Moto Guzzi V7 Classic – 20,010 Miles and Time for some Mods

Where has time gone?  I haven’t written anything about my V7 Classic in more than a year.  I guess life and the enjoyment of life kinda get in the way, plus just actually getting down to business and writing something out can involve a little mental effort.  Funny thing, life may have gotten in the way of writing more articles about this wonderful Moto Guzzi small block, but it definitely wove itself around it!

A long weekly commute for 18 months.

I took a position as an Enterprise Architect Consultant in Detroit mid 2010, and started an 18 month long period of living in an apartment in Grosse Pointe Park, MI, for 4 nights a week.  Weekends were spent at home after making the 300 mile journey back to my home in Oak Park, IL.

I started work around May 1 2010, and, until the riding season ended in Mid October, I never drove a car in Detroit.  Most of the commutes were made on the V7 Classic, so I was making two 300 mile trips a week on the bike, and then 30 miles a day commuting, along with some very fun trips, which I’ll get to in a bit.

Outside of Jackson, MI

Outside of Jackson, MI

The Little Guzzi was awesome.  I only had to take the train back to Chicago on a few occasional weekends when the weather was too rough to ride, and even then I had a couple of episodes when I got caught in a downpour anyway.  Except for a single incident, there’s nothing much to report reliability-wise, except that it just ran and ran.  I serviced it regularly at Rose Farm Classics, where I purchased the bike in September of 2009.  In 20K miles I’m on my third set of tires and I’ve changed the oil with the AGIP good stuff 3 times.  I got on the bike last night and it had 20K miles on the odometer.  With repairs, tires and maintenance,  I think I’ve spent about $2K to go that distance, or about 10 cents a mile before insurance and gas.

Today it’s snowing outside, exhibiting the fickle weather that Detroit has to offer, so I sit here and offer up my thoughts on what has transpired, and plans for next steps with the bike.

The Good News.

Bagged up with my 2 40 liter Hepco & Becker bags, with my then-250lb body, I was able to comfortably cruise at 80mph for hours on end up and down I-94.  No serious wind-blast around trucks, no real issues with handling or ride after swapping the OEM Metzlers for Pirellis, and no oil consumption or quirks.

I don’t have a windscreen, so I did get some wind blast, especially on blustery days, but I ride in leather and with a full-face Shark RSR helmet.  Both make it more than tolerable, and on hot days, the extra wind through perforated leather is quite welcome.  Side winds weren’t too bad, even bagged up.  I did notice that there is a slight tendency to a kind of extremely slow-frequency fishtail with the larger bags on the bike at speed — not noticable in the first 10K miles, but as I settled into the bike this became apparent after a time.  Without the big 40L bags, this completely disappears.  I think it had to do with a combination of extra rear weight with me and the bags on long trips, and the wind buffeting around the rear of the bags due to their width and prominence in the slipstream.

If I were to do it over again, I’d get the 30 Liter bags, but then you don’t get to shove a full face in them!

All in all, I don’t see a need for a flyscreen unless you don’t ride with a full face helmet. Then, definitely, especially in the Midwest.  I’m sure that I’ve managed to kill all the relatives of the mosquitoes and other bugs that sucked the blood out of me at neighborhood block parties!

A note about the Shark RSR.  It has a 3mm thick screen — F1 rated.  Stops a 22.  Very nice feature on trips when the unexpected rock comes shooting at you.  It’s also extremely light and well ventilated.

Around town, the bike was a dream on the street and local expressways.  My commute wasn’t that long, but it involved potholes, weird driver techniques and lots of stop and go.  The Guzzi is so well balanced that I found myself barely putting a foot down unless the bike had come completely to a stop.  You can ride your V7 Classic with very little body movement if you like, or you can engage it fully.  I have both the “banana” and “cafe” seats for different riding moods, and they both help you to ride the bike in the appropriate manner.  The banana is a better choice for long trips, but the cafe seat is great for around town and in the twisties.  $160 well spent!

Sometimes it rains in the Midwest.  Sometimes, meaning, well, more than my Arizona-bred bones are used to.  If you’re going to ride in this area, you need to expect to get wet once in awhile, and learn how to ride and cope with wet roads.  The V7 has very good manners when it’s not so nice out.

