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Old July 26th, 2022, 10:33 AM   #1
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[] - EXCLUSIVE First Ride: Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello

Under the Piaggio umbrella, Moto Guzzi has the resources and focus to modernize the companyís offerings with a new engine platform and brand-new motorcycle.

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There is no question that Moto Guzziís V100 Mandello turns a new page for the 100-year-old company. The bike is fully modern from the wheels up. (Milagro/)Moto Guzzi, one of the oldest and most historic Italian motorcycle manufacturers and one of the longest surviving worldwide, turned 100 years old in 2021 and is determined to continue its legacy in style. CEO Roberto Colaninno told his engineers that he wanted to celebrate that centenary milestone by building a completely new and extremely memorable motorcycle, one that would take the company into its next century. That meant that this new bike would have to be powered by an all-new engine, as emissions regulations continue to tighten, especially in Europe.

So back in 2019, Moto Guzzi began work on the V100 Mandello and its compact-block, longitudinally mounted twin, continuing with some of the ideas Dr. Federico Martini prototyped a decade earlier when he first worked on a modern design for the future. This design would incorporate liquid-cooling, a feature that has been a long time coming at Guzzi, and was also an opportunity for the company to embrace advanced electronics and engine management. Being a part of the Piaggio group, which bought Guzzi in 2004, has massive benefits; Moto Guzzi shares R&D space with Aprilia and its MotoGP race-winning team and engineers. There is no shortage of technological know-how inside the campus at Noale, Italy.

The roads around Lago di Santa Croce just north of Noale, Italy, were the ideal place to get a feel for the new V100. (Milagro/)The passion around the Piaggio group is infectious, and Moto Guzziís team was fully up to the task of creating something very special. Although the engine at the heart of the V100 is arguably the bikeís greatest attribute, that wasnít enough for the team; the bike needed something else to make it stand out against the sea of motorcycles currently on the market. The team decided to pursue semi-active aerodynamics, not for the motorcycle but for the rider and passenger; this is something that has never been brought to market before. Additionally, it was well understood that Guzziís traditional customers still expect the brand to deliver its unique character.

Even at a glance, there is no doubt that the V100 Mandello is a Moto Guzzi, but it's an all-new animal from the ground up. (Milagro/)The team decided that this new engine would power a sport-tourer, although the designers like to think of this bike as a roadster with fairings. The goal was for a light, nimble bike that could easily serve as a tourer, but was more focused on being an enjoyable sport machine for the type of real-world riding that most people actually do. The pursuit of maximum horsepower and performance could be left to stablemate Aprilia and its racetrack-focused sportbikes; the engineís usability, flexibility, and power delivery would be the focus for the V100.

This aligns perfectly with the character that Guzzi powerplants have delivered over the years; rich with torque, the pulses of big twin pistons thumping in front of the riderís knees. Since thatís what customers expect, the goal was to make sure that the Guzzi feel and personality remained intact while making the bike contemporary.


It shouldnít necessarily come as a surprise that perhaps the single most unique feature on the V100 is its rider aerodynamics. One only need walk a few yards inside the R&D building to stumble across the fighter-wing-endowed RS-GP MotoGP weapons of Aleix Espargarů and Maverick ViŮales sitting in the race shop and see the route that Aprilia has gone with its downforce-generating racers. In the case of the V100, the purpose is completely different; instead of manipulating the air in an effort to keep near-300 hp racebikes from lofting the front wheel, the V100?s goal is added comfort for the rider and passenger.

Unfortunately for Guzzi fans, these new aero features are no longer developed in the companyís Mandello del Lario wind tunnel at Lake Como. That facility still exists, but the ancient wind tunnel is no longer up to the task of helping to develop modern motorcycles.

The V100ís winglets deploy from the top front sides of the tank/airbox cover. (Milagro/)As far as we know, and according to Moto Guzzi, the speed-regulated winglets that deploy from the top front sides of the fuel-tank/airbox cover are an industry first on a production motorcycle (note that the motorcycle we tested was still in prototype form, though said to be very close to production ready). As rider comfort is the goal, the winglets pivot outward to roughly a 30-degree angle to bend airflow around the lower torsos of the rider and passenger, leaving upper torso protection up to the rider-controlled electronically adjustable windscreen. The winglets are active in two of the four of the bikeís ride modes, namely Tour and Rain. The speed at which they are deployed is adjustable, with a minimum speed set at 70 kph (around 45 mph). In the two other modes, Sport and Road, the wings remain snugged up against the tank.


