“It’s handbuilt and affordable” isn’t a phrase you hear all that often these days, particularly when referring to products made in Italy and especially not when said product is a motorcycle. However, as I learned while spending a few days in Mandello del Lario on the eastern shore of Lake Como, handbuilt and affordable are not mutually exclusive. Each of the new Moto Guzzi V7III models starts at under $10,000 — even the badass, lust-worthy V7III Carbon Dark. Of the three new special edition models, the Carbon Dark is the one that jumped out at me from the moment I laid eyes on the lineup. The V7III Rough looks sharp with a brushed aluminum tank, some black accents and light-duty knobby tires. The V7III Milano puts off a classy retro vibe with chrome pipes, chrome passenger grab bar and throwback side-by-side gauges. but that Carbon Dark is the one you want.
The Good: Limited to just 1,921 units, the Carbon Dark is a study in the tasteful use of matte black paint with red accents. The ever-prominent cylinder heads are painted red to match the Brembo brake calipers, the V7III and iconic Moto Guzzi eagle on the side of the gas tank. On top of the tank, a strip of carbon fiber with red Moto Guzzi text leading to a black anodized billet aluminum gas cap further sets the bike apart from the other special editions. What ties the whole bike together is the black Alcantara seat made with a brand new water repellent variant of the ultra-suede-like material — a higher grade material than what car companies are currently using.
Who It’s For: Those new to riding will enjoy the compliant nature of the bike and veterans will get a kick out how easy it is to toss around. Fans of design and style will also appreciate this bike to no end.
Watch Out For: Torque from the engine is good down low, but as you wind the bike out past 5,500 rpm, the engine runs out of breath. There’s not much happening other than steady if not lackadaisical acceleration. Also, I’d advise against aggressive leaning in right-hand turns as you’ll surely find the kickstand meeting the pavement.
Alternatives: The V7III competes with Ducati and Triumph’s entry-level offerings in their Modern Classics line and Scrambler selections. For the most part, Ducati and Triumph have the edge on power, but they also cost significantly more.
Review: From the minute I hopped on the V7III and rolled out the factory grounds, I felt comfortable on the V7III. The BMX-style bars were easy on my wrists; their placement dictated a comfortable upright riding position. Weaving through the town of Mandello established a baseline for the stability of the bike, which came in handy as the day wore on and the roads got increasingly more demanding.
Ease of use is a major draw for this bike and has been since the first version debuted in 1967. While there are certainly more powerful retro-style bikes on the market, I haven’t ridden one that I’ve connected with the way I connected with the V7III. While the tank and chassis remain quite similar to that original bike, thoughtful updates and constant refinement have made the V7III the great all arounder that it is. All the improvements introduced on the V7III last year — the lowering of the seat to 30.3 inches, the adjustable Kayaba shock absorbers, a revamped chassis front end — translate to a damn addictive experience.
Touring around the edge of Lake Como through long dark tunnels and narrow streets told me everything I need to know about the cruising capabilities of the bike. It’s stable at higher speeds and comfortable enough to ride without interruption for extended periods of time. It’s a bike you could regularly take out on the weekend and ride from point A to point B just for the hell of it. This mountainous terrain is what separates the southwestern and southeastern parts of Lake Como, and when I say mountainous, I mean it. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way as the setting perfectly complimented the style of the bikes that are built down below in Mandello.
Verdict: Moto Guzzi is offering a whole lot of bike for not a lot of money, which is exactly what needs to be happening in the motorcycle industry to attract new riders. With a custom parts catalog totaling over 1,000 pieces — more than 200 for the V7III alone — Moto Guzzi makes it easy for you to make the bike your own. These three special edition bikes each hit a niche style within the ‘retro-bike’ slot and any riders of any experience level would be foolish to overlook them. They’ll happily handle daily commuter duty, provide an excellent platform for aggressive modification.
What Others Are Saying:
• “It may have the same retro styling as the outgoing V7 II, but the III features a new chassis and shocks with improved damping characteristics to boost its agility..” — Jon Urry, MCN
• “The V7 III Stone has been my commuter, so I’m happy to say that the ergos are neutral and comfortable with a plush-ish seat that has kept this 6-foot-tall man’s back and money maker just fine on a daily hour cruise through Corolla-congested corporate San Diego.” — MAx Tanbara, Motorcycle.com
• “The engine buzzes and vibrates and gives great feedback but doesn’t have that strange engine torque behavior that you’ll find on some older BMW’s where they pull to one side when you’re on the noise. And unlike its Bavarian brethren, the shaft drive doesn’t really cause the rear end of the bike to buck up under acceleration – it’s all very level and sensible..” — Marlon Slack, Pipe Burn
Engine: 744cc Transverse V-Twin
Torque: 44 ft-lbs
Weight:460 lbs (curb weight)
Fuel Economy: 51 mpg