Moto Guzzi is celebrating 100 years of production in 2021. As you let that sink in, arm yourself with a reply for the inevitable wisecracks you’ll hear when talking about Italian go-fast machines. I’m looking at you, Alfa-Romeo.
Moto Guzzi’s tribute to its century-old legacy will come in the form of three special-edition bikes. (And all jokes aside, 100 years is an enviable milestone for any company.)
The new bikes are limited editions of the existing V7, V9 and V85 TT models, finished in what Guzzi calls its Centennial Livery. We don’t know the details of how they might differ mechanically from the standard versions, but we can see that they honor Guzzi’s grand prix heritage with a paint scheme similar to the machines that earned the company a string of world championships. The new bikes will be available only through 2021.
I will admit that I did not know the company existed for about 91 percent of its tenure. Because until nine years ago, I had no idea who or what Moto Guzzi was.
It was around the time that I followed the works of ex-Jalop staffer Wes Siler and Isle of Man racer Jamie Robinson. I watched along as a Guzzi Stelvio NTX rode alongside a Ducati Multistrada and a KTM, and I knew then that I wanted to ride a Guzzi.
The Stelvio did not have the panache of the Duc nor the stoicism of the KTM, but something about it caught my attention. The Stelvio recalled old Dakar bikes, such as the classic Africa Twin, which I’ve always been partial to. I never had the pleasure of riding a Stelvio, as it was discontinued. But Moto Guzzi would later introduce the V85 TT, which, in any case, seems like the better bike.
I’m most interested in feeling the Guzzi’s heartbeat for myself. Moto Guzzi bikes are anecdotally special due to their engine layout which consists of a 90-degree V-twin with a longitudinal crankshaft and transverse cylinders protruding from either side. As the crank turns it gives the motorcycle its characteristic heartbeat thump.
And even though Guzzi can’t help but draw from its well of storied bikes, I can’t give them too much grief. The gray and green looks good. The color combination is understated but not boring. It’s handsome but not flashy, and is just another way Guzzi can distinguish itself from fellow Italian bike and carmakers that seem to favor red to convey heart and speed.
Detractors will say that the Moto Guzzis are plagued by reliability issues — which could have to do with outdated ideas of provenance — but if it’s good enough for a dyed-in-the-wool rider like Ewan McGregor, it’s good enough for me.