Lucky man

Lucky Man

by classic-bike |
Published on


Cagiva celebrated their 1990 Paris-Dakar rally win with a limited edition model based on the desert racer. Three decades later, Harry Metcalfe bought this one


It all started back in 2015, when I bought a Honda RD03 650 Africa Twin. Off-road bikes have been a life-long passion of mine, but more recently the yearning for a classic adventure bike had grown ever stronger – especially those with a Dakar heritage. I love the colours and the madness of a big-engined dirt bike designed to race across deserts, plus I liked the thought of riding them around the farm (if I was feeling brave enough).

I really enjoyed living with the RD03. It reeked of Hondaness and was better off-road than I ever dared to hope it would be. But the more I learnt about these classic adventure bikes, the more I wanted a Cagiva Elefant 900 – especially one in Lucky Strike colours.

I then spotted a 900 Elefant painted in a horrible blue and yellow colour scheme, up for sale at £2,800. It was cheap because, frankly, it looked rubbish. But I took the plunge, bought it and quickly had it repainted in Lucky Explorer colours, which transformed it.

A year later, I stumbled across a 750 Elefant for sale in Lucky Explorer colours and was surprised to discover it was actually a sweeter bike to ride than the 900 Elefant. Yet even though I now had two Elefants in the garage, I realised what I really wanted was the super-rare Cagiva Elefant 900ie. This was a limitedrun model of just 1000 units, built to celebrate Edi Orioli’s 1990 Paris-Dakar win on a Cagiva Elefant 900. It’s quite different to other 900 Elefants, with a trick fuel-injected 904cc engine (similar to that in the Ducati 907 Paso), fully adjustable Öhlins rear shock, a crazy 250mm of suspension travel and a coolness rating that’s off the scale.

Just by chance, I spotted one for sale in Yorkshire for £6000 and phoned the seller immediately, only to discover he had just accepted an offer from Germany for the full asking price. I was gutted – three years of searching and I’d missed it. I sulked for a day, but then decided to ring the seller again, this time offering him £1000 over his original asking price with the promise I’d be there in morning with the cash. The plan worked and I finally owned a 900ie.

I’m the fourth owner, but the seller was best mates with the previous owner, who’d bought it as an ex-demo back in 1991, so I was super happy to find an original UK bike with known history. I now had three Elefants, all in Lucky Strike livery, which was silly, so I sold the other two.

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