The famous Italian brand has spent a century making beautiful bikes for dedicated enthusiasts.
I jerk off around Manhattan on a Centenary Edition Moto Guzzi V7 decked out in a Charcoal and Olive Green livery. An 850cc V-twin that makes me want to drive through the Swiss countryside and find barbed wire to jump on, a la Steve McQueen in The great Escape.
Unfortunately, the proxy has to be Park Avenue; a place with its own inherent risks, challenges and dangers. Crazy taxi drivers, anarchic Uber drivers, road surfaces riddled with mafiosi potholes and holes in overpowered German cars suited to the highway with no respect for other road users around them. I’m not convinced that jumping the barbed wire is more dangerous.
But the V7 with its upgraded 850cc engine is more than up to the task. Once reaccustomed to the mental gymnastics of factoring in the torque force of the shaft-driven rear wheel, the V7 happily toyed with traffic.
Lots of low-end grunt made for fun shifting gears just to hear the brap bassoon kick in while threading the traffic needle. The caps worked, and a brother in a waistcoat even gave a congratulatory nod that I was riding such a sleek steed. The costume may have helped, but I’m happy to credit the V7’s sleek lines and limited-edition color combination.
Guzzis occupy a special place in the world of motorcycles. One full of character, and characters that are drawn to these bikes like moths to a flame. The combination of the punchy twin and shaft drive provides a unique and soulful interface with the tarmac. It’s no surprise that the eagle with outstretched wings logo on each hand-built bike is a nod to a friend of the founders who died just before Carlo Guzzi and Giorgio Parodi created Società Anonima Moto Guzzi. in 1921.
But Guzzi is more than just a soul, and has often sat at the cutting edge of technology, such as when, in the 1950s, it launched the first wind tunnel for motorcycles – still open for tours today at their factory. de Mandello – the brainchild of a close-knit team of extraordinary engineers who won 15 World Speed titles and 11 Tourist Trophy titles between 1935 and 1957.
Then, in the 1960s, Moto Guzzi created its now ubiquitous shaft-drive 700cc 90° V-twin engine, destined to become Mandello’s calling card on models as legendary as the V7 Special, the V7 Sport, the California and the Le Mans. The engine has constantly evolved and today, flanked by state-of-the-art electronic control features, it powers the most popular Moto Guzzi two-wheelers, including the Anniversary V7 that I drive.
To commemorate 100 years of this fantastic brand, Rizzoli has released a book, Moto Guzzi 100 years, celebrating the legendary brand on the occasion of its centenary. The result is a testament to the unique reputation of Moto Guzzi, a brand that, a century after its debut, continues to embody the values of its far-sighted founders. Since 1921, every Moto Guzzi that has taken to the roads of the world has been assembled by hand, with expert craftsmanship, in the factory in Mandello del Lario.
This profound authenticity is the distinguishing feature of every Moto Guzzi, and a value recognized and shared by the book’s ten contributors from around the world: a famous actor, a writer, three journalists, an astronaut, a world-renowned architect, a Professor at Harvard, DJ and designer. Writer Melissa Holbrook Pierson, actor Ewan McGregor, architect Greg Lynn, journalists Marco Masetti, Mat Oxley and Akira Nishimura, DJ Ringo, designer Tom Dixon, astronaut Paolo Nespoli and Harvard professor Jeffrey Schnapp , who also edited the book.
From London to Hollywood, from Tokyo to Sardinia, from Vermont to Mandello del Lario. A thread that binds characters who love Moto Guzzi and what its motorcycles represent, a passion that has created a common language between people from places so far apart and with such different histories.
Tags: bikes Books Moto Guzzi magazine article Moto Guzzi V7 Moto Guzzi: 100 years motorcycles Rides Rizzoli