I did something I never thought I would do. I ended my 14-year run of owning Suzuki V-Stroms, by trading my 2017 DL650. Not because they were not good. To the contrary. Excellent bikes. I think I just wanted something different.
And so, on March 1, I rode the V-Strom to Cadre Cycle, in Blue Ash, Ohio, and traded the bike on an inventory clearance, Moto Guzzi V85tt Adventure.
I never thought I would find a bike that I would like more than my V-Stroms, but I have. It fits me perfectly, and the performance is wonderful.
Since March, I have put about 2,000 miles on it. I rode it to the Horizons Unlimited-Virginia event in April. That was about 1,000 miles round trip. I was glad to have the heated grips riding through the mountains of West Virginia in 40-degree weather with snow on the side of the road. And, the cruise control came in very handy blasting home on the Interstate. It’s a keeper.
While at HU-Virginia, my friend Chris Smith and the Moto Photo Adventures crew did a short video of me and the bike. Here is that YouTube video. https://youtu.be/IjU5Y3qxMWA
I took a hard look at this bike because of owning the Moto Guzzi V7iii Rough, the Urban Scrambler. It is just a blast to ride, but not necessarily a touring bike as such. The V85 has the bags and utility for long distance or trips to the grocery store.
Do I miss the V-Strom? No. I was ready for something else. Do I like the Guzzi? Absolutely. Both of them. I guess I have become an old man on a Moto Guzzi.
If you have followed this journal for some time, you know that I have been hankering for a second motorcycle—something quite different than my V-Strom. Not that they are finalists, but I have focused on the Triumph Bonneville T100 and a Moto Guzzi V7 Classic.
If dealership availability is important, then Triumph might be the way to go. There are many more in the country. As for Moto Guzzis, well …. they are not so frequent, so it’s a little harder to throw a leg over one.
I can’t explain why these Italian motorcycles fascinate me so, but they do. There is something about the look. Maybe it’s the way the v-twin engine sits horizontal and sticks out from under the fuel tank. It looks different. It is different.
One feature all Guzzi owners describe: it’s easy to work on if you do your own maintenance. Since dealer availability is far from perfect, owners will have to do some maintenance. And for those not so mechanically inclined, well, look elsewhere. Fortunately, I managed to find Sloan’s Cycles, a multi-brand dealer including Moto Guzzi.
So, as I was standing there talking with Sloan’s salesman, Frank Poag, I notice something about the white V7 that produces a remark. “Looks like that bike has been out for a test ride.” He replies, “what do you mean?” I respond, “Looks like somebody forgot to wipe the bugs off the headlight. Are you using this one for test rides?”
That’s how the conversation headed down that road. With proper paperwork in order, Frank rolled the bike out the door. He even checked the gas, rode it around back and put some more in it. Then, he handed it over to me.
Geared up, in 90-degree heat, I swung a leg over, plopped onto the seat, grabbed the bars, and pressed the starter switch. It fired up, and rocked back and forth from the torque of the engine as I revved it a little. Yup, it’s a transverse engine. I slipped it into first gear, executed a u-turn and headed for the street.
Pulling away from the dealership, the V7 shifted smoothly—something you expect from a motorcycle that has many more miles and is well broken in. It had plenty of torque although not heart-pounding power, but plenty powerful enough. In fact, I think the V-Strom has more power, but then, this is just my first ride on the Guzzi. The first impression is quite positive.
I returned to the dealership and Frank was waiting. He had a big smile on his face—a little inquisitive. “Wellllllllll?”
“Well, that was fun. That bike has a lot of character, and it brings back the meaning of ‘throwing a leg over it’.” Frank says, “I keep hearing riders use that word about this bike—character.”
I started riding in the mid 1960s. Back then, motorcycles looked like this one and the Triumph Bonneville. BSA still existed. Even the Japanese bikes looked like standards. My first owned motorcycle, a 1962 Harley Davidson Sprint 250cc scrambler looked like this. And now, a couple of manufacturers are returning to their roots to produce a modern day version of the “standard.” And it sure looks like Moto Guzzi has hit the mark. The V7 Classic has some serious “wow factor.”
The Moto Guzzi V7 would be an excellent second bike … or a first one for the stable.