Progressive POWER DRIVE, Kayaba gas shock absorber with
2x 260mm discs 2 piston calipers
Single 240mm discs 2 piston calipers
As a teenager, I had a friend with a
mechanical obsession - he wanted to install a Porsche 911 engine in his 1971
Volkswagen Beetle I yanked the throttle wide and the big, single-cylinder engine
did the rest.
I told him such surgery would turn the car into a death trap but Gordon grinned
and kept checking the scrapyards for the Porsche unit he couldn't afford.
I just wanted a Porsche; he craved the thrill of humiliating sports cars in a
vehicle that looked mundane.
The Gilera Nexus 500 Maxi scooter helps me to understand what Gordon meant.
Gilera promotes this beefy 460cc urban warrior as "a scooter with the soul of a
My initial reaction was to dismiss it as silly. I ride sports motorcycles every
day. They have fighter-jet acceleration, sumptuous steering geometry and
handling that leaves me grinning from ear to ear.
Would I swop that for a twist-and-go scooter with linked brakes and a
The first hint of an answer came when a chubby chap in a gold Jaguar tried to
beat me away from the lights It's a lot quicker than people expect a scooter to
be. I yanked the throttle wide and the big, single-cylinder engine did the rest.
Bye, bye Jag.
He tried it again. Same result. Even the biker on a red Ducati 999S was
laughing. He gave me a big thumbs-up before leaving Jag - and Gilera - in his
That made the point nicely. Despite its Brembo brakes, ultra-sticky Pirelli
Diablo tyres and sharp sports fairing, this entirely updated Nexus is not hugely
It runs out of pull at about 160km/h on a freeway and the riding position is a
little too upright for racing. But it's a lot quicker than people expect a
scooter to be - which means that by car standards it's greased lightning.
There's one caveat; you have to thrash the beast. Open the throttle gently and
the centrifuge hardly functions. To achieve the urgent response of which the
motor is capable, twist hard and hold on.
I was sufficiently impressed to experiment with a passenger; the Nexus was
untroubled. It handles well, too - tipping into corners with aplomb, even
two-up, and leaping out of them with alacrity.
If you like funky looks combined with immense comfort and one of the most
impressive suspension set-ups on a scooter, the new Nexus is certainly worth a
The upswept exhaust looks gorgeous, and the fully adjustable progressive rear
shock-absorber feels equally good.
The seat is huge and sumptuous - much more relaxing than the accommodation
available on most sports bikes. The pillion accommodation is practical, and
underseat storage will take a small laptop or backpack.
Tall types beware
One gripe. At maximum lock, with both feet on the running boards, the handlebars
collided with my knees. I'm 1.9m tall and the issue would not arise for a
shorter rider, but tall types beware - I had a nasty moment completing a tight
The instruments, which include analogue rev counter and speedo and a digital
trip-computer featuring fuel gauge, engine temperature and maximum speed record,
are good. So is weather protection; I rode in drizzle and hardly a drop reached
my visor or my legs.
Practicality is augmented by a natty cellphone/smokes/map compartment in the
left side of the fairing.
On a fast commute involving freeways as well as city streets, this is a fun
machine. It has power enough to be entertaining on country lanes and, in the
right hands, the agility to keep up with moderately fast motorcycles.
Automatic gearing can't match a manual, and linked braking isn't compatible with
real sports performance, but the Nexus 500 comes surprisingly close.
You can even tour on it. I have encountered Italians riding them as far afield
as Ireland and Brittany but its real function is as a prince of the urban jungle
for riders who want to look cool and move fast. In that guise, it's a blast.
Chic young execs fed up with traffic congestion might care to take a look. - The
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