Moto Morini Kanguro and Dart

Most people tend to plump for one of the well-known Morini Sport or Strada models. But at opposite ends of the scale you’ll find the super-sleek Dart and the rufty-tufty Kanguro. So how did Ken Philp comes to own both?

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I first saw a Kanguro at Earls Court in 1982, and was impressed as it was an off-road V-twin. I had a medical problem in 1984, so got rid of several bikes and bought this one, the first Kanguro which NLM had in the shop.

It just kept going whenever I wanted it to! It gave me a LOT of pleasure off-road, in spite of its weight, and I’m a shortie – 5’5″. I only got rid of it in 2003 because I only have 15% lung capacity now.

I can’t say there was anything that I DIDN’T like about it. I used it for enduros, trail-riding, Weston Beach Race, long-distance trials, and so on, and once covered 720 miles in 20 hours on an MCC event.

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In total I covered about 16,000 miles. There were no real problems, only those that were my fault!

Anyone buying a Kanguro should keep clear of the first X-models. The X1 and X2 have tubular frames, and the X cracks the frame at the right footrest point. The X1 has reinforcement there.

The headlamp is only AC direct light, so output varies with engine speed. It’s also a 6-volt lighting system, with a VERY small battery!

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So, having owned the Kanguro from new, I really was very impressed with the motor. Then I saw a photo of a new Dart in the press, and wasn’t too impressed – until I saw one close-up at the Earls Court Show in 1998… I positively DROOLED! So I watched NLM unpack the first one they had from Harglo, and bought it straight away.

It’s a June 1990-registered Moto Morini Dart, so is now almost 16 years old. It’s got 54,000km on it and is still in very good condition. It’s had a few mods, all done by me – like the right foot gearchange / left foot brake, a Honda NTV650 hydraulic adjuster on the rear Marzocchi monoshock, alloy tank, and handlebar raisers.

The Dart as Delivered

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The Gooseneck at Cadwell, 2003, in front of an Aprilia RS250.I also fitted it with a K&N air filter, with suitable jet changes, and a Y-piece in the exhaust in place of the unobtainable expansion chamber, and a Micron exhaust can off a Ducati 750SS. The latter was done partly to reduce weight, partly to make it sound a proper V-twin! It’s also had extra spacers slotted in above the internal fork springs.

Without doubt, its best features are its looks, and performance. The Dart is not particularly fast (I’ve seen a max of 101.1mph on my digital cycle speedo – which is very accurate, by the way), but the handling is SUPERB! It’s also economical and has given 64mpg over its life (I have a record of all the fuel used from new). It’s comfortable for a shortie, and it’s taken us on a couple of Continental tours two-up.

Returning from Switzerland on a 10-day 2-up tour, 1996

Morini Stuff on

In Snowdonia, 1994, with SWMBOOn the downside, the alloy petrol tank only holds about 12 litres, but the original was no better. It tends to wear through the rear tyre quite fast, but that may be my enthusiastic right hand! More seriously, checking the oil level is a right pain, and the oil level warning light sensor is no longer available.

If you were going to buy one then check the plastics carefully for damage. The panels are expensive, if you can find them. Motor parts are readily available, but starter motors are scarce – mind you, I haven’t needed one, though.

Dart Owner?


Morini Riders Club

North Leicester Motorcycles

FIVE Darts at Cadwell. 2003 Morini Track Day. Mine's the nearest one. It has usually been the quickest round the circuit, too, even tho I'm now 66!

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