16 July 2018

SWM Motorcycles: Italian renaissance


Webspin: SWM Superdual



I have to confess when I saw the line-up of SWM motorcycles at Adelaide Motorcycle Centre, Stepney, I had no idea about this brand.

Parked next to the Ducatis, Indians and Nortons in the sunny showroom were a line-up of garish offroad machines and a couple of classic naked street bikes.

Dealer principal, Mike Hampton, explained to me SWM began life in 1971 in Italy as a niche manufacturer of small capacity motocross and trials bikes using customer engines from first Sachs, then Rotax. They burned bright for a few years before flickering out in 1984.

Superdual X in full adventure kit (supplied)

An injection of Chinese money saw a revival with six new models unveiled at EICMA 2014 under the engineering gaze of Ampelio Macchi, formerly with Cagiva, Aprilia and Husqvarna. SWM now occupies the former Husqvarna factory at Lombardia, just outside Milan.

With a break in the wintry weather, I took the 600cc single-cylinder adventure bike, the Superdual, for an extended test ride into the Adelaide Hills on the well-known network of roads from Summertown to Birdwood with a few gravel detours in between.

Starting at just $10,490 (+ORC), this feisty number is sure to appeal to adventure riders shopping at the entry level end occupied by the likes of Royal Enfield's Himalayan ($6990) and Suzuki's V-Strom 650 ($8,799).

Taking a breather along the Gorge Road

The Superdual is a tall machine best suited to folks 180cm plus and those with some grounding in dirt bikes. The liquid-cooled single-pot EFI DOHC 4-valve likes to rev and I found the bike light and easy to ride around the many twisty bends and switchbacks on the Hills roads Adelaide riders are all too familiar with.

The 18-litre fuel tank affords decent range and the enduro frame is set for ready-made panniers at extra cost.

SWM Gran Turismo 440 - A cool Italian LAMS bike (supplied)

Otherwise, learner riders should definitely put the smart Gran Turismo or Gran Milano on their testing lists at $6990 and $6490 respectively.

More: www.swmmotorcycles.com.au

Test bike supplied by Adelaide Motorcycle Centre, 29/31 Magill Rd, Stepney. Ph: (08) 8130 0700

26 June 2018

Moto Guzzi V7III: The latest incarnation of this Italian classic.

#motoguzzi

V7 III Stone is the only one of the “four-of-a-kind” to have spoked wheels and single circular display instrumentation (supplied)

Roderick Eime

The V7 range is the precocious youth of the Moto Guzzi fleet, with the minimalist Stone incarnation offering a new pared-back and matte black persona along with engine and styling mods in this third generation. Beyond Stone, the V7 exists in Special, Racer and a limited run 'Anniversario'.

The groundbreaking V7 first hit the streets of Italy in 1967 and set a new course for the stalwart marque that was formed by two former WWI fighter pilots way back in 1921 as "Società Anonima Moto Guzzi". It was the first time the motorcycling world had seen the longitudinally-mounted 90° V-twin engine that would become the very symbol of Moto Guzzi itself.

Restored 1967 Moto Guzzi V7 (www.motorcycleclassics.com)

Now, half a century later and under the giant Piaggio Group (which includes Aprilia and Vespa among others), V7 has hit new heights with tech and performance upgrades.

Outwardly, Stone's economical and purist design maintains its familiar bare-bones look, appealing to younger riders of both sexes. Yet beneath what little there is on show, lies a wealth of technology for the tech-savvy rider to wallow in.

V7III Stone (supplied)
In a nod to the demographic that relies on a smartphone for their very existence, the V7 has an app for that. The Guzzi Multimedia Platform (GMP) creates a wireless connection between your vehicle and your handheld device, “transforming it into a sophisticated multifunction onboard computer, always on the Net.”

- Matte is the new black with the
famous all-Italian marque's latest
edition of its best-selling, entry-level machine -

If this connectivity and computational ability appeals, you can have your iPhone or Android display speedometer, rpm indicator, engine power and torque, instant and average fuel consumption, average speed, battery voltage, longitudinal acceleration and extended trip computer.” Given that the Stone only has a single dial and no tachometer, this could come in handy.

