Compare Moto Guzzi II Racer and Yamaha XV 950 Racer

Moto Guzzi II Racer and Yamaha XV 950 Racer in comparison

Coffee drivers in the big city

Coffee drivers used to be mainly retirees who were tried to sell overpriced crap such as electric blankets in the back rooms of some country inns. Today it looks completely different – for example Moto Guzzi II Racer and Yamaha XV 950 Racer.

S.or seem to have died out, the old school coffee drivers. Who does not remember the flyers that used to be in the mailbox almost every week and on which excursions to more or less sensational destinations were advertised at incredibly low prices. In the small print there was a note that there was the possibility of taking part in a sales event while on the move in order to stock up on supposedly important everyday items yourself. As a rule, in addition to the coffee from which it was named, these were household products whose quality was mostly diametrically opposed to the price quoted. To anticipate it right away: Establishing a connection to the two protagonists of this story at this point would be grossly negligent. And incorrect on top of that.

Moto Guzzi II Racer and Yamaha XV 950 Racer in comparison

Coffee drivers in the big city

Yamaha XV 950 Racer. Both come in the currently very trendy look of a cafe racer. It has its origins in England in the 1950s, when the guys from their Triumphs, Nortons or BSAs removed everything superfluous and screwed on a clip-on handlebar so that they could get from one pub to the next as quickly as possible.

Unique background noise of the V2

The Moto Guzzi V7 II Racer embodies this type ideally: It differs from its civilian sister models in that it has a one-man suede seat with a hump decorated with a bib number, a chrome-plated tank, clip-on handlebars and recessed footrests along with a tiny cockpit panel. Extremely tightly coordinated, fully adjustable struts from Bitubo and a bright make-up in the form of a purple-colored frame complete the metamorphosis. Technically everything remains the same, i.e. 48 hp, which since 2015 has been translated six times instead of five times via cardan shaft to the rear wheel. Since then there has also been ABS and traction control. So that the slip doesn’t get out of hand.

Such concessions to modernity cannot harm the archaic character of the Moto Guzzi II Racer. It feels like it has been described a thousand times, the unique background noise of the V2, this mixture of sniffing and shaking, of clacking and ticking, the whole thing accompanied by a bassy, ​​robust sound that escapes from the two stainless steel pots. At the early morning start, the twin cannot be denied – despite all the injection electronics – with dropouts and choking on the first few meters to indicate that it is cold and that the first kilometers should be approached cautiously.

At the end of the day, after parking, he thanks those around him with a crackling and crackling sound that would do credit to any campfire. The time in between pleases the Moto Guzzi II Racer with easy and purposeful handling. Provided the roads are level, the driving comfort also works; on bumpy terrain, the suspension setup shows itself from the stubborn side, especially at the rear. The pretty, suede-covered bench doesn’t help either. In addition, if the motorcycle has been parked outside on a rainy night, it reliably ensures that the crotch is watered continuously for hours. The gearbox of this test motorcycle could only be operated with caution, there were already more precise copies. Nevertheless, the Italian manages to combine the spirit of yesteryear with the demands of today in a highly emotional way. We generously overlook the term racer.

Long wheelbase, flat fork, little ground clearance

This should also be done with the Yamaha XV 950 Racer. Because the only thing that connects them with racing are the handlebar stubs attached to the massive matt black fork bridge and the teasing rally stripes over the tank and rump. And although, according to Yamaha, it runs under the category Sport-Heritage – translated: sporting heritage – it is basically a real cruiser with its air-cooled, also two-cylinder heart. The chassis geometry proves this; it is identical to the long fork XV 950.

Long wheelbase, flat fork, little ground clearance are the bundles that the Yamaha XV 950 Racer has to carry. The fact that the footrests have been moved back from the height of the coupling to the height of the swing axis does not cause any cheer. Whether stopping, maneuvering or folding out the stand. You are in the way. Always! At the latest from the second trip you voluntarily wear boots to avoid blue ankles.

To complete the list of complaints, the following should be noted: Compared to the Moto Guzzi II Racer, the handling is very sluggish, the curve in which the rest stops in dry conditions has yet to be invented. In wet conditions, the tires set the limit. When you brake hard, the fork bends like wheat in the summer wind, and the ABS regulates at rough and irregular intervals. The air filter on the right prevents the knee from getting caught in the tank. Last but not least, the wealth of information in the cockpit leaves a lot to be desired.

Less displacement, more gears. Bad luck.

Anyone who thinks that the author wants to write down the Yamaha is wrong. But where racer expectations are aroused, at least motorcycle demands should be met. And that’s not the case. If you look at the Yamaha XV 950 Racer as the cruiser it ultimately is, the world looks completely different again. In addition to the optics, which are viewed highly subjectively, the engine counts. And here the Yamaha hour strikes. Of course, it benefits from its increased displacement. No matter how excited the Moto Guzzi II Racer can chatter with the valves, when it comes to the show mile, it doesn’t see the sun. Less displacement, more gears. Bad luck. In terms of emotionality, the Yamaha V2 cannot compete with the Guzzi, although the Akrapovic bag from the factory accessories does its best. It provides a thumpy, bassy sound that delights the driver and leaves the bystanders alone. That’s how it should be.

The question remains: "Which one for whom?" Whoever has no problem with the ergonomics of the Yamaha and mostly uses urban or flat terrain, can be happy with the XV. Anyone who gets in the way of serious bends between start and finish, or who deals with cafe racing from the sloping location, is better dressed with the V7.


Just look, don’t touch? That would only be half the story. Because sound, function and feeling also play a role.

Shit, you should have bet. Guzzi defeats Yamaha, that would have given damn good odds. So be it. The V7, although not free from weaknesses, is simply the more coherent, rounder concept in this case. Sound, feeling, function – everything fits together. The Yamaha philosophy of simply clamping a clip-on handlebar to a cruiser and placing the pegs amidships doesn’t really work. Too uncomfortable for cruising, for sports … – oh, sponge over it. But that’s enough for the promenade. The engine, however, is really fun.

Data and measured values


Power on the crankshaft. Measurements on the Dynojet roller test stand 250, corrected according to 95/1 / EG, maximum possible deviation ± 5%.

It is remarkable what around 200 cm³ and a modern engine layout make up. The Yamaha XV 950 Racer – albeit Akrapovic-pimped – presses around 20 Nm more on the crankshaft from idle and no longer gives this lead. The increase in performance is not quite as impressive, after all, the Moto Guzzi II Racer is homologated to 48 hp, the Yamaha not. Nevertheless, its engine has exactly the sovereignty that Guzzi fans have longed for in the V7 for years, as well as unsuccessfully to date. Maybe it’ll work out next year.

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