To The Crusher: Gilera Nordwest

If ever there was a motorcycle built for the journalist, this was it.

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By on Thu, 3 Apr 2008 - 12:04

If ever there was a motorcycle built for the journalist, this was it. It was attractive. Cue erections from half-drunk journos at the offical launch. It was a supermoto, before there really were supermotos - standby for journos penning that this machine was 'ahead of its time.' And it came from a marque with some real history behind it, Gilera.

Oh yes. Here it was. A machine which, along with the little race-replica GFR125 was to help fund both Gilera's 250GP race team and the building of bigger and better road bikes. Now, the GFR was a gem. But it was a little gem only, meaning that few people would buy it. This meant a lot was riding on the old Nordwest.

So what was it? Well, it was available from 1991 as an unofficial import, having as it did a plastic fuel-tank which was only made UK road-legal a couple of years later in 1993. It had a 558cc five-speed single motor, hanging in a spine frame. It weighed 140 kilos and produced 53bhp. It was just that every one of those bee aitch pees were the destructive kind that loved to shake rattle and roll the thing apart. Sure, owners loved it and to be fair it looked absolutely bomb. Problem is, it rode like one. Many just seemed to explode in a shower of engine parts as the big motor shook the living shit out of itself. Meanwhile electrics would be as rudimentary as anything Benjamin Franklin could lash up, batteries would be replaced more often than the Duracells in your Walkman, brakes would seize at the merest apparition of moisture and you could have one in any colour you like, as long as after six months of ownership you liked 'ferrous turd crush brown.'It was a shame. As it promised so much.

Remember we said it was a journos bike? Three bought one - a huge percentage when you tot up the few that were sold. Our very own Mark Graham bought one, as did ex-Bike editor Hugo Wilson and the same magazine's Dan 'derring-do derro' Walsh. What does that say? It says that us journos let our hearts rule our heads and know bugger-all about bikes. To the crusher!

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