Cagiva River 600    




Make Model

Cagiva River 600


1996 - 98


Four stroke, single cylinder, SOHC, 4 valve


601.4 cc / 36.6 cu-in
Bore x Stroke 102 x 73.6 mm
Cooling System Air/oil cooled
Compression Ratio


40mm Mikuni carburetor


 Starting Electric

Max Power

33 hp / 24.8 kW @ 5000 rpm

Max Torque

48.5 Nm / 32.5  lb-ft @ 4500 rpm


5 Speed 
Final Drive Chain

Front Suspension

40mm Marzocchi forks
Front Wheel Travel 150 mm / 5.9 in
Rear Wheel Travel 140 mm / 5.5 in

Rear Suspension

Boge monoshock, preload adjustable, 140mm wheel travel

Front Brakes

Single 320mm disc 2 piston caliper

Rear Brakes

Single 230mm disc 2 piston caliper

Front Tyre


Rear Tyre

Wheelbase 1390 mm / 54.7 in
Seat Height 810 mm / 31.9 in

Dry Weight

160 kg / 352.7 lbs
Wet Weight 167 kg / 368 lbs

Fuel Capacity

18 Litres / 4.7 US gal

Consumption  average

21 km/lit

Braking 60 - 0 / 100 - 0

14.9 m / 41.8 m

Standing ¼ Mile  

14.8 sec / 135.0 km/h

Top Speed

159.7 km/h

Claudio Casticlioni is not a man who does things by half, Well actually he does only own half of Cagiva (the other 50% is owned by his brother), Despite bearing the virtual solo spokesman but when it comes to the business be comes in a full 100%-er the sort of blok that is first in and last out, He know every person in the factory by name, and oversees and gets involved in the minutest detail of every bike big or small, So when Casticlioni decide to buy a hotel he doesn't just acquire any little bijou rest-house nor even a multi-story Holiday Inn; no Castiglioni has to buy a bloody castle, built on its own mountain 300 metres higher than the surrounding lombardian town of Varese and with its own permanently stationed caribineiri van at the top. The Palace hotel in Varese cost him £20m and its bedrooms are bigger than my house.
So you can gauge how significant a bike is to Cagiva by the whereabouts of its debut, and if it kicks off from the Palace, you know it's important. Such was the location for the launch of the Cagiva River, and however modest its output and profile vis-a-vis the rest of the Cagiva range of evocative sportsters and trail bikes, the company see it the humble commuter as fundamental to their short-term revenues. Like its recently announced and identically motively equipped sister bike, the Cagiva Canyon, the 'River' is also similarly ecologically tabbed. Sharing the same basic 34bhp single motor (though it's considerably tuned in the former) the River is designed to cut costs not lap times and as well as being targeted directly at Honda's Revere (turn the lights off and it would be impossible to determine which is which by silhouette) as far as cost is concerned, it's also aimed squarely at the Yamaha Diversion niche. As such the River has been built to satisfy riders requiring an even more simply designed bike than the vee-twin Revere or the transverse Diversion, with town commuting and short-haul touring both expected to reveal its virtues.

The basically W16 derived single cylinder 600cc four-stroke motor (with bal-a n c e shaft) may have its limitations, but the chassis at least is impressive. Steel, rather than the more expensive if lighter option of alloy, the twin spar frame uses the engine as a stressed member whilst generously sized 40mm Marzocchi inverted forks, assisted by a rising rate Boge rear shock (adjustable for preload only) hold up either end. Stopping is governed by a Brembo four-piston caliper squeezing a healthily sized 320mm rotor whilst the rear makes do with a 230mm platter. Wheels are attractive three-spoke cast alloy items measuring 17 inches in diameter front and back carrying Pirelli MT75 cross-ply tyres.

The motor itseif, though whilst not boasting enviable peak power, is instead aimed for torque and flexibility to keep new and old riders alike contented, and whilst the super-square dimensions of its internals suggest a revvy nature, compression ratio is an almost
sedentary 7.8:1. Cooling meanwhile, is by the good old atmosphere (aided and abetted, of course, by an oil cooler) which also mixes the gas via a single 40mm bellows to a four-valve head. Twin exhaust ports rid the spent mixture through a stainless double header system enjoined to an attractive if lowly slung alloy silencer whilst a 5-speed box converts the 36.5 ft/lbs of torque to the road. All up weight is a paltry 365lbs.

At first glance (some say second third and fourth glance) the appearance of the River is very much in the mould (literally) of the Revere (the name itself is but a mere two vowels out of place). The frame dominates the Cagiva even more so than the latter, however, and as a result of the exposure of the mill's heavy fining by the absence of any fully-enclosed plastic, the bike retains an almost classical look and despite its budget slot, the neatly
swopped lines of the tank and seat still exude Italian creativity - even the integral panniers protrude far less than any similar fare made in England.
However, targeted as a tourer or not, you can't help being initially disappointed by the performance of the engine, though perhaps this is more to do with the supersports mystique of the capacity per se. It is soon dispelled.

