First test: Gilera’s 850cc twin
Updated March 14, 2002: We’ve had a first ride on a bike using Gilera’s new 850cc 90 degree V-twin engine and it could prove the basis of a genuine rival for Ducati.
The full story is in the March 13 issue of MCN. But here’s a few things we learned from riding a bike using the new engine.
1. The prototype chassis is from a 650 Raptor, while the wheels are from the 1000cc version. That gives a hint about how small and light the motor is.
2. Twist the throttle and there’s instant punch reminiscent of a 916-engined Monster.
3. We reckon it’s making up to110bhp at the back wheel.*
4. The acceleration is so strong it’s a struggle to hold on. There’s a little rough patch around 3000 revs, but all you have to do is give it a rev and it pulls cleanly past that. It’s strong until about 5500rpm. Then something gives this bike a major kick in the pants all the way to the rev-limiter at 9400rpm.
5. The fuel injection on this test model is excellent. It hunts ever so slightly when you hold a steady throttle, but it can handle any amount of cack-handed throttle control.
6. Mid-range power is smooth and meaty. Between 3500rpm and 4000rpm it’s already strong.
7. There will be cosmetic changes to the rather bland-looking motor before production.
* Since the original Superwheels test MCN has been able to ride the bike ourselves. A full report will follow but what we have learned is that the bike is actually making 83bhp, not the " up to 110bhp " previous estimate.