Once upon a time there was a Morini Camel 500 (pre Cagiva)

Discussion in 'Land of the Rising Sun: ADV Bikes from Japan' started by Desertpistons, Jan 7, 2007.

  1. Desertpistons

    Desertpistons 80s dakar

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    254
    Location:
    Texas
    I would like to start a thread on Morini dual purpose bikes. Let’s start with the first Camel 500. Find attached a pic of the stock bike. Splendid!:clap
    Stock



    [​IMG]


    Mine


    [​IMG]



    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    After spending years on custom beemers (G/S) and feeling the nostalgia for some native bikes, I decided to investigate Morinis and their dual purpose historical accomplishments especially before they became Cagivas. So little is known about it and after all my researches spent talking to other fellas and gathering various materials, I have started becoming very fond of them. Because of this reason, I am now in possession of 4 Morinis; three 500s and one Morini-Cagiva 501.
    <o:p></o:p>
    I have come to know that in the earlier eighties, Morini and Valentini (famous Morini dealer) worked together to prepare bikes for some desert rides after Valentini’s son Massimiliano won the six days of Elba.. Specifically, in 1980, during the transfrica adventure where 3 stock Morinis made the race, 2 among the 6 bikes which completed the race were Camels. Morini also participated at the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:City><st1:place>Dakar</st1:place></st1:City> and Massimiliano ended 4<SUP>th</SUP> after few Yamaha xt 500 and a Montesa. Lack of money and serious interest by Morini in the <st1:City><st1:place>Dakar</st1:place></st1:City> made the end of the Morini attempt to conquer the podium. There were also some privateers that participated in other races during the 80s but only with discrete success.

    [​IMG]


    <o:p></o:p>
    Very interesting of the Morini 500 Camel that also raced the Dakar, sponsored by NAVA (an Italian helmet manufacturer), is the positioning of the air filter inside the tank itself with the intakes on the top side of the tank right and left. Definitely Brilliant!


    [​IMG]


    <o:p></o:p>


    Valentini also made some <st1:City><st1:place>Dakar</st1:place></st1:City> kits for the stock Camel owners. The kit consisted of a different tank (Simun named after a wind in <st1:place>Africa</st1:place>) and special exhaust (2 in 2), different forks-brakes and some hot engine parts too. Regarding the engine, the most brutal that I was told of is the 350 cc (from the smaller kanguro model) modified to 420 cc. Valentini also worked on a 4 stroke water cooled Morini engine.
    <o:p></o:p>

    A Camel 500 with the Simun kit

    [​IMG]

    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>

    This is my US Camel Valentini project – not completed yet.

    [​IMG]


    <o:p></o:p>
    More to come…
    <o:p></o:p>
    #1
  2. JeffPM

    JeffPM Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    191
    Nice bikes! I was aware of their existence, but really didn't much about them.
    #2
  3. 2 SPOT

    2 SPOT wannabe

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    3,406
    Location:
    valley of the sunstroke, AZ
    yeah same here,, ive heard the name but thats about it. wonder why theye didnt keep the camel name??
    #3
  4. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Oddometer:
    11,627
    Location:
    Central NJ
    [​IMG]


    Absolutely wonderful bike- the TransAlp of it's day. I sold it for 2 reasons- 1) although a 1 kick starter virtually all the time, it was real difficult starter after it fell over- something it seemed to do whenever I went off road :lol3 2) the hybrid 6/12V system meant I couldn't use electrics. Other than that, it was a spectacular bike.
    #4
  5. Desertpistons

    Desertpistons 80s dakar

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    254
    Location:
    Texas
    As promised, more info.

    This pic shows the famous tank which included a very large air filter and two vents positioned on the top side of the tank

    [​IMG]

    Note that the first dakar bikes had the lower exhausts instead of the single one on the top right side.

    Find attached some other interesting pics

    ][​IMG]

    This pic shows another rally Valentini Bike, this one sponsored by Zanussi (Italian home aplliances). Note the position of the shocks compared to the stock Morini Camel. By placing the shocks more horizzontaly, the bike has a quicker steering. This solution was adopted on the first six days bikes that raced in the Elba island in 1980.

    Last picture of the week is one of the dakar and of the NAVa team

    [​IMG]

    I love the simplicity of the first dakars. Small budget and a lot of courage!!!

    P.S
    Morinis are contagious....:nod
    #5
  6. Desertpistons

    Desertpistons 80s dakar

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    254
    Location:
    Texas
    I intended to post this one on the special tank

    [​IMG]
    #6
  7. McB

    McB Joe 40 ouncer

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    15,440
    Location:
    North Slope of the Flint Hills
    Great stuff. I remember a 500 V-Twin street bike; seems like it had low bars, sort of a cafe setup. Vaguely remember the Camel, but don't think I ever read much specifically about it.
    #7
  8. Desertpistons

    Desertpistons 80s dakar

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    254
    Location:
    Texas
    Most of the Morinis Camel in the US are what I call the Cagiva Morinis, since they were produced after being acquired by Cagiva. It is a shame as many Italians got pissed, for Cagiva buying Morini and killing it. In fact, Cagiva pushed more commercially its elephants than the Camels. Morini had a 4 valves Camel prototype that was full of promises and it was designed for a Camel, not a street bike. Unfortunately, Cagiva decided not to produce it and closed Morini. What a pity! The Cagiva morinis include the Camel 501 and the 501e (electric starter). I will post some info on those later on...I own one :)

    Now time modified pre Cagiva Morinis, the mk1, mk2 and mk3 easily recognizable for the frame being made with round tubes; the engine didn't have nikasil cylinders as the 501s later did.

