2008 Gilera nexus 500

Of all the scooters I’ve ridden I wanted to like this bike the most. Straight up, the idea behind the Nexus is totally me. A sporty looking scooter with reasonable power, something you can ride long distance and around town. I’m also a big fan of Gilera’s bikes having owned various Runner’s over recent years. So here I am…I’m almost pained to write these words. Really I’m not kidding. I wish I could gush on about the bike because I really want to. However…we decided when we started this website that we’d be straight up so that’s what I’ll be.

Let’s get the good stuff sorted first. If you’re into modern sporty looking scooters then the Nexus 500 is going to be the answer to all your prayers. Gilera have done a simply superb job of the styling, this isn’t just my opinion here; virtually everybody who saw the bike loved it. Given that I took the bike to a large wedding, this was a lot of people. Most barely even realized it was a scooter, because well…it looks like a motorcycle. The build quality of the bike is also top notch; walking around the bike you’ll notice the quality instantly. This is about as good as scooters get when it comes to fit and finish, everything is put together well.

The Nexus comes fully kitted out too. The dash is analogue and electronic and features a trip computer with lots of fun features like maximum speed and fuel consumption. Actually Gilera’s competitors should take a long hard look at the instruments on the Nexus as most pale in comparison. There’s a remote seat release on the key fob and a fully adjustable rear shock to tune the suspension to your weight or riding preference. The brakes are also about as good as it gets in scooter world with twin Brembo discs upfront and a single Brembo disc on the back wheel. The brakes are also linked on the left lever to aid emergency stopping.

The Nexus is also a reasonably nice handling bike; it’s certainly not perfect but definitely solid. On tight twisty roads it’s quite fun to ride but you can certainly feel the bikes weight as you barrel into corners. Ground clearance could also be a bit better as it’s quite easy to get the centre stand down while leaning over. Like any design it’s always about compromise, do you design for speed or convenience? The Nexus 500 runs a pretty trick suspension setup that does a nice job of ironing out road imperfections without too much jarring. I’d like to see an even softer setting if possible as the softest setting was still a bit hard for very light riders.

So the Nexus is built superbly, rides well in and out of town and has a vast array of quality components. So what gives then? Why can’t I gush? Well, it’s the motor; it’s simply not powerful enough. I’ll put it in context. The Nexus 500 is slower than a straight up touring scooter like the Piaggio X8 400. So speed isn’t everything you say. Well I know it’s not everything but if you’re making a scooter LOOK like a motorcycle you sure as *^% better make it go at least something like a motorcycle. Now ridden on its own the Nexus gets along just fine, the 460cc engine makes 40 horsepower and gets the bike to 100kph in 9.6 seconds. However in direct comparison the Nexus 500 just doesn’t stand up. The Piaggio X8 400 gets to 100kph in 8.9 seconds and is faster to 50kph as well. Our demo bike was brand new so I’m sure it will improve but probably not enough to reverse the tables. This is just wrong. It’s like buying a Ferrari and discovering that your friends Mondeo is faster in a straight line…I doubt you’d buy the Ferrari if that was the case.

To make matters worse we also had the Honda Silver Wing along for the wedding. The Honda Silver Wing is a super sized beast of a scooter. It’s designed to mosey along treating the rider to great comfort…well it was faster than the Nexus too. Oh and not a little bit, a lot. It simple crushed the Nexus 500 in a straight drag race. The Silver Wing hit 100kph in 8.2 seconds…a full 1.4 seconds quicker than the Nexus. This was somewhat of a surprise because if you look at the two bikes there’s no way you’d guess the heavier Silver Wing was faster, even with its larger 580cc engine. The Honda also runs a twin cylinder engine which really shows up the lumpiness of the Nexus’s motor. To top it off the Honda’s CVT transmission was quicker to engage and far more refined than the Gilera’s. Speed isn’t everything, but when you’re selling a SPORTS scooter it’s certainly a massive portion of the equation.

