The Moto Guzzi V1000 Convert

The “highs” and “lows” of Moto Guzzi’s V1000 Convert

| November/December 2006

Moto Guzzi V1000 Convert
Years produced:
Total production: N/A
Claimed power: 71hp @ 6,500rpm
Top speed: 110mph
Engine type: 949cc overhead valve, air-cooled transverse 90-degree V-twin
Weight (dry): 255kg (560lb)
Price then: $3,495 (1976)
Price now: $4,000-$6,000
MPG: 35-45

You pretty much know what you’re going to get when you ride an old Moto Guzzi tourer — or so I thought before riding the Moto Guzzi V1000 Convert.

I was expecting a slow-revving V-twin engine, a laid-back riding position and a large, comfortable seat. The Guzzi certainly ticked all those boxes, thanks to its wide handlebars and a huge, squashy dual seat that feels more like a waterbed than a typical bike perch.

But the Moto Guzzi V1000 Convert was like no other bike I’d ridden before, and really I should not have been surprised about that. The reason for this Guzzi’s unique feel is its big, agricultural 949cc V-twin engine coupled to its automatic transmission, which meant that my left hand had nothing to do apart from an occasional flick of the turn signal, while my left boot never had to leave the broad floorboard where it was resting.

Rumbling down some sleepy country roads on this extraordinary classic Italian motorcycle was a pleasant way to spend a hot summer afternoon, even if the Guzzi’s age, weight and idiosyncrasies mean that riding it isn’t always as relaxing as the bike’s flat torque curve and zero-effort transmission system might suggest.  But the Moto Guzzi V1000 Convert certainly impressed enough to make me understand why it was well received by most who rode it back in the late Seventies, even if it didn’t convince many motorcyclists of the benefit of automatic boxes.

The times, they are a changin’
These days, after decades of slow progress at Moto Guzzi’s digs in Mandello del Lario, Italy, it’s hard to believe that back in 1975 Moto Guzzi was one of motorcycling’s most dynamic manufacturers. That year saw the introduction of the Convert, followed by the announcement of the gorgeous Le Mans 850 for 1976, the first and greatest of Guzzi’s string of models of that name. In sharp contrast to the sporty Le Mans, the Convert was an even more touring-oriented version of the Moto Guzzi 850 T3 California, itself one of the most glamorous and capable long-distance machines of its day.

The “Cali” was launched in 1971, initially as a U.S. market edition of the 757cc V7 Special, which in turn had been developed from the original V7 model that began the transverse V-twin line in the Sixties. The Cali quickly gained popularity and was introduced to other markets in 1972, updated with a larger, 844cc version of the 90-degree transverse V-twin unit. At the same time the engine also gained a five- instead of four-speed gearbox to go with its shaft final drive system.

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