We take the spoked wheel X-Cape 650X into the dirt to see how it copes.
The X-Cape 650X you see here is pretty much identical to the X-Cape 650 that we compared with the Kawasaki Versys 650, with the only difference being that this bike gets spoked wheels. Since Moto Morini appears to be targetting this bike at those who like a bit off-roading, that’s what we decided to focus this review on. If you’re interested in how the X-Cape handles as a road-going tourer, the comparison review is the one you want to read.
Moto Morini X-Cape 650X review: design, build quality
I won’t go too much into the looks here because not much is different from the standard bike, apart from the paint scheme. But yes, with its tall, mass-forward rally-bike stance and svelte rear end, this is the best looking bike of its class to my eyes. Quality seems quite nice as well, for the most part, with no off-putting panel gaps or cheap materials to touch and see.
Tubeless rims are a convenience.
That being said, the left-hand grip was rotating on the handlebar and the windscreen adjustment mechanism on our bike was jammed and refused to budge. We also noticed a mild coolant leak from the reservoir and discovered that the cap is actually a rubber plug that is simply pushed into place and can’t be tightened. Still, the overall impression of quality and finish is mostly quite positive and the large 7-inch TFT display adds to the feel-good factor.
Moto Morini X-Cape 650X review: engine, handling
With a 19-inch front wheel, Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres, a decent amount of suspension travel (165mm front/160mm rear), and a decent amount of ground clearance to match (175mm), the Morini 650s are not massively specced for off road, but they do appear to be up for some fun in the dirt. Specifications tell only a part of the story, though, and it’s nice to see that this bike’s standing up ergonomics are also quite well judged. Your legs will find a good interface to lock onto the motorcycle, the shape of the fuel tank is supportive and the wide handlebar is set at a good height. If you want to fine tune the position, the handlebar risers can be set in three different positions, bringing the bar closer to you or further away.
Adjustable suspension copes well.
As we mentioned in the comparo, this engine is extremely similar to the Kawasaki 650 motor, but it lacks that Japanese unit’s bottom-end urgency. That makes the Morini an easier, less intimidating bike for newbies, but it does mean that you have to make some pretty exaggerated movements of the long travel throttle to whip those 60 horses into getting a move on. Once you get past 5,000rpm though, the bike is plenty quick, and thankfully, the chassis can keep up.
With a kerb weight of 233kg, this bike weighs 10 kilos more than a Ducati DesertX, but the adjustable Marzocchi suspension is good enough to cope. It is set slightly on the firm side, but that enables the bike to soak in big landings or medium-sized ruts quite well. The ability to turn off the rear ABS is nice as well, and I found the Brembo brakes struck a good balance between feel and power – both on and off road. With the block-patterned Pirellis, it was good fun playing around in the quarry, where we shot these images, although you can never shake the feeling that this weighs as much as a full-sized ADV. You’ve also got to be careful not to take too many liberties with the ground clearance. Nevertheless, its off-road friendliness is far ahead of the Versys 650, and to a lesser extent, even the Suzuki V-Strom 650.
Moto Morini X-Cape 650X review: verdict
Strangely, off-road bits that you would expect with a bike called ‘X’ like handguards, a metal engine bash guard and crash protection are all optional extras. And a main stand isn’t an option at all. Still, at Rs 7.4 lakh, ex-showroom, the asking price is just 20,000 more than the standard X-Cape. That’s quite tempting, especially since this is the only bike in the class that gets things like tyre pressure monitoring and tubeless spoked wheels, and doesn’t skimp on important stuff like the suspension and brake components.
The rear ABS can be deactivated.
The only two things to consider are that this is an entirely unproven product from a brand new company in our market. The same goes for the local distributor who currently sells 26 different models from five different Chinese-origin manufacturers. Whether they can provide a high-quality after-sales experience that such an expensive product deserves is something time will tell.
If you’re okay with those rather significant concerns, I can tell you that the X-Cape 650X has proved to be pleasantly impressive and it’s easily the nicest Chinese motorcycle I have ridden so far.