I often had the choice to go over I-80 via Toledo back to Chicago (long, straight, boring, but with good rest stops) or down I-94. A quick check of the weather would force me down to the I-80 tollway because weather moved through it faster.  I found that if it’s there’s any inclement weather anywhere within 500 miles of Chicago, the strip of dirt along I-94 50 miles north or south of the Indiana border is going to be the worst of it, every time.  It gets bad in other places, but…

Stuck under an overpass outside of Toledo

Stuck under an overpass.

It’s definitely worse in some places.

The “relatively” Bad News.

Pirelli Diablos do not like to be new and wet at the same time.  As the season started up in 2010, I was riding back from Rose Farm via a local lunch spot on a typical day.  It had just rained and I decided that a little Chicago Hot Dog Goodness was just the ticket. With about 60 miles on my new tires, a slightly wet road and a think paint strip about a block from my house, I ended up on my butt about 10 feet from my bike after pulling away from a light into a left turn. 5mph high-side.  I almost caught it, but I had taken my eye off the ball and just didn’t come back to reality fast enough.

New turn signal, new right footpeg and bend the brake lever back into place.  Only other damage was a mild scrape under the muffler where I can’t see it, and a scrape on the mirrors and a bar end weight.  Not even a bruise for me, other than the ego.

Another lesson learned.  Don’t go anywhere without a charged cell phone.  The only problem I’ve ever had with the Guzzi was a burnt out voltage regulator/rectifier that ended up roasting the charging system. This happened on a return trip from Detroit, right on the ramp that connects the 94/294 in Chicago.  At rush hour.  On the ramp. With a loaded bike. And a dead cell phone.

A passing Tow Truck finally covered my rear while I pushed the bike over the ramp, down the west-bound 294 shoulder (had to cross a very busy ramp to get there!) and up the first exit.  I then called Billy and the Boy motorcycle pick up.  5 hours later I was home, the bike was at Rose Farm and, a week later, I was out $800.

Moral of the story?  Not much, really.  Stuff happens.  Vibration had loosened the battery terminals over time, and I hadn’t checked them.  $800 was my “stupid tax” for not ensuring that they were tight, and thinking that it might have been picked up by my mechanic, who I hold blameless since there’s always lots to do, lots of distractions and he hadn’t seen it for 4 months.  Check your terminals, because I have seen others with the same failure.  Not cheap when you factor in towing and parts.  It “would” have been nice for Guzzi to cover this under warranty…

Let’s see.  Any other badness?  Loaded (250lb rider and 50lbs of “stuff”) with bags and backpacks, mileage drops into the high 30s when cruising in the upper 70s-lower 80s.  The fast-idle lever is just crappy and needs to be addressed.  That blue vapor canister hose going down the right side of the bike is ugly as hell.  I could use a little more light at night, at speed.

Those godawful mirrors have got to go!  What the hell!  I’ve had reports of people using 1200 Sport mirrors (really good!) and also extensions (more vibration?) — I’ve finally gone to bar-end mirrors, and they totally work.  Just take out the old mirrors, flip the mounting clamps upside down so the mirror receptacles are pointing down, and you’re good to go.  I got mine for $19 from Amazon.  They don’t fold, but, hey, they were $19.

Some nice long trips.

I took several 1500+mile trips in the Spring/Summer of 2010, the best of these being the Wisconsin Moto Guzzi Rally held in the Southwestern hills of that state.  I was sitting in my apartment, ready to go back home, and I called my wife and told her that I was going to go to the rally through the U.P. of Michigan.  At 5pm I set off, north on I-75 towards the Mackinac Bridge.  I arrived there at 10pm and decided to shut down for the night and see how pretty it could get in the morning.

I wasn’t disappointed.  I went all the way from Mackinac to the Rally (just 30 miles northeast of Dubuque, Iowa on the Mississippi) in about 7 hours.  The upper Peninsula is beautiful, and every small town you go through has the smell of fresh Cornish Pasties wafting under your helmet.

As Spectacular as the Upper Peninsula is, the ride through Northeast Wisconsin was, in a word, blah.  Madison is a beautiful city, and once you’re south of there, headed to the “Alphabet Roads”, things just get better and better.  Thank God there is at least some place in the middle of the US that isn’t flat!

Had a great weekend, seeing old friends and making new ones.  Fitz is a great riding buddy and Architect — he took me to Taliesin via some great curves, and stopping at the Frank Lloyd Wright family plot, we were inundated by the most vicious, bloodthirsty mosquitoes I have ever seen in my life.  They were attacking me through my gloves, and Fitz and I looked like fools as we sat there and talked, slapping the damned things off each other’s face and neck.  Finally one of suggested a better spot for conversation, and we were off to lunch.

