Elefants in the room: MV Agusta borrow a slice of Cagiva’s Dakar racing heritage for two new adventure bikes

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MV Agusta have dived headfirst into the adventure bike market, revealing two mud-plugging models inspired by the Dakar Rally success of the Cagiva Elefant.

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Called the 9.5 and 5.5, the bikes are the Varese firm’s first true adventure offerings and sport liveries reminiscent of the ‘Lucky Explorer’ design used by Cagiva in their heyday – made possible by MV belonging to the same group.

Both bikes share a similarly styled front end, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the current Honda Africa Twin and share the same blacked-out finish above their LED headlight arrangements.

MV Agusta 9.5 rear

Other features seen across the range include front disc brake covers with gaps for cooling, as well as hand guards, bash plates, and a seven-inch colour TFT dash with Bluetooth connectivity and Wi-Fi for updating.

Both bikes are named to reflect their engine displacements, with the 9.5 sporting a new 930.63cc triple based on their existing 798cc unit and the 5.5 powered by a 550cc two-pot, produced by Chinese partners QJ.

The larger capacity of the 9.5 has been achieved by increasing the motor’s bore and stroke, with the overall unit dimensions unchanged. And it’s all held in place by a steel dual cradle chassis.

MV Agusta 9.5 right side

Producing 121bhp at 10,000rpm and 75lb.ft at 7000rpm, the revvy unit also gets a new cylinder head, intake and exhaust valves, counter rotating crank, conrods, main bearings, aluminum pistons and more.Elsewhere, the bike will be available with either a standard hydraulic or Rekluse auto clutch system.

The 9.5 has clearly been designed with some serious off-road in mind, coming with 21/18” wheels and long travel (220mm front, 210mm rear) Sachs semi-active suspension. Ground clearance is listed at an impressive 230mm while seat height is a sensible 850mm. Claimed weight is 220kg dry, which will likely end up around 250-odd kg wet once you’ve brimmed its 20l tank.

The smaller 5.5 bike model been developed alongside Chinese firm QJ and features a liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine, with a 70.5mm bore and 71mm stroke. As expected the bike is A2 compliant, with a 46.9bhp peak power (at 7500rpm), while torque is a decent 37.6 ftlbs @ 5500rpm.

MV Agusta 5.5 front

Distinguished from its three-cylinder bigger sibling by its more pronounced rear end and high-swept exhaust can, the 5.5 looks set to go up against Honda’s CB500X and the Benelli TRK502 X next year for the half-pint adventure bike top spot. Just like the bigger model it gets a decent ground clearance of 210mm, a 20l tank and with a dry weight also of 220kg. Wheels however are size for more road focus with a 19” front and 17” rear.

So why didn’t MV revive the Cagiva name for these new models? Well, in an exclusive interview with MCN back in 2020, company CEO Timur Sardarov said: “Cagiva will be back, Cagiva will be electric. It will focus on urban mobility, and we will see something within the next 24 months.”

Whether that 24-month claim is still accurate remains to be seen, having since stated in an interview earlier this year, that a first plug-in model will be seen by 2027. And there are no pricing details for either of these new models, but the 9.5 looks like a Multistrada V2 (£12,500) rival, while the 5.5 should be more Tenere 700 money (£9500).

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Dan Sutherland

By Dan Sutherland

Acting News Editor, sportsbike nut, and racing fan.