Aprilia Caponord Touring Review

Aprilia Caponord Touring
If I am honest, the Aprilia Caponord didn’t stand much of a chance.  While I suggested I wouldn’t make direct price comparisons between the bikes I reviewed, the reason this bike was on the shortlist to test-ride was that it was priced competitively against the other bikes I was interested in.  When I arrived at the dealership, they informed me that the current pricing was a “special running out the 2015 plated models” price.  All well and good, but they were extremely sketchy on whether they could get me one of those models anymore.  Apart from the demonstrator, the shop I went to certainly didn’t have any on the floor. On top of that, there seemed to be some doubt that the 2016 model would make it to Australia.

Secondly, I made the mistake of test-riding this bike on a weekday and managed to time my ride with the “pick the kids up from school” time, congesting the local roads to the point where true testing of handling was going to be difficult.

On a comfort and ergonomics stand-point, this bike was as comfortable as your favourite arm-chair (more figuratively than literally).  I’m unsure on whether the demo bike had the normal seat height, but it was far easier for me to put both feet flat on the ground than the two previous bikes I rode.  Despite this, the seat-to-pegs distance made it comfortable when on the move and somehow magically didn’t leave you feeling like you were going to “deck” the pegs when riding in a sporting manner.  Although untested, the pillion seat also looked large and inviting and sported large comfortable grab rails.

The large V-twin motor was a real double edged sword.  It had truck-loads of torque, almost making the gearbox feel like an irrelevant detail!  Around town, I never felt the need to progress beyond second gear.  Whether or not you consider the gearbox irrelevant, it certainly wasn’t an afterthought!  Gear changes were smooth and trouble free.  Although it lacked the quick-shifter found on the BMW and MV, the clutch was progressive and light enough not to be a burden.  Not having the quick shifter allowed a more liberal blip on the down shifts – not a bad thing when you have the glorious sound of a big V twin emanating from the exhaust. They were the good bits about the engine.

The bad bits related to the abruptness of the throttle when riding it in “Sports” mode.  The obvious solution was to use one of the other engine-maps, which helped the bike’s mannerisms to a fair degree, but never quite eliminated all the issues.  It was nigh on impossible to hold a steady speed in “Sports”.  In the “Road” mode, it was a bit easier, but still required more concentration than I would like to dedicate to that particular task.  You may think of this as a minor criticism, but when combined with the “instant power” of a V Twin, it made for a unpleasant arm-stretching / head-bobbling ride.  Maybe a owner would become adept at holding a steady throttle, maybe “Sports” mode would only be employed when riding “sportingly”, but it didn’t endear me to the bike…

Styling of these “pseudo-adventure” bikes is a bit hit and miss.  In my eyes, the MV Agusta was by far the prettiest bike and the BMW was quite “handsome” with its purposeful looks.  The Enduro version of the Aprilia Caponord shares this same handsome purposeful look, but unfortunately, the Touring model just looks dated. Badly… I’ve certainly seen plenty of reviews where they raved about the appearance of the Touring model, so I’ll respect your opinion if you disagree with me there…

The Aprilia shared the same indicator switch block as the MV Agusta.  As a result, the indicators felt vague under the thumb in exactly the same way. The other irritating control was the cruise control button.  You would think that one thumb activated button near the throttle would be simpler than the myriad of controls on the BMW but somehow reality didn’t reflect this!   You have to hold a steady speed, which combined with a really snatchy throttle is difficult to do.  I actually had more success, by using my left hand index finger on the button, than the thumb conveniently located next to the button!  (Even when I wasn’t in “Sports” mode)

Overall, I felt as though the Aprilia was a budget imitation version of the BMW.  Sure, it had a glorious sounding engine with instant grunt whenever you wanted it (and often when you didn’t) but that was its main party trick.  I could see how that V-Twin sound and power, combined with the comfortable relaxed riding position and easy to manage seat-height could well be very appealing to some riders.  It certainly wasn’t a bad bike, but I just don’t think it’s the bike for me.

