Fortunate Explorer: A Cagiva Elefant with a Ducati 1098 engine


Custom Cagiva Elefant with Ducati engine
Keep in mind the Cagiva Elefant? The legendary Dakar-winning dual-sport was constructed whereas Cagiva owned Ducati, and was powered by the latter’s extensively used 904 cc Desmodromic L-twin engine. It epitomized the rally raid fashion of the 90s—particularly with big “Fortunate Explorer” graphics splashed on the aspect.

The Ducati DesertX might be the closest factor you will get to a contemporary interpretation of the Elefant. However due to a complicated jumble of crimson tape (MV Agusta owns the Elefant title), Ducati couldn’t name it that. Fortunately Paolo Balbo isn’t sure by such company trappings; he’s known as his newest creation an Elefant, despite the fact that it isn’t technically one.

Custom Cagiva Elefant with Ducati engine
Based mostly in Parma, in Italy’s beautiful Emilia-Romagna area, Paolo customizes bikes as a pastime. At a look, his Elefant appears like a tidy restomod. However get near it, or twist the throttle, and also you’ll quickly notice it’s a special animal totally.

That’s as a result of Paolo didn’t simply need to personal an Elefant—he needed to personal the quickest Elefant on this planet. So as an alternative of discovering a single donor bike, he sourced a body and engine, then cherry picked the most effective components to mix them with.

Custom Cagiva Elefant with Ducati engine
The body is definitely from the Elefant’s successor—the 1998 Cagiva Gran Canyon 900. However the motor is much more fashionable. Utilizing a collection of laser-cut engine mounting plates, Paolo managed to wedge within the 1,099 cc Desmo V-twin from a 2007-model Ducati 1098.

The 1098 additionally donated its electrical system. It’s been upgraded with an EVR digital gearbox management unit, and now runs with two completely different engine mappings—one full energy map, and one for wet situations. So not solely is Paolo’s Elefant good for 160 hp, however it behaves like a contemporary bike too.

Custom Cagiva Elefant with Ducati engine
With that a lot energy on faucet, Paolo knew he needed to spec the working gear to match. A set of burly Showa upside-down forks went onto the entrance finish, with modified internals to optimize efficiency. They’re held in place by bespoke yokes—machined by Model & Efficiency to Paolo’s specs.

The entrance wheel makes use of the 19” rim from a KTM 1090 Journey, laced to an unique Cagiva Elefant hub. Customized mounts maintain a pair of Brembo calipers from a Ducati 999, gripping 320 mm discs.

Custom Cagiva Elefant with Ducati engine
There’s extra trickery happening on the again, the place Paolo managed to adapt the swingarm from a Honda Hornet to suit his Elefant. It’s hooked as much as a modified WP Suspension shock, lifted from a KTM 990 SuperDuke.

The rear hub’s one other OEM Elefant half, the 17” rear rim is from an Aprilia SVX550, and the rear Brembo brake’s a Ducati 1098 merchandise.

Custom Cagiva Elefant with Ducati engine
The Cagiva’s bodywork is an impressed cocktail of refurbished and handmade components. The tank and rear aspect panels are unique Elefant items, however the entrance fairing was constructed from scratch, utilizing a mixture of fiberglass, carbon fiber and kevlar. Ditto for the entrance and rear fenders, sump guard and hand guards.

Behind the fairing, a set of enduro handlebars are matched to the 1098’s grips, switches, levers and dashboard.

Custom Cagiva Elefant with Ducati engine
Subtler touches embrace a custom-made baggage rack, an open clutch cowl, and an Akrapovič muffler. Below the hood, you’ll even discover a custom-made carbon and kevlar airbox.

The colour scheme is an easy gray and white affair, with a cultured two-tone cowl on the seat. With period-correct Cagiva logos, and an OEM-style rear mild and license plate bracket, you’d be forgiven for mistaking this for a restored traditional. Till it comes screaming previous you, in fact.

Custom Cagiva Elefant with Ducati engine
If it had been as much as us, we’d have completed this off with these iconic “Fortunate Explorer” logos. That stated, we don’t hate this look—and apart from, Paolo’s different Elefant wears that livery.

Paolo Balbo | Pictures by PGK

Custom Cagiva Elefant with Ducati engine