2009 Moto Guzzi Café Classic

The retro hits just keep rolling

| September/October 2009

2009 Moto Guzzi Cafe Classic
Claimed power:
 49hp @ 6,800rpm
Top speed: 115mph (est.)
Engine type: 744cc OHV, air-cooled 90-degree V-twin
Weight (dry): 182kg (400lb)
Price: $9,000 (est.)
MPG:  45 (est.)

Following the launch of the V7 Classic last year, it was obvious Moto Guzzi would eventually produce something like the new V7 Café Classic. While last year’s V7 Classic suggested classily but sensibly what was in the cards, the Moto Guzzi Café Classic has burst on the scene, all luminescent paint and upswept chrome exhausts, taking over the current mantle of Guzzi’s glitziest roadster.

Moto Guzzi has decided to go whole-heartedly down the retro motorcycle route, and the Moto Guzzi V7 Café Classic is the latest Guzzi to be given the treatment.. Essentially a restyled V7 Classic, the Café Classic is built around the Breva chassis and 750cc engine. Nothing wrong there, as the Breva 750 and the V7 Classic are both fine motorcycles, so using an already proven platform makes economic sense. But where last year’s V7 Classic took its styling clues from the “loop frame” V7 Specials of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Café has been designed specifically to mimic the beautiful lines of the V7 Sport, Guzzi’s iconic factory café racer from the early 1970s.

The result is very alluring. The sculpted fuel tank covered in lime-green paint and with a flush aero-type filler cap is a work of art, and is coupled with a café racer inspired solo bum-stop seat. The chrome exhausts are much more aggressively upswept than on the V7 Classic, and spoked wheels, black-faced clocks and lowered clip-ons complete the café racer feel.

In the saddle
Though it didn’t feel it at the time, basing the V7 Café Classic’s press launch in the middle of Rome was possibly a masterstroke, as we were forced to do battle with the lawless Roman traffic until reaching the surrounding countryside. Like the V7 Classic, the Moto Guzzi Café Classic proved itself well able to cope with city riding, even with the lower clip-ons — handling on the often badly rutted road surfaces in Rome was surefooted.

Riding on faster, open roads is far more rewarding and much more fun. At 5 feet, 11 inches tall, I found the riding position comfortable, with enough room to sit farther back and stretch over the tank to the clip-ons, though some of my 6-foot-plus colleagues moaned that the bars/footrests/seat “triangle” cramped their style. The clip-ons aren’t angled extremely, so they’re more like ace bars, and can be lowered on the fork legs and pulled forward or backward as desired — shame they’re not as graceful as the V7 Sport’s famous “swan neck” bars. There are no passenger pegs, a deal killer for some.

It’s a low, nimble motorcycle, a good first “big” motorcycle for beginners and shorter riders. That doesn’t mean it’s unchallenging for more experienced riders, as there’s plenty to get excited about. The 750cc Euro 3 engine from the Breva is an excellent all rounder, with plenty of zip to accelerate away from oncoming traffic, while its broad torque also means you can cope with slow moving traffic.

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