Living with a 2001 Cagiva Raptor

Andrew who? Yes, exactly. We think he was the TWO office cleaner once upon a time. And he was given a long term test bike

November 2001

It's an unusual sensation; crashing on a familiar corner. It's usually an uphill left, followed by a tightening right then straight on... so why am I still going in this  direction digging a trench with my face through the mud while the corner continues off over there?

I still can't believe I didn't do the usual - uphill left, tightening right, then straight on... even though I have a re-arranged piece of anatomy to prove otherwise (collarbone of course). Still, you can't truly appreciate your feeling for a bike until you've crashed it. Crashing has moments of clarity, and in that moment I realised that I didn't understand the Cagiva Raptor.

It's not a high-revving point-and-squirt bike, it's a pint of an engine fitted into a half-pint chassis that gives a different perspective on two wheeled travel. And it's going to need some adjusting too, on my part. Thanks to the guy who was parked up with his 748 for picking me up, dusting me off and getting me on my way.

I can't say I've bonded with the Raptor. At high speed it develops a straightline wobble that, if riding through it, accentuated into a high-speed weave. The tyre pressures, and the head bearings were okay - removing one of the wing mirrors seemed to cure the problem. The front suspension is non-adjustable and set for a Mr Average, with an average weight, riding at an average pace. Unfortunately if you are not Mr Average and attempt to ride at above average pace, the front wheel bounces and skips across most uneven road surfaces. This is my biggest cause for concern and a visit to Maxton Engineering (01928) 740531 will remove Mr Average from the equation.

Aesthetically the Raptor has some finer points, drawing from an early Renaissance influence, unfortunately juxtaposed with a Cubist influence down one side. It definitely follows the form-before-function design principle. My artistic input reshaped the sculptured cast footrest into something more abstract, unfortunately with a five-week backorder for a replacement.

A visit to Weldspek (01623) 835555 will see  it restored to as near as possible its former glory until a new part arrives. The laying-on of spanners will go a long way to help me get on the Raptor's wavelength. It's a spiritual thing - I broke. I'll fix it and between us we'll find some common ground.

Apologies to importer Three Cross Motorcycles (01202 823344) for failing to keep it right-way-up and assurances that I'll take a different route to work in future (uphill left, tightening right, then straight on!)

February 2002

I'd only had the Raptor for a couple of days. Just enough time to get to love the ex-Suzuki TL1000 engine's wheelie-popping poke, and dislike heavily the pogo-stick front forks and pair of mahogany-shod Brembo brake calipers.

Then, early one morning (7.00am, a bleak Monday to be precise) I trickled out of the cul-de-sac I currently reside in, up to the T-junction before the main road. A few of the parked cars had a sprinkling of frost which, to be fair, I only noticed as I applied the lightest of front brake. With the engine on full choke the front wheel locked (on the sheet ice I also hadn't noticed) and down we both went, like a sack of sorry King Edwards.

I was completely shocked by my undignified wake up call - winter riding is not for the forgetful, or unaware. Never mind the embarrassment; the braying fools in the TWO office dined out for days on my rank amateur mistake. The Raptor, on the other hand, just sulked in petulant Italian silence. Freshly mint from being repaired after Andrew's bin, it's now adorned with scuffed petrol tank, exhaust end can, radiator and nicely bent handlebar. Double bollocks. Get a bike with a fairing, crash it, replace expensive panels.

No fairing? Replace sticky-out bits of motorbike. You can't win, can you? Unless you don't crash.
And I was so looking forward to hoisting some horn monos. Maybe I'll just concentrate on staying onboard, when it's fixed - and talking to me again - that is.