If the aero winglets walk a razorís edge between marketing gimmicks and functionality, that definitely canít be said of the engine. With a host of engineers who have spent years trying to extend the life of the air-cooled engines in the product line, backed by all the modern tech at the R&D campus, creating a fully modern interpretation of the longitudinal-mounted twin wasnít as tall an order as one might think.

Even at a glance, you can see how much more compact the V100ís brand-new liquid-cooled engine is front to back. (Milagro/)As mentioned, liquid-cooling was mandatory to help meet the efficiency and therefore emissions requirements of Euro 5 and beyond. An interesting note, for those who will decry the departure from the tried-and-true air-cooled lump: Piero Soatti, head of motorcycle engineering, told Cycle World that getting one of the companyís air-cooled engines to meet emission standards now requires four (!) expensive, heavy catalytic converters. The water-cooled V100 requires only a single under-engine unit.

As the bike and engine have yet to be homologated, details arenít quite finalized; therefore, getting firm answers on some of the specifications was not possible. The engineís appearance is undeniably familiar, its silhouette instantly recognizable, but internally itís entirely new. The short block engine is significantly more compact front to back than the air-cooled engines (4.05 inches shorter, to be exact) and also features wet-sump lubrication, a wet clutch with assist and slipper functions, and a more compact six-speed transmission. Bore and stroke measure 96mm by 72mm for a displacement of 1,042cc. The valve gear has chain-driven double-overhead cams with finger followers actuating four valves per cylinder. Induction is handled by a pair of 52mm throttle bodies with single injectors residing under the throttle plates. Power output is a claimed 115 hp and 77.5 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 9,500 rpm. Thatís about all weíve been able to extract from Moto Guzzi on the technical specifications.


In the case of the V100, the engine has largely dictated how the bikeís chassis was destined to perform. Not only is the engine a stressed member that combines with the steel trellis frame, but the fact that the new mill is a full 4 inches shorter has allowed for a much more compact 58.1-inch wheelbase. This in turn also allowed the ultralong shaft-drive/single-sided swingarm and its pivot to be optimized to the ideal angle that engineers wanted, delivering the best suspension performance from the cantilever shock. Interestingly, the bevel drive off the engine to the driveshaft falls just short of 90 degrees at an 87-degree angle, in an effort to accommodate the fat (and beautiful) rear wheel and 190 section rear Pirelli.

The ÷hlins Smart EC 2.0 shock is mounted to a long shaft drive/single-sided swingarm. (Milagro/)The prototype we had at our disposal for the day was the upscale S model, which will feature ÷hlins Smart EC 2.0 semi-active suspension front and rear. This system will have rebound and compression damping managed by the system and manually adjustable rear spring preload, with no provisions for preload adjustability up front. Like many other bikes using this system, the selected ride mode determines the damping, from the plush Tour and Rain to the more taut Road and Sport. The base model will feature Kayaba manually adjustable units front and rear, which should help reduce the price of that version by roughly $3,000; note that no official pricing has been set for the V100 yet.

Both the base and S models will have the same radial-mounted Brembo monoblocks with twin 320mm discs up front and a 280mm disc out back. Those sexy cast aluminum wheels are mounted with Pirelli Angel GT II tires in 120/70-17 up front and 190/55-17 on the rear.


Part of the modernization of the V100 is the bikeís fully up-to-date, six-axis-IMU powered electronics. This gives the bike all the features such systems allow, the IMUs helping manage lean-sensitive ABS and traction control via ride-by-wire throttle management. Multiple ride modes and cruise control round out the features, but we wonder where the radar-assisted active cruise is on this flagship model.

The rider interface is handled by an Aprilia sourced full-color 5-inch TFT display, and control pods on the left and right handgrips allow the rider to scroll through the menus and modes. The display allows riders to set custom parameters for traction control, engine-braking, and ABS, while also setting the speed at which the aero wings deploy. It also allows access to the controls for the electronically adjustable windscreen on the fly, and for the standard heated-seat settings (on the S model) or the optional heated grips. Riders can scroll through all of the bikeís vitals on the clean, well-thought-out display. The S model will also have an up-and-down quickshifter and smartphone connectivity (but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration) as standard. The all-LED lighting includes front running lights that mimic the Guzzi eagleís silhouette.

