First Impression: Aprilia Pegaso 650 –

21 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on First Impression: Aprilia Pegaso 650 –
Aprilia Pegaso 600

La Nuova Frontiera

Photos by Robin Verhoeven

Ever since 1976, when Yamaha’s release of the XT500 created a market for what was loosely termed dual-purpose motorcycles, Europe has had a love affair with this class of bike.

Glamorized by events such as Paris/Dakar, the Trans-Sahara multi-stage North African rally, huge numbers of replicas were sold. However, these were replicas of form, not function — the Sahara desert being as alien to them as Laguna Seca Raceway would be to an Electra Glide.

But most owners of dual-purpose bikes aren’t concerned with off-road capability anyway, as statistics have shown that for 95 percent of these bikes, the closest they ever get to a loose surface is the inevitable close encounter with dog turds that litter European cities. In the never-ending search for niche markets within a niche market, a new variant of this type of bike has been evolving.

The basic design parameters of wide bars, high seat, long suspension, narrow frame, and single cylinder 4-stroke engine have been taken and worked into models that owe more to high-tech industrial design than the sand dunes of the Sahara. An excellent example of this is Aprilia’s Pegaso 650-3, now into its third stage of the evolutionary cycle.

Aprilia has been selling large-capacity dual purpose machines for more than 10 years. First came the ETX600 and later the Tuareg, both bikes using the same 2-valve engine supplied by Austria’s Rotax company. In 1993, the first Pegaso was introduced, with cosmetics that took it sharply out of the dirt and into the city. It also saw a change of engine to the 5-valve water-cooled Rotax engine that is still present on this latest version.

Brembo disc brakes appeared on the second version of the Pegaso in 1995, along with a quieter exhaust to meet EEC regulations and updated graphics. Beyond the cosmetics that have once again been updated for 1997, biggest changes for the -3 variant are its new frame with 1.5 cm longer wheelbase, increased rake and trail and a revised airbox.

Just as its predecessors, this bike is a lot of fun to ride. Nail the throttle and its Rotax engine pulls very cleanly, spinning through to the 7500 rpm redline more quickly than you’d expect from a large capacity single. Aggressive use of the clutch will lift the front wheel, but you have to consciously flog the engine to make this happen.

Claimed power output is 49 bhp at the crankshaft, and the engine feels strong, so we were surprised when a run on a Dynojet dynamometer showed just 40 bhp. Our machine probably feels stronger due to its fat spread of torque from 3500 to 6000 rpm. It is also versatile enough for riders too lazy for frequent gear changes.

Let the revs drop down under 3000 rpm, snap the throttle open and the Pegaso will shudder through 3000 rpm and pull normally up through its powerband, that starts at 4500 rpm.


Aprilia Pegaso 600
Aprilia Pegaso 600
Aprilia Pegaso 600
Aprilia Pegaso 600

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