Moto Guzzi V 65
Six-fifties are the forgotten
class. Time was when 650cc twins were revered as the ultimate in size, speed
and general macho fabulousness. But as any girl will tell you, size is not
that important and size is very much a question of individual priorities.
Which left us with machismo, a subject so assiduously ignored by motorcycle
testers, that you could be forgiven for thinking they're all a bunch of
At the time I almost guaranteed
my exclusion from future Honda press junkets by opining that .§ the short-trousered
650 was a *" better bike than either of the
Well I asked the same question of Sig. Ermellini, Moto-Guzzi's taciturn supremo after testing his company's new V65. If you'd read my interview with the man in the last issue, you'd know that he considers this bike a stop-gap between the successful V50 and a new, as yet highly secret, 750, the first of a new generation of Guzzis. Judged as a strategic holding action, the V65 is of course nothing more than a bored and stroked V50, and as such hardly worthy of you taking your nose out of the Beano to read about. But if you can summon up the nish to think in terms of the V65 as the smallest of Guzzi's larger lumps, then maybe I can perk up your interest.
To create their new 643cc twin,
Guzzi designers increased the 490cc vee's bore by six mill and its stroke by
seven, which means that like all good Guzzis, it's still well oversquare.
Trouble is that the bigger you build an opposed-cylinder twin, the more
disposed it is to doing an impression of a road-drill at low revs, and the
V65 has more in common with the lumpy 850 and 950 Guzzis than the
comparatively smooth 350 and 500s.
This contributes to the rather ursine grunting that goes on when you blip the throttle slightly at tickover — a steady 900rpm on this unit — but once you accept that the vibes are going to be a bit heavy on the short side of three grand, Robert's your mum's brother. Naturally a redesigned crankshaft is elemental to this rollicking, although in accommodating the new con-rods and Heron-chambered pistons, I am told that the balance factor was little altered. Hmmmmmn.
Another thing that I find odd is
the reduction in sump capacity; the V35 and V50 slurp 2.5 litres of 10W/50,
whereas the V65 apparently needs just two litres of the stuff. Admittedly my
test machine used virtually no oil in 600 miles of tenure, but what goes on
with the lubing chaps?
This cheery little cog will see you comfortably from 30mph up to damn near the ton, although something deep inside the attractively-finished engine castings starts to whine in protest if you persist in this practice. . . probably one of Coburn & Hughes' accountants. What's more, the surge of acceleration which accompanies such indulgence inflicts little human suffering. . . only high frequency vibration in the left 'bar got to me during a long schlep.
Throttle action is reasonably light and responsive, but the V65 has inherited the overrun-lag that slightly mars the sensitivity of the heftier Guzzis. The factory quote a full corral of 53bhp at 7030 revs, but my top speed of 118.5mph appeared at 7750 rprn, and the motor was tractable in top gear from 1500 grumpy revs, if you really wanted to play silly buggers. (NB Whilst the sophisticated timing equipment of the WBn. clutch fryers was unavailable to me for this Italian excursion, I allowed a 4 per cent optimism factor in my readings. And you thought I was born yesterday, didn't you?) Serious business begins at an honest 2500rpm, an entertaining upsurge in velocity at 6000, and assuming you weren't in top gear, which will pull no further than the aforementioned 7750, the banshee wail hits you at about a grand further up the scale.
Since this is 750rpm into the
red and an unseemly 1250 beyond the yellow line, I tried to restrain myself
from such irresponsibility as best I could. . . but this is as difficult on
the V65 as it is on its smaller siblings.
However, lending clout to my original assumption about the V65's true character, are two extra inches of wheelbase which brings it up to the 58 inches specified fo most of the bigger, older Guzzis. Seat hpiffht is also mareinallv increased to 31.5 inches. Dunno what changes have been made to the geometry, but the handling favours rock-solid stability on the autostrada rather than the ultra-manoeuvrability in swervy situations. Read that carefully, because I'm not saying that the V65 is a dog on the bends (even though the factory's homemade forks still flex a bit under duress), just that fast fun on the backroads requires a little more concentration than it does aboard any of the smaller, shorter Guzzis. Which shouldn't, perhaps, bother buyers of the Spada version.
Fitted with larger tyres than the V35/50, in this case Pirelli Phantoms, and the usual, air-assisted Marzocchi suspenders, (now inverted to permit easy adjustment), the V65 usually stuck in the desired groove, although on a couple of occasions when I had to pounce rather heavily on the Brembos to avoid wholesale purchase of the confectionery retailers, the chassis protested by shaking its head at me. The linked-disc braking system is as good on the V65 as on other examples of the marque, and rrtv normal fear of ridine a shaft-drive bike in the wet was dispelled during an afternoon when the heavens around the Italian Alps were particularly incontinent.
Messing about with air pressures in the suspension units is neither recommended by the factory nor effective in altering the ride quality to any appreciable degree. I had hoped it might make things a little more comfortable for the 165-mile dash back to Varenna, near the Guzzi factory, after my day at Laverda's works in Breganze. It didn't, and I feel that although the company has clearly taken some notice of criticism of their upholstery, more needs to be done.
The riding position has not
changed much from what I recall of the V50; despite the longer chassis I
found myself huddled over the front end to obtain optimum control of the
thing when hustling around the 50-odd-mile racetrack that masquerades as
Lake Como's perimeter road. Too cramped for anyone over six foot. . . but
then I never asked God to make me Italian, so what right have I got to
complain? Clip-ons and rear-sets would make things easier for the avowed
scratcher, but as yet there are no plans for the company to 'do a Monza' on
The things that infuriate
some riders, like the unusual switchgear and warning lights that are
virtually unreadable in strong sunlight, will still infuriate them (but not
me). And if and when the V65 comes to Britain (Coburn & Hughes are still
juggling exchange rates and counting how many V50s they've got left in
stock), it'll probably cost a deal more than the Japanese 650s that are its
theoretical competition. If this limits the V65's appeal to the Guzzi-philes
of this world, then they may well be pleased with what is in essence a
cut-down 850-T3, or, in its be-faired version, a small Spada.
Source Witch Bike 1982