By the time I got back to Detroit Monday night, I had covered 1500 miles in three days.  The bike had used zero oil, no burps or belches, and nothing but smiles and a little Calamine-lotion covered skin.

I’ve made two other trips of the same length in the last year, both of them on a southerly trek through Ohio and Indiana.  Great rides both, but until you get to the southern reaches of those states, there is NOTHING but flatness…

The new year, new season, new modifications.

Winter in Detroit this year brought me a new house and the not-so-lamented loss of my commute back to Chicago.  I left many good riding buddies in Chicago, and three great shops/dealers — Rose Farm Classics, Ace Motorcycle and Scooter (great vintage/cafe bike shop), and Motoworks Chicago (Triumph/Piaggio/Vespa/etc).  I gained massive time with my family, a seriously cool man cave, many new friends and an Aermacchi.

I’ve also changed the bars and mirrors on my bike in preparation for the new season.  I purchased the Norman Hyde “M” bars off eBay for about 45 bucks, and a set of bar end mirrors for the aforesaid $19.

I’ve only been able to put about 10 miles on it, but it really changes the “feel” of the bike and I can finally see out the back without making weird movements with my shoulders and elbows, and trying to discern through the vibration if there’s anything seriously dangerous behind me.  The bars move my weight forward, and since I’ve lost 40 lbs, I don’t look too much like a clown.  Look forward to a post about rearsets and a new paint job very soon.

It’s been a great 20,000 miles.  I’m looking forward to more time on my bike in better terrain and not always on the slab going from apartment-to-home-and back.  Look back soon as I complete my “cafe” build of the V7 Classic, building upon what others are doing in this space but going to a very different, original place with my own ideas.

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21 thoughts on “Moto Guzzi V7 Classic – 20,010 Miles and Time for some Mods

  1. Well it’s good to know you’re still ticking. Through “Chasing Motorcycles” we knew there was still life there somewhere.
    Thanks for the hint about battery terminals… something I have ignored until now.
    Tires… My SPIII is gonna need a set soon.
    I’m more interested in longevity than handling, but a little curve- carving is in order now and then on this wonderful bike. Pirellis? Metzlers? Dunlops?
    Time to do some studying.

  2. I found my V7 Café was much, much more comfortable with rearsets added and the bars lowered about an inch. It’s not too much of a stretch to run 450 miles on the slab going somewhere or a bunch of (s)miles on backroads. The price on the V7 Racer rearsets has dropped a huge amount. I don’t know if they’re available in the USA but Corsa Italiana in the U.K. has them around $470 shipped to the USA.

  3. Thanks for sharing,
    my V7c has 36.000Km now
    and I’ve had some issues (all sorted now).
    But, I love the bike, ride it every day to work,
    ride it in the week-ends for fun.
    It’s everything anyone ever needs in a bike.

  4. Hi Danillo, im sure I read somewhere that you had some mods in mind to boost power that were different from Eds head work..I was thinking of taking my V7Cafe down to SF and have him do the work this summer, but I’d like to know what you were thinking of doing before I do. I know there are a lot of posters saying anyone who has actually ridden the bike thinks its fine but I have serious doubts about the veracity of those claims and for me after 5000 miles if I can’t get 20% more out of it I’ll have to seriously consider selling which I don’t want to do. ( any thoughts on duc sport classic 1000 I have read ergo s are really problematic but perhaps you have a different take?)

  5. I’ve put 20K on the bike as a stock unit. There were few times when I really wanted more power, and I’ve done backroad twisties and superslabs.

    Divorce ego from reality, and the performance of the bike is more than adequate. Now saying that, I want to go in an different direction with the bike and have it match my other cafe bikes in performance and style.

    I’ve known Ed for a few years. I’ve traded emails, phone calls and face-to-face conversations. I would say that his head work is non-pareill, and the cardinality of his results are without question.

    I plan to incorporate his headwork (whether I give it to him or have it done locally in Detroit per his articles) and most definitely his ideas on exhaust and K&N intakes into my bike this year once my Aermacchi project is close to fruition.

    Ed is smart, methodical and damned smart, and you’d do much worse if you had him as a guide.

