The 2023 Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello S Brings The Past Into The Future Without Losing Its Charm

Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello Ts2

The 2023 Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello S Brings The Past Into The Future Without Losing Its Charm

Air is important to the history of Moto Guzzi. For one the founders of the company – Giorgio Parodi Giovanni Ravelli and Carlo Guzzi – met while serving in the Italian Air Corps during World War I. The first two were pilots the company bears the name of the flight mechanic who kept their planes aloft. Moto Guzzi was the first motorcycle maker to use a wind tunnel opened in 1950. The signature Guzzi engine a burly vee-twin in an unusual longitudinal configuration has always been air-cooled its finned cylinders poking out from under the fuel tank like beefy biceps.

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But the era of air-cooled motorcycles is drawing to a close. Harley-Davidson and Ducati held fast but they’ve both begun switching their signature vee engines to water cooling. It’s a tricky thing to navigate messing with the hallmark engine you’ve spent decades valorizing. (Just ask Porsche.)

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So when Moto Guzzi set out to turn its heroic vee-twin into a modern water-cooled engine it faced a ridiculous challenge. Thankfully the 2023 Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello S you see here has an air-bending trick up its sleeve.

A New World

V100 Mandello S Verde 2121 (14)
Moto Guzzi

Enormous changes are coming to the motorcycling world and they all have to do with emissions. (For a deep-dive on the topic check out this Cycle World column by legendary writer Kevin Cameron.) New Euro 5 motorcycle emissions regulations slash the maximum permissible amount of unburned hydrocarbons (UHC) from 0.17 grams per kilometer to 0.10. UHC is fuel vapor that gets blown out of the exhaust without being burned.

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In piston engines most UHC comes from the fuel that gets squished behind the piston rings or under the seam of the head gasket during the compression stroke. This trapped fuel doesn’t ignite during the combustion stroke and gets released as UHC on the exhaust stroke. (If you’re thinking this must represent an infinitesimal amount of fuel you now understand the challenge of engineering a clean-running internal combustion engine in 2023.)

Liquid cooling helps mitigate this problem in a few ways. Modern engines run cleanest in a narrow operating temperature range. A thermostatically-controlled liquid cooling system can self-adjust to keep the engine running right in its thermodynamic sweet spot no matter the ambient temperature. A water-jacketed engine can also bring coolant to places where airflow would never reach preventing hot spots—or cold spots which can collect unburned fuel—from developing inside the combustion chamber.

Finally as Kevin Cameron explains in a different Cycle World column air-cooled engines often use a thicker top land on their pistons. This moves the piston rings further down from the crown away from intense combustion temperatures that can polymerize the oil and cause the rings to stick. These lowered piston rings can create—you guessed it—an even bigger area where fuel can hide and turn into UHCs.

Guzzi Engine
Moto Guzzi

Switching to a water-cooled engine made sense to keep Moto Guzzi’s bikes legal in Europe. The pivot also brought performance advantages starting with the cylinder heads. Water cooling made it easier for Moto Guzzi to abandon the old pushrod two-valve design in favor of dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder. In a four-valve engine the area between the exhaust valves gets absolutely cooked with exhaust heat without sufficient cooling this can create a hot spot prone to metal fatigue and a potential source of pre-ignition.

Thanks to water cooling that four-valve head created yet another UHC-killing benefit: Now Guzzi could eliminate valve overlap where the intake valve opens before the exhaust valve closes. This valve-timing trick harnesses exhaust vacuum to draw more intake charge into the cylinder for better power but has the nasty side effect of sending a little unburned fuel directly into the exhaust system. 

V100 Mandello S Verde 2121 (3)
Moto Guzzi

Why pour all this engineering work into a vee-twin in the first place? After all as Ryan F9 has explained a couple times a vee engine presents a packaging nightmare for motorcycle design and that’s before you turn it sideways as only Guzzi does. Once again the answer lies in UHC reduction.

For decades the easy way to make a more powerful motorcycle engine was to add cylinders. An inline-four bike engine is well-balanced and can rev to the moon to make horsepower. Unfortunately more pistons means more piston-ring area for UHCs to hide. As Kevin Cameron explains for a given displacement a two-cylinder engine has nearly 30 percent less piston circumference than a four-cylinder.

That means 30 percent less space for UHCs to hide. Suddenly the cantankerous vee-twin had an advantage—and Guzzi had a reason to pour R&ampD money into a brand-new water-cooled overhead-cam longitudinally-mounted engine that shares nothing with any of its previous powerplants. 

How The V100 Mandello Rides

Moto Guzzi Hero
Bob Sorokanich

I got to sample the new engine during a long weekend with the 2023 V100 Mandello Guzzi’s brand-new sport-touring model. The water-cooled 1048-cc 90-degree DOHC twin is a full four inches shorter front-to-back than the company’s air-cooled 853-cc pushrod engine that powers the retro-standard V70 and the adventure-tourer V85. That allows the engine to sit further forward in the V100 improving weight distribution and allowing a longer swingarm to reduce the unsettlingly backward behavior of Guzzi’s traditional shaft drive where the rear suspension rises as you open the throttle.

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A counter-rotating balance shaft mitigates the other bad Guzzi habit: The roll reaction created by the spinning crankshaft. You still get a gentle nudge to the right as you start the engine or rev it at a standstill to alert you that you’re riding a Guzzi but it’s nothing compared to the lurch you get on older models. Of course there’s one Guzzi quirk that nothing could fix: After a few minutes of riding the heat from the elbows-out engine starts to roast your shins.

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So the big news with the V100 is water but air still plays a role in making this bike work. Moto Guzzi claims this is the first street-legal production motorcycle equipped with active aerodynamics in the form of twin pop-out panels on the shoulders of the fuel tank (if you’d like to see the panels deploying more clearly than in the GIF above look here). Much like the rear spoiler on a German sports sedan these aero panels extend above a certain speed (adjustable depending on ride mode) minimizing wind buffeting on your torso for touring comfort.

I’ll be perfectly honest: I didn’t feel an enormous difference with the active aero deployed. Then again the problem might be me – even with the power-adjustable windshield in its highest setting highway wind pelted my forehead. A shorter rider might find perfect wind-free comfort in the bubble created by the windshield and active aero. My test bike a V100 Mandello S Verde wore beautiful moss green and silver paint with red accents that revealed themselves when the wings extended like a spotted lanternfly. 

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Bob Sorokanich

The Mandello S comes standard with Öhlins semi-active dampers that adjust in real-time. The dampers and engine management offer four settings—Tour Rain Road and Sport. I mostly left the chassis in Tour and the engine in Sport for a good mix of suspension compliance and engine response. 

Over a 300-mile weekend half highway half country roads the V100 Mandello was approachable and immediately comfortable. The riding position is slightly more crouched than an adventure tourer but still upright enough to burn through two tanks back-to-back without getting sore. The 115-hp 77 lb-ft engine will happily pull away even if you’re two gears higher than you should be. I’m a gentle (some might say “timid) rider on the street but the V100 gave me the confidence to brake deeper and lean further in corners after just a few minutes in the saddle.

The V100 Mandello S starts at $17490. A non-S model cuts $2000 off that price and loses the semi-active suspension the two-tone paint heated grips and up-and-down quick shifter. 

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