Sunday, May 19, 2024

GR500 adventure bikes complete Baja Kagan’s Gold

Adventure/touring enduro motorcycles are not common in cross-country rallies due to their weight and size, but that doesn’t mean such marques don’t maintain rally programmes anyway like Yamaha and Harley-Davidson. The GR500 is the latest bike to throw its hat into the rally ring when Vasily Glukhov and Andrey Ryaboshkapov completed the Baja Kagan’s Gold in April.

Developed by Chinese manufacturer Chongqing Zongwo Vehicle Industry Co., the GR500 is an adventure bike inspired by the Honda Africa Twin, a dual-sport motorcycle based on the Honda NXR line that enjoyed success at the Paris–Dakar Rally in the 1980s. It features a 500cc twin-cylinder, liquid-cooled four-stroke engine from Loncin Motor Co. that is modelled after what is used in the Honda CB500X and powered by Bosch fuel injection from Bosch and a six-speed manual transmission.

It sports two fuel tanks totalling 39 litres for a genral range of up to 900 kilometres. SZC provides a 41-millimetre telescopic fork suspension at the front with 200 mm of travel, while the central shocks at the rear travel 150 mm. For the race, Glukhov and Ryaboshkapov had wheels from Borilli Off Road Tire.

The bikes were prepared by Rolling Moto for Kagan’s Gold, the opening round of the Russian Rally-Raid Championship‘s motorcycle side. The only modification made to accommodate the rally conditions was replacing the windshield with a navigation tower for the roadbook.

After a thousand kilometres of testing, the race began 20 April with Glukhov finishing fourth. He and Ryaboshkapov generally stayed out of trouble throughout the rally save for a tyre puncture for Glukhov during the first leg and a wheel problem for Ryaboshkapov the next day. Otherwise, they managed to reach the finish with Glukhov in fourth.

“I’m waiting for this GR500 to fall apart, for the suspension to piss itself or for the engine to catch a seize up,” wrote Ryaboshkapov after the second leg, “but to my DEEP surprise (and a little incomprehension), it keeps going…”

Rally raid bikes are usually capped at 450cc for engine displacement, though more powerful models are also growing in popularity. For 2024, the FIM Bajas World Cup introduced a Trail category to let 600cc twin-cylinder bikes take part.

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