THE RC600 AND NORDWEST
Throughout the late 1980s Gilera took a serious interest in the Paris-Dakar
and similar rallies. This culminated in 1990 with a Gilera class victory in the
An offshoot of this was a plethora of production models, including the RC600,
RC600R and Nordwest.
All used a 558cc (98 x 74mm) variant of the motor used on the XRT.
Quite why Gilera chose to decrease the bore size by 1mm is unclear, but this had
the effect of reducing the capacity from 569 to 558cc. There were other
differences too, the carburettor size being increased from the 25mm instruments
on the XRT (the same as the Dakar series) to 30mm on these later models.
The gear ratios remained the same but outright power was significantly
improved - 53bhp on the RC600 and Nordwest and 54.5bhp on the RC600R - all three
machines peaking at 7,500rpm.
Works-entered RC600Rs dominated the 1991 and 1992 600cc-class of the
Paris-Dakar, making it one of the truly great machines in the history of the
event (others including the BMW GS, the Cagiva Elefant and a small number of
exotic Japanese factory entries.
NORDWEST PROVES A WINNER
But it was the Nordwest which really caused a stir with its unique style and
beautifully flowing lines.
The Nordwest boasted an uprated specification (at least for street use) over
the RC600, with its three-spoke cast alloy wheels, twin 270mm semi-floating
discs (front) and single 240mm disc (rear) and both wheels shod with Michelin
Hi-Sport 17in tyres (120/60 front, 120/70 rear). There were also upside-down
40mm (stanchion diameter) front forks and Gilera's 'Power Drive' rear suspension
(single shock). Other features (some of which were shared by the RC600 series)
included: an alloy swinging arm, speedo, tacho and temperature gauge, a cast
aluminium rear carrier, stylish bodywork, oblong indicators, plastic
chainguard and 520-size final drive chain. And, unlike the RC models, the
Nordwest did not feature a back-up kick-starter. Gilera also had other
four-strokes in the pipeline, but none made it into production.