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New Cagiva Elefant, Superbike on Their Way?

We haven’t heard much from Varese since Harley-Davidson purchased Italian manufacturer Cagiva Group last year (including luxo-sport-bike marque MV Agusta). Harley-Davidson’s communications department doesn’t have much news of what’s going on over there, and Cagiva’s mouthpieces haven’t been tooting much, either. Other than announcing the retirement of design chieftain Massimo Tamburini, there have been no official announcements on Cagiva’s website hinting at what’s going on in that famous design studio.

But they’re working on something over there, according to our man in Italy, designer Oberdan Bezzi. Not much news about MV Agusta (although we have been hearing speculation about a three-cylinder 600 supersport machine), but Cagiva may have some things in the works. Oberdan has heard of development on two projects; a revamped Elefant adventure-tourer and a superbike, both utilizing the Rotax-built Helicon 1125 powerplant Buell uses in its new 1125R sportbike and 1125CR cafĂ© racer.

The Elefant should be of interest to you Paris-Dakar rally fans. The Elefant was first put on the road in 1985, the year Cagiva purchased Ducati; good timing, as those first Elefants used Ducati’s 650cc Pantah V-Twin motor. With long-travel suspension, comfortable ergonomics and good wind protection, the Elefant gained a loyal (if small) following over its 15-year history, evolving through two product cycles into the last E900s sold in 1999. The new bike, according to Oberdan, should have a combo trellis/cast frame and long-travel inverted forks. Expect the Helicon motor to be retuned for hill-climbing, sand washes, and running from AK-47-toting bandits.

The Schiranna – presumably named for the hometown of MV Agusta’s engine plant – is a much sportier prospect. It’s pure superbike, from the radial-mount Brembo brake calipers to the giant swingarm. Expect this bike (if it exists) to have a highly tuned Rotax V-Twin and be aimed squarely at Ducati’s competition-crushing 1098R; since MV Agusta will be building high-performance triples and fours, it makes sense to use Cagiva to tackle the V-Twin superbike market. Of course, the question on our minds is how much Harley-Davidson will support projects like this in tough economic times. Was the Schiranna the bone of contention that compelled Tamburini to quit? For now, nobody’s talking.

You can see more of Oberdan’s sketches here.