The 2021 Moto Guzzi V7 Special E5 is a motorcycle with persistent roots in history—it debuted in 1967—that maintains a focus on authenticity. For Moto Guzzi’s 100th year, the V7 motor has been upgraded beyond the 700cc range that its name hints at, and the powerplant meets the strict new Euro 5 emissions standards—earning the model name an odd E5 appendage. The 2021 V7 Special looks remarkably similar to the 1971 V7 Sport and, although no longer a superbike, the V7 and its air-cooled transverse V-twin motor are still viable. Let’s see how the latest edition did out in the modern world.
- The new 853cc V7 powerplant is patterned after the motor used in the V85 TT adventure motorcycle. The new V7 motor’s output is a significant step up from last year’s V7 III engine, yet detuned from the V85 unit. Moto Guzzi engineers dropped the rev ceiling compared to the V85. At the same time, the rev count for maximum horsepower and torque is higher on the new V7 than on the smaller V7 III motor. It’s difficult to compare the engine to the V85 motor due to their dissimilar contexts. We can tell you that the new, larger displacement V7 has much more pep than the previous V7 III.
- The 2021 Moto Guzzi V7 Special E5’s powerplant confounds expectations that it would have a linear powerband. As it works out, it’s something of a three-stage rocket, with the understanding that there are rockets of varying sizes and performance levels.
- Below 3000 rpm, the motor is doggy, and then it’s time for fun. Although it’s not an issue pulling away from a stoplight, the motor balks at roll-ons when running below 3000 rpm. Above that, it’s a peppy performer. Moto Guzzi brags that 80 percent of the peak torque is available from 3000 rpm onwards, and it’s clear why the PR folks seized on that number.
- There’s another boost at about 5000 rpm. That is where the two-valve motor hits its torque peak of 54 ft-lbs. The surge continues to a peak of 65 horsepower at 6800 rpm, just before the rev limiter kicks in, and after the 6500 rpm redline on the old school analog-style tachometer.
- While the stairstep powerband could be a problem for a higher-powered machine, it adds to the character of the V7 Special’s riding experience. On a retro motorcycle such as the V7, we’re used to a linear power delivery that is efficient, if not exciting. The V7 adds a dollop of satisfaction as you feel those extra nudges along the way through the limited rev range. One would think that an effective rev range of 3000 to 7000 rpm might make the V7 a challenging ride. However, the plentiful torque prevents you from having to row the gearbox endlessly.
- The new V7 motor feels more civilized than past iterations. The iconic V-twin vibes are still there, though, even at their worse, they are not bothersome. Idling is smoother, and the vibration is pleasant through to the redline.
- Although there are no power mode maps, there are three traction control levels—1, 2, and off. Unless it’s wet or you’re a new rider, I would suggest just turning the traction control off and getting the maximum throttle response. I say that as someone who typically prefers some traction control. Regardless, the pulse of the low-revving V-twin has an inherent traction control function. The traction control level is changed by pushing the start button with the engine running—a non-intuitive convention that seems to be popular with Piaggio UI engineers.
- The six-speed transmission is smoother than ever, banishing a clunkiness that was not endearing. The new transmission carried over from the V85 is a huge plus. If you want to find misbehavior of the shaft drive from the longitudinal crankshaft, you have to go looking for it.
- The single-disc dry clutch doesn’t have assist or slipper functions, and we would be happy to have them. We can’t say the clutch has a hard pull, and we can tackle long urban rides without our left hands cramping. Still, a lighter clutch pull is always welcome on an urban motorcycle such as the V7 Special. When you get into the twisties, you quickly learn to rely on the brakes rather than downshifting. It’s easy to over-downshift and skid the rear tire. We would like Moto Guzzi engineers to put a slipper function on their to-do list for the new V7.
- Although not light at 480 pounds with the nicely proportioned 5.5-gallon tank filled, the 2021 Moto Guzzi V7 Special E5 is agile around town. With 28 degrees of rake, nothing happens particularly fast or slow. The 18-inch front tire lightens up the steering helpfully, making it easy to place the V7 where you want it in traffic. Despite the protruding cylinders, the V7 works its way through traffic effortlessly. The motor builds revs predictably, and the smoothness enhances the urban experience. The bite of the four-piston Brembo caliper on the 320mm front disc is pleasantly soft to start, keeping the chassis from being upset. Also, the rear brake is perfectly usable around town thanks to good feel. The always-on ABS is unobtrusive.
- Soft suspension takes the edge off poorly maintained city streets. There’s no adjustability, but as long as you’re in a fairly wide weight range, you should be fine. The vast majority of the time, the KYB shocks do their jobs transparently, as does the fork. However, when the suspension’s limitations are exceeded, the V7 Special isn’t shy about letting you know. While you don’t have to be overly careful about dips and road irregularities, you can’t simply ignore dangerous potholes and expect the suspension to absorb them fully.