  6. As far as Sport Classics, they’re cool, but I think the V7 Classic is a better long-term bike.

  7. Thanks for coming back to me Danilo.

    I have no doubt about Eds capabilities just keen to know the options before I jump in — either way sadly it looks like it won’t happen as I have just a 5 day window that I’ll be in SF and apparently he needs 2 weeks – I figure some part of the work is farmed out. Waiting on a final reply but it looks like it’s dead.

    I’m pretty low in the ego dept I just like going fast and not getting blown away by average bikes but now your making me think about it – it is mostly top end that I’m after..

    I’ve noticed Ed and others offering a big bore kits though his is yet to materialise Valpolini is showing one for “breva,Nevada and classic ” have you seen and any idea if it will it fit the v7c?

    Also thanks re sport classic any other specific thoughts re issues or ergos etc ?
    Still keen to know what did you have in mind for the wee small block ? I can keep a secret if it’s in progress and part of a blog so email me at closure@me.com.

    Ps have enjoyed the blogs

  8. * Re-lace the wheels with alloys
    * Race-Tech suspension upgrade front and back
    * Clean up the rear fender and put in an new rear light
    * Rearsets
    * Ed’s Head work + cam – He farms out the machine work to cut down the cylinders and heads, that’s why it takes a couple of weeks.
    * Ed’s new killer exhaust pipes
    * “M” bars and bar-end mirrors (did this, see blog posting. Makes a huge difference in turn-in)
    * Volvo silver paint
    * K&N pod filters (good for 2 ponies)
    * FatDuc sensor
    * Re-cover cafe seat in tobacco leather
    * V700 Headlight bucket
    * Morini Tresette-style screen

    There is an 860cc big-bore kit out — some people on the Yahoo Smallblock-Guzzi list have installed it. The pistons they’re using have a noticeable weight increase, and a good machine shop is going to be needed to find the extra 36grams of material in wrist pins and piston lightening, or you’re going to have to split the cases and re-balance the rotating mass again. You really, REALLY are going to have to want the extra ponies to do this.

    I’m betting that Ed’s kit will have something special in that area, and opening up the bottom end won’t be required. I’ll eventually pony up the money for that unless I’ve got a Gilera Saturno in my garage to build — if that happens all bets are off.

    Taking weight out of the wheels should be a huge increase for unsprung weight and handling. If you want to go fast, get light and make your bike handle. Getting blown away on the straight is going to happen no matter what you ride, there’s always a faster dude out there with his organ donor box checked.

    The “go to” bike in my man cave for when I just want to ride and slap a grin on my face has to be my Parilla. It’s 250 cc and has a top speed of 80mph. It handles incredibly. It makes an amazing sound. It accelerates very well for a 250. Everything on the road except for Kombis and Bond three-wheelers will pass it. I just don’t care — I’m too busy having fun and livin’ the dream.

    Speed for me, as I’ve aged, is very internalized. Going fast to me is finding personal limits and owning my line, my space and the ride I’m on. If someone is faster than me there are only a few reasons — He/she is a better, more seasoned rider. They have a faster bike and enough skills to blow me into the weeds. I’m at a gas station when they ride by. Either way, I’m not going to draw comparisons and hunt them down, because if I’m following the wrong guy’s line I’ll end up in a fence.

    I also plan to get some track time. Seeing 3-400 corners in a controlled environment over a day or two can’t help but make you a better rider, even if you’re the slowest old fart on the track.

    Most people I ride with are extremely skilled, some with a ton of track time. Spending time in Southwestern Wisconsin riding with them, I figure going fast in a straight line really doesn’t mean doo doo because all you need is horsepower, willingness to hang on and no fear of being tossed in jail or some idiot not seeing you as they pull out of a side road (shivers here). Real speed is through the turns, with a certain confidence in your tires, bike and internal confidence.

    Making your bike lighter and more responsive makes all the difference in this scenario.

    Finally I’ve lost 35 lbs and have another 25 to go to get down below 210. that’s like adding 4-5 hp as well. Plus it would be nice to fit into my vented leathers for summer!

  9. Oh yeah baby, you are all over it ! That is gonna be one sweet mother..ing ride. Cant wait to witness – when?

    When I look at he bike those heavy chrome wheels are one of the few things that bug me, well besides the cheap US only orange blinkers. What alloys were you thinking? I want to do same but maybe blacked out.

    Cans: mistral, staintune, arrow,or uigi italiano cant remebr namo – opinions?

    Fat Duc – some kinda power com thingy ?

