CAGIVA GRAN CANYON 900
By Nicholas Frankl
You may well have read about this bike over the last few months. It's big, long, red and has a rather nice Ducati 900 motor out of the Monster. I too had read a review, and although excited about riding the bike, I have to confess that I was missing the buzz when it arrived. Why, you might ask and a suitable answer I'm afraid I don't have, only that when I saw it, I didn't know what it was trying to be, and why it existed in the first place.
Ask an R1 rider why his bike exists and you'll get a pretty good idea-if a short reply. Ask a Hog rider and he/she will most likely laugh. Even an Africa-Twin owner would give you pointers. But ask a Gran Canyon owner and I suspect he maybe somewhat flummoxed. The reply might include, though not be necessarily limited to; ground clearance, comfort, rideability, commutability and reliability. It may also contain the word power, for the bike is quick, responsive to throttle input and very tractable around town. Visibility may, too, come up unsurprisingly, as the thing is sat on a spring so large and tightly wound that even 90 Kg/190pounds cannot dampen it's enthusiasm.
What you won't get is a definitive answer. Does that matter? I really don't know, because lots of other scribes (all more profound than me) have heaped praise upon the Canyon. I though, just couldn't get on with it and not because it's a sports bike with 120bhp and 1 mile wheelieing capability, as I can't and don't DO that.
I like to think I can assess any vehicle on its particular merits. I once even tested a Trabant along Budapest's cobbled streets (you know the ghastly East German plastic thing U2 made famous) and even found merits in it's pitiful existence.
Let's start on the negatives. The bike is too tall. I am 6ft 2ins with boots on and even I had trouble making surefooted ground contact on occasions. The bike is not comfortable. The back position is good and nice 'n straight but the rest is a no-no. The rear bag attachment plate is next to useless as it has no place for hooks etc and lacking a pillion strap across the seat also means travelling with a spare helmet is damn fiddley. The riding position combined with the bike's height makes cornering kind of weird although the on-road (as opposed to off-road) tyres actually make for easy execution.
On the good side the bike looks wicked. The front lights are cool, and effective too, the twin fuel caps are gimmicky but different (do they actually do anything?) and the engine and gearbox match seamlessly to provide quickish acceleration and clutchless shifting.
Cagiva tell me I am the first to find fault with the Canyon. In my defence this was the first such bike I have tested, although I am still unsure as to what it is and where it fits. What I will say is that if you are either 6ft4ins or wear 4ins heels, commute everyday, need to occasionally jump onto pavements or over other vehicles, enjoy a good view or two and like a bit of speed thrown in- then take a look at Cagiva- you will have found your soulmate.
Gran Canyon 900 £6999 900cc 218Kg 75bhp