Cagiva Elefant 350 Project nl

Cagiva Elefant 350 Project US

Honda VTR1000f Project nl

Honda VTR1000f Project US




Project Cagiva Elefant ...from 350cc to 900cc

Update 29-12-2013 at the bottom of the page

The plan:

Since I have bought the Elefant 350 I think about putting a 900cc engine in the frame.  The newer Ducati engines are more reliable than the 350cc Pantah engine that sits in the Elefant frame since 1986 and it develops naturally a mountain of extra power and couple.  Furthermore I came for parts by Rudy Berends and he has done the same with this result.  (http://www.customfighters.com/1570/the-three-musketeers/) Now is the time come to work on this. 


Point of departure: 

Approximately 6 year ago I bought a Cagiva Elefant 350. The engine was wracked, the shock got stuck, battery was broken and the alternator too. The side covers, original lighting and the front fender where missing.

There was also good stuff, the gasoline tank had been spray painted nicely mat black, the seat was newly covered with a black covering and the frame also painted black. The front lighting that is on the bike now is more beautiful than original, I think.

During the first 4 years I had and I cleaned up the whole motorcycle. Furthermore there have been carried out a little extra technical improvements: New thicker start cable and a competition up-side-down front fork of WP (from Cagiva WMX250)


The parts and challenges:

It is logical to take a Ducati Monster or SuperSport engine to do this.  I did seek for an Ducati engine but chose a Cagiva Gran-Canyon engine.


The advantage is that the GC engine fits in the Elefant frame without alteration to the engine cases. Ducati has mounted the bearings for the swingarm in the engine casings. Cagiva mounted the bearings in the swingarm, just like the Ducati 4-valve engines (916 series).

A big disadvantage is that this GC engine has fuel injection system and thus a different wire harness. You can choose to adept the wire harness too, seek space where the injection-controller (computer) must sit, gas pump assemble, make a return lead to the tank, put a gas level meter in the tank, new controls on the steer, new dash, sensors in the airbox and…..adapt the frame to make space for the injection bodies… That is too much trouble. 

I will choose the carburetors, and at least 40 mm Dellorto’s. Therefore the ignition system must be change/replaced so that it works without computer.  For now we stick with the ignition units and bobbins of 1986. Therefore "pick-ups" must be placed in block. This pick-ups signals the moment of the fireing of the sparks. But without suitable fly wheel, the pick-ups gives no signal. This weekend I want to open the block to look for the mounting points for the pick-ups. If they are pressent we can start the hunt for a suitable fly wheel and pick-ups. I want to use the last version of pick-ups because these more reliable are than the pick-ups from the 350 block. I think of getting a lighter fly wheel for a better gas reaction (speed with which the block reacts to the gas give)

Last weekend I opened up the new engine. GREAT! The mounting holes for the pick-ups are present!  The plan can continue!


So I took pictures and went to Biggelaar to talk over the possibilities and the expenses. The only possibility with pick-ups to work is by the exchanging of the fly wheel.  The fly wheel triggeres the pick-ups. With this a light weight fly wheel is not possible because a light weight fly wheel is made from aluminum and thus not magnetic. Because this engine is equipped with the new type starter coupling, the only fly wheel that will work is that of a 1998 Ducati Monster 900. S**T! That will be hard one to find…was my first thought. But I was wrong. Biggelaar was sure they had 1 lying somewhere and after a half hour surch with 2 man we found it. The bolting can begin.

Last night I held the fly wheels next to each other.  PEEEEEP! They have different diameters…Now I probably need a new alternator and alternator cover have…. Back to Biggelaar on Saturday …


Indeed, a different alternator cover and alternator will do the trick…but for the same amount of money I can buy an ignition module which can turn the single signal from the engine into 2 sparks. This module replaces the CDI units.

