Cagiva Alazzurra 650SS

 

 

 

Make Model

Cagiva Alazzurra 650SS

Year

1985 - 91

Engine

Four stroke, 90°“L”twin cylinder, SOHC, desmodromic 2 valve per cylinder. 

Capacity

649 cc / 39.6 cu-in
Bore x Stroke 82 x 62.5 mm
Cooling System Air cooled
Compression Ratio 10.0:1

Induction

2x 36mm Dell'Orto PHF

Ignition 

Bosch BTZ
Starting Electric

Max Power

55 hp / 39 kW @ 8500 rpm

Max Torque

50 Nm / 36.8 lb-ft @ 7000 rpm

Transmission

5 Speed 
Final Drive Chain

Front Suspension

35mm Marzocchi forks
Rear Suspension Dual Marzocchi shocks 5-way adjustable preload
Front Brakes 2x 260mm discs

Rear Brakes

Single 260mm disc

Front Tyre

110/90 H18

Rear Tyre

110/90 H18
Wheelbase 1460 mm / 57.4 in
Seat Height 800 mm / 31.5 in

Dry Weight

190 kg / 418.8 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

19.3 Litres

Produced for just three years, the Cagiva Alazzurra was a rebadged Ducati street bike. Cagiva purchased Ducati in 1985, and was looking to grow their market share in larger-displacment bikes. Instead of building one from scratch, they used a 650cc version of the Pantah engine for both the Alazzurra and the Elefant.

MSRP wa $3,893, putting it slightly above the Japanese competition that were producing more power. But Cagiva was competing on the emotions of owning an exotic bike, and style.

The 650 V-Twin engine produced 55 horsepower (less than the competition) and the bike weighed 424 pounds dry (also less than the competition). All of that translated to a 0-60mph time of 4.6 seconds.

Review

Here in the hallowed portals of Rathbone Place, WB?'s crusading editorial team generally pride themselves on their legendary objectivity, even the panic stricken pleading of the Ad dept in the face of plummeting revenue cannot shake us from our resolve to maintain our unbiased standards. Trouble is, every now and then a test bike appears which plays on the prejudices and subjective facets of our various souls. With Willis and Kemp, Moto Guzzis seem to set their heart strings twanging, Schiller frequently professes to an unhealthy desire for Laverdas, Phillips lusts after big Kawasaki's, and Rev. and myself, while not fully fledged Ducatisti, are pretty besotted by the marque.

Now it's no secret that Ducati have been gradually phasing out production of complete bikes throughout the year, and instead providing Cagiva with their V-twin engines. So when Three Cross Motorcycles rang to confirm that we could pick up their Cagiva 650 for an albeit brief test, I was tucking in my Damarts in readiness for a cold ride down to Three Legged Cross before the receiver was back in its place.

As the Pantah represented a move by Ducati away from the single minded, some would say, harsh performance and styling to be found in the SS, towards a more civilised and practical motorcycle hopefully appealing to a wider market, so the Alazzurra (Blue Wing) can be seen as a creditable attempt to take on the increasingly exotic styling exercises from Japan. I really liked it.

The 650's lines seem to flow far better from the headlamp to the shrouded tail lamp than the Pantah's ever did. The whole bike looks more graceful yet manages to incorporate useful touches such as the grabrails, tank cut-outs for the rider's knees to hug and the clock in the instrument panel. As well as the timepiece there is a row of eight warning lights set along the bottom of the dash along with the tacho and smaller speedo. The switchgear has been revised, but I feel the indicator switch escaped as it is far too imprecise and only the Bee Emm-esque bleeper saves best compromises around for everyday riding plus the occasional bout of silliness. Relatively narrow, flat bars, minimal distance between kneecaps and slightly swept back footrests dictate a moderate lean forward possie without putting undue pressure on your wrists and arms at legal speeds, yet still allows you to disappear behind the screen when you inevitably open up on some deserted road.

Not that I felt really able to, mind you, after certain threats had been made towards my puny frame should I exceed 5000 rpm (the bike having only just topped the 160 mile mark) I was very careful to stay within limits for the first 200kms. Then, as the engine felt loose enough and in the interests of pioneering journalism (without a thought for my health should those lovely chaps from Three Cross subsequently take out a contract on me,) I, dear reader, opened her up. It was a revelation. At 5000rpm the cams really started to perform and the bike hurled itself down the road to the accompaniment of a surprisingly lusty growl from the Silentiums in a display of relaxed aggression. Wishing to limit Three Cross's retribution to a Chinese burn and a kick on the shin, I called a halt at 6500rpm yet still saw 140Rph(87mph) in top. Which would appear to indicate that the factory's claims of a 200Rph (125mph) top speed are not unreasonable. Trying to work out max. speed on paper did bring to light a difference in gearing. The pre-production models had a 15/37 pairing while on our test bike it was 15/41, so it would appear the internal gear ratios have been altered to raise the gearbox speed as the bike's overall speed seems equal. One of the plausible reasons we see for this was to make the gearbox's action sweeter, in which case I dread to think what the earlier bikes were like, as, even allowing for its virgin state the Cagiva was extremely notchy, especially on downchanges.

It's no surprise that the Cagiva displayed the same roadholding characteristics as the Pantah, sharing, as it does, basically the same frame apart from a few mounting points and unaltered vital statistics of wheelbase, rake and trail. Through the fast sweeping bends of the A31, the Pantah's unimpeachable reputation for unerring accuracy shone through, yet on slower corners the more upright riding position and wider bars make the Cagiva more responsive should a manhole cover or bovine deposit hove into view. However, Cagiva's engineers haven't rested on their laurels as the suspension showed a marked improvement over the Pantah's. The rear Marzocchis have a softer initial spring rate and the front forks have revised damping for improved low speed comfort, though, to be honest, I still found myself shaken about on rough roads and with that wooden feeling after 100 miles.

Overall the Alazzurra offers a distinct improvement on the Pantah yet it has its share of niggling problems. I know fuel warnings are fashionable, but when one comes on 100 miles before reserve I do wonder if they're justified. Though the mirrors were excellent they marred the bike's flowing lines; I'm no designer but I feel they could've been better positioned. And the paint job is typical Italian, diving into the tank at the mere sight of a petrol pump nozzle.

Against this you have the usual excellence of Pirellis and Brembos, an improvement in finish and an engine with a good mechanical reputation with greater torque and brisker acceleration than its predecessor.

I see no reason why, at a price only slightly greater at £2899 the Cagiva shouldn't take over where the Pantah left off and ensure that the Desmo V-twin lives on. Hooray.

Source Which Bike 1985