CAGIVA V593

Jeff Ware rides the most beau­ti­ful two-stroke racer ever.

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - CONTENTS - WORDS: JEFF WARE PHO­TOS: PETER PAP

Iwon’t tell you what it cost me but it wasn’t cheap. More than my house! Any­way, what price can you put on a piece of his­tory like this? It is a very rare and beau­ti­ful ma­chine. Don’t fall off it!” This Cagiva V593 be­longed to huge mo­tor­cy­cle fan and avid col­lec­tor Steve Byrne when I rode it. The bike held a spot at Steve’s bar with An­drew Pitt’s world-ti­tle win­ning ZX-6RR. Steve’s other 18 bikes live in the garage. Like I said, Steve is a bike nut. When he heard that the then-mv Agusta Aussie im­porter and dis­trib­u­tor Paul Feeney was sell­ing the V593 that John Kocin­ski won the Aus­tralian GP on in 1994, Steve just had to have it. Nat­u­rally, when Steve of­fered me a ride and a pri­vate day to do it at Queens­land Race­way, I didn’t hes­i­tate in say­ing yes! I think this is the first time I’ve felt true fear from a mo­tor­cy­cle. And I mean trouser-fill­ing fear! The bike is in­valu­able and has a lot of im­por­tant his­tory. Cagiva en­tered Grand Prix rac­ing in the late 1970s and was fight­ing the ul­tra-rich Ja­pa­nese man­u­fac­tur­ers that had seem­ingly un­lim­ited bud­gets. To com­pete, Cagiva of­ten had to copy what the Japs had built (of­fi­cially, they re­ceived help from Yamaha in the late 1980s) and had to get rid­ers who were per­haps a bit past their best or young up-and-com­ers. Ru­mour has it Barry Sheene was ap­proached in the early 1980s;

they em­ployed the likes of Alex Bar­ros (young) and Ron Haslam (old) in 1990, but per­haps their most fa­mous rid­ers were Randy Mamola (who took their first podium fin­ish at Spa in 1988) and Ed­die Law­son who rode in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Ed­die gave Cagiva their de­but vic­tory on a dry­ing track in the 1992 Hun­gar­ian Grand Prix be­fore he re­tired. Then, in came some younger guns, the likes of Aussie Mat Mladin and Doug Chan­dler for 1993, but at the end of that year, the Ital­ian fac­tory man­aged to get hold of John Kocin­ski, who had been dumped by Suzuki’s 250cc GP squad. He took Cagiva’s first dry-weather win at his home cir­cuit of La­guna Seca. Things looked good at the start of 1994, too. Johnny K won at East­ern Creek at the sea­son opener and backed this up with pole po­si­tion and sec­ond at the next round at Shah Alam, Malaysia. At the end of the sea­son on the up­dated V594, Kocin­ski fin­ished the 1994 cham­pi­onship in third po­si­tion but sadly that was the end of the line for Cagiva in the se­ries, apart from a one-off re­turn by Pier­francesco Chili at Mugello in 1995. The firm – which was owned by Clau­dio and Gian­franco Castiglioni – also owned Du­cati and by the mid1990s they were plough­ing more money into the World Su­per­bike se­ries, where they were win­ning races and cham­pi­onships. But let’s get back to the bike… I’m pac­ing around ner­vously as the bike gets warmed up by the leg­endary Dick Smart (he’s a for­mer Grand Prix me­chanic) and the even more leg­endary Daryl Beat­tie (for­mer 500cc star, race win­ner and se­ries run­ner-up) ob­vi­ously picked up on this! “Just stay re­laxed and ride it nor­mally,” he says. “It’ll just feel like a su­per­bike, only faster and lighter. And watch those car­bon brakes un­til they’re up to tem­per­a­ture!” Daryl is along for the day and hav­ing a spin with us. He’s try­ing to re­as­sure me in that weird way a sur­geon who knows his stuff re­as­sures you be­fore cut­ting your chest open with a hack­saw. “Keep an eye on the tem­per­a­ture too and watch the pow­er­valves, they seem to be jam­ming up a lit­tle at 9500rpm.” Oh Je­sus… The next minute I’m be­ing pushed down pit lane by Smart, just like the rac­ers on telly! I let the clutch out and the V4 two-stroke fires into life. The racer comes out in me al­most straight away. Ev­ery threat that my wife Heather has made on my life has been for­got­ten and I’ve al­ready got my knee down by turn two. Steve must have put ex­tra soft tyres on for a bit of ex­tra ‘journo’ in­sur­ance! First run down the back straight I short shift and load the bike up. I hold the throt­tle open in third gear to clear it and after a few coughs the dig­i­tal tacho sud­denly screams past 9500rpm. I can feel my shoul­der joints pulling apart as I shift at 12,500rpm be­fore grab­bing the brakes for turn three. They feel just like nor­mal brakes at the mo­ment. They must be cool. Out of three I feed the throt­tle on slowly to lean the en­gine out a lit­tle and get through that rough patch at 9000rpm. Again, the en­gine clears its throat and I’m strug­gling to hold on, let alone keep the front wheel down. It goes like this: wheel­spin, wheel­stand (wheelie for you Brits) wheel­spin, wheel­stand. Faark! This thing ham­mers. I’ve never felt ac­cel­er­a­tion like it: ever. Not even on a turbo or a su­per­bike or any­thing. These 500s truly are the beasts they were made out to be. I’m cau­tious through the two left-han­ders first time around but I feed it on a lit­tle on the short straight be­fore turn six, just to get a feel for the power de­liv­ery. Onto the chute for the first time the en­gine coughs again but once it clears, the bike ex­plodes in a surge of ac­cel­er­a­tion and shift­ing through the ’box via the elec­tronic re­verse-pat­tern quick-shifter de­liv­ers a feel­ing like no other. Noth­ing feels like this, no four-stroke could be this