These modules are available in a preprogrammed and a self-programmable unit.  An advantage and disadvantage of the self-programmable module is that the ignition curves must be tailor made with dynoruns on a test bank. That makes this module very expensive.  Thus I chose the preprogrammed module. Again a small fortune…

These ignition modules produce a signal used by a rev.counter. Yes, a secondary challenge has been solved. I can this signal to make the original rev. counter from the Gran-Canyon work. Last night I took the rev. counter from the dashboard and modified the original rev. counter housing so it can hold the CG rev. counter. Somethings can wait.

The carburetors are back, thank you Sven, and the seal kits are in too.  Thus the carburetors can reassembled.



On our wedding-day, I am started out with a divorce…..directly followed a marriage.  Yesterday I took the old engine out the frame and replaced it with the new engine…I thought it would be an easy fit.


A Ducati motor has 3 mounting points at the rear.  The middle one I discussed earlier. The others would fit….NOT. The old engine has a width of 190 mm and these are identical spaced from the center. With the new block the top mounting has a width of 205 mm. of which one side 100 mm. from the center and the other side 105 mm. from the center. The lower mounting point is 200 mm. wide and one side 105 mm. from the center. 3 Times wrong.



After that modification it was a quick fit.


The next "challenges" arose: 

  • Brake lever and foot rest on the right have interference with the clutch cover, that means sawing, cutting and welding to frame.
  • De Gran Canyon exhaust pipe (Front) will not fit between the frame or around it.  Way out:  Elefant 900 exhaust pipe…only that has trouble of the rear brake cylinder bracket: see above.
  • Front fender hits against the oil cooler bracket: I have cut the fender and will mount the oil cooler hanging instead of standing on the bracket…if the front wheel lets me…


Now let’s work on the carburetors and the exhaust.

As I wrote before I had a little problem with the mounting brackets from the rear break cylinder and dual footrests. Also the guide bracket for the brake line and wiring harness create an interference problem. So I cut these from the frame. This exhaust fits perfectly.

But I had no muffler. ... Just to the attic for something else and that I almost tripped over a set of LeoVinci absorption mufflers of my Firestorm. I don’t use them anymore because they are too loud... But a Ducati engine must be heard ;-) It fits like it was made for the job! Only made some cuts in the flange to be able to clamp it on the pipes....


To connect to the carbs I used the manifolds from the 350, but those have a smaller bore on engine side (carburetor side fits) Long live the file and Dremel...


Next stop: Electronics...

later: the brake cylinder bracket.

So, those were productive days (4 days not working because Thursday was a public holyday and I took the Friday off) The electronics are now complete, the remaining parts are on marktplaats, (www.marktplaats.nl), Clutch master and slave cylinder installed and bleeded, the oil cooler is installed, the sprocket is in place, the air filter is back in place ... still need a solution for the rear brake pump,  wait until the oil hoses come in, need to make fuel Lines, secure the ignition box, put the oil,  battery and petrol in it and hope she wants to start... and then adjust and test drive.... (WHERE ARE THOSE OIL HOSES?????)






We are getting there…

When placing the tank showed that the ignition coil for the vertical cylinder too far out and prevented the placement. We have found a new position for it today. I also have made the bracket for the ignition box, installed the fuel hoses, spark plugs and oil filter.


Now I will finish the rev. counter: the left the old mechanical counter, the right electronic


The electrical rev. counter died (I shorted it...)

Just returned from my first trip, to the dealer to get the chain riveted. No success. They had no proper link. The bike is fast and I have to change gears much. The final drive (chain and sprockets) is much shorter (20%) than that of a Grand-Canyon. At the first serious braking action the front tire was arguing with oil cooler. They both survived but I think I have to change to a 17 "front wheel (now 21 ").

At home, my eye fell on the bottom of my fork ... ..
A CRACK! Blind panic! I hope that HK can help me, they are WP service point. First fix this, that wheel will come later


So. Parts are in ... we try to fit the fork this time ... I use a fork WP 4357. This is a 43mm fork out a KTM 620 Enduro SC in 2001.

 Before it can be built in the seals have to be replaced:


That went well, taking the old fork out as well. (Italian wiring)

But the new one does not fit. He has a thicker shaft and therefore larger bearings.

