Moto Guzzi V 65


Make Model

Moto Guzzi V 65


1982 -


Four stroke, 90° V twin, longitudinally mounted, OHV, 2 valve per cylinder.


643 cc / 39.2 cu-in
Bore x Stroke 80 x 64 mm
Cooling System Air cooled
Compression Ratio 10.0:1


2x Dell'Orto PHBH30 carburetors


Starting Electric

Max Power

52 hp / 37.9 kW @ 7050 rpm

Max Torque

54.4 Nm / 40.1 lb-ft @ 6000 rpm
Clutch Dry single plate


5 Speed 
Final Drive Shaft

Front Suspension

Telescopic forks

Rear Suspension

Swinging arm, 4-way spring preload

Front Brakes

2x 260mm discs  2 piston calipers

Rear Brakes

Single 235mm disc 1 piston caliper

Front Tyre


Rear Tyre


Dry Weight

165 kg / 368 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

16 Litres / 4.2 US gal

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 pansies.
But not on this mag, Basil. Of course Triumph, BSA and Norton went to the wall by obviously going too far and punching their 650s into 750s, and from then on we all assumed asinine grins as the desirable cubic capacity grew like Jack's beanstalk until the Smart Alecs of this world were struggling to heave 600-plus pounds of 1300cc profligacy onto their stands. The current fascination with medium capacity multis marks a return to sanity m which began in 1977 with the introduction of Kawasaki's ja Z650, which was swiftly ^ followed by a 650 version of
Honda's venerable four H banger, introduced alongside the new dohc F-series 750 and 900cc fours.

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
flash new double knockers that we were being larded-up for. And of course we must never forget that grand old man of Jap plagiarism, Yamaha's XS650.
However the CB650 was a poor seller and a whole rash of 550 quads have since zipped down the pike and fairly stolen the money out of our wallets, so what do I know?

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.
'Course the thing doesn't look like a Cali or a Le Mans, but the motor certainly feels like a junior league T-4. To ensure enough go-gas fills the pots at high revs, the V65 is fitted with 30mm dell'Ortos, which you'll also find with larger jets on bigger Guzzis.

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?
More obviously of course, the gearing has been designed to cope with the new engine's power characteristics, although the final drive ratio of 3.875:1 is common to all the smaller Guzzi shafties. As might be, the V65's bottom gear is higher than the V50's (13.4:1 compared to 17.3:1,) the bigger engine pulling comfortably away with minimal feathering of its light, dry clutch. Second and third, however, felt as close as Siamese twins, although on paper there's about the same difference between them as on the V50 and the half-litre Monza. They are best dispensed with quickly, I found, for fourth gear is the one for almost anything but urban crawling or autostrada balling.

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.
Now a top speed of almost 120mph, and one that is reached fairly smartly if you knock it up to the ton in fourth then dump it into top, is more than respectable for a 650 bolide, and even more so for a push-rod twin. So despite its broad powerband, I'm sure you won't be tottering off with the idea that the V65 is a cooker, suited only to touring or commuting. (Mind you, it is worth noting that this is the only one of the small vees that Guzzi do in a Spada version  mechanically identical to the stocker but 11 pounds heavier.) Whilst the motor is a tad softer than it's forbears  a 10.1:1 compression compared to 10.8:1 for the V50 the bike weighs just 15 pounds more and yet churns out five more bhp than that model.

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 V65.
Under such circumstances, I got a creditable 47mpg and even after cruising in a conservative fashion, I only managed to coax an extra 3.8mpg out of the thing. . . all of which is about par for the course. In fact, reading back over this screed, I think its fair to say that the V65 is not an exceptional motorcycle in any given respect, but a more than adequate one in most.

 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.
But it'll take more than yet another incarnation of a push-rod vee-twin to win a generation of bikers weaned exclusively on Japanese machinery. We'll probably have to wait for the all-new 750 to see any chance of that,

Source Witch Bike 1982