First test on Cagiva Xtra Raptor

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The Cagiva Xtra Raptor is exactly that, a Raptor with a little bit more: a bit more adjustment for the suspension, a bit better handling, a bit more carbon-fibre, a bit less weight, a bit more entertaining… and all for a bit more money.

Only 999 will be built and we got to ride the first.

The carbon-fibre fake air-ducts running back from the triangular tacho to the petrol tank add an exotic touch, they’re plastic on the stock V-Raptor with which I’m more familiar.

But I don’t need these visual clues to tell me that the bike I’m riding is no ordinary member of Cagiva’s Raptor family.

As I ease off the front brake lever and aim the Xtra-Raptor into a right-hand bend in the hills near Cagiva’s base in Varese, the bike steers with a notably light touch. The road surface is rutted in the middle of the turn, but the Cagiva is not fussed and its suspension floats over the bumps with a superbly well-controlled feel. Even when I wind back the throttle to send the V-twin punching hard out of the bend, there’s not the slightest twitch from its handlebars.

Such a blend of quick steering and stability under acceleration would be impressive from any bike, let alone one powered by Suzuki’s famously torquey TL1000 engine. And it’s enough to confirm that, although the most obvious features of the Xtra-Raptor are its carbon-fibre parts, it’s the chassis changes that earn this model its status as the best Raptor yet.

One criticism of the V-Raptor was that, apart from its wacky styling and the slightly more aggressive riding position, the more expensive machine didn’t differ significantly from the basic model. The Xtra-Raptor changes all that.

Raising the rear of the bike increases the seat height by 25mm, but it was very low to start with and the X-bike still feels compact and manageable as I fire it up and ride out through the factory gates.

The unchanged, unusually wide bars mean that the riding position is slightly racier. But it’s still comfortable at low speed.

Cagiva’s engineers softened the 996cc TL unit’s output slightly for the original Raptor and the new version is no different. Peak power is down slightly, to a claimed 105bhp. Helped by slightly lower gearing, the result is a bike that feels a shade smoother and more refined than the standard Suzuki at low revs.

The liquid-cooled eight-valve lump responds cleanly from anything above about 2500rpm. It yanks my arms from 4000rpm-plus, and stays pretty smooth as the revs rise towards the 10,300 redline. Suzuki’s six-speed gearbox was typically slick, too.

There was too much traffic around to get near the top speed of about 150mph, but the Cagiva stealth bike was great fun as it stormed past traffic, lifted its front wheel away from junctions and cruised effortlessly at a very stable 100mph, its nose fairing giving a small amount of wind protection.

Better still, the X-bike was excellent on the steep, twisty roads around Varese. The previous Raptors handled well, but were designed with an eye on comfort, and, having little suspension adjustment (shock pre-load only), were a bit soft for aggressive cornering.

Not the multi-adjustable X-Raptor. It is set up slightly firmer and is notably tauter and more precise in the twisty stuff, where it made good use of its sticky Bridgestone BT56s and its generous ground clearance.

At a claimed 194kg this bike is a few kilos lighter than the V-Raptor. That can only have helped under braking, where Brembo’s unchanged combo of 298mm discs and four-pot calipers requires a fairly firm squeeze of the lever for maximum stopping power.

The most obvious changes are the matt grey paint and the carbon-fibre instead of plastic on the front mudguard, side-panels and pillion seat cover. Those are simply cosmetic, but designer Galluzzi says the spars running from headlamp fairing to fuel tank, which are also carbon instead of plastic, give a slight increase in rigidity.

Other chassis mods are conventional. The unchanged steel ladder frame holds a longer rear shock that lifts the back end of the bike slightly, and steepens fork angle from 25.2 to 24°. New yokes with reduced offset increase trail from 92 to 100mm, to maintain stability.

Suspension is also new. Sachs provides the shock, and Marzocchi the 43mm upside-down forks, as before — but these higher-spec units are fully adjustable. In addition there’s a non-adjustable steering damper mounted transversely below the bottom yoke.

Predictably the limited-edition machine is also more expensive. Only 20 bikes are due in the UK this year, and they’ll cost £8199 on the road, just over a grand more than the V-Raptor.

More on this in MCN, published August 22, 2001.

MCN Staff

By MCN Staff