I had a chance to ride the new Aprilla Caponord today and came away very impressed. This is an interesting motorcycle in many ways. It has all the electronic rider aids that a top of the range BMW might feature plus more in a smaller and lighter and more sporty motorcycle.
This motorcycle has a lot of clever electronics. It has two channel ABS and 3 levels of traction control to suit different riding and surfaces. Ride by wire with three power modes, sport, touring and rain. It also has electronic cruise control and semi active dynamic damping which adjusts the suspension as you ride according to road and riding conditions. If you like to tour or even just longer rides exploring your area then you can enjoy some real benefits from the technology Aprilla have packed into the Caponord.
However many people do not like electronic ride aids on motorcycles and while not every rider needs say cruise control I wish more people were at least open minded to things that might assist riders on new motorcycles. The argument from anti ABS folk is they are such wonderfully gifted riders they can always brake their motorcycle better under any circumstances on any surface and will never face an emergency situation. And when asked about new riders they respond they should learn how to ride then they too won’t need it… While we have Australian motorcycle journalists sprouting this sort of delusional nonsense on forums it is little wonder people are confused about the technology.
I had the suspension set to auto and it worked very well. I tested on various mixed surfaces and it really seemed to offer a comfortable ride on rougher roads and still a very responsive ride on smooth faster flowing road. The throttle modes are as described, snappy in sport, gentle in rain and touring mode is just a slightly more relaxed acceleration than sport mode. The brakes were powerful and easy to apply, once upon a time you could pick a bike with ABS by the feel of the lever, now days this stuff sits there totally unnoticeable until the day it saves you. I am a huge fan of electronic cruise control on motorcycles. I tried it on a BMW R1200RT and it made touring such a joy. You might only use it a couple of times during the day or not at all depending on what sort of roads you are on but the relief to your wrist and ease which it allows you to cover any highway portions of your route means you tour far less fatigued and thus much safer.
The engine from Aprilla is naturally a Vtwin. It has about 130hp which is ample but I especially noticed the torque which is strong even from idle. I started from lights once in 2nd gear with no extra revs than normal and accelerated up effortlessly. Comparing to my current 1140cc low revving Honda four is unfair as that engine is turbine smooth so even at highway speed I really noticed the rhythm of the twin but it is not intrusive. It certainly sounds terrific, much better than any factory muffler I have experienced of late, I am not sure how they got it through ADR!
You sit very upright on a comfortable seat, there is enough leg room and I think the seat is about right for taller people but it does not seem to be adjustable. It has a 24 lire fuel tank so the range will be considerable. The switch gear was not all to my liking the indicator was very loose and flimsy feeling and I had to look at the light on the dash to confirm I had engaged the indicator and again push to reset was imprecise. The dash is very comprehensive with a large LCD showing multiple information, and if that is not enough you can sync your smart phone and using an Aprilla App expand the data with enhanced trip computer and navigation features. The windshield is adjusted by hand once you undo the two turn knobs. It is simple to adjust even while riding and has a limited up and down range. I don’t think it needs to be electric for what is a small screen compared to a full fairing tourer but it might be a touch small for tall riders. The panniers hold a good size and operate with same key as ignition. There is a matching top box available.
As I said at the start I came away very impressed. The Caponord feels quite light and sporty compared to a tourer with similar electronics and the dynamic damping delivers what I think would be all day comfort. Looks wise the paint and finish are good and style is similar to other motorcycles in this tour-adventure segment. Obvious not made for serious off road but I have no desire to revisit dirt bike riding other than the odd unsealed road and you can ride them on anything. I think with heated grips and top box it would be a perfect motorcycle to take off and tour much of the world on.