Piaggio's Gilera GP 800, an 850cc V-twin-engined scooter capable of 75bhp and a top speed of more than 120mph
When Honda released the first mass-produced four-cylinder motorcycle in 1969, the 72 bhp CB750K caused a sensation due to its performance. The horsepower and capacity wars that followed have seen the capacity of production motorcycles raised to a staggering 2.3 litres and it seems that the scooter world is following suit with the announcement of the Gilera GP 800, an 850cc V-twin-engined scooter that will most likely become the the world's fastest scooter when it hits showroom floors a year from now. Suzuki kicked off the maxiscooter craze in 1999 with its Burgman 400, then Yamaha followed with the 40 horsepower twin cylinder 500 T-Max in 2000, then Honda trumped that with the 50 bhp Silver Wing 600 twin then in 2002, Suzuki raised the bar further with the Burgman 650. As forecast earlier this year, Piaggio (which owns Gilera, Vespa, Moto Guzzi, Aprilia and Derbi) has been working on a new 850cc maxi scooter and the bike was shown publicly for the first time in Milan. The scooter will bear the Gilera name, with its 75bhp 90 degree V-twin motor giving it a top speed of more than 120mph. Perhaps even more significantly, the Aprilia engine comes straight from the new Aprilia Mana and features an advanced electronic transmission. A simple touch of the button on the handlebar and you enter into a completely different world. Three separate mappings for the totally automatic transmission and a sequential shift with 7 gears make it easy to find the best-adapted configuration for the riding conditions.
The growing global fuel crisis has seen a massive resurgence of the scooter and it'd be fair to say that the form factor of the scooter has never taken as much share of the two wheeled market as it does at present. The feet forward, comfortable and practical nature of the motorcycle's former poor cousin has seen scooters grow in power over recent years as the Maxi-Scooter has grown like topsy to the new pinnacle – a twin-cylinder, 8-valve 850cc engine with a 75 hp power output and torque of over 76 Nm.
The new 800 scoot is actually relatively heavy at 235kgs dry, but its tubular steel frame, with 41mm forks and 300mm twin front discs indicate that it'll be more than a match for the high speeds it will be capable of.
Each design element and technical feature on the scooter testifies to a revolutionary project - the final transmission is belt-driven; the large aluminium fork is anchored to a hydraulic single shock, mounted laterally in a horizontal position with seven-position spring preload; the aluminium fork has 41 mm shafts. The wheels (16" in front, with a 120/70 tyre, and 15" rear with a 160/60 tyre) ensure road grip and steering precision worthy of a motorcycle.
Stopping power is provided by two 300 mm steel disks in front, gripped by two Brembo dual-piston floating calipers, and a 280 mm rear disk.
The surface treatment, absolutely innovative for a scooter, alternates concave and convex sections; a careful study of surface reflection gives the overall look unique dynamicity. A front end that seems to slice through the air to attack the road is contrasted by a sleek, slender rear end that highlights the vehicle's manoeuvrability. The wraparound chassis shields and encloses the rider.
The exclusivity of the GP 800's styling can also be seen in the details, from the aluminium handlebars and the seat upholstery to the aluminium wheel rims with concave spokes and the light alloy fork. This is attention to detail in the best Italian tradition.
The Gilera GP 800 is meant for people who seek the performance and all the sensations of riding that only motorcycles were so far capable of offering, without having to sacrifice the practicality of a scooter.
The daily commute on a scooter turns into a new, exciting and gratifying experience on a Gilera GP 800. Like any other scooter, it is perfect for everyday use because of its manoeuvrability, twist-and-go transmission with the addition of an engine braking effect, perfect ergonomics and high level of comfort thanks to an extra-protective front shield and the size of the underseat storage bay, which takes a full-faced helmet.
However, it is the Gilera GP 800's unique performance that really determines its extraordinary versatility. Power, speed and acceleration levels are unprecedented for an automatic transmission vehicle, so the rider finds it only natural to travel well beyond the city limits. In fact, the Gilera GP 800's engine and running gear open up new horizons on rides out of town to make medium and long-distance tourism extremely enjoyable.
Whether it's a ride on the motorway down to the sea, a steep climb up a mountain pass or a gently curving hilly road, get on your Gilera GP 800 to boldly go where no scooter has gone before. Until now, that is.
Honda has also experimented with large capacity scooters with advanced electronic transmissions such as this 750cc scooter concept with CVT and electric roof and the more recent Griffon.
GILERA GP 800: Technical specifications
Engine 90° longitudinal V-twin, 4 stroke Displacement 839.3 cc Bore 88 mm Stroke 69 mm Fuel RON 95 unleaded petrol Compression ratio 10.5: 1 Max power at crankshaft 75 hp (55.16 KW) at 7,250 rpm Max torque 76.4 Nm at 5,750 rpm Exhaust Closed loop system with Lambda sensor and three-way catalytic converter in exhaust pipe Valve train (SOHC) 4 valve, electronic injection Ignition Electronic inductive discharge and variable spark advance in electronic unit with electronic immobilizer, transponder LED and fuel pump shutoff when bike tips over. Two spark plugs. Starter Electric Cooling Liquid with three-way thermostat Gears Belt-driven primary transmission, continuously variable transmission (CVT) with engine braking effect Clutch Centrifugal clutch Frame Double cradle, high strength steel tube trellis Front suspension Telescopic hydraulic aluminium fork with f 41 shafts; 135 mm travel Rear suspension Large fork with hydraulic single shock placed laterally in a horizontal position; seven-position spring preload; 135 mm travel Braking system Traditional: separate brakes on front and rear wheels Front brake Ø 300 mm semi-floating stainless steel double disk with two dual-piston floating Brembo calipers. Braided metal tubing. Rear brake Ø 280 mm stainless steel disk, floating caliper with two opposite pistons Front wheel rim Die-cast aluminium alloy, 3.50x16" Rear wheel rim Die-cast aluminium alloy, 4.50x15" Front tyre Tubeless 120/70-16" Rear tyre Tubeless 160/60-15" Length 2,240 mm Width 800 mm Wheelbase 1,593 mm Seat height 790 mm Dry weight 235 kg Fuel tank capacity 16 litres (includes 2 litres reserve) Emissions Euro 3