The second in our four-bike test! Aprilia Tuareg Vs Moto Morini X-Cape Vs Suzuki V-Strom 650 Vs Yamaha Tenere 700. Dave Manning takes a look at the X-Cape:
While fashion is constantly changing, style remains and – from the eyes of this jaded hack – the X-Cape has style in bucket-loads.
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While it may not be everyone’s cup of Oolong, the pseudo-Dakar look, with the humpty-backed fuel tank, low seat and full fairing, really appeals to me, especially with updates such as the sleek LED headlights.
Although the name does niggle a little, surely it should be S-Cape?
Ridden in isolation
There’s nothing out of the ordinary when slinging your leg over the 845mm seat (a lower, 820mm version is available), and it didn’t take very long for me to realise that this was a rather pleasant place to be. The engine is the CF Moto version of Kawasaki’s ER6 motor, in a detuned state. As such, it hasn’t got the absolute power of the Kwak’s powerplant, but will therefore be near unburstable, regardless of mileage or the owner’s level of mechanical sympathy.
It does need revving to properly get a shift on, and to be kept above 6000rpm –which is where the airbox starts to make a decent noise, although it’s all over by 9000rpm. The bottom end is a little gutless when compared with the other bikes on test, and the fuelling isn’t what I’d call perfect, but ridden in isolation there’s nothing wrong whatsoever, it’s just comparing it with bikes that have near-perfect fuelling. And, of course, the engine first saw production back in 2006, and engine tech and fuel injection management have come a long way since then…
There’s a long throw to the gear lever, and it needs a positive action (rather than a subtle little nudge) as it’ll not select the next gear if you’re a little gentle. That’s no bad thing, and in conjunction with the engine characteristics, it actually feels close to the way that many Class 2 learner bikes do, which’ll be comforting with those for whom the X-Cape is their first ‘big’ bike.
However, when it’s tested alongside the Yamaha and Aprilia it does feel a little wanting, in several ways. The looks are, in my opinion, the best of the bunch here as far as pseudo-Dakar adventure bike styling is concerned – not as ready for hardship as the Yam, but certainly more prepared for rough and tumble than the Suzuki – but you’re not really looking at the bike when you’re riding (aside from in shop windows…)
The seat looks right, and is right, and only prolonged periods of motorway need a bum shuffle, and the fact that the pegs are nicely placed, with the option of not only riding on the balls of your feet but also shifting your heels on to the pillion peg hangers – and also even using the pillion pegs if you wish – means that there’s enough variation in seating position to keep you at least as comfortable as on any of the other bikes in this test.
The screen is pretty efficient, albeit noisy and, like the Aprilia, it is possible to find a quiet spot by tucking down behind the screen, but this is only comfortable for about half-a-minute, so fit ear plugs and put up with the noise and a bit of buffeting (a word that is far too close to a meal time where you help yourself to food from tables of sandwiches and crisps).
But the power, and the way that it is delivered, mean that you’ll have your work cut out if your friends have any of the other bikes in this test, as even the Suzuki (with its aging engine) can clear off ahead of the Morini. Although the handling is confidence-inspiring, you do need to keep the engine on the boil at all times.
Although Italian by name, and with design and development still within Italy, Morini is now owned by the Chinese Zhongneng concern, and while some folk are still thinking that Chinese products are of an inferior quality, the new Morini seems to be of a decent quality, although a British winter or two may show exactly how durable the products are.
But bear in mind that many of the parts – such as the fully adjustable Marzocchi forks, and the Brembo brakes controlled by a Bosch ABS system – are high-quality parts on what amounts to a cheap bike. Okay, so the brakes are old tech Brembo, with axially-mounted sliding callipers and a physically small conventional master cylinder, but they are still good-quality components that raise the spec of the bike. And there’s backlit switchgear; a USB charging point; a really nice TFT dash; a full 7in in size with Bluetooth interconnectivity; while there are just two rider modes (thanks, in part, to the fact that throttle control is still by a conventional cable, and not ride-by-wire, this just means that the ABS is either on or off!); and heated grips (that the company website refers to as ‘heated knobs’).
Initially, the X-Cape seems a little outclassed here, although at £4000 less than the Aprilia, it’d be a miracle if it wasn’t. And, to be fair, when ridden in isolation, the Morini is a bloody good bike, and that ‘four large’ would pay for a lot of adventures. So, for a first dip into adventure bike waters for the 21st century Moto Morini and its Chinese supply chain, it’s an impressive offering.
Engine: 649cc parallel twin, l/c, DOHC, eight valves
Power: 59bhp (44kW) @ 8500rpm
Torque: 41.3lb-ft (54Nm) @ 7000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed, chain final drive
Frame: Steel tube trellis, aluminium swinging arm
Suspension: (F) Fully adjustable 50mm Marzocchi forks with 160mm travel, (R) KYB monoshock, adjustable preload and rebound, 135mm travel
Brakes: (F) Twin 298mm disc, Brembo four-piston floating callipers, (R) 255mm disc, two piston calliper
Test tyres: Bridgestone AT41, (F) 110/80 x 19, (R) 150/70 x 17
Seat height: 820/845mm
Fuel capacity: 18 litres
Wet weight: 234kg
Warranty: 24 months
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