The front wheel I have chosen is a Cagiva Canyon 600. That's a 19 "wheel what my problem with the oil cooler should solve and it fits so perfectly into the fork.

Because the new steering stem does not fit we will mount the old stem in the new triple clamps. Since the new stem is larger we make the buses fill the gap.

As the buses for the triple clamps a little time coming, I already started with the dashboard. First I have an aluminum electrical box converted into control lights cabinet. Iin addition to the lights a voltmeter will be installed. After a few faulty voltage regulators, I would like to know what the onboard voltage is. Probably not necessary but nice to have.

Then I made a dashboard of paper. I have stick this test dash with double-sided tape on an aluminum plate (1 mm) and after some cutting, drilling, bending and sanding it was ready to test fit the parts and mount it on the bike.

Now the dash needs to dry, It is painted matte black, like the control light box.

I still owe you the picture of the painted dashboard:

I also finally got the bushes needed to mount the stem from the frame inside the triple clamps. Below is the stem of the frame (dark thin) and the triple clamps (Alu thick)

All parts are a press fit together. The assembling is easier if you heat the hole (Hole will be bigger) and the shaft is cold (Shaft will be smaller). Exactly as it does works with men;-) So you put the holes (bearings in this case) on an electric stove:

And axis (triple clamp with stem) in the freezer:

If they are both on the right temperature you slide them together ... in theory ... in practice there is often a press or a hammer needed. But ... it has worked and the new fork in the fame

The rim on the photos above is bend, so I have bought a different set of wheels. Bon motoren placed the tire from one rim to the other and I mounted the wheel. I improvised a bracket for the speed sensor.

Jan Willem has made a bush for me to fill the space left by the original speedometer drive.

Finding the correct bolts for the break caliper was quite a pain in the.... I went to an Aprillia dealer to get the bolts (from RSV1000). He did not had any stock and so he ordered them. It lasted 3 weeks! These are bolds you need to be replaced every time if you  take the caliper off (according to Aprillia). ... Meanwhile, I ordered them to MotoPort (no Aprillia dealer) and they had it within one week.

Then it was important to an E-approved headlamp to find thin enough or low enough light for my dash to fit. The unit I have was not approved and does not fit. The original KTM unit does not fit and the Husqvarna unit Bon borrowed suited neither. I bumped into a Polisport MMX headlamp and fit as a glove.

Ready for a second test drive:

The rear wheel does not fit. The rim need to go 10 mm to the left seen from the hub. Enter the expensive solution: custom wheels. Any KTM Supermoto wheel fits the front, at the rear a 4.25 "wide rim (was 2.75") is placed on the original hub by Haan Wheels. For who do not know Haan Wheels.... they make the wheels for all factory teams in the cross, enduro and Dakar. People who know wheels. And they arrived last week:

I have them fitted and they are almost perfect. The wheels are slightly off center (3.5 mm) and that will be corrected. Then the tires on it.

This has been done. The wheels fit perfectly. Even with maximum suspension travel everything keeps running and nothing will be touched.

The adapter for the caliper, I milled 1.5 mm off the mounting surface to get the caliper further out. The caliper got worked over with the grinder, because otherwise the spokes hit the caliper.

Since the exhaust of the rear cylinder is now different, I have a portion of the inside mudguard removed. But then the shock is very much under fire so I mounted a "hugger" a KTM LC8 SMR990. That needed some cutting, drilling and gluing

When bleeding the brakes, I discovered that the pump is an internal leak so I bought a new radial master cylinder. It has no brake light switch so I ordered a banjo with pressure sensor. The brake hose is too short so I ordered a longer one. They will be here this week

To do:
Adjusting the carburetors,
Find place for the speed sensor
dashboard programming
Carburetors / ignition tuning
E-approved exhaust out
road approval
Next winter (2012-2013) completely apart and the frame and wheels powder coating

After a summer not working on the bike I finally managed to go few steps further. By now, the new brake cylinder is mounted and working. Now the hand guards didn’t fit anymore. That is solved by making new parts to fit a set of steer clamps from another set that I had lying around. In the picture below, the (black) original clamp, aluminum steer clamp from  another set and the white block what replaces the black clamp and the round pen (not yet finished)

In this picture everything is mounted.

