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Motorcycle Poll: Which classic V-twin would you buy?

by Richard Backus


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Which classic V-twin would you buy?

Ahh, the classic V-twin; simple, strong, it’s a template for the ages. For many people, Harley-Davidson’s Sportster defines the classic V-twin motorcycle, and has come to be the essence of motorcycling for many riders, and none more so than the classic Sportsters of the 1960s. Other makers have used the V-twin, and very successfully, too. Moto Guzzi entered the V-twin arena with the 704cc V7 in 1966, and likewise Ducati with the 748cc GT750 in 1971 (although often referred to as an “L” twin). So the question is, if you could buy just one, which would it be?

Read more about the motorcycles we've polled here by clicking the links below:
- 1968 Harley-Davidson XLCH Sportster
- 1967 Moto Guzzi V7: Dennis Gage on Two Wheels
- Ducati GT750: The Bike that set Ducati's course 

 

reckless73
12/16/2010 2:08:44 PM

Wow!!! Lots of responses on this one. I'm a Britbike guy with an 850 Norton & an '07 Triumph Bonnie. The big battle on American streets in the 60s & early to mid 70s was between the Bonneville (and to a lesser extent the BSA Lightning & the Norton Commando) v. the Sportster. IMHO it was never a contest: the Brits won hands down. BUT, the Sporty is an iconic machine. I've said for years that the only two Harleys I'd have any interest in owning are the '36 - '40 EL Knucklehead 61 incher or a late 60s Sportster. So, I voted for the Sporty. Not because it's a better bike, in fact I think it's the worst of the three, but because it is an icon of that era. Also, were I to buy a Moto Guzzi it would be the new V7 Classic or if an older one, the original V7 Sport or a LeMans Mk.I. As for the Ducati, I'd much prefer a 900SS. I'm just sayin'. So the Sportster gets my vote mainly because it's an icon of an era & there are other models of the other two that I'd rather have.


ken mickler
12/10/2010 6:37:27 AM

I voted for the Moto Guzzi due to the current ride, a 1970 Guzzi Ambassador. Riding this motorcycle through all 48 connected states while writing a story about Freedom in America has increased my love of the Moto Guzzi V-Twin. www.kenamick.blogspot.com


caffeineandpixels
12/6/2010 9:37:26 AM

Seriously? How can you not have the Vincent Black Shadow or Black Lightning on this list?


m.gill
12/5/2010 12:09:43 PM

Realistically I'd BUY the Guzzi, if it was a lottery, I'd pick the Ducati. Although, I already own the BEST classic V-twin ever produced.... the Moto Morini 3 1/2.


john a. stockman
12/4/2010 1:59:48 PM

Moto Guzzi or the Duc...preference to the Guzzi. Sportster? Not a chance. I owned a '73 Sportster, the 1000cc. My grandpa advised against it, but it was a graduation present to myself. The worst bike I've ever owned regarding handling, braking, comfort/ergonomics and reliability. It had so many problems under warranty, that the local Tacoma, Wa. dealer finally refused to work on it. They ended up blaming "rider related" issues. I've never owned a motorcycle that I didn't keep in excellent condition...even basket lumps I've restored from previous owners neglect. Not much respect goes out to a company that blames the rider for obvious manufacturing errors and plain just not caring about the end product. At least the old one could corner modestly without scraping hard parts and levering the tire off the tarmac, something the newer Sportsters can't do. 24 degrees of lean angle? Absolutely ridiculous.


pete ernst
12/4/2010 7:45:45 AM

I voted for the Sportster because, from its inception, it has been the most basic and honest motorcycle ever made. No other bike represents the term "motor-cycle" better than the Sportster. As a British fellow said a while back; "The Harley-Davidson Sportster..... an engine with a wheel either end". I happen to own two Sportsters, a 1978 XLCH and a 2006 883, along with a number of other bikes including a Ducati 800SS. A number of years ago, I was standing at an intersection with my young son when a Sportster stopped at the traffic light. We both looked at the bike and I said to my son, "THAT my boy is a MOTORCYCLE". If you want to own a MOTORCYCLE, it's got to be a Sportster.