The 5-inch TFT display is borrowed from Aprilia and has a well-designed, intuitive set of menus for configuring ride modes, controlling accessories, and linking to a smartphone, all while providing all the necessary bike info. (Blake Conner/)Riding Impression

When Cycle World was invited for this exclusive first test of the V100 Mandello, we really didnít know what to expect. We met with the engineering and marketing teams in a conference room on the Noale campus, and just outside the door sat an early prototype of the V100 Mandello that was shown at EICMA during Guzziís 100th anniversary last year. That bike had all the polish and finish that a show bike needs, but was undoubtedly far from production ready.

Who better than to spend the day riding with than Moto Guzziís head of motorcycle engineering, Piero Soatti. (Milagro/)Our guide for the day would be Piero Soatti. The head of Aprilia engineering rolled out a rough and worn working prototype adorned with all sorts of sensors, external wiring, and data ports; heíd be riding that for the day. Then out of the same garage door rolled the V100 testbike. The first impression was that the bike looked like anything other than a prototype; the immaculate paint and overall fit and finish seemed to indicate that the V100 Mandello is extremely close to being ready for production. Although not all of the finishes and details on the bike you see here in the photos are finalized, it is very close, and we can confirm that this is one of the colors that will be available.

Prototype motorcycles in Italy roll with a special license plate similar to the Prova plates that can be seen on Ferrari test cars around Bologna. (Milagro/)Our ride would incorporate a bit of everything, with urban and autostrada on the way to the hills around Lago di Santa Croce at the base of the craggy Dolomites, and would total about 170 miles. Climbing on and thumbing the starter brought the familiar throb of a Moto Guzzi twin; Guzzi design goal No. 1 had been met.

It took only a few blocks to determine that our ride was going to be spirited in a way that only Italians seem to know how to deliver. No time for familiarization, just slam it into the first roundabout and hope that the bike was sorted and ready for a good thrashing.

Working our way through the industrial jungle of Noale toward the autostrada was a useful way to gather our first basic impressions. The vibration typical of an idling Guzzi quickly disappeared into smooth heaps of always-available torque. There was a revvy, fun sweep of the digital tach as revs leapt toward the 9,500 rpm mark. The engineering team had obviously gone to great lengths to quell vibes via rubber-mounted footpeg brackets and dampers on the engine mounts. Our prototype was still awaiting some software updates for the shifter, so the auto-blip downshift function was disabled, but that didnít ruin the fun of ripping off quick upshifts as we blasted out of roundabout after roundabout and on to the autostrada.

For comparison sake, the V100ís 58.1-inch wheelbase is a full 2 inches shorter than the BMW R 1250 RS, its natural competitor, giving the Guzzi crisp yet stable turn-in and handling. Also, note the Guzzi eagle-shaped running light. (Milagro/)After grabbing our tickets at the toll booth, we blasted onto the autostrada as if it was the warmup lap at a Grand Prix. Straight into the left lane with authority at 110 mph, only to have to occasionally duck back into the middle lane as even more spirited drivers jammed up our tailpipes in Audi and BMW wagons, hell-bent on getting the kids to school at 100-plus mph. I love Italy.

The autostrada offered the perfect opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of the aero wings. At midmorning, the temperatures hadnít risen too high yet, but after cycling through the deployment and retraction of the winglets a few times, we determined that their effect could definitely be felt, if in a very subtle way; there wasnít much in the way of buffeting in the first place, but there was an impression of smoother airflow at waist level when the wings were out. More noticeable than any big change in airflow was a change in temperature around the lower torso.

It would have been extremely interesting to ride the bike in the rain, to evaluate the wingsí ability to protect the rider and keep water from soaking the riderís lap. Combined with the small adjustable windscreen, wind protection was quite good. It will be interesting to see if Guzzi offers a slightly taller optional screen for those wanting a bit more protection. The pocket behind the screen was nice, but for long days in the saddle weíd want the option to block just a touch more wind.