    Well put, I agree on all the – speed -cornering – state of mind – someone else is always faster stuff – but i like what I like. Besides if I really wanted to go FAST I wouldn’t be bothering with a V7, for me its a matter of degrees I’m no RR1200 wanna be(how insane is that bike?), as that would most def. end with an end – mine!
    The feeling you describe for the Parilla is very much how I felt about my GB500 – you felt like you were one and it was so chuckable. I miss her.

    Im going to be in SF Aug 4 – 8 and hopefully have Ed do the work maybe the timing works for you we could compare notes (i dont have many) ?

    “Vented leathers” – you men assless chaps?!

  10. Cans are the ones that Ed’s just started selling.

    The Fat Duc is an O2 sensor device.

    GB500s should never be sold, once bought. Ed is awesome. By the way, Vented leathers are leathers that are perforated, mine are AGV without the silly hump. Ass-less chaps are something that I promised too many people to never wear — again…

  11. A-LC’s – although in a “when I was a kid” cowboy ‘n injun loving way I kinda like em …ultimately I’m very Jewish when it comes to bikes – no pork – and the hog boys seem to own that look. Doesn’t really work for a cafe bike i guess but could be kinda rad in tan leather with a tobacco seat if the right goy could pull it off!

    I digress, so how do you rate Ed’s cans vs the ones I mentioned? (You’re not an agent for him are you! )- do you know what he’s charging ?
    Alloys ?

    GB500- yeah, I know and I’m sorry.

    Parilla – can I have a better look?

  12. I don’t know much about them yet. Have a dealer friend that wants me to try them (Rose Farm Classics) and if he says they’re good, they’re good. I’m personally not a big fan of paying a ton of money for silencers — they can get ridiculous. The ones that come with the bike are awfully good but heavy.

    Mistrals a sweet, and the Guzzi Arrows are beautiful but cost 12 benjamins.

    I guess I owe an article on the Parilla, I haven’t done one since I took it on a ride (see this site).

    I put a wiki together to track my progress on it: (http://chasingmotorcycles.com/parilla/index.php?title=Main_Page)

  13. I had the same issue with my voltage regulator on my v7 classic and was taken care of under warranty by Guzzi. I was pleasantly surprised.
    Dexter

  14. Dexter not sure what you referencing but I recently took my tank off to try and diagnose why no start, the connection plug from the alternator was very black and bubbled though still making a connection and not deemed the cause of problem. My mechanic bypassed the ignition switch and it started so Guzzi sent me a new one (and every thing else that takes a key) I dont know much am just wondering if you pros know if the voltage regulator issue is related ?
    Haven’t fitted the new ignition yet but woulnt want to fry it again.

  15. Hey, Danilo —

    You keep referring to “Ed” in San Francisco. Can you give his full name, contact info, and a website if there is one?

    Thanks –
    RJLaue

  16. New to the forum, and relatively new to my 2009 V7 Classic (6 months). Looking to swap to the Pirelli Sport Demons, but seem to get different specs for the tires everywhere I look. 100/90 – V18 seems standard for front, but for rear, I see 130/80-17, 130/90 -16 and more.
    What size have you guys installed?
    Sorry if it’s a bit of a bonehead question…

    Love the bike, by the way!

  17. I just got my 2010 Moto Guzzi Three weeks ago! Love it!
    I am a big guy and can’t see past myself with the existing mirrors … so I purchased some bar end mirrors on ebay … but just found out today that they will not work!!! So frustrated …

    Do you know what size of bar end mirrors I need to buy? I really need help with this … It’s getting dangerous and my local Guzzi Dealer is new and they aren’t really helpful.

  18. Just sold a Duc GT 1000 sportclassic and got a V7. The GT is a fine bike and sound beautiful with some after market pipes on. But, the engine hunts up and down and needs a better ECU and different mapping. Everybody seems to find this problem. Also changing the front and rear sprockets to different teeth numbers is popular as the bike seems to be at the wrong rev range (too low) most of the time so you are constantly changing up/down to get happy. Apart from the seat that slides you into the tank and the instruments that are almost impossible to read it is a great bike. I’m serious. but after a while those little things really start to annoy you and you find your self riding along talking to yourself in your helmet disparaging Ducati for failing to get it right. It’s not as if they are new at building bikes! Anyway, this new V7 is a dream, more than enough power in the right spot, handles beautifully and I’m grinning all the time (as opposed to some of the time).

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