I have spent a good few years trying to find the article in Motor Cycle News (MCN) where the Moto Guzzi V7Sport was referred to as a “racing rhino”. It was this tale that gave rise to the title of this blog.
I knew that the article in question had been written by Peter Howdle and that this must have appeared in MCN in either late 1971 or early 1972 but, as MCN is a weekly publication that meant a large number of possibilites. Old copies of MCN often appear on that well known auction site with brief details of what was road tested but the V7Sport didn’t appear.
Early this year there was a copy for sale and, although it wasn’t the one I wanted, there was a spot the moto-ball competition where the prize was a “Moto Guzzi V7Sport as reviewed in our March 8th edition”.
I continued to check eBay listings every couple of days and after four months or so there was a bundle of old MCNs being sold and amoung the dates listed was 8th March 1972. Usually these old papers don’t seem to sell and are relisted time after time. This time, of course, there was a bidding war and I ended up bidding a rediculous amount for the pile as I just had to have that one issue. Suffice to say I won the auction and the papers have been with me for a while now.
The write up was there as I had hoped and took up one page of the paper that week.
I was let down a bit as I had expected Peter Howdle to say that it “was like being strapped to the back of a racing rhino” or something equally spectacular. Sadly the reference was just “The Guzzi sits (on) the road like a racing rhino”. There was even a typo. Never mind. I still think Racing Rhino is a good description and sometimes I feel like I’m strapped to the back of one!
I scanned the article and have attached it here as a pdf file. It’s an A3 size document.
PETER HOWDLE TESTS THE GUZZI V7 SPORT AND FINDS…
IT’S MOTO MAJESTIC
Piloting the majestic 750 Moto Guzzi Sport vee-twin feels rather like trying to restrain a very quick BMW with cylinders raised in a mischievous V sign.
Only too willing to make a mockery of Britain’s 70 mph limit, this 128 mph Italian superbike possessesmany characteristics of Germany’s flat twins. And it surpasses them in speed, stopping, and price!
At £1350, the most expensive production bike in Britain is comparable to a Ferrari or a Lamborghini of the car world. In that context, it is destined to remain a rare bird – a luxury bike for the connoisseur with a whim for Latin magic.
The flying eagle on the tank, once the hallmark of a famous racing stable, perches above a massive 90 degree V twin. And that five-speed pushrod motor churns out 70 bhp at 7,000 rpm, with shaft drive to the back wheel.
When aboard or lifting it on the stand, you are aware of agreat hunk of precious metal, worth more than £3 a pound. For despite alloy rims and cylinders the Moto Guzzi V7 Sport weighs in at 454lb without oil or petrol.
Though not the slightest bit disconcerting, the weight at the front end is noticeable at any speed. The Guzzi sits the road like a racing rhino.
It steers superbly, even with the hydraulic steering damper disengaged. And the brakes, with four leading shoes in front and two at the rear are up to grand prix standards.
There is no kickstart. Instead, Guzzi provide two ways of operating an electric starter engaging with the flywheel. You can press a button by the twistgrip, or you can start car-fashion by turning the ignition key. When removed the key automatically engages a steering lock.
Thanks to a hefty 32 amp hour battery, and separate choke levers on 30mm Dell Orto carburettors, cold startingis a cinch. The motor warms up quickly. And it ticks over like a side valve.
Barely run-in when Rivetts of Leytonstone parted with the pride of their showroom, thereby changing my social status for a few days of affluent motoring, the Sport 750 will chuff along effortlessly at 2,500 rpm.
The power readily chimes in from 4,000 upwards. Second gear is good for nearly 70 mph, but the bike will cruise at that speed at only 2,800 rpm in top gear. When I gunned it to the blood line, in fourth, the speedo was steady at a cool 110 mph. Acceleration, in the production racer class, was good enough to startle drivers of rapid sports cars.
Torque twitch and a clunky gearbox heighten the resemblance to a BMW. Blipping the throttle when stationary or travelling slowly produces a distinct lurch to the right. Careless gearchanges can produce the clonk that means you’ve got the thing in cog.
Warned of a capricious neutral light, which caught a previous tester napping, I released the clutch with caution. But though an arm missing from the stand told a sorry story, history did not repeat itself.
Caution with the left foot is advisable. For that twin leading shoe rear brake, fitted to the front of earlier and less powerful V-twins can be a villain if the road is wet.
Warming my knees on polished alloy rocker boxes was a new sensation. But the most striking aspect of a riding position admirably suited to short jockeys is the lowness of the seat.
Novel clip-on bars were allowed to remain at their lowest point. Those who prefer an easy-rider stance can slide them up the fork stanchions by slackening a couple of bolts.
Only criticism of the Guzzi’s road holding was the firmness of the rear suspension and a tendency for the front end to twitch when cornering on the limit. A widely ribbed front tyre was suspected. But perhaps there was more frost than I realised on the morning this occurred.
Exhaust pipe discoloration mystified me until I returned the bike to Rivetts. One of the cylinders gave up the ghost along the North Circular. To the surprise of the importers, soft plugs had been fitted without their knowledge. Hard plugs restored normal running. But not that lovely chrome.
A glittering law breaker, in red and lime green, the Guzzi is one of the most glamorous bikes I have ever been privileged to try. People of all ages drooled over it. Few worried about a petrol consumption which worked out at 34 mpg. Most of these enthusiasts look forward to the arrival of other Guzzis due to reach Rivetts (distributors north of the Thames) this month. The 750 Special will cost £960. The 850GT will be £999.
But the 750 Sport remains the pride of the range. A real mile eater with a deep throated bellow from coupled exhaust pipes, and enough acceleration to pull your hands off the bars, it gives a new meaning to the Italian farewell – arrivederci!
What you get for £1,350
ENGINE: Tansverse ohv 90 degree V twin. Capacity 748cc (82.5mm x 70.2mm bore and stroke). Compression 9.8 to 1. Output 70 bhp at 7000rpm. One-piece forged steel crankshaft. Conrods on same crankpin. Alloy cylinders. Hard chromed liners. Dell Orto 30mm carburettors. Wet sump lubrication (6 pints).
TRANSMISSION: Helical gear primary drive. Twin disc clutch on flywheel. Five speed gearbox (10.8, 7.59, 5.73, 4.78 and 4.09 to 1 overall ratios. Final drive by double jointed shaft and bevel gears.
ELECTRICS: 12 volt 32 amp hour battery with 14 volt 13 amp hour alternator. Starter motor. Fuse box under seat. Harness wired for flashing indicators.
BRAKES: 220mm diameter 4-shoe front brake, twin leading shoes at rear. Both cable operated.
SUSPENSION: Telescopic front fork. Adjustable rear dampers.
WHEELS: Light alloy rims, 3.25-18 front and 3.40-18 rear Michelin tyres.
DIMENSIONS: Wheelbase 57in, seat height 30in, length 85¼in, ground clearance 11in, width 27½ in. Petrol capacity 4½ gallons, including ½ gallon reserve. Weight 454lb (dry).