    Find an intersting picture, the red bike on the left is the ufficial valentini bike that raced the dakar sponsored by NAVa, the one on the right is of a havily modified Valentini

    [​IMG]

    I definetly like the bars around the front bike light. Not sure of thier functionality though.

    Last find another picture of a modified mk3, custom frame and a custom swing arm . I have been told that the bike now resides in Germany. Yup, most of the italian specials have been bought by non Italians.


    [​IMG]

    Extremely well built bike.

    Last but not least the same bike as displayed on the top picture. The picture was taken in Germany where it resides too.

    [​IMG]

    :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap
    #8
  9. Desertpistons

    Desertpistons 80s dakar

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    254
    Location:
    Texas
    Here I am again to post some more pictures on these bikes. The next post will start covering the 501 and my project - a special 501

    [​IMG]

    I am not sure what happened to this front end- check the rake!!!. An early attempt to make a chopper out of a fine Valentini?:puke1 :puke1 :puke1 let me vomit..


    [​IMG]

    Another early rally bike.

    [​IMG]


    This is the last post on pre 501 camels. Next my new project a modified 501...Defintely a more modern bike with a slightly better engine and a monoshock suspension system.

    Morinis are famous for the spaghetti wiring- the electrics is a mess- especially this is true for the Camels which have a dual electric system; 12 volts to the head light and 6 volts to the rest of the bike. It is unusual considering that street morini models have all a 12 volts.
    #9
  10. KiltBoy

    KiltBoy Mahout

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    621
    Location:
    Sarasota, Flatistan
    Thanks frankenbeemer

    Keep 'em coming!

    :lurk
    #10
  11. Desertpistons

    Desertpistons 80s dakar

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    254
    Location:
    Texas
    Certainly Kiltboy. I know you you like ducati engines as I also do, but a good set up Morini kicks ass. Just to give you an example, in Italy there is a guy called Zuk that with his modified morini camel 501 with a modified swing arm continually beats other 2 cylinders bikes such as Cagivas and Beemers in the "multicylinder class" of the italian rally champioship. The funny part of this is that he races with the cheapest bike of the championship. :rofl
    #11
  12. KiltBoy

    KiltBoy Mahout

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    621
    Location:
    Sarasota, Flatistan
    Did those original bikes have a front drum brake? is that what's going on with the cable and brace on the front fork?:huh
    #12
  13. Desertpistons

    Desertpistons 80s dakar

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    254
    Location:
    Texas
    Yes the original Camels, the mk1, the mk2 and the mk3 had all front and back drums originally. The brace is there to block the drum carrier. Valentini bikes, beside the bike that won the six days of Elba, had all disk brake conversion kits. The Camel got the oem disk brakes only when they became Cagivas; hence the 501.
    #13
  14. KiltBoy

    KiltBoy Mahout

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    621
    Location:
    Sarasota, Flatistan
    One of these days I'm going to show up on your doorstep for a guided tour of your collection:eek1
    #14
  15. Desertpistons

    Desertpistons 80s dakar

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    254
    Location:
    Texas
    Anytime. You are very welcome. :1drink
    #15
  16. Desertpistons

    Desertpistons 80s dakar

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    254
    Location:
    Texas
    Before closing this chapter on (pre cagiva) morini Camel 500, find some last pics

    Morini Camel 500 -MK1

    [​IMG]

    Morini Camel MKII

    [​IMG]

    Morini Camel MKIII






    [​IMG]

    Same engine, same frame, same brakes, same suspension (more or less) but a different look.

    It though it was interesting that these bikes were selling without a front disk brake when bmw with its g/s had a front disk brake and at a price that was higher than a g/s. Who was in charge of market analysis? :huh
    #16
  17. KiltBoy

    KiltBoy Mahout

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    621
    Location:
    Sarasota, Flatistan
    I think the Italians are all about going - not stopping :D

    Besides, I'm not sure if there is any real marketing in the whole industry!

    Look at my beloved Ducati. You'd think that some bright boy over there would say 'Hey, I've got an idea - let's build a DS bike. Maybe, someting like an Elefant...' :cry
    #17
  18. Desertpistons

    Desertpistons 80s dakar

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    254
    Location:
    Texas
    Finally almost done with the Valentini Simun replica rebuild. Check it out...:clap :clap

    [​IMG]

    now from the ass..

    [​IMG]

    and her eyes...

    [​IMG]

    Now, It' s time for my special 501....
    #18
  19. Doomsday_Rider

    Doomsday_Rider Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    25
    Location:
    Land of Lincoln
    Wow the first picture in this thread of the 500 Camel is just great. :clap It just looks like...what a motorcycle should look like.
    #19
  20. Desertpistons

    Desertpistons 80s dakar

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    254
    Location:
    Texas
    Found some addl pics of the some dakar bikes 1983-1985.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    :norton :norton :norton :norton :norton :norton :norton :norton :norton :norton :norton :norton :norton :norton
    #20