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Honda X-ADV Scooter Beats Field of ADV Bikes in Gibraltar Race

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Riding a maxi scooter in what many call the ultimate Trans-European off-road adventure rally may sound like a strange choice, but to Paris-Dakar veteran Renato Zocchi it made perfect sense. “Many would never imagine it,” he says, “to run with something no one would have chosen to do a race like this, side by side with the single-cylinder and twin-cylinder enduros.”

His results at the finish of the Gibraltar race — 1st in Class 2 (601cc – 950cc) and 7th overall — are a big win for Honda’s crossover X-ADV 750. Even more so when you consider Zocchi and his ADV scooter were competing against a field of hardcore adventure bikes in Class 2 ranging from the KTM 950 Super Enduro and 790 Adventure R to Husqvarna’s 701 Enduro and BMW’s F 800 GS Adventure.

Gibraltar Race Map


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This was Zocchi’s second time at the Gibraltar Race on Honda’s X-ADV 750 crossover – a race that covered over 7,000 km and 14 grueling stages. He says he owes his success in this year’s race partly to lessons learned on his first attempt, but mostly to improvements made the adventure scooter. Some upgrades came from Honda via new model year upgrades that included more advanced electronics, most notably the addition of the G-switch, Honda’s Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), an off-road mode that optimizes power and traction control for adventure-riding conditions.

While he kept the engine and chassis stock, Zocchi worked with Rollfactory and Honda Italy’s racing department to raise the bike’s frame in order to provide the ground clearance necessary to race the technical conditions along the Gibraltar’s route from the Baltic Sea to the Atlantic. He added an SC-Project exhaust system and Öhlins dialed in the X-ADV’s suspension. Lastly, BARTubeless wheels were added and shod with Anlas Capra X tires.

Honda X-ADV Scooter beats dual sport and adventure bikes at Gibraltar race.

Honda ADV-X Scooter beats dual sport and adventure bikes at Gibraltar race.

Now in its fourth year, the Gibraltar Race is known for its challenging conditions: Fourteen consecutive dawn departures, difficult navigation on courses 300 to 600 kilometers in length, most of it dirt roads and singletrack. During this year’s event temperatures ranged from 35 to a scorching 120°F, taking a massive toll on both riders and their machines. Zocchi says that it was only because of the technology and extreme reliability of the Honda that his victorious finish was possible.

Gibraltar Race Map

2019 Gibraltar Race Route.

It might have also had a little something to do with multi-titled national champion and seasoned Paris-Dakar racer’s skills, but definitely a feather in Honda’s cap as well. To top off his victory, Zocchi allowed himself and his steed a day of rest, then mounted up the X-ADV and rode it 2,000 kilometers to his home near Milan.

For the time being we will have to watch this interesting machine from a distance as there are no plans to bring it to North America anytime soon.

Photos by Rally Cool! Photography

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Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

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