- Freeway performance can be an Achilles heel for retro motorcycles, yet the V7 Special avoids this pitfall. The traditional narrow tires can have problems dealing with rain grooves. Happily, the unusual Dunlop ArrowMax StreetSmart tires don’t have this problem, so the V7 is perfectly stable on urban freeways. We’d like to see Dunlop bring these tires over, as they’re available in Europe, but not the United States. It would be interesting to fit a set to the notoriously freeway-phobic Kawasaki W800.
- Ergonomically, the 2021 Moto Guzzi V7 Special E5 is magic for hours in the saddle, exploring a large city. The bench seat is comfortable, and the upright seating position affords you a nice view of your surroundings, both stationary and mobile. At first, the bar bend felt like it could use a bit more rise—a totally personal observation—but over the long-term, it confounded my expectations in a positive way. I never felt hunched over and uncomfortable while riding, and I’m someone who loves to ride all day in urban environments. Unlike some bikes, I can’t quite say I can empty the tank between breaks, as the 5.5-gallon tank has a range of over 250 miles.
- With its attractive retro looks, be prepared for lots of stares from motorists and pedestrians. The V7 Special is an attention-driving motorcycle in the most positive way. The racing-stripe enhanced Blu Formale paint looks great, and it is supplemented by iconic eagle badges on the tank and V7 Special badges on the newly designed side covers. You’ll only see the words “Moto Guzzi” in tiny letters below the Special. Further, there is an appealing mix of flat black and chrome, plus wire-spoked wheels—18-inch front and 17-inch rear. The engine configuration speaks for itself. The Northern Italians know style, and the V7 Special exemplifies that.
- The V7 Special is a capable canyon companion. Although the power isn’t going to stretch any arms, the delivery is satisfying if you’re willing to let the V-twin rev a bit. The handling is intuitive, and the Dunlop ArrowMax StreetSmart tires provide predictable traction all the way down to the touch down of the peg feelers. It’s not a motorcycle for aggressively stuffing into corners and hurtling out. Quick downshifts will lock up the rear wheel and unsettle the chassis.
- A smooth riding style is rewarded amply in the twisties, and rougher roads are to be avoided. If you take your time and slowly ramp up, you will find the V7 Special to be a delightful backroads ride. When the road quality deteriorates, the soft suspension can get overwhelmed, and the skinny 18-inch front tire halts its delivery of confidence. The narrow 40mm fork tubes and triple clamps don’t look particularly robust. Yet, in practice, they don’t seem to be a problem.
- The digitally informed twin clocks have a wonderful analog display that fits in with the rest of the V7 Special. It is a simple pleasure to watch the physical dials make their way through the sweep—the tachometer is delightfully uncluttered. On the speedo, there are lots of warning lights and a small LCD panel with selectable info. The LCD looks dated, and not in a good way due to a thin crystal font. It is not particularly easy to read, except for the large gear-position display. There’s no fuel gauge, so you’ll have to rely on the tripmeter and low-fuel light to warn you when it’s time to visit the filling station.
- The upgrades to the 2021 Moto Guzzi V7 Special E5 make it a motorcycle with a broader appeal. With more power and much of the rough character banished, the new V7 Special is a welcoming ride. There’s still enough of a visceral experience that long-time Guzzisti—and I’ll self-identify as an ally—will be satisfied that the V7 has not been overly sanitized. Certainly, it’s hard to argue against more power and a smoother transmission. The new Special V7 looks fantastic, performs better, and invites you to go on long rides in the city or on backroads. The entry fee remains under $10k, and the experiences it provides for the retro-oriented are priceless.
Photography by Kelly Callan
- Helmet: HJC i10
- Jacket: Joe Rocket Vintage Rocket
- Back protection: Alpinestars Nucleon KR-Cell
- Gloves: Joe Rocket Cafe Racer
- Pants: Joe Rocket Accelerator w/ CE Knee Armor
- Shoes: Fly Racing M16 Textile
2021 Moto Guzzi V7 Special E5 Specs
- Type: Transverse 90-degree V-twin w/ longitudinal crankshaft
- Displacement: 853cc
- Bore x stroke: 84 x 77mm
- Maximum power: 65 horsepower @ 6800 rpm
- Maximum torque: 54 ft-lbs @ 5000 rpm
- Valvetrain: Pushrod-actuated 2vpc
- Cooling: Air
- Transmission: 6-speed
- Clutch: Dry single disc
- Final drive: Shaft
- Frame: Tubular steel
- Front suspension: Non-adjustable 40mm fork
- Rear suspension: Spring-preload adjustable KYB shocks
- Wheels: Wire spoke
- Tires: Dunlop ArrowMax StreetSmart
- Front tire: 100/90 x 18
- Rear tire: 150/70 x 17
- Front brakes: 320mm disc w/ Brembo 4-piston caliper
- Rear brake: 260mm disc w/ 2-piston floating caliper
- ABS: Standard
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 57.1 inches
- Rake: 28 degrees
- Trail: 4.1 inches
- Seat height: 30.7 inches
- Fuel capacity: 5.5 gallons
- Estimated fuel consumption: 48 mpg
- Colors: Grigio Casual; Blu Formale
2021 Moto Guzzi V7 Special E5 Price: $9490 MSRP