A Moto Guzzi V7, the designer must have been one hell of a sadistic Italian man that had one too many bottles of grappa at his disposal. More on that later.
Last summer I decided to get my motorcycle licence again, for the street. Mine had expired and I dedicated all my riding to the track. I didn't have any intentions of street riding, that is until August of last year came around. I booked a test with the ministry and passed with flying colours. Then the best part, bike hunting.
You can't go bike hunting with out criteria. I've never seen the whole point of riding a sport bike on the street and I knew that if I got one it'd be very hard to contain myself (aka not triple the speed limit every time I got on) because I knew what I was capable of doing on sport bikes. I decided I wanted something slow to save me from myself.
With that in mind I decided to go for something stylish and unique. I really like certain custom bikes, particularly cafe races but didn't want an actual old bike. What ended up in my garage was a 2009 Moto Guzzi V7 that was slightly modified by the previous owner. My particular bike had Paolo Tarozzi clip ons, cheap eBay mufflers, lowered headlight, chopped rear fender, raised compression and a fuel enricher.
I fell in love with the bike after the first ride. It gave an incredibly unique sensation when riding it from the moment you cracked open the throttle. It was the combination of the sound and vibrations that the unique Guzzi V-Twin emitted and it had me hooked immediately. At idle, the bike vibrated so much side to side it looked simply awesome. The bike had incredible presence. I thought the bike was going to be incredibly rough to ride with lots of vibrations through the bars but I was pleasantly surprised that once on the move, the vibrations disappeared. The bike and I bonded very quickly. Every reason I could find to ride, I rode. I began to re-discover the freedom of riding on a motorcycle, and that included parking wherever I wanted whenever I wanted.
My bike quickly became my main mode of transportation. We had a very dry summer and nearly everyday was perfect for riding. I rode to work, rode to friend's houses, rode to do errands, rode when I was bored, rode to escape reality, yep, I rode a lot. Having decided it'd be my main mode of transportation I thought I should do some maintenance. I threw on new brake pads front and rear and also new tires. I've always done my own work on my race bikes and changing pads/removing wheels was always a piece of cake. Although the pad change and wheel removal was straight forward, putting the wheels back on, well, the rear wheel, must have been one of the most annoying tasks I have ever come across, ever.
One issue was that the exhaust hung lower than the frame so a bike jack couldn't jack the bike up properly and lots of wood had to be used for the bike to sit on. The bike was incredibly unstable. As seen in the above photo, literally if I poked at the bike it would have fallen over. So with a bike that unstable, it made putting the wheels on rather difficult. I managed to slide the front on quite easily as there are no obstructions. However, the rear was a complete nightmare and took nearly one hour (and lots of repetitive continual cussing) to get the rear wheel back on. The designer must have been one hell of a sadistic Italian man that had one too many bottles of grappa at his disposal. After some reading, I learnt that it is indeed a nightmare and that there is even a special tool to mount the rear wheel. People that also attempted the same DIY at home actually secure the bike by roping it to the ceiling.......I'll stop there.
After copious amounts of celebratory beers for completing that fiasco, I could ride and I did ride trouble free. The bike gave me no problems, just lots of attention, fun and smiles. It was a great conversation starter. I can't count how many riders and non riders came up to me to talk about my bike. Older riders especially all seemed to have some story or other about a Moto Guzzi. Having ridden both Ducati's and now the Moto Guzzi, I can say that Italian bikes certainly give a very unique sensation compared to Japanese bikes. It is true Japanese bikes just do everything well but do not elicit much emotion, whereas Italian bikes can be temperamental, oddly designed and less 'perfect'. However, one thing is for certain, they simply look beautiful. Now, I just need to get my hands on a British bike!