When Piaggio purchased Moto Guzzi several years ago, it pledged to invest all the money necessary to bring this storied brand back to the top of the Italian motorcycle manufacturing industry. Before developing the first Moto Guzzi as a ground-up, total redesign (we are referring to the California 1400), Piaggio made efforts to refine and invigorate the existing engineering found in bikes like the V7 line. One of those bikes is the V7 Stone we recently tested.
The V7 Stone is powered by a 90 degree v-twin displacing 744cc. This air/oil cooled engine has been around for quite some time, and features a five speed gearbox.
As we reported, for 2013 the United States market gets the entire line of V7 models, including the Special (at $8,990), the Racer (at $9,990) and the Stone (at $8,390) with a newly developed version of the fuel injected 744cc motor. That motor now has increased compression, refined fuel injection and engine management systems and more than 200 new or redesigned parts (roughly 70% of the total engine components).
These changes bring increases in every type of performance, including a 12% increase in horsepower (now claimed to be 50 hp at the crank), a 10% increase in torque (up to 43 foot pounds), together with significant improvements in fuel consumption and emissions.
When we last sampled a Moto Guzzi with the previous iteration of this motor, we found it quaint but underwhelming. Frankly, we weren’t expecting much when we tested the V7 Stone alongside the latest Triumph Bonneville, but were surprised when it was not immediately obvious which of the two bike had more power. Of course, the Bonneville wins in this category, but the newly designed engine in the Stone is very impressive nonetheless.
With two-valve heads, the relatively large v-twin not surprisingly makes most of its power in the low end and mid-range. The fuel injection is dialed in nicely, and the bike pulls well from a stop and keeps pulling sharply if you short shift it at the top of the mid-range. The power-band is not a mile wide like that found on the Triumph, but it is very satisfying, nonetheless, and brings the V7 models up to a performance level that makes them a practical alternative for just about any rider looking for a retro steed.
What the Guzzi has in spades over the Triumph, however, is that difficult-to-define quality . . . character. The vibration from this engine embraces you in the way that only a Moto Guzzi engine can. From the rocking motion induced by the longitudinal crank, to the characteristic pulse of the “heart” of this bike, you just might fall in love. You certainly wouldn’t be the first.
For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, a Moto Guzzi is no Honda Accord. It is not refined to the point that it lacks any discernible personality. Quite the opposite. It has more personality than you might expect, or even want. But if you find it appealing, passion ensues.
The V7 Stone handles quite well. It is very light . . . 70 pounds or so lighter than a Triumph Bonneville, for instance. The claimed curb weight of 390 pounds puts the Stone in 600cc supersport territory in terms of weight.
The 18″ front wheel has a narrow 100 section tire, and the 17″ rear features a 130 section. Like the Triumph Bonneville, this bike has small lightweight tires on light cast aluminum rims, and it features a single front disc brake. This means very low unsprung weight, which compliments the low overall weight of the machine. The Stone feels almost like a light dirt bike if you step aboard it after piloting some of the heavier machines available on the market today (I recall riding the Stone immediately after the Honda F6B, for instance).
Despite the nimble nature of the bike, it is stable in a straight line at high speeds. Handling is difficult to fault, but the suspension is another matter. While the shocks did their job admirably, the 40mm fork has springs which are far too soft. I occasionally bottomed the fork and at 190 pounds, I am probably not outside the range of normal American riders.
The transmission feels somewhat crude in comparison to other modern bikes with a long throw and some clunky engagements. Nevertheless, the bike never missed a shift.
The large 5.8 gallon gas tank provides plenty of range given the 49 mpg we experienced during testing.
The ergonomics are comfortable and upright, although like many Moto Guzzis, the pegs are slightly forward from where you might expect them. The seat height is taller than the seat on the Bonneville, but still reasonable when compared with some of the modern adventure bikes, for instance.
The front disc brake is a single 320 mm floating unit, and the Brembo caliper has four pistons. In the rear, a single 260 mm disc resides with a single piston caliper. Braking was adequate, if not exceptional. In comparison with the Triumph Bonneville, for instance, the front brake lacked some power (although feedback was good).
The V7 Stone has quite a bit of ground clearance for aggressive cornering (note the pictures of Evan with the bike on its side). The handling is really confidence inspiring.
We always note that styling is subjective, but in our personal opinion, the V7 Stone is a timeless beauty, either in the White version we tested, or in the Matte Black version available as an option.
The 2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Stone will give you a full dose of Moto Guzzi character and personality. Many riders will find that irresistible, and now they have adequate engine performance to erase any doubts about the practical capabilities of this machine. This is a fun bike that you can fall in love with. Given the age of the basic engine architecture, reliability should not be a significant issue, and the Stone should prove to be a faithful friend.
For additional details and specifications, visit the Moto Guzzi web site.