capt billy
12/3/2010 7:11:10 AM

The Guzzi, I owned a '78 LeMans for 22 years and regret to this this day ever selling it. I'm now riding a Duc but I'm in the proess of restoring a Guzzi Cafe custom build.


berylliumjane
12/2/2010 11:40:41 PM

I've never ridden any of the three, and frankly I prefer the looks of inline fours or parallel twins. My current ride is a cafe'd 2001 ZRX1200. But of the three, the Guzzi is definitly the sexiest!! Ducati is very cool, but the "L" twin engine's looks just turns me off and Harleys are just f'ugly looking.


bob hadden
12/2/2010 9:04:31 PM

When I was a kid I had a poster of a late '60s CH on my bedroom wall. I never had the chance to have one, though I've owned a '79 XLH and still own an '83 XLS. To me nothing looks more "right" than a CH, but we know there are many better motorcycles out there. I currently ride an '04 Guzzi Titanium and have an Eldorado in moth balls. I also rode an 860 Duc for a while. I'd probably have to go with the CH just because I owe that to my childhood fantasies, or at least one of them...


motorant
12/2/2010 5:05:57 PM

Guzzi-definately, Ducati-maybe, Harley-say what?


david wimprine
12/2/2010 4:54:18 PM

would never buy a harley davidson of any kind


bill maier
12/2/2010 3:48:23 PM

V7 all the way. Love to own one, but will have to be satisfied with my White V7C :)


tom hocking
12/2/2010 1:09:46 PM

I don't know which one I'd choose (assuming I could afford another bike). I currently own an '06 Sportster--I love that bike! I've set it up just the way I want it, and I intend to keep it for the rest of my life. Now, about the choice: All three are great looking bikes. Having had ample experience with older bikes, my choice would come down to whichever one is the most reliable. I'd want it to start when I wanted it to, to stop when I needed it to, and to not fall apart between those two events.


zac
12/2/2010 12:09:43 PM

The Moto Guzzi just oozes cool. Looks great... Runs great... Rides great... Holds it's value... Grand Slam!


mikemoto
12/2/2010 11:45:23 AM

I own both a 74 V7 Sport and a 75 GT. The Guzzi is surprisingly modern in that it goes, stops and turns with bikes of more recent vintage. It looks gorgeous to my eye, and I feel cool as all get out when I ride it. The Ducati sorta steers like a train a slower speeds, but once loping along feels agile and as smooth as silk, a real gentleman's express. To me, it has the best sound in all of motorcycling. The Ducati is clearly the better bike in your comparison, but if I had to pick between one of my bikes, I'd go for the Guzzi.


steve allen
12/2/2010 11:29:05 AM

Ducati Ducati Ducati Ducati [of course]. I own several bevel drives, and HAVE owned guzzi, and HD, neither of which inspired me in the slightest. But then again, I may be just a bit biased. www.BevelHeaven.com


bkw
12/2/2010 10:51:18 AM

I picked the Guzzi. I owned a 76 Guzzi Convert with an automatic transmission and a 96 Sportster. The Guzzi is a better, smoother everyday rider than an old Sportster, and the riding position is more comfortable than the Ducati. Guzzis corner better than you would think as well. If I were into pure sport riding, I would have picked the Ducati. The classic V-twins I own right now are a 91 Harley FXR and a Buell Cyclone. One is great for the highway, and the other is great for they canyons.


th_01
12/2/2010 9:55:38 AM

I have ridden all three bikes. My favorite is the Moto Guzzi. The Moto Guzzi is a joy to ride in any situation. The Harley ride is not comfortable over the longterm, great around town. The ducati is a bit more work at slower speeds. Although the disc brake is a bike plus.


v7 sport
12/2/2010 9:44:37 AM

Biased because I own a V7 Sport (was my father's bike), but the uniqueness, sexiness and sheer performance of this bike is what garners my vote. Nothing else looks like a Guzzi - even my 7 year-old picks them out! AntietamClassicCycle - second everything you say and thanks for the tip on YahooGroups...


