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Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello First Ride | Guzzi's Game Changer

It’s taken a while for the Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello to make its way to the Asia-Pacific region, but now it is finally here, and boy has it been worth the wait.

First unveiled as a concept to mark Moto Guzzi’s centenary in 2021, the V100 Mandello marks a new beginning for Moto Guzzi as the brand enters its second century of operation. With a design goal of blending the fun of a roadster with the practicality and comfort of a tourer, the V100 Mandello breaks the mould in multiple ways.

I joined Moto Guzzi at the Asia-Pacific launch of the V100 Mandello in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on a short loop that gave me an opportunity to see if Guzzi had succeeded in their goals. It was a short introduction, but one that left a lasting impression of what the future holds for the Italian heritage brand.

At the centre of the V100 Mandello is Moto Guzzi’s signature – a transverse v-twin engine – but this unit is entirely new and is a solid departure from what we’ve come to expect from a Moto Guzzi engine.

Dubbed the “Compact Block” due to its shorter longitudinal size within the frame, from the rotated DOHC-equipped cylinder heads to the introduction of water cooling for the first time on a Moto Guzzi, the closer you look at the engine the more changes you see.

Thanks to the adoption of water cooling and a modern dual overhead cam system, the V100 revs to an energetic 9,500rpm redline with a peak power of 113hp/84.6kW achieved at a sporty 8700rpm. Find an open space to let rip and the V100 Mandello accelerates briskly into licence-endangering speeds.

The gearbox has also been redesigned and unlike its contemporaries within the Moto Guzzi range, the final drive exits the engine on the left-hand side rather than the right. This leaves the wheel which sits on a lengthy 575mm single-sided swingarm (the wheelbase itself is only 1475mm in total) in full view.

While Moto Guzzi staff wouldn’t be drawn on what else the firm plans to slot the engine into, it has been publically noted that the Compact Block is designed to “equip a series of models and be able to flank Moto Guzzi through the next decades of its life.” That means we’re definitely going to be seeing this engine more in the future.

While the engine is a phenomenal step forward for Moto Guzzi it has lost much of that “unrefined” Moto Guzzi magic. In particular, the transverse rock when you rev it at a standstill has been all but refined out. Sadly that is the price of such a monumental leap forward in engine design and performance, and one I think Moto Guzzi purists may be quite sad to pay.

Another significant step forward is the inclusion of numerous electronic aids backed by a six-axis IMU. That means the V100 is the first Moto Guzzi to feature cornering ABS and traction control systems plus cornering LED headlights. The Mandello S version steps things up with Öhlins semi-active electronic suspension and extra factory options such as a quickshifter as standard equipment.

In terms of nods to the past, the sportiest bike in the Moto Guzzi lineup has to pay tribute to the Le Mans series of the past with its fairing and side panels giving a hint to this heritage, and it's within the fairing that you’ll find the Mandello’s other stand-out feature - it’s aerodynamics package.

During development, the V100 Mandello was refined over 200 hours in the wind tunnel (fun fact: Moto Guzzi was the first European manufacturer to ever employ such testing) and it shows - particularly at higher speeds.

Setting the V100 Mandello apart from any other bike on the market with its deployable aerodynamic flaps on each side of the tank which aid in touring comfort. In both Road and Sport modes, the flaps remain undeployed, helping to give the rider a bit more of a sporty feeling ride. However, slap it in rain mode and they automatically pop out to help deflect rain around you, and in Tour mode, the flaps deploy once you reach about 70kph.

The electronically adjustable windscreen is also not to be ignored and ensures wind blast is directed over the rider’s shoulders. Even at what we'll call “track only” speeds, the V100 provided a comfortable bubble for me as I blasted along the highway during the launch.

With such a short wheelbase, the V100 Mandello is incredibly easy to flick from corner to corner - or in the case of our launch; around slower vehicles in traffic - to a point that it's surprising to read it weighs 233kg ready to ride.

The riding position is comfortable and there is a generous rear seat for carrying a pillion, while the optional luggage offers a deceptively large amount of storage capacity. Other accessories include engine bars that can also mount optional auxiliary lighting, comfort seats, and heated seats options for the rider (sorry passengers, no heated seats for you).

Guzzi has got a lot right with the V100 Mandello, but I did walk away from the launch with a couple of criticisms. Firstly, I found the kickstand fiddly to deploy. It's mounted directly to the engine and requires you to get your foot between the footpeg and shifter to get at.

The quickshifter was also not as refined as other bikes on the market I've ridden lately. It works perfectly at full throttle and on downshifts, but you can’t use it in lieu of the clutch in slower traffic as some other brands' systems allow.

The V100 Mandello has just arrived in dealers and is available in three versions at launch. The base V100 Mandello is priced at $27,990 and the V100 Mandello S sits at a premium $31,490 thanks to its additional electronics and premium semi-active Ohlins suspension.

Priced between the two standard models – and limited to just eight examples in New Zealand – is the limted edition V100 Mandello Aviazione Navale which pays tribute to the Moto Guzzi founder’s link to the Italian Navy's air arm and comes in a stunning grey inspired by the F-35B fighter jet.

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