Unless you're blind, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the age of the UJM, or Universal Japanese Motorcycle, has long since passed (of course, if you are blind what you're doing on a motorcycle is an entirely different story). Nowadays the choices in two-wheeled transport have become so specialized that trying to pick just one bike to carve the canyons and take a trip to the store is all but an exercise in futility.
Or is it?
While the offerings from Japan may leave one empty in his or her quest for an all-around motorcycle, leave it to Italy to do its part in satisfying the niche. This time by way of the Aprilia SL 750 Shiver. The Shiver is an all-new departure for Aprilia. From the onset the Shiver platform was to be incorporated entirely in-house. The design team was faced with a challenge as an emphasis was placed on a middleweight naked-style bike that could satisfy the needs of both the everyday commuter and the weekend warrior-without being mistaken for its more popular sibling, the Tuono. Perhaps the most significant impact of this decision to take everything in-house would be a departure from long-time engine builder Rotax, resulting in an engine design that is entirely Aprilia. It would prove to be quite an undertaking, but one that the company is banking on.
The Shiver's chassis feels...
The Shiver's chassis feels very sporty, but as you can see here, it doesn't take much lean angle before hard parts start touching down.
Aprilia's first attempt at its own proprietary powerplant is a 749cc, 90-degree V-twin with four valves per cylinder and dual overhead cams. To help keep the engine as compact as possible, Aprilia took a cue from the Rotax playbook and incorporated a chain-driven intake cam while the exhaust side is driven via gears-not unlike the engine in the Buell 1125R. Perhaps the most intriguing feature on the Shiver is its use of ride-by-wire technology. This allows the throttle bodies to open based on a number of parameters including, but not limited to, engine speed, gear selection, atmospheric pressure and the degree of butterfly opening compared to the speed of throttle movement. Sound confusing? Here's more. The primary benefit of the electronic throttle control is to facilitate the use of Aprilia's own power mode selector, similar to the system found on Suzuki's GSX-R models. The Shiver's three modes are Sport, Touring and Rain. As shown in the accompanying dyno chart, Sport mode offers full power all the time, Touring mode slightly reduces power output and throttle response until full throttle is applied, and Rain reduces power output further still. We'll cover how the modes work in the real world later.
This view gives a good visual...
This view gives a good visual of the rider triangle; the bars are high, the pegs are low, and the saddle is wide and comfortable.
An aluminum trellis-style frame is also all new for the Shiver. Design cues for the new frame were gathered from a number of areas, including the RXV and SXV off-road and supermotard race teams. Ultimately, a rigid frame with minimal chassis flex wound up being the best option. The Shiver is billed as the budget Aprilia that is perfect for a wide range of uses. Normally what "budget" translates to is bottom-shelf suspension in the name of meeting the desired price point. This is no different. Up front lies a non-adjustable 43mm inverted fork, while the rear shock, offering only preload and rebound adjustability, is offset and mounted laterally to the swingarm without the use of linkages. Bringing everything to a halt are the same 320mm rotors used on the Mille and Tuono, clamped by four-piston, radially mounted calipers. A 245mm rotor and single-piston caliper sit in the rear. Steel-braided lines come standard.