kevin cordill
12/2/2010 9:31:05 AM

Has to be the '68 Sporter for me.I do appreciate the Ducati though. Reason being is I am presently restoring a '68 Sporty as a replica of the 'Then Came Bronson Show' Sportster. For me the show was an icon. At age 14, I so much envyed Bronson (Michael Parks played the part) traveling throughout the country with no particular place to go. Just experiencing life as he rumbled down the highway on his Sportster. Perhaps someday, I can do the same. Kevin, (KC Cycle).


paul
12/2/2010 9:30:34 AM

I own a '59 Sportster. There's a reason why they are still popular today while the others have faded into obscurity. The Harley heritage,comradery and mystique, plus the fact that parts are still readily available.


triumphdave2
12/2/2010 9:13:14 AM

This time you have presented 3 bike models that I have never owned and I have only riden 2 of the 3. I can say without hesitation the Ducati is my choice, it has style and appeal far above the other 2. For me the Guzzi and HD both suffer from being too common and not that exciting.


glenn sears
12/2/2010 9:10:04 AM

I voted for the Guzzi, however I prefer the variant CX500 Custom which I own and ride. Still gives a smooth ride and provides great performance.


cbeaus
12/2/2010 9:08:08 AM

I personally picked the 1968 Sportster for 2 main reasons first I had one years ago when I was just out of the service. Second if I had kept the bike instead of selling it to graduate to a full dress Harley it would be worth about 4 to 6 times what I paid for it. Also parts are still readily available for the Harley and less so for the Ducati or the Moto Guzzi so restoring and maintaing the bike is a lot less expensive.


michael knight
12/2/2010 8:44:25 AM

Of these three I voted for the Ducati. I own a 2000 M750 and without the GT750's parentage, well, I suppose I wouldn't. However, my personal favorite V-twin is a late model Moto Guzzi V7 Sport. When I first saw its pix in the mags in '74 I thought it was the most beautiful motorcycle I'd ever seen. Still do...


bob story
12/2/2010 8:28:23 AM

Hi, I would much rather buy the ultra reliable Honda CX500 or one of its variants, have had 5 now, forget the jibes, fantastic cruise all day at 75 and still get 50 mpg.


edward o'brien
12/2/2010 8:17:02 AM

I have had models of each brand. On the right day each one is a star! The Sportster is fun because you can hotrod the engine, play with all the exterior parts to personalize, they are a blast! The Ducati is an engineering marvel, so Italian...I could start my Sport with by "kicking it" with my hand! The Guzzi, the LeMans handled, had lots of toque and had the Chevy V8 rumble, all great bikes! I picked the Ducati this time. But I wouldn' trow any of them out of bed!


antietamclassiccycle
12/2/2010 8:13:55 AM

I bought my '69 750 Ambassador in '97 with 36k miles on it, now it has 99k miles on it. Has never been apart except to replace the original chrome bore cylinders at 56k - still has the original clutch and u-joint even. Ultra reliable - only one failure in all those miles (ignition coil). Usable as an everyday commuter, long distance tourer, backroad bomber - whatever you throw at it. Not just a bike for Sunday rides or to take to shows, but usable in the "real world". Can't say I've ever seen any '68 Sporties or Ducati 750GTs used in the same manner. Anyone interested in these great old Guzzis should consider joining the "Loopframe Guzzi" Yahoo Group: http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/Loopframe_Guzzi/ It's a great resource for parts and information.


dan raidt
12/2/2010 7:55:40 AM

Guzzi all the way !!!!! Once bitten your hooked bought 5 Guzzis and still have 3 of them. The V7 in the poll is HIGHLY sought after now and command surprisingly hi dollars. There are still quite a few around which attests to the longevity reputation.


michman82
12/2/2010 7:33:03 AM

While I prefer the style of the Ducati, I'd rather ride the Guzzi. Sorry, Harley's don't even enter into the discussion.


airborne
12/2/2010 7:07:48 AM

The Duc and the Guzzi are classics partly becasuse they are no longer available. You know, sort of, you always want that which you can't have kind of thing. Want a "classic" sportster? Run down to you local HD dealer and pick one up today. They haven't changed!!!