Does Budget Bike = Lousy Performer?
The first thing you'll notice when throwing a leg over the Shiver is that the vertically challenged need not apply. All of our testers have inseams hovering around 30-inches and the reach to the ground left us on the tips of our boots. The tall seat height is compounded by a slightly flat saddle that further exacerbates the issue. Once on your way the Shiver is remarkably liveable. The handlebars are at a comfortable position (though some preferred it be angled in toward the rider more) and the footpegs are at a low and forward position. This makes for an upright seating position that places very little weight on the wrists, making the jaunt to your local twisties as pleasant as the road itself.
We use the term "budget" loosely on the Shiver as its $8999 price tag doesn't exactly fall under the budget category, but it is on the lower end of the price scale as far as road-going Aprilias are concerned. The electronic wizardry that comes standard on the Shiver is no doubt partially to blame for the lofty price tag, and is also an area that had all testers a little perplexed. Starting the bike is standard fare, but the starter button also serves as the engine kill switch when flicked towards the rider. Further, it also acts as the medium to switch between the three operating modes. To do this, once the bike is running press and hold the ignition-without any throttle. After two seconds release the switch and toggle between the different modes by tapping the starter. The new mode is selected if no activity occurs within two seconds or if the throttle is applied. Intuitive this system isn't, especially considering that the left handlebar has a thumb switch to choose between its own different menus-where one would think to find the different power modes.
The engine itself is a good fit for the class. In sport mode the 45 ft-lb of torque help leap the bike out of corners and the nearly 75 horsepower definitely feels more steamy than the middleweight mainstay-the Suzuki SV650. Touring mode gives a more neutered attitude, while Rain mode borders on castration. Although one would think that the fly-by-wire system would make for a consistent ride, the on/off throttle application was anything but. "The throttle was a bit inconsistent and made it a bit less user-friendly," commented Trevitt, "It wasn't so much that it was abrupt, but it was just a bit different every time." There's a nice spread in the gearing with the easily flickable six-speed transmission, though some complained of missing shifts regularly.
We took an SV650 along for our usual canyon ride and the differences made themselves known immediately. The Shiver is a good handling bike overall. Its wide handlebar gives it great leverage to toss the bike from side to side. Get a handle on the characteristics of the engine and chassis and they both beg to pick up the pace. The problem here is that when things do get spirited the rest of the bike falls behind; it starts when the low footpegs quickly touch down. After, the suspension starts to feel out of sorts with the front and rear components unsettling at different rates depending on the road surface. Though the SV is also equipped with a budget suspension, both ends tend to compliment each other well and bounce at generally the same rate. "Compared to the SV, the Shiver just felt taller and 'tippy' in the corners," said The Boss. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the brakes almost overwhelm the rest of the bike with strong stopping power. Feedback to the lever is great as well, though initial bite could be a little stronger. Nonetheless, cautious application of the binders when leaned over is a must.