Portugese off-road heavyweight AJP is looking to expand its influence in the U.S. market with a street-legal version of its popular PR7 adventure bike for 2018. The factory is keeping power figures close to the vest for the time being, but it’s fairly forthcoming with all the other metrics, and I know the 600 cc SWM engine that powers it puts out something in the neighborhood of 50 horsepower. That said, I’d like to take a look at this latest and final version of the PR7, but first I’d like to take a look at the builder.
AJP USA is a relative new kid on the block, but has been enjoying record-breaking growth for the past few years. Part of this is due to the forceful personality of the seven-time Portugese National Enduro Champion and founder, Antonio Pinto. Mr.Pinto takes a shot at the rest of the “Adventure” world with a back-to-the-basics adventure model that is decidedly not a two-wheel version of a soccer-mom SUV. Did he go too far for a pampered, American market? Is his vision of the adventure genre too close to dual-sport territory to gain a toehold? Time will tell, but meanwhile we can dissect his latest effort to change how we think of off-road machines.
Right off the bat I’d like to be clear; the only thing removing this bike from the dual-sport category is the smoked windshield that mainly protects the instrumentation while providing little comfort for the rider. I suppose this is due to the fact that unlike many adventure bikes on the market right now, this one isn’t built for blacktop adventures, so fatigue from long-term, high-speed riding is less of a concern.
The PR7 has an almost austere quality about it, and the lack of a fuel-tank bump negates any adventure credibility it gets from the windshield, at least visually. Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s great that the tank got squirrelled away under the seat and closer to the center-of-gravity, but the vestigial tank area that houses the fuel filler just doesn’t fit the genre very well.
The bench seat does nothing to dispel my concerns, but the shape looks conducive to proper racing English and that’s all that matters since the PR7 is clearly designed with competition in mind. An up-swept exhaust reinforces the off-road-tastic vibe while protecting the muffler from terrain strikes, and judging by how the pipe is routed I’d say the PR7 will survive a drop on the right side — great news for a machine that may actually see some rally-type riding.
The factory revisited the very bones of the beast as it tackled this last incarnation (it says with great confidence), and so the hybrid, steel and aluminum, twin-spar assembly got lighter and tighter for this model. An oil reservoir comes integrated with the steering head to eliminate the weight of an external oil bag, and an aluminum, yoke-style swingarm helps keep unsprung weight low at the rear axle. A fully-adjustable piggyback shock dampens the motion of the rear wheel through a progressive link while the beefy, 48 mm, usd front forks come with the full array of adjustments as well with 11.8-inches (300 mm) of travel to go with the 11-inches (280 mm) of travel out back. Couple that with the 12.5 inches of ground clearance and you start to really get into rough-terrain territory. Of course, that drives the seat up to 36.2-inches high, but that’s really to be expected of a bike built to tackle the brown.
As you can see by the above numbers, this is clearly an off-road machine, and it will take a lot more than a set of street-tastic tires to change that. In short; think of it as a dual-sport. A single, 300 mm disc and twin-pot anchor controls the front wheel with a 240 mm disc and single-piston caliper out back, and nothing in the way of ABS to help with the knobby tires while on the black.
Italian motorcycle manufacturer SWM provides the locomotion with its 600 cc thumper. The oversquare plant runs a 100 mm bore with a 76.4 mm stroke with a smokin’-hot, 12.4-to-1 compression ratio. Liquid-cooling manages the waste heat, but I can’t help but grip a little about how vulnerable those systems can be, and how far away from help you may be when your rad gets stoned.
A 45 mm throttle body with EFI manages the induction and helps the mill meet emissions requirements. All pretty simple, but that’s on purpose; Mr.Pinto roundly criticizes the competition for evolving the genre into technological marvels and moving away from the spirit of off-road riding in the process, so of course his bikes are going to be relatively uncomplicated machines. No traction control or rider modes, just honest control and manageable delivery of the roughly 50-ponies the mill has on tap. A standard wet clutch controls the power to the six-speed transmission with a tough chain final drive to deliver power to pavement/dirt/whatever.
Pricing info on the upcoming U.S. street-legal model is hard to come by as yet, though should be available closer to the release date.
AJP bills the PR7 as an adventure bike, but to be fair, I think it’s more of a threat to the dual-sport market, and that’s where I’m going to have to look to find similar capabilities, so I’m going with Honda’s XR650L to prove my case.
Honda leads the way with a set of rwu, 43 mm forks that boast an air-adjustable preload feature with a 16-click compression damper versus the fully-adjustable, 48 mm, usd stems on the PR7. Showa’s Pro-Link monoshock floats the rear end with the full range of adjustments, just like AJP’s strut. Suspension travel is almost dead even across the board, as are the adjustments, so while neither gain an advantage, they both seem to have great, terrain-busting potential. The anchors are pretty vanilla all around, and clearly geared more toward off-road pursuits though the 300 mm front disc on the PR7 does get into road-brakes territory but is still limited by the fact that there’s only the single disc with a two-pot caliper.
On paper, the PR7 puts out something in the neighborhood of 6 horsepower more than the Honda. Needless to say, this doesn’t really amount to much and certainly isn’t a deal breaker. However, I like the fact that Honda’s mill is air cooled, and would be more confident heading out on it as a matter of personal preference. Another bonus with XR650L is the constant-velocity carburetor that manages the induction. Call me old-fashioned, but I understand carburetors and can work on them in the field, so I feel more comfortable on the simpler system when out in the wilderness; another point for the Red Riders.
So, here we have two different genres with strikingly similar capabilities. If nothing else, it is a testament to Mr. Pinto’s vision that the PR7 is able to compete with machines that are basically next-gen enduros.
“Interesting little ride, and from a company I wasn’t familiar with, so this first-look was a double treat to work on. I’m looking forward to checking out more of their products, because the PR7 looks like a well thought-out machine. Will AJP become a threat to the Japanese-dominated U.S. market? Time will tell.”
My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I was surprised when my husband told me he was doing a dual-sport as that is usually my domain. I’d have to agree that the PR7 looks more dual-sport than adventure bike, at least by our definition of “adventure.” However, it looks like a spunky, capable ride and I’ll be interested to see how it fairs in the U.S. market.”
|TYPE:||Single cylinder, 4 stroke, 4 v., liquid cooled, DOHC|
|BORE X STROKE:||100 x 76.4 mm|
|FUEL SYSTEM:||EFI Ø 45mm throttle body|
|CLUTCH:||Oil bath, multidisc|
|FRAME:||Composite – aluminum / steel|
|FUEL TANK:||17 L|
|FRONT TIRES:||90/90 – 21”|
|REAR TIRES:||140/80 – 18”|
|FRONT SUSPENSION:||Upside down telescopic fork Ø48mm, 300mm stroke|
|REAR SUSPENSION:||AJP progressive linkage system, Sachs Piggyback shock, 280mm stroke|
|FRONT BRAKE:||2 Piston caliper – Floating Disc Ø300mm|
|REAR BRAKE:||Single piston caliper – Disc Ø240mm|
|WEIGHT (WITH FUEL):||165 Kg|