The Nexus 500 is basically 80% perfect, it looks great, it’s built amazingly well, it rides well, it stops well…it just needs a different engine and a short diet program. The Nexus 500 weighs in at 213kg which is about 15kg more than the X8 400, it really needs to be the other way around. Imagine this; Gilera simply knock on the door at Aprilia and borrow the motor out of the Aprilia Shiver. This is exactly what has happened with the new Gilera GP800 as it basically uses the engine and transmission from the Aprilia Mana. The Shiver engine makes 95 horsepower. Can you imagine how different things would be with 95 horsepower? First off, you wouldn’t be reading this as I would have never returned the bike.

Put simply it works like this, if you are going to price a sports scooter within shouting distance of a 114 horsepower all singing, all dancing, 600cc sports bike then you’d better at least get CLOSE on performance. 40hp is not close; it’s not even in the same state. The added ease of helmet storage and a CVT transmission…closer, but really any rider like me who also rides motorcycles is going to take their wallet over to the nearest Kawasaki/Honda/Triumph/Suzuki dealer and walk out with the latest 600cc sports bike. Some of which are only 3K more expensive than the Nexus 500. If it really has to be a scooter then the average buyer is likely to take a Piaggio X8 400 a Suzuki Burgman or the Honda Silver Wing as they all have better storage and are quicker too.

The fact is I and many others want to own a bike exactly like the Nexus 500, if the Nexus made even…70 horsepower and weighed under 190kg…I’d own one in one point three nanoseconds. It’s really that simple. Please Gilera change the motor, talk to the lads at Aprilia and steal the engine from the “Shiver”. I know the Gilera GP800 is almost that bike and we’re very much looking forward to riding it, but again the GP800 weighs 230kg which is about the same as a Harley Davidson. With a different power plant and subtle weight loss program the Gilera Nexus really could be the world’s first full fledge performance scooter. Here’s hoping…

Price £4749 UK – $9990 AUS – $10,990 NZ
0-50km/h    4.1 Seconds
0-100km/h    9.6 Seconds
50-80km/h    3.6 Seconds
Fuel Economy     4.5L/100kms – 52MPG
Speedo Accuracy

50kph displayed = 42kph actual – 100kph displayed = 92 actual
Pros:

Awesome styling, fantastic build quality, great teatures.
Cons:    Needs more power…

Manufacturer Specifications
Max power at shaft     29.5 Kw (40.12 HP) at 7,500 rpm
Max torque    43 Nm at 5,500 rpm
Engine Type    Single-cylinder Liquid cooled Fuel Injected 4-valve 4-stroke
Cylinder Capacity    460 cc
Seat height    780mm
Dry weight     216kg
Kerb weight     —
Fuel tank capacity    15 litres
Starting    Electric
Transmission    “Twist and Go” Automatic Transmission (CVT) with Automatic Clutch
Storage volume    n/a
Cooling    Water cooled
Bore X stroke    92 mm x 69 mm
Compression ratio    —
Chassis    Steel Tube
Front suspension    Ø 41 mm Kayaba telehydraulic fork
Rear suspension    Progressive POWER DRIVE, Kayaba gas shock absorber with spring preload
Front brake    Front brake Stainless steel double disc, 260 mm, with floating calliper and two Brembo pistons 28 mm front left and two Brembo pistons 26 mm front right
Rear brake    Stainless steel disk, 240 mm, fixed calliper, two 34 mm opposed pistons
Front wheel/tyre    Front tyre Tubeless, 120/70-15”
Rear wheel/tyre    Rear tyre Tubeless, 160/60-14”
Length    2090 mm
Width    765 mm
Wheelbase    1515 mm
Max speed (km/hr)     160kph
Type approval    Euro2
Consumption (ECE applicable text cycle)    18.5 km/litre
Consumption @km/h – km/l    —
Audible Indicator    yes
Full helmet storage    yes
Glove box    yes
Fuel Guage    yes
Trip Meter    yes
Seat release (via remote control)    yes
Seat release (remote, ignition/switch)     no
Alarm    no

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