You can enthrall yourself with the “ECO RIDE” function, which helps you achieve optimal fuel consumption by adopting an eco-compatible riding behaviour. Constant monitoring permits an evaluation of your results and these are displayed during the trip. Or you could just ride.

V7 III Anniversario (supplied)

A more mundane enhancement is the welcome injection of horsepower. Not a greedy lashing, but a useful 10 per cent thanks to a suite of new engine components, most notably new cylinder heads using the 'hemi-head' design of the type used in the larger V9 (850cc). The redesigned powerplant also features a new ventilation system, pistons, cylinders, oil sump, crankshaft and exhaust tuned for “easier revving and stronger engine braking”. Even so, the emblematic V-twin still retains lightweight pushrods and rockers with two-valve induction and the signature exhaust note that unambiguously signals your arrival – or departure!

If you get a bit carried away, Brembo calipers and discs provide more than adequate braking to the standard fitment Pirelli Sport Demon tyres on gorgeous spoked wheels. Stone is the only V7 to offer these solid cast rims.

Moto Guzzi V7III Special has extra chrome and a second instrument dial (RE)

In deference to riders of regular stature and perhaps women, the seat height has been lowered 20mm to 770mm. This and a reassuringly neutral balance delivers a comfortable ride that is both welcoming and forgiving, if somewhat uninspiring to seasoned speedsters. ABS and adjustable traction control as standard further raise confidence for less experienced riders. The whopping 21 litre fuel tank pretty much ensures you won't get stuck in traffic for long.

Given that most V7s will see out there days battling urban traffic snarls and holidaying on beachside boulevards while their owners sip lattes, the styling and colour options follow suit. You might feel like you're shopping for nail polish with shades like Nero Ruvido (matte black), Azzurro Elettrico (blue), Verde Camouflage (green) and Giallo Energico (yellow).

All jibes aside, this newest Moto Guzzi V7 III Stone pays respectful homage to its half-century heritage while delivering the retro-loving rider a satisfying and relaxing experience in inimitable Italian style.

KEY DATA

V7 III Stone – $12,990; V7 III Special – $13,990; V7 III Racer – $16,490; Anniversario – $16,990 (plus on-road costs).
Engine: 744cc 90deg V-twin, longitudinally mounted. Air cooled, 4-stroke, 2 valves per cylinder.
Power: 38kW @ 6200rpm
Torque: 60Nm @ 4900rpm
Transmission: 6-speed, shaft drive
Fuel tank: 21 litres (4 litre reserve)
Features: ABS, Traction control, Bluetooth connectivity,

More: www.motoguzzi.com.au






Bet you didn't know this about Moto Guzzi
  • The winged eagle logo was derived from the Italian Air Corps emblem and used in memory of a comrade, Giovanni Ravelli, who died in a plane crash in 1919. 
  • Their first ever engine, a single cylinder unit, was used constantly for nearly 50 years. 
  • To prove the durability of their product, Carlo Guzzi rode to the top of Norway in 1928 over four weeks. 
  • The marque has eight World Championship riders, six constructor’s championships and eleven wins at the Isle of Man. 
  • They built the world’s first motorcycle-specific wind tunnel in 1950. 
  • They produced a terrifying V8 race bike in the '50s that was capable of more than 170mph. 
  • They built motorcycle-engined cars expressly for setting land speed and endurance records. 
  • They built a step-thru commuter bike and a three-wheeled truck.
You can read the print version in the current issue of WORLD


    21 June 2018

    Cuba's living car museum

    Yes, it's true. There are tens of thousands of pre-1960 US-made vehicles on the road in Cuba. Some in apparent near-new condition, others just hanging in there.

    Here is a selection of just some of the vehicles I found when wandering the streets of Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad. I'll leave the cations blank. Can you name them?

    1956 Buick Riviera 4-door
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