 13/11/2013 at 03:14


JTH
Admittedly i may have overstated things a bit but you get my drift...what I'm sure is a very nice high-tech factory in Thailand vs. hand assembly in northern Italy, I love my Honda's but theres something to be said about doing things the old-fashioned way, that being said as far as I can tell Thailand is fully capable of crafting world-class machines.

Posted: 13/11/2013 at 05:20

Who is this guy???? he does not know one end of a bike to the other,how can you compare a Guzzi to a Honda.

Posted: 13/11/2013 at 07:41

"Who is this guy????"

Agree bluejagy!

He's obviously the office junior suffering from a very short attention span. Who else would think a valid long term test comprises of three weeks occasionally riding the bike? Staff shortages VisorDown?

Posted: 13/11/2013 at 13:21

"you self-regarding moustachioed Shoreditch bulb." made me laugh. Good job!

Posted: 13/11/2013 at 15:01

i rode guzzis for 25 yrs switching to a bonneville in2010 the only comment i can mke is "if you gotta ask why .you just wouldnt understand"

Posted: 15/11/2013 at 16:15

One of the best looking "retro" standard bikes on the market today.

Posted: 15/11/2013 at 19:19

I wouldnt sell my sprint st but im gonna buy one of these,great looking bike,

Posted: 15/11/2013 at 20:06

I could be wrong but I believe the comparison to the CBR stems from a prior article in the series that reviewed the CBR500. It's a long-term review series so there are comparisons between all the bikes he's ridden. If I recall, the KTM Duke 390 was also compared to the CBR. I'm hoping for a Ninja 300 review to add to the mix but we'll see what happens.

Posted: 19/11/2013 at 23:06

As I said in reply to another comment, I think the comparison comes from having done a long term review on the CBR (and the KTM Duke390). I think it's helpful knowing how each bike stacks up against one another.

Posted: 19/11/2013 at 23:08

I'd still go for the Guzzi, looks much nicer than your average committee designed Japanese bike. It has style, charisma and a much nicer engine note :-)

Posted: 20/11/2013 at 16:44

I have the cb500f and it's a wonderfully fun bike to ride - all day comfort, agile, and an engine that just wants to play. You don't know what you're talking about.

How hard is it to design a bike that looks like another bike from long ago -and give it the performance of a bike from long ago? Hard work that . And every year they say something like " 70% new engine parts...". Honda uses engineers - sorry if that's offensive.

Posted: 29/12/2013 at 09:15

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