2001 Cagiva Raptor
Unfortunately, the comfort runs out before the fun does. I found the sloping forward saddle a real pain in the nuts, my first experience on the bike being a painful meeting with the petrol tank when I first applied the brakes. I found myself sitting well forward, motocross style, in the saddle. This aided control in the twisties but did nothing for the safety of my vital organs. This upright and forward stance also meant that most of my contact with the bike was via the saddle; there's very little weight on the bars or the slightly rearward mounted footpegs. This soon led to discomfort, about fifty miles into any ride my butt would start to snooze. Fortunetly, when given loads of stick, the petrol tank would be demanding more fuel via the flashing warning light on the funky console after as little as sixty-five miles! Use the throttle a bit less and the 18 liter (4.7 gal) tank lasts much longer.
The able chassis and capable suspension are backed up by a good set of brakes. There are twin Brembo 4-piston calipers up front that grip a pair of 298mm discs. These are backed up by another 298mm disc at the rear, this time with a twin-piston caliper. The rear brake is well balanced and powerful, but not so sensitive that it locks at a mere touch. The front brakes require quite a bit of lever effort to get them really working, since they don't bite hard and immediately like on some sportbikes. Given that this bike might appeal to the less-experienced rider, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Use them properly and they'll give a useful combination of power with plenty of feedback. Unusual for a modern bike, I found that attempting to perform stoppies for the amusement of the local car drivers led to a sliding front tire. I couldn't be sure if this was down to the Bridgestone BT56 tire or the slightly over-stiff front suspension set-up. Interestingly, when the bike was launched in Europe earlier this year many of the testers complained that the front end was too soft on the pre-production bikes. Maybe Cagiva have gone a little too far in rectifying this and that might explain why the front gets nervous on bumpier surfaces.
At high speed (this bike will do 145MPH flat out) you're going to have trouble holding on. Without even the bikini fairing fitted to the V-Raptor there is a load of wind force at speed trying to remove your head and helmet as one unit. At speeds above 125MPH the front end doesn't feel as planted as you might desire at such velocity. This is a backroad blaster; a real roadster, not a hyper sportbike, so such considerations like ultra high speed handling are academic. If I owned one I'd be tempted to re-valve those forks and maybe fit a steering damper. If you don't ride it on the edge, you will not be troubled by any of this.
The bike is light, with the weight cenetered low. This, and its small physical size. means it's an easy bike to manage even if your body isn't held as far off the ground by your legs as you'd like. For this reason, and the low 770mm (30.3 in) seat height, it would make an excellent choice for the girls. Wheeling it in and out of the garage is a doddle, aided by the upright bars and low center of gravity.
For me, the proof of any bike is how I feel when the time comes to surrender the test machine. On the morning I was due to return the Cagiva, I felt blue. I really didn't want to hand the keys back. I found every excuse I could to delay the return by a few more hours and I spent them all riding the bike. With too little luggage room and not enough comfort, it's not a great bike for touring. A well-ridden sportbike will trounce it on both handling and absolute speed. But point it down some twisty back roads and it'll return you to home with a huge smile and a burning desire to go back for more. Roll it slowly through your neighborhood and it'll turn heads. The styling may not be everyone's cup of high-octane fuel but it does it for me and it gets loads of attention when parked.
Verdict? A good combination of Japanese engineering and Italian flair. A good choice if you want a roadster that shouts, "I'm different!"
Engine: Liquid-cooled 90° 4-stroke V-Twin Valves: 4 per cylinder, DOHC Capacity: 996cc Bore x Stroke 98 x 66 mm Comp ratio: 11.3:1 Intake system: Digital fuel-injection Clutch: Wet multiplate Transmission: 6speed, chain final drive Ft Suspension: 43 mm inverted Marzocchi, 120 mm travel Rr suspension: Sachs damper, preload adjustable Front brakes: 2 x four piston Brembo calipers, 2 x 298 mm discs Rear brakes: twin piston Brembo caliper, 220 mm disc Front wheel: 3.50 x 17 cast aluminum Rear wheel: 5.50 x 17 cast aluminum Front tire: 120/70 x 17 Bridgestone BT56 Rear tire: 180/55 x 17 Bridgestone BT56 Rake/Trail: 25.2°/110 mm Wheelbase: 1440 mm (56.7 inches) Seat Height: 770 mm (30.3 inches) Fuel capacity: 18 liters (4.7 gallons) Dry Weight: 192 kg (423 lbs) Instruments: Digital speedometer and scrollable digital readout for coolant temp, odometer, trip mileage (x 2). Tachometer, warning lights for neutral, high beam, turn signals and low fuel.