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.