This gives enough space

A frequently heard comment was that the fender was too big. I'm agree. So different fenders where purchased and the best chosen. Yes ... a Husqvarna fender fits a KTM fork. Thereby the voltage regulator needed to be replaced. So I made ​​a bracket to place it a bit lower. Additional advantage: Better cooling and less vulnerable wiring.

No snapshot, but it dissolved, the placement of the speed sensor. The magnet is glued on the brake disk.

I have decided to replace the carburetors with other Dellorto's with the adjustment screws on the other side. In the previous carburetors the adjustment screws were not  reachable (see pictures below)

Better like this:

The disadvantage of the new carburetors is that the suction side is larger and does not fit the original tubing.

A friend supplied 2 universal Gates hoses in the correct diameter. Only a little long..... Luckily I also have a saw.....

After installation everything had to be adjusted, my child could get back to drip.

Meanwhile I have programmed the dashboard and mounted e-certified mirrors. Now all I need is a e-certified muffler and she is ready for the road inspection ......... AND THEN…. RIDE!!

After a holiday, BBQ weekend, team building weekend, some carb tuning sessions and wrenching sessions it is time to write am update once again

After the last tuning session, I have decided to improve breathing.
On the airbox is a cap to prevent water entering the airbox. I was not going to do any river crossings with this bike and the cap limits the air so the cap has to go. But this cap also keep the air filter in place. Which also reduces the air but also prevents sand from entering the engine so we want to keep it. With an aluminum plate with the biggest hole possible, the filter remains in place and we have minimal barrier to air, see photos below:

When I was adjusting the carbs for this change, the engine made it clear by means of large smoke plumes that I was not finished... There was  liquid oil coming out of the exhaust. The engine was running nice and the exhaust connecting to the vertical cylinder was wet, I drew the conclusion that there was something wrong with the outlet valve of the vertical cylinder. That's less pleasant because there is no space to work when as the engine is in the frame...

First I made ​​a stand where the engine can rest on when I work on it.

Then I took the bike for 75%  apart and to take the engine out . With a quick inspection through the valve cover of the exhaust valve I found nothing. So I removed the head. When loosening the head bolts I noticed that one of the bolts was not as stuck as the others. (For those interested: the front right one, the one that is difficult to turn because the belt cover is in the way ....) I didn’t pay attention to it and also removed  the cylinder. The compression rings and scraper ring looked neat ... Hmm then once again I called Paul (see bottom of page). During this talk I remembered again that one bolt was loose. So I toke a better look... Indeed, there was oil on that side of the cylinder and the head and a little carbon deposits to. GOTCHA! New O-rings were placed (A Ducati has no head gasket but O-rings around the oil channels), foot gasket rubbed in with liquid gasket and I put everything back together . Now I mounted the head my selves so I am sure that it is right.

Then the engine was put back into the bike, and he is now waiting for a (another) carb tuning session. When it isn’t raining and I'm home....

I am now busy with the sale of surplus parts, see:


With many thanks to (temporary list) : 

- Rudy Berends (http://www.customfighters.com/1570/the-three-musketeers/) for the inspiration, parts and the advices.
- Wilfred de Wild for the GC engine and the advices. 
- Sven van Tienen for the cleaning of the carburetors. 
- Regien, for listening to my enthusiastic stories, frustrations and cursing, the coffee and the helping hands. 
- Biggelaar Performance (http://www.biggelaar-performance.com) for the parts, coffee and advices.
- Henk Verwaayen and Piere Willems for there tips and tricks
- Paul Bon van Bon motoren (http://www.bonmotoren.nl/) for the parts and advices.
- Jan Willem Houwers for the milling of the bushes.
- Jeroen Donkers for thinking along and delivering the hoses.
- Koen Hartman for our philosophical talks about Ducati engines and the welding.