Let’s face it, when it comes to beauty and passion, there are few better than the Italians. There is no denying the fact that they make the hottest women, the coolest automobiles and most gorgeous clothes. And did I mention their gorgeous women? Among the many cars and bikes that caught my eye at the recently held vintage and classic rally in Mumbai, was this particular beauty. The droves of predominantly British machines couldn’t do much to keep this motorcycle from sticking out. But then again, it’s Italian and that’s what they do. Walk through any airport across the world and you can instantly make the Italians out from the rest. The way they gesture animatedly and passionately with their hands is one instant giveaway. Another would be the haute couture and the long legs, but I won’t go into that.
If you’re the type to whom size does matter, you won’t be disappointed with the Moto Guzzi V7 Ambassador. The tank stretches across as wide a space as the Po Valley itself and the side panels are nearly as large as an Italian mob family. The Veglia speedo and tacho are pretty huge and the handle bars are nearly endless. But on the whole, the overall lines of the Ambassador aren’t evocative of the famed Italian passion. The Guzzi isn’t sexy and curvaceous and unlike other Italian machines, it won’t get you drooling and lusting over it. Instead, it’s quite boxy and although it isn’t ugly to look at, it has a very sober appearance – bland enough to keep it from getting onto the bedroom walls of hormone-raging teenagers.
But the Guzzi isn’t for pimple ridden teens anyway – it’s a mature machine.The engine for example, isn’t for the high revving racer boys. No siree, this 750cc transverse V-twin is a motor that loves doing its thing at its own pace. That means grunt from ridiculously low revs and in top gear, it’s quite easy to cruise along at speeds slow enough to watch the grass grow around you. It pulls along like a tractor and that’s no surprise really, since the V7’s motor was derived from a mill designed for one. Yes, you read that right – a tractor. In the early 50s, the Italian army felt the need for a small tractor and Moto Guzzi duly stepped up with a 90-degree V-twin engine for the thingy. Then, someone in the factory got the brainwave of mounting a variant of this very same engine onto a bike frame and thus was born the V7 – Moto Guzzi’s first V-twin engined motorcycle.
When you need to speed things up a bit, the 750 gets up to pace surprisingly easily. Overtaking on the highways is a cinch – wring the throttle and the 45 bhp engine pushes you ahead of that idiot hogging the entire road. But ambling around at about 90 kph all day is what the motor loves best. It’s in its element there, singing its deep throated melody.The gearbox takes some getting used to and that could have something to do with the fact that the Italians wouldn’t have you shifting through the gears straight away. No, there has to be some dramatic ritual and foreplay involved. In fact, the experience was so passionate and intense that my mutterings would have made the most obscene-mouthed sailor curl up into a ball. The cogs seemed to have a mind of their own and slotted into place the first time as often as the Italians have conquered the world. In short – almost never. Prince assured me that there was a knack in putting the gearbox through its paces with the heel-and-toe shifter. No matter how many times he tried to impart that sound skill to me, it never happened despite my trying my best and all I got in return were false neutrals and wrong gears. And when I finally began to stop caring, everything miraculously started falling into place. Upshifting and downshifting had suddenly become so easy and the more I rode it, the easier it got.