The Aprilia-developed electronics deliver a sense of sophistication and refinement in exploiting the performance of the V-twin engine, delivering a degree of control which makes the Dorsoduro ultra-responsive and potent, delivering confidence on the go. You can swap between engine maps while in full flight, although these are quite extreme in nature. I spent most of my 140-mile day riding with the Touring map dialed up, and this delivered zestful performance combined with a satisfying sense of control in most conditions, making it definitely the most rideable map of the three. Switching to the Sport program brought a noticeable difference, with a much more aggressive throttle response and a fiercer pickup from a closed throttle. Both Sport and Touring deliver the full 130 horsepower at 8700 rpm from the Dorsoduro's V-twin engine, Touring doing so in a more progressive, but still fun way. The much, much softer Rain mode caps power at 100 horsepower, and lowdown drive is also reined back.
There are three levels of traction control (four, if you include switching it off altogether), each of which includes anti-wheelie control, although the whole system isn't as sophisticated as the one fitted to the RSV4 APRC, since only comparative wheel speed sensors are employed on the Dorsoduro and not the RSV4's inertia sensor and more sophisticated programming. And unlike the APRC, you can't swap between traction control settings on the go. Of the three settings, Three is the most intrusive, and selecting it to ride hard on those slippery Spanish roads soon had the system cutting in to reduce power when the rear Pirelli started to slide. At the other end of the scale, level One had much less effect, with enough power still maintained to get the rear wheel sliding on the Sport engine map when opening the throttle out of a slow turn. Two was the best, delivering confidence via a sense of control - but while not having the RSV4 system's range of adjustment, the TC in the Dorsoduro works just as effectively yet surreptitiously as the one in the V4 race replica. And forget about wheelying this bike, unless you cheat and launch it over the brow of a hill.
The ABS worked really well, too, and there were lots of chances to evaluate it on those slick surfaces where I'd otherwise have been pretty nervous about using the front brakes to anything like their full potential - and they do work well, with good response thanks also to the braided metal brake lines that are standard. I didn't get the rear wheel chattering even under the hardest of stops for a downhill hairpin, despite the fact there's no slipper clutch fitted . And in spite of the steering geometry's hefty trail, the Dorsoduro didn't sit up and head for the haystacks if I took an extra handful of front brake leaned over in a turn. The Aprilia held its line well under high speed braking, plus it tracked straight and true even at speeds of 125 mph and more taking the autopista back to the Jerez GP circuit. It's responsive but composed - there's no sign of nervousness, thanks presumably to that conservative steering geometry.
The fully adjustable Sachs...
The fully adjustable Sachs rear shock offers a generous 155mm of wheel travel, operates without a linkage and is offset to the right for clearance to the rear cylinder's exhaust pipe.
The Dorsoduro features radial-mount...
The Dorsoduro features radial-mount four-piston Brembo calipers, 320mm Grimeca discs and a 43mm Sachs fork. A Factory version, with all the usual upgrades, will be offered.
The modular chassis will be...
The modular chassis will be shared with at least three other future 1200 V-twin Aprilia models. An upper tubular steel trellis section bolts to aluminum sideplates, making it easy to vary chassis dimensions across different models. On the 1200 Dorsoduro, rake and trail are quite relaxed at 27.3 degrees and 118mm respectively.
But there were definitely moments when the bike's inherent stability was too much of a good thing. With such a long wheelbase this will always be a slow-steering bike, but throw in extra weight, a pretty tall ride height, the raked-out fork angle and the large amount of trail, and now the steering is heavy as well as slow. The Sachs suspension was set up quite a bit stiffer than on the 750 Dorsoduro with the same setup, though here the fully adjustable fork and shock would presumably let you work round that. Still, you'd never guess that offset Sachs rear shock was devoid of any link, for its progressivity and compliance are excellent. The Dorsoduro was lots of fun to ride through a succession of hillside hairpins or tight, twisty turns, where the balanced feel to the bike as a whole was readily apparent.
Though undoubtedly still a work in progress in terms of smoothing off some rough edges, the Dorsoduro 1200 is one more block in the building set that Piaggio is committed to constructing to make Aprilia great again at a world level.
|APRILIA DORSODURO 1200
||Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90- degree V-twin, 4 valves/cyl.
|Bore x stroke
||106 x 67.8mm
||EFI, 57mm throttle bodies, single injector/cyl.
||120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Corsa III
||180/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Corsa III
||27.3 deg./4.6 in. (118mm)
||60.2 in. (1528mm)
||34.3 in. (870mm)
||4.0 gal. (15L)
|Claimed dry weight
||447 lb. (203kg))