 

BMW S1000XR Ride Review

BMW S1000XRRuthlessly efficient. Those two words effectively sum up the BMW. I rode this bike straight after riding the MV Agusta and the contrast between the two could not have been any more striking! Whereas the MV was all about passion and soul, the BMW just got on with it. I rode this bike with no preconceived notions about what it would be like, unbiased by internet forums and reviewers opinions. I hadn’t been particularly interested in it as I have a bias against inline four cylinder motors. I have owned three bikes with this style of motor and compared to a large capacity V-twin, they just seem… kind of “dull”. That’s not too say they aren’t powerful, they just lack the urgency of other engine formats. They sound great when they wind out to redline, but they just drone on when holding a constant speed. Even at a steady pace a V-twin sounds good! On the plus side, the engine does allow you to behave yourself when you need to – it doesn’t encourage you to constantly misbehave. Its seat height is enough to be an issue for the vertically challenged and I couldn’t really detect much difference in a bike that supposedly had the lower seat option fitted. The shape of the seat somehow encourages you to have one foot flat on the ground, but when going two feet down, I found myself to be in a similar predicament as when on the MV Agusta. There is something completely natural about riding this bike. It instantly felt familiar, inspiring confidence to push on in the corners. Fitted with the dynamic suspension, it offered a plush ride. The longer travel suspension of these bikes takes a little too get used to.  Compared to regular sports bikes, the suspension can soak up more. Unaware of any scaremongering internet forum topics, I did note how buzzy the bike was.  From around 4 to 5,500 RPM, the bike gets a fair amount of vibrations.  I have since seen that this is the major criticism of the bike, although most people complain about it most in the handlebars.  It would appear that the severity differs from bike to bike, and then how much that bothers you will be a matter of personal opinion.  To help ease the sensation of numb hands, the BMW is equiped with an excellent cruise control.  Controlling the cruise control was similar to most cars, with on/off, set/resume/cancel functionality and incremental and decremental speed adjustments all possible by buttons.  The control blocks actually featured a staggering amount of buttons.  I am not sure whether that is a good thing…  Still, it does reduce the number of times you go “diving” through menu options to get to the feature you want.  One button may work for an iPhone, but the level of user involvement required to make use of limited buttons costs the rider far too much in attention that is better spent on looking where they are going. Unlike the MV Agusta, I found adjusting the screen on the BMW while travelling an altogether more difficult proposition.  It only has two positions and no immediately obvious way to adjust it.  This led to a rather “interesting” moment where I managed to trap my thumb in the mouse-trap mechanism used to alter the screen height.  After the initial pain caused by the sudden clamping of the trap subsided, I was left with the predicament of having the glove (and hence my hand) caught.  After briefly worrying about it all going terribly pear-shaped, I managed to free myself from the dastardly contraption.  Apparently, the store had heard of similar stories where the rider had managed to engage the cruise control with the wrong hand, before freeing themselves.  Later I discovered it is possible to adjust the screen safely with one hand, by grasping the top of the screen and either pushing away or pulling it toward you.  Regardless, I didn’t really notice much difference in screen position – the wind levels seemed about the same at both levels.  When one was “motoring along” in the corners the raised position caused the top of the screen  to be right in my eye-line and somewhat distracting.   My selfies need work...

Overall, the BMW is one seriously impressive motorbike.  It handles exceptionally well and the brakes can put out a serious amount of stopping power.  The engine is happy to let you pootle along at sedate around town pace, but just as happy to tear your arms out of their sockets with the sort of ferocity that you’d expect from a Wookie losing a game of chess. Some may find the vibrations a “deal breaker” and others may call it “character”.  I would call them neither.  Really my only criticism of the bike is it felt quite soulless after riding the Turismo Veloce. It’s easy to see why the BMW riders I know stick with their bikes for years.  There’s something not quite as “whirlwind romance” about them.  More like they inspire a “lifetime partnership”.  They’re almost Honda-like…