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Cagiva posted by

Some Assembly Required: 1989 Cagiva 500GP V589 for Sale


This post is in our archives. Links in this post have been updated to point to similar bikes available to bid on eBay.

We don’t normally post project or incomplete bikes here on RSBFS, but this one seemed too good to pass up: one of Cagiva’s inspired but ultimately doomed series of 500cc GP machines, the V589. Battling against the established giants, Cagiva originally experimented with an inline-four configuration but eventually followed Suzuki’s successful formula with a square four, before switching to a V4 in 1986. They may have struggled to win races, but if bonus points had been awarded for looks, the Cagivas might have stood a better chance, since they’re considered by some to be the prettiest racebikes of all time.

Even if you don’t agree, the specifications are certainly stunning: in an effort to keep up with the more established players, Cagiva experimented with some really wild technology, considering these were racing in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Extensive use of carbon fiber, traction-control, and electronic suspension were all tried to give Cagiva a competitive edge, although consistent success eluded them and they withdrew from competition at the end of 1994.

Earlier machines like this one had clear stylistic links to the Ducati 916 and Cagiva Mito which should be no surprise, as the V589 was designed by Massimo Tamburini. Some versions included a carbon fiber swingarm, although this one has the aluminum version. Much of this V589’s bodywork is missing, but that’s no surprise as those bits are pretty expandable on a race bike. Fortunately, it has the all-important frame, although it sounds like that will require some changes to re-orient the shock, as it was modified at some point to try an alternative configuration.

From the original eBay listing: 1989 Cagiva 500GP V589 for Sale

This is a genuine 1989 Original Factory Works Cagiva V4 500 Grand Prix race bike, as ridden by Randy Mamola etc. It is sold as an incomplete project and is for restoration.

The engine has been rebuilt recently and is fresh but I would still check it as it’s stood for a little while. The factory records confirms the original build date of 23/06/89. The frame is chassis 4, it has a special fuel tank which was used to test the ignition in the tank area and also modified to try a top mount shock rather than the original horizontal fitting. The swing arm and shock are the original horizontal type so the frame would need reverting to take the horizontal mounts. There is a linkage arm, the shock is a special Öhlins 500GP unit made for Cagiva. The dash includes temp gauge, Magnetti Marelli ignition, rectifier, battery, PV controller. There is a radiator, coil packs, PV motor, magnesium wheels with front discs, sprocket, cables for throttle and pv, the complete triple clamp magnesium assembly, footrest hangers, rear master cylinder, cast water pipes, upper front fairing, belly pan with air box sections. There are exhausts and silencers but will need modifying to fit as they are later year. Some small parts also. So it is a very good basis. All the parts are original Cagiva GP but as the bikes changed constantly from race to race some parts are from varied dates and may need work to fit. Please study the photos to see what is included, everything is shown.

The main missing parts are fork legs (Marzocchi or Öhlins were used at various times) carburettors, brake calipers (Brembo or AP were used) seat unit, mid-fairing section, tacho, bars with levers and throttle, wiring, some other small parts.

I can put the buyer in touch with a collector who has other Cagiva parts to finish the bike.

The price for this one-of-a-kind bit of racing history? Just $55,000 but, considering the missing parts and what they will cost to track down or create, this is definitely an “experts only” proposition, but those of us with reasonable means can still look at the possibilities and dream…



  • “Hey kid…about that college fund I told you I was settting up for you?..the funniest thing happened….”

  • Now this would be a cool “license evaporator”… Requires a girlfriend at your local D.M.V. ;0


  • This looks like a nightmare. Lack of records and all the missing stuff, you might as well figure on another 50 k to get it back together.

  • What I don’t see are any little black boxes. That could be a show stopper. A missing wiring loom is tough. No ignition box / mapping? Did these have electronic power valves in the exhaust? Sounds like mission improbable. I doubt it comes with a service manual. Experts only indeed.

    Otherwise the rest sounds like basicmechanical engineering.

    • You easily can see the Yamaha-styled power valves in the cylinders. They appear the be cable-actuated as well. But this is a nightmare proposition. Even though ’80s two stroke engines are less-complicated than anything we see today, no electrical parts will prevent this from ever firing up. The mountain of missing stuff should not be ignored. Yes, maybe Barber or Cagiva/Ducati museums would want it but that’s still a crazy asking price.

  • That could be the endless money pit in trying to finish the project with unobtainable parts.

  • This has to be the most beautiful piece of unobtanium in the motorcycle racing world.
    It’s hard to believe that any of these bikes ever left Italy-what might the chassis number be?
    To call them a failure is to miss the point I believe-only the Italians had the passion and were prepared to spend the money to try and tackle the Japanese in Grand Prix racing at that time.
    Designed by Tamburini, funded by Giovanni Castiglioni, really this bike should be treasured as a monument to the Don Quixote urge among small Italian companies to keep racing, whatever the odds.
    Think MV, Benelli,Mondial,Ducati, Morini, Aermacchi, a classic list.
    A strong rumour at the time of manufacture is that Cagiva were “helped by”Yamaha in the engine department, which supposedly explains the V4 2 stroke power plant.
    Whatever the truth, these were beautiful creations and I would consider quite serious crime to try and get my hands on one. Even to just hang on the wall.
    Both Randy Mamola and John Kozinski raced these, so it’s fitting it should be in the USA-you lucky chaps.

    • Locky,

      Eddie Lawson also raced them and gave Cagiva their first victory. Putting this thing back together though? Best left for the experts with the means and the display space.

      Maybe Barber Museum is interested! :0)

  • Louis-ooops-had forgotten Eddie Lawson also rode the beast. Oops again the bike is in England and chassis number is 4.
    I actually have a Cagiva out in my garage-chassis number is 000000043. It’s a humble Ducati 900 engined Gran Canyon, only made for 2 years but it’s a cracking allrounder. Cagiva have no shame about cramming others engines into their bikes-Suzukis TL1000 engine was also used in similar machines.
    It’s a jigsaw for sale here though, but if it ever got finished it would be the supreme track bike-fear of further damage would probably mean little further use. Still, $55000 doesn’t sound dear for a real serious piece of racing history. Check what genuine race bikes NCR Ducatis fetch at auction and they are quite numerous compared with the V589.

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