By Troy Siahaan
Photography by Adam Campbell
They're smart, those Italians. Recognizing how super motard racing could easily translate into a ridiculously entertaining road bike (and also not having as strict a corporate ladder to convince of such) it was a natural step for both Ducati and Aprilia to take their passions for two wheels and create something that would shake up the status quo. The only question now was what platform could be used as a base? Ducati's off-road experience is rather slim, with the Multistrada being the closest thing to an off-road vehicle in the lineup. Good enough, really. After a modest diet, some new bodywork and suspension changes, what was once a modest dual-sport machine is now a lean, mean canyon carver, ready to hack it in sideways at every turn.
For Aprilia it was a rather different approach. The company has vast experience in super motard competition, with multiple world championships to its name. It even has two homologated, street-legal versions of its competition bike: the SXV550 and SXV450. But those machines are too specific. Too track oriented. Aprilia was after a machine that's inspired by its racing past rather than mimicking it. The answer to those prayers lie in the Shiver 750. If you'll remember, from the start the Shiver platform was always intended to be a base for a multitude of different models-thus broadening Aprilia's product range for a limited amount of tooling costs. And much like the Hypermotard, the Dorsoduro sheds the unneeded Shiver bodywork, adapts the single seat, and adds more wheel travel to the suspension.
More Than Skin Deep
On paper it would seem like these two bikes aren't even in the same league. For starters, there is one big difference between the two: their engines. By big, we mean a difference of 329cc. Don't let the numbers fool you though. The Ducati mill might be 1078cc, but it's also an air-cooled lump with single overhead camshafts and two valves per cylinder. Heck, Harleys are air-cooled and only have two valves! In comparison, the 750cc Aprilia capitalizes on modern technology with its liquid-cooling, fly-by-wire throttle, dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. The dyno numbers don't lie either. Despite its displacement advantage, the Hypermotard only edged out the Aprilia by just two horses: 77.8 horsepower compared to the Dorsoduro's 75.8. When it comes to torque, however, there really is no replacement for displacement and that's where the Ducati trumps the Aprilia: 64.2 ft.-lbs. for the former compared to 45.7 for the latter. It gets worse for the Dorso; on the scales the Aprilia came in at a portly 476 pounds full of fuel. The Ducati meanwhile weighs a sprightly 439 pounds in comparison.
With such an imbalance in the numbers you might be wondering just what we're doing even mentioning these two in the same breath. That's a good question. The answer is that there's another big difference between these two. Price. At $11,995 the Ducati is a good two thousand dollars more than the Aprilia ($9599). So are you really getting more for your money?
Beyond The Spec Sheet
The whole purpose of both of these bikes isn't something tangible like which has the better lap time. No, their purpose is quite clear: to knife through the streets and slice through the canyons. If you're a city dweller with places to be and things to do, or a sportbike retiree who still wants to ride hard without the aggressive seating position then this is where you belong. The fact that each bike employs vastly different methods to get there is what makes this interesting.