Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Cagiva Elefant 650

Mon, February 1st, 2010

1985-88 Cagiva Elefant 650
Yes, it's a belt-drive Ducati mill. But in its early air-cooled, 2-valve, carb'd, 650cc guise, it was not the standout performer today's Ducs are. Nice, but not stellar.
On road, a 4-point score. Off-road, a 2. Since it was street-biased to start with, I went higher than a straight average of the two.
While it looks decidedly '80s and a bit Euro-crude, it has aged well.
Solid motor; expect to have some frustration with chassis parts.
Much narrower and more dirt-bike-like than today's adventure dual-sport twins. Enjoyment of the riding experience is dependent on the width of your tush and length of your inseam. A very nice bike for people who can stand a tall, narrow seat. Ergonomics are otherwise good up to about 60 MPH, at which point the upright rider becomes a sail. The wide availability of Ducati engine parts is a plus for a bike so rare in in the U.S., but some parts, such as the exhaust, are nearly unobtainable.
Ducati fans will tell you it's not a real Ducati. Dirt bike guys will tell you its not a real dirt bike. Adventure riders will tell you it's a lousy Paris-Dakar-style bike. They're all right. And they're all missing the point.
If the idea of a Pantah motor in an enduro frame sounds cool you you, you will probably find Cagiva's execution of it cool, too.