A brand new middle weight adventure tourer for those looking for a motorcycle that stands out.
The age-old saying of not judging a book by its cover hits me as I’m staring at the new Moto Morini X-Cape 650X in front of me. Here’s a new middleweight adventure touring motorcycle, wearing a storied Italian brand name that’s now owned by the Chinese firm Zongheng Vehicle Group. Suffice to say, I wasn’t expecting too much from the X-Cape, but after spending a brief time with it, perspectives have changed.
For the sake of brevity, I won’t delve into Moto Morini’s rich Italian history because there’s Google for that. All you must know is that the marque is brought to the country by Adishwar Auto Ride India (AARI), the same firm that brings in the Benelli and Keeway bikes. Moto Morini, however, falls under their new Moto Vault multi-brand motorcycle outfit that also comprises the Chinese Zontes range of bikes.
Moto Morini X-Cape 650X: design
The word unique is what springs to mind the moment you set your eyes on the X-Cape 650X. The motorcycle’s design is a blend of form and function, with largely flat body panels all around. The front end especially looks imposing with its high-set fairing, integrated LED lights and an adjustable windscreen above it. Viewed from the side, the silhouette is reminiscent of Dakar Rally bikes, especially with the way the 18-litre fuel tank and side fairings are integrated. You’ll also notice the wide and accommodating split seats and the minimal bodywork from the side to the tail section of the bike. Those looking for a bike with road presence won’t be disappointed either, and this tall ADV will easily dwarf other bikes like the Triumph Tiger Sport 660.
The other area where the X-Cape surprised me is with its build quality. The back-lit switchgear, for instance, has a nice, damped feel. There are no uneven panel gaps and even the paint finish is rich and consistent. The Bluetooth connectivity-equipped 7-inch TFT display – the biggest in class – has an impressively crisp resolution. I particularly liked the attention to detail like the change in the rev counter animation from a regular bar graph to knobby tyres when you switch from road to off-road mode.
Moto Morini X-Cape 650X: ergonomics
Hopping onto the 835mm seat, the riding position for my 5ft 10in frame immediately felt natural, with an easy reach to the tapered handlebar. The foot pegs are placed at a comfortable height as well and given the narrow profile of the seat, placing my feet on the ground didn’t require me to tippy-toe. Speaking of, the seat is wide and its firmness should offer good support over long highway stints.
As for the ergonomics while standing up and riding, the narrow tank profile allows ample purchase for your knees while the foot peg and handlebar position are set appropriately to shift my body weight from one side to the other. That made it easy to manoeuvre this tall ADV around the slushy, off-road trail that we experienced.
Moto Morini X-Cape 650X: engine and performance
The specs of the X-Cape’s 649cc, inline-twin engine, (same as the CF Moto 650 range of bikes), aren’t something to write home about. And, just like the CF Moto’s engine, the Morini motor sounds and feels very similar to the Kawasaki 650 engine.
Nevertheless, in the short time that we spent riding it, we didn’t find the performance to be lacking either. The low end response is slow, but rev past 3,000rpm and there’s a rapid build up in pace. Acceleration in each gear feels quick and there’s enough punch at the top end as well. This, coupled with the tractability, should make for a good city and highway touring machine. However, this can only be verified after putting the bike through a full road test.
Moto Morini X-Cape 650X: ride and handling
Moto Morini had employed a steel tubular frame for the X-Cape 650X, suspended by a fully adjustable Marzocchi USD fork and a rebound as well as preload-adjustable monoshock. The X-Cape 650 gets alloy wheels while the X-Cape 650X, gets tubeless spoke wheels, shod with Pirelli Scorpion STR tyres. As you can see, Moto Morini hasn’t skimped on equipment and that has a significantly positive impact on the way this bike rides and handles.
Off the stand, the 215kg (dry) bike feels nicely balanced, and it remains so at both slow and high speeds. Even the suspension did a good job of rounding off a few sharp-edged potholes as well as absorbing undulations we encountered. As for the handling, we had very little time with it on the road, but initial impressions are that the bike feels composed and well behaved.
The braking performance too didn’t leave much to be desired, except that the ABS was a tad intrusive for my liking.
Moto Morini X-Cape 650X: verdict
To be honest, in the brief time I’ve spent with the X-Cape 650X, the bike came across as promising. The heritage badge aside, it’s the looks, features, quality and engine performance that have managed to make this a motorcycle that I’m looking forward to spending more time with. The prices haven’t been revealed yet, but a figure between Rs 7 lakh-8 lakh should enable it to find some takers in our market.