Apart from the stylish looks, the sound on start-up suggests ability but once underway, the typical single bark counts for nothing. There is immediate punch in the lower part of the rev range but remaining in the lower gears brings little benefit and the river dries up almost as fast as this early momentum has been gained and frankly urging it to perform beyond five grand is futile. True, the very short stroke will send the crank spinning to giddier heights but swapping to a higher ratio is the only option to continue any respectable forward motion and the delivery drops like a stone soon after the peak. As such, a rev counter is hardly necessary and not surprisingly, Cagiva don't fit one.

Relieving this dull state B^Hfe of affairs at the first set of bends, though, is the rolling chassis. More than able to master the piddling power, the setup offers impressive roadholding with what appears to be a fairly steep head angle for this conservatively
based machine and, as such, the steering reflexes are
sharp. Excessive input was rewarded with oversteer in my efforts to conquer the initial pessimism I had about its capabilities and once having settled down to accept its almost sports like rate of turn, the chosen lines were tracked on course - the motor wheezed on but the steering tracked sharp.
Similarly right up to the pace is the braking which can pull the light single up without too much drama though there is the usual back-to-the-bar experience so typical of the group in general's produce -even the big Ducatis suffer from the same sort of fade. Notwithstanding this, 320mm
beats 350lbs every time and what's more with calming progres-siveness.

The tyres fitted, I have to say, were not of the inspirational kind, however, and both side and general grip were comparatively lacking - I lost the front on a couple of downhill sections where gravity made up for the engine's lack of ponies. Fortunately, the feedback from the fork gave warning of impending doom and backing off brought things back into line immediately. Apart from a lack of outright grip, the tyres were also vague which is a shame as the quality of the exceptional running gear could not be realised. The springing at both ends is much firmer the
anticipated given the intended role of the bike, and in the case of the rear, possibly a little too hard, causing skipping over the rough stuff when the willingness of the chassis prompted a faster the intend pace.

The cruelty I was subjecting the engine to now made me feel sympathetic as neither the over-revving nor the massive induction roar as a consequence were having the same effect on the sound of the tyres as they accelerated (or rather didn't...) on the road.  A pause for thought and a revised policy of reducing the rpm before each change through the crunchy box immediately brought benefit. Bearing in mind the fragility of some large pistoned singles it was a better idea anyway and riding the torque as opposed to abusing the limiter rekindled the punchy, instantaneous delivery. It does need to be kept spinning to some degree, though and tapping the gear change regularly maintains the pace, despite the deliberate feel required on the lever. Accepting at last the the design of the river and becoming one of its intended users rather than trying to dominate it, does bring lighter relief. For town work it's really a very useful tool and in direct comparison to its competitors scores over the Honda for its immediacy and over the Diversion for its extra style. However, with the Divvy being probably the dullest of the dull that isn't too hard and though the thumper's top end falls short of the tingler's, stability is altogether better. It will indeed nudge the ton as the company predicted it would but like the constant revving I indulged in earlier, feels so uncomfortable at this pace that knocking it back to 80-85% is a better option.

The screen, too, is a little underdeveloped to encourage three figure antics and again reminds the pilot that such attempts at chasing glory would be better spent on another marque altogether and you're only left pondering the irony of the clock enscribed aphorism 'Time flies when you're riding'. NOT.
Comfort provided by the tal I i sh and
wide bars, ideal footpeg position and decent seat, however, doesn't fall wide of the mark though extended trips out of town are not recommended unless your boredom threshold is pretty high. The panniers, though a little cheap and nasty contain a back pack (very trendy in Italy) which is itself big enough to pick up a few kilos of
pasta and the rest of the culinary ancillaries.
Enjoyment in a positive sense clearly wasn't the design brief by the same company that brought you the 916 or the Cagiva Mito, and just because the River can't, it obviously doesn't imply the company can't. The quality of the chassis and the running gear is something the Italians couldn't do badly even if they tried, but the motor, perfectly adequate though it may have been in the trailster W16, is a limitation. After all, the Transalp, the Revere and the Diversion may not be positive fun but they're all capable of cruising 20mph
faster than this and the former, particularly, can be made to boogie quite well. The River is certainly not a bad bike, but we'd need a lot of convincing that it's better than any one of its competitors


There's little doubt that for a company that builds bikes like the Mito and Elephant, the River is hardly going to be a burning ambition. In fact, it's rumoured that the bike all came about by accident and was originally the brainchild of the German importer who, fan of the Ducati Supermono as he was, relished the prospect of an altogether simpler and more economical single with which to tap the more utiltarian end of the German consumer market. More to the point, he also fancied going singles racing but couldn't afford one of Bologna's hand-built specials. So he played around with the Cagiva T500RE enduro motor, eventually slotting it into a Mito frame and when the bike turned up at the company's main factory in Varese, the management were impressed. Again, the idea wasn't taken up right away but soon developed past the point where the Mito chassis was dumped and a bespoke frame built for it -albeit extremely similar to the original.
Meanwhile, out went the enduro mill in came the much duller W16 motor.

Source Witch Bike 2000