Joined: Dec 2005
Location: Southwestern Ontario
I 've owned both a Triumph Scrambler and a Guzzi V7. In the end I sold the Guzzi and kept the Scrambler. This is a comparison I did of the two on another board:
I've put a bit over 1000km on the little Guzzi in under a week and I thought I'd share some impressions. The first service is due at 1000km, and as riding season is rapidly drawing to a close here, I thought I'd get the service done and put her away with fresh oil etc.
I'll make some comparisons to the Triumph Scrambler, as I own one as well, and I know the Triumph Bonneville variants will be compared to the V7 Classic.
I'd read as many online reviews and tests as I could to have some idea of what to expect. My take is as follows:
Looks are completely subjective, but both of these designs are winners in my eye. When the Scrambler came out in 2006 with those high pipes and traditional Triumph lines I wanted one baaad. It took me two years to succumb, but there have been absolutely no regrets. Based on appearance and size, the Guzzi is perhaps truer to the models it emulates while at the same time being very sophisticated in detail. To borrow someone else's analogy, while these are both cover versions of the original songs, the Guzzi has put together a slightly better remake.
The Guzzi is cold blooded, and a couple of reviews said it is hard to start from cold. I discovered the trick to getting it to light up. Ignore the fast idle lever on the bars and crack the throttle open ever so slightly when pressing the starter. Touching the throttle is generally a no-no on FI bikes when starting, but it works like a charm. My Scrambler is of the carbed variety, but the choke can come off after a minute or so. They're equal here.
The different Bonneville variants claim horsepower in the mid fifties to mid sixties, with weight around the 450 lb mark. The V7 claims 48 hp with a weight of 401 lbs. The Scrambler definitely accelerates faster and the engine is a smooth, vibration-free marvel. It rivals an inline four with the character of a twin. The Guzzi vibes more at idle and smooths out at speed, but never equals the Triumph. I should note that the Scrambler has the 270 degree crank, so matches the firing characteristics of the 90 degree v-twin in the V7 . The fuel injection on the V7 is very well sorted out, and once warm it will pull from less than 2000 rpm. Fortunately peak torque is squarely at cruising speed, which helps overcome the horsepower deficit. Although the V7 is tractable with adequate power, the Triumph has enough extra ponies to make passing less of a gamble and the smoothness of the engine is superb for a twin. The Scrambler takes this one, but with the advantage of an extra 121cc.
You'll want to stay on the Guzzi's throttle to use the available power, however that is a good thing. I did not know factory exhausts could sound this good any more. It has a muted "Ducati on aftermarket pipes" growl that is intoxicating, without being loud. To get the same melody the Triumph requires an accessory exhaust, which will invariably be louder. Big win for the Guzzi on exhaust note.
It took the first couple of hundred km for the V7 clutch to bed in and now it's light and positive. A bit lighter than the Triumph, which has a broader engagement point. The Triumph clutch is a bit smoother in use.
The stock Guzzi Brembos are far superior to the stock Triumph brakes. I put an aftermarket EBC floating front disc and pad set on the Scrambler; that is probably close to being the Guzzi's equal. Stock, the Guzzi wins hands down.
An annoyance on the Triumph is the idiot lights can't be read in full sunlight. I replaced the bulbs with aftermarket LEDs, and now they are fine. The Guzzi's instruments and idiot lights are all LED lit, and are adjustable for three levels of brightness. The V7 LCD odometer in the speedo is matched by a similar info panel in the tach that has time or temperature. The odometer starts to count up distance travelled on reserve once the yellow light comes on. The yellow light does flicker on and off a lot before it decides to stay on. The Guzzi instruments, while retaining a nice traditional look, are a lot more sophisticated. Guzzi wins here.
Cycle parts: The paint and finish on the Triumph is very nice, but the chrome, while bright, is thin. I make it a point to never ride once winter salt goes on the roads. In spite of this, the rims on the Triumph got so rusty in one year that Triumph has authorized a warranty replacement. Kudos to Triumph for stepping up to the plate, but the rims shouldn't have rusted in the first place. The finish on the Guzzi is superb. Pearl coat paint looks inches deep, and small touches abound like the finishers placed over the joints where the frame bolts together where the Triumph has none. The Guzzi comes with a full, useful tool kit, the Triumph has an allen wrench under the side cover that is used for the laborious process of removing the seat. One turn of the key and the Guzzi seat is off. The Triumph has a separate steering lock (and key) for the fork lock, which is identical to that on a /5. The Guzzi lock is integrated into the ignition. Although both bikes seem well turned out at first glance, the V7 is much more refined based on details.
The Guzzi handles like it is on the proverbial rails. Steering is razor sharp and the suspension is perhaps too taught. One review I read said the factory sets the bikes up for carving the Italian Alps. I backed the preload off on the shocks and it is now much more suited to bumpy North American pavement. My Scrambler, as delivered, had extremely harsh damping in the forks and not enough in the shocks. I remedied that by going to lighter fork oil and Ikon shocks. I went for a ride on the Scrambler immediately after coming off the Guzzi and it felt like an RT by comparison. As delivered, the Guzzi is superior to the Scrambler in comfort and handling. Right now the Guzzi wins in the handling department with a 'tighter' feel, but the modified Scrambler is more comfortable. I'll fiddle with the Guzzi suspension to see if I can improve comfort without compromising handling.
Of course the V7 is shaft drive, and due to what must be a heavy flywheel there is a sideways bob when the throttle is blipped, familiar to BMW boxer owners. Due to the modest power output rear end jacking is minimal. The Triumph has a high quality X-ring chain and didn't require any adjustment in a 6500 km trip. Modern chains are nothing like those of decades ago and are now quite viable for a touring bike. That said, there's no need to carry lube or large size wrenches for adjustment on the Guzzi, so it gets the nod here.
The new Bonnevilles have built an enviable reputation as being as bulletproof as anything being built these days. The V7's "small block" power plant has been around for a few decades now, and all the bugs seem to be well worked out. We'll call this one a tie, with maybe a whisker of advantage to the Triumph if I can believe all the stuff I've read on the 'net. So far the accessories I've wanted for the Guzzi have been back ordered, whereas those for the Triumph arrived quickly or were in stock. Triumph has a more extensive dealer network, but Guzzi is undergoing a major expansion now that it is in Piaggio's hands. We'll give Triumph a win in the factory support column, but Guzzi's are a rarer bird.