The Cagiva Alazzurra

Under the Radar

| January/February 2008

Cagiva Alazzurra
Years produced:
Claimed power: 55hp @ 8,500rpm (claimed)
Top speed: 107mph (period test)
Engine type: 650cc SOHC, air-cooled V-twin
Transmission: 5-speed
Weight (wet): 197kg (435lb)
MPG: 41-47
Price then: $3,750
Price now: $1,500-$3,500

What’s an Alazzurra? Or a Cagiva for that matter? In this case, consider it a Ducati motorcycle rebadged.

"Badge engineering" is a familiar term in the automobile industry, loosely defined as the rebadging of one make and model to create another. Think of a Chrysler sedan from the Eighties, and it will undoubtedly have one or two nearly identical siblings. And while this is the kind of marketing one might expect from decades past in Detroit, it wasn’t common in Bologna, even during their toughest times.

In 1985, Ducati had just been purchased by Cagiva Motorcycles. Cagiva, then the largest Italian motorcycle manufacturer, was primarily making mopeds and small street bikes at the time, and many of them were two-strokes. To expand into the middle- and heavyweight street bike market, it needed four-stroke engines. As the March 1985 issue of Rider magazine said, "There were several reasons why Ducati’s engine manufacturing facility was the logical candidate to supply Cagiva with motors: The physical plant was already there, the product was good, and it was the only segment of Ducati’s operation that had been profitable."

Cagiva's owners, the Castiglioni brothers, had a new direction in mind for the company, and it included widening the scope of the company’s products beyond that of just sport bikes for enthusiasts. Two years before Cagiva purchased Ducati, Ducati had agreed to supply engines to Cagiva motorcycles for two models, the Elefant dual-sport bike and the Alazzurra, a bike very similar to the earlier Ducati Pantah. It was 1985 before the two bikes hit the production line.

The 650cc Alazzurra was essentially the latest version of the Ducati Pantah when it debuted. The Pantah began life as a 500cc, grew to a 600cc and then stopped being produced altogether when Ducati’s troubles truly hit the fan in 1984.

The frame was similar to the Ducati Pantah, but the majority of the parts of the cycle were different. In 1986, a fully-faired Alazzurra was added. Called the GT 650, it also came to be known as the SS 650 due to the SS decals on the side covers of the bike.

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