Not only does the high ADV-style handlebar give the rider lots of leverage, but places hands and arms at a comfortable height for all-day riding. (Milagro/)After exiting the autostrada, we headed onto some smooth and flowing roads that led toward the base of the Dolomites. This is really the V100?s happy place; in third- and fourth-gear sweepers the bike is remarkably composed and stable. Smooth pavement, rough patches, what have you; road surface didnít seem to make a difference at all. The ÷hlins suspension just flowed over it all with total confidence in any mode. Here, we really liked the compromise of Road or Tour modes, which have a bit more forgiving suspension damping.

We also really like the logic Moto Guzzi chose with the mode settings. All four provide the same power output, but the delivery becomes less aggressive as the rider works their way down from Sport to Rain, while also altering TC, ABS, and compression-braking strategies to suit.

We love fast sweepers as much as anyone, but we really came to appreciate the V100?s handling when we finally got into some extremely tight and twisty sections. We shot some photos on a road that was ideally suited for a supermoto bike, and we really put the bikeís front end through the grinder. Hairpin turns that doubled back on themselves not only tested the bikeís turn-in, but heading back down into the tight decreasing-radius hairpins put a huge load on the front tire when trail-braking in and praying to not tuck the front. The bike flicks in with amazing ease, thanks partially to a ton of leverage provided by the upright ADV-style handlebar, but the lean-sensitive ABS and excellent Brembos also gave total confidence.

On a road like this, getting back on the throttle can be very telling: Will the bike get upset when riders try to pick the bike up smoothly on the throttle? Despite being in prototype form, the fueling and response were very satisfying; combined with the seemingly unflappable chassis, that made this stupid-tight road a total blast on a bike that doesnít look like it stands a chance to impress in that environment. The bike is reminiscent of Hondaís VFR800 or Ducatiís ST2 or ST4, lightweight and sporty bikes with more upright ergonomics. If you canít have fun running roads like this on the V100, hang up your boots.

The V100ís seat was very comfortable on the daylong ride; the mechanism for attaching the optional saddlebags by unlocking the pillion seat, sliding the bagís posts into their slots, and then clicking the seat back down to lock the bag is super slick. (Milagro/)Eventually, reluctantly, we headed back down the hills toward the autostrada. We were already beginning to appreciate the bikeís comfortable seat, upright riding position, and a footpeg location which puts your knees at a nice sporting bend without becoming torturous after long hours.

We didnít have the opportunity to ride with the optional saddlebags attached, but we appreciated their slick method of attachment. The rider simply unlocks the rear seat and then slots the bag into the sides. When the seat is clicked back down, the bags are locked in place in a clean, secure manner. With those attached, it would make a really fun bike to take for a week of conquering Alpine passes. Why not try to do them all?

The saddlebags integrate well with the V100ís styling. (Milagro/)Conclusion

After spending two days with this Moto Guzzi alongside the people who made it a reality, itís clear that theyíre aware the V100 is the motorcycle that will define the companyís future. In that regard, the V100 Mandelloís platform debuting as a sport-tourer is an interesting choice; itís a relatively small segment compared to adventure bikes, for example, so why not launch where the sales are? A sport-tourer is perhaps more aligned with the companyís traditional road-going history. Guzzi in fact said it was aiming to build a roadster in keeping with the Griso and other not-faired machines but it morphed into the bike you see here as they sought greater utility and flexibility, including the opportunity to debut active, comfort-enhancing aerodynamics for rider and passenger.

Italians are passionate about domestically manufactured products. Everywhere we stopped, locals wandered over to check out the V100 and ask questions. (Milagro/)As trends change in motorcycling, manufacturers are more and more apt to build platforms that allow them to produce many styles of motorcycles. Which leads us to a question: What else will this brand-new engine power?

The most obvious is an adventure bike. When the question was put to the Guzzi staff, they of course smiled and declined to comment. But Guzzi clearly understands the modern market. In our opinion, it would be insane not to release an ADV bike powered by this excellent engine. Weíd even go out on a limb and say we can expect such an announcement from Guzzi later this year at EICMA.

Related: 100-Year Celebration: Moto Guzzi Museum Reopens

As for the V100 Mandello, there are only a few minor details to iron out, primarily on the software side, before itís ready for prime time. Pricing has yet to be set, but it will most likely come in well below $20,000 for the S model; knock perhaps another $3,000 off of that for the base model. If Guzzi pulls it off, this represents a good value for the performance and features offered.

With any luck, this new platform is not only a sign of things to come for one of the oldest brands in the world, but the beginning of another successful century for Moto Guzzi.


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