ex­cit­ing. The 500 is amaz­ingly quick. Ev­ery­thing feels like it’s hap­pen­ing faster than I can deal with… I squeeze the Brembo front brake lever at the end of the straight. One fin­ger is all it takes but I have this pic­ture in my head of the ro­tors sud­denly get­ting up to tem­per­a­ture and lock­ing the wheel be­fore I can mod­u­late the pres­sure. But soon I’m trail-brak­ing into cor­ners with con­fi­dence and I’ve got the hang of feed­ing the power on pro­gres­sively out of the turns. I just can’t be­lieve how much con­cen­tra­tion this bike is sap­ping from me. Not to men­tion the phys­i­cal drain of just stay­ing on and deal­ing with the brak­ing and ac­cel­er­a­tion forces. Those black hoops are up to tem­per­a­ture now and with more con­fi­dence in the tyres I’m push­ing the Cagiva fur­ther and fur­ther on its side ev­ery lap. But I’m more than aware that I need to stand the bike up as much as pos­si­ble be­fore open­ing the throt­tle. Make no mis­take, this ain’t no prod­die bike or 600. Wind it on too much or at the wrong mil­lisec­ond mid-cor­ner on this thing and I’m go­ing to be fly­ing. The chas­sis is ul­tra-stiff and the bike is so light. You’d re­ally have to have an in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship with the ma­chine and a lot of laps un­der your belt to de­ci­pher con­fi­dence-in­spir­ing feed­back from it. Once you knew the bike, though, it’d be a bril­liant talker: in my short ses­sion I’m just re­ly­ing on my past ex­pe­ri­ence with slick tyres and know­ing how far to push them at this mod­er­ate pace. The rear Oh­lins Gp-spec shock is pre­dictably stiff and, to be hon­est, prob­a­bly in need of a ser­vice after sit­ting around for so long, es­pe­cially with my 88kg on it. The front sus­pen­sion ac­tion is firm but nowhere near what I’d imag­ined. In fact the ma­chine is rid­ing the nasty bumps at Queens­land Race­way quite well, with the ex­cep­tion of get­ting air over the bumps at the end of the main straight. The ses­sion is com­ing to an end and my dream is al­most over, just as I start to get smooth and com­fort­able. Not sur­pris­ingly the V593 feels bet­ter the faster I go and on the last lap I do just what Daryl said. I ride it like I’d ride a nor­mal bike run­ning into the turns fast, stand­ing it up and wind­ing it on harder and tak­ing it right through to 13,000rpm, just 1000rpm short of red­line. On the last lap I feel like I’m de­tached from the world. Like I used to feel when I was on a hot lap and in my ‘groove’ in my old rac­ing days. No bike has made me feel like that since I stopped rac­ing. I think I’m in love. I ride back into the pits and hop-off the bike feel­ing eerily calm and se­date. Steve walks over and hands me an icy cold beer as soon as I have my lid off. The sweat is pour­ing off me. Daryl is hav­ing a good old laugh. Man. This is the best day of my life. And the best beer I’ve ever had. I’m sad it is over but oh so glad the bike is in one piece and I am around to tell the tale about the ride. I hop off the bike and hand it back to Dick Smart. In one of the fun­ni­est scenes I’ve wit­nessed, Dick jumps on in jeans, train­ers and a hoodie (and hel­met), and goes out for laps on a mil­lion dol­lar ma­chine. Talk about ca­sual… cheers to that!

ABOVE:Dick Smart warms the V4 up prior to the test.

1 2 IN DE­TAIL: 1/ The twin crank V4 is very sim­i­lar to the YZR500 of the era. 2/ The pow­er­valve ser­vo­mo­tor lo­cated on the head­stock. 3/ Huge al­loy frame is ex­tremely stiff. 3

ABOVE LEFT: The bike ac­cel­er­ated faster than any­thing I have rid­den, in­clud­ing all of the World Su­per­bikes.

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