May 14, 2020 By Maynard Marcelo

Riding Moto Guzzi bikes around Lake Como in Italy

I believe the place where a motorcycle is built plays a big influence on its character. The key word there is ‘character’, because a lot of modern motorcycles nowadays sadly don’t have it. But a Moto Guzzi, regardless of model, has loads of it. A soul, even. I thought about this after riding the V7 III Special in Manila a couple of months ago. And now, this V9 Bobber, in its birthplace in Mandello del Lario in Italy.

With me were Mr. Mike Bondoc and Mr. James Aro of Bikerbox, Inc., Mr. Zach Lucero of Makina, and Mr. Jay Taruc of RidePH. It was my first time to ride with these distinguished gentlemen in a foreign land, and I must say, it was one of the most fun experience a motorcycle enthusiast could ever hope for. Our ride started at the Agostini motorcycle dealership where we picked up our rides for the day. Mike goes for the Stelvio, while Jay took the Eldorado, Zach the V7 III Stone, and I the V9 Bobber.     

Mandello del Lario is a town in the province of Lecco, in Italy. It is famous for its natural geographical feature, the Lake Como, the largest lake in Italy and a popular retreat for aristocrats and wealthy people since the Roman times because of its microclimate and peaceful environment with prestigious villas and villages. One of its famous residents is Hollywood actor George Clooney who bought a lakeside villa there, the Villa Oleandra, back in 2002. 

Mandello del Lario is also famous for another resident, Moto Guzzi, who called it home since 1921. A local told us that most residents in Mandello del Lario have had, or still has, a relative or two working in the Moto Guzzi factory, and that everybody there, even non motorcycle riders, love the brand. And it clearly shows. Everywhere we rode our Moto Guzzis, people waved and smiled at us. We made several stops along our route to appreciate the view while Jay and Zach also get some video footages. 

It is this relaxed and friendly demeanor that somehow rubs on to the bikes themselves. But to a much larger extent, this can be attributed to the charming characteristics of the transverse 90 degree V-twin engine configuration that Moto Guzzi adapted in the 1960’s (designed and developed by engineer Giulio Cesare Carcano) and would later on become synonymous with the iconic Moto Guzzi brand. 

 

The engines that we ride today on the V7 III Stone and V9 Bobber are direct descendants of the original pushrod V-twin motor developed by engineers Giulio Cesare Carcano and Lino Tonti, the engineer responsible for developing the motor for the V7 Sport, during the 1960’s. While these air-cooled motors are sometimes outgunned in power output by newer high performance liquid-cooled dohc V-twin designs, the trademark transverse V-twin configuration of the Moto Guzzi bikes proved to be more than sufficient for everyday, real-world riding situations because of their inherent durability, fuel efficiency, ease of maintenance and even, flat torque curve. Endearing qualities that make owning and riding a Moto Guzzi so much fun.           

Lake Como is rimmed by some of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever ridden on in my entire life, but I’m quite sure it’s on the twisty mountain roads surrounding the province of Lecco where the Moto Guzzi chassis engineers tune the handling and brakes of their bikes. Not only are the roads narrow, there are also dizzying and barrierless mountain passes with only the top of the trees visible from the road we were riding on.

 

Blasting through them was scary to say the least, but the Moto Guzzi’s we were riding on coped very well with the moderately crazy speeds we were doing. And the view at the top? It’s nothing short of spectacular. You can see the hugeness of Lake Como below, and the snow capped mountains of the Italian Alps not very far behind. It’s like staring at a postcard wherever you look. It’s really that beautiful. And the Moto Guzzi bikes, with their functional design and clean and elegant lines, blends well with the surroundings, too. 

Compared to the V7 III Stone, the V9 Bobber I was riding is decidedly a step up in terms of size and engine displacement. Where the V7 III Stone gets by with a 744cc transverse V-twin, the V9 Bobber (and Roamer) gets a bigger and slightly more powerful 853cc V-twin of the same configuration. While they share the same configuration as the original V-twins, the motors on the V7 III Stone and V9 Bobber are modernized with new cylinder heads, pistons, cylinder heads, oil sump, crankshaft, and exhaust system to meet the strict Euro 4 emission standards.

They also benefited from standard traction control and ABS. But their power characteristics remained the same, with accessible power everywhere in the rev range. Handling is slightly different, though. Where the V7 III Stone steers quick, the V9 prefers fast flowing corners, perhaps because of the fat 16 inch front tire. But it proved very stable in mid corner, and offers plenty of feel turning into corners. Acclimatizing to the handling and controls of both bikes is easy, and in just a few kilometers you can ride them like you’ve been riding them for a long time.             

You don’t have to go to Mandello del Lario to enjoy riding a Moto Guzzi. It may not be as scenic, but wherever you ride a Moto Guzzi bike, you bring a piece of Mandello del Lario with you. That’s because all Moto Guzzi bikes are still made there up to this day. So if you’re in the market for a modern retro motorcycle with loads of character, an iconic name, solid engineering, proven reliability, and timeless appeal, you can’t go wrong with a Moto Guzzi; the pride of Mandello del Lario. Available in Bikerbox, Inc., Moto Guzzi Pampanga, and Moto Guzzi Davao. 

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