Aprilia Caponord 1200: ugly, but awesome

Dailies, Galleries, Import -


Take a Dorsoduro 1200, add a big, comfy seat, a 6.3 gallon fuel tank, a big ol’ fairing and a metric tonne of electronic rider aids — semi-active suspension, TC, ABS, cruise control — and you have the Aprilia Caponord 1200. That’s a good thing, the Dorso is a blast, but can’t really do distance. The Caponord should be nearly as fun, but all-day comfortable.

The engine’s only been rejigged slightly, nor producing a little less power — 126bhp — and a little more torque — 85lb/ft — delivery is also said to be less abrupt at lower RPMs, fitting for a bike that scales the hooligan back slightly.

Worryingly, there’s no mention of weight. The Dorso already measures in the high 400s when fueled, so with all the touring equipment, the panniers and that bigger fuel tank, the Capo is likely over 500. That’s in-line with other ADV bikes, but still seems high for a performance-oriented bike.

And we do mean performance oriented. Wheels are the same very light cast items off the RSV4 R, a spec even the Tuono V4 doesn’t get in stock form. Brakes are superbike-spec 320mm discs gripped by radial Brembos. Suspension is fully-adjustable all-round.


Touring accouterments then include a 690w alternator, an adjustable screen, stronger subframe (for the luggage), taller gearing, ABS and, for the first time on an Aprilia, semi-active suspension which adjusts damping rates dependent on road surfaces and riding behavior.

All-day comfort, all-day fun.

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  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

    I still think my Multistrada 1200 is uglier.

    The two-tone nose (white center around the center eye, black around the L/R eyes) actually looks cool — very different from the look of the current crop of not-quite-ADV tall-rounders.

    I’m surprised that Aprilia didn’t overfarkle this thing. The oil cooler, horn, and other bits are just waiting to get pinged with a rock or two.

    • BMW11GS

      I think this is not supposed to do any more off road than what you would take your other street bikes on. ADV is a wide continuem and there is nothing wrong with that!

      • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

        I agree. But even street-centric tourers can encounter gravel on asphalt.

        • Rick

          An oil cooler screen would be a very wise addition, and it’s easily DIY.

  • BMW11GS

    It seems like 2012 is the year of semi active suspension. Sachs hit a home run beating the others to the (mass) market.

  • Roman

    Am I the only one that kind of likes the RSV4 treatment? To me this is the best looking bike in the tall-sport-tourer class. It doesn’t even have the stupid beak! Still think the Hyperstrada makes for a more compelling package.

    • http://cynic13th.livejournal.com/ cynic

      +1 on all counts.

  • Bruce Steever

    Aprilia has this weird knack for following in Ducati’s footsteps, only without the mechanical worry and servicing costs. This is a Multistrada 1200 that i wouldn’t be afraid to own.

    Shame that the Aprilia dealer network is MIA.


    • AHA

      Interesting to hear you say that. I had an Aprilia scooter once and nothing worked for very long & everything cost a fortune to get (temporarily) fixed. The Duke I had next never went wrong & the build quality was superior beyond any comparison. Anecdotally only Tuono owners seem to rate the reliability whereas many Ducati owners find the fickle reputation is way overstated. No argument on heinous servicing cost however.

      • Rick

        While I cannot comment on the new Piaggio-based 1200 twins & Aprilia V-4s (or scooters!), my quartet of Rotax V60-powered Aprilias (2000.5 RSV, 2002 Futura, 2003 Tuono Racing, 2007 Caponord ABS) have been almost zero-defect perfect, from 250 mile rides in driving rain to 110 degree desert crossings these have been super reliable machines. Their servicing was generally performed at Scuderia West in SF, perhaps that’s part of it?

  • Rick

    Some details from Motorbox in Italy:

    - Taller gearing
    - Cruise control (!)
    - Fuel range of > 300 km (186 miles)
    - 190/55 rear tire (sporty!)
    - saddle height 840mm
    - pivoting muffler, up or down to accommodate panniers

    Weight, no mention yet but equipment equals mass. Still if it does top 500 pounds that’s almost anorexic by comparison with today’s corpulent adventure (and sport) touring motorcycles.

  • Ganesh

    ADVENTURE-based Sport-TOURERS ARE STUPID! A GS was cool. But now having a dozen models like this shows no imagination and besides they are becoming the SUVs of the motorcycle world – purchased by people who never go off road and don;t need 7 inches travel – i understand they are comfy, sporty and long distance capable but that is only because no one makes a proper sport touring bike .. the FJRs, GTRs, Trophy, R-RT, K-GT have all become pigs (I own one of these pigs among many sport bikes)…

    This is not rethinking modern sport touring – this is giving up and copying what you think will sell. Adventure/Sport touring needs rethought…

    • Rick

      Ganesh, I agree with you pretty much point for point, yet this particular motorcycle seems very far removed from “adventure tourer”. Yes, it does have longer travel suspension than most streetbikes (in California that may be no bad thing either…hello, CalTrans!) and A/T-ish hand guards, but to me this is 100% NOT an adventure touring rig.

      But yeah, since 2009 I’ve been asking Ing. Dall’Igna every year for a new Futura with an RSV4 motor and a few more cubes.

    • jonoabq

      Try to forget the label and just see it for what it is..a sum of compromises that you make with any motorcycle. This platform or class of motorcycle is great at commuting, comfy all day, fantastic visibility, good range, and can kinda-sorta drag pegs if you push it. Is it really meant to do any one thing well?…nope. Does it do many things well enough to justify its purchase? Possibly. For many of us this class of motorcycle lets us justify having a motorcycle in the garage, the utility outweighing its misgivings. Like my old 955i Tiger, (slightly modified) which I rode the wheels off of for about six years, ugly as hell, but you could carry groceries, drag pegs on the weekends, and do back to back 500 mile days with no ill effects. As a class do they lack imagination? Dunno, but a companys first responsibility to itself is to make money, and if people are buying them then make them they will. At least it doesn’t have a stupid fucking red subframe.
      (currently doing all my commuting/sport touring on a 2011 Speed Triple. Big honkin wind protection can be overrated)

  • frank a

    Ugly…I think its the best looking in that class. The Ducati is too Hawkish looking….still great but were talking looks.