2011 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 Review [Video] –

24 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2011 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 Review [Video] –
Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200

A good hooligan machine just got great

Despite outward appearances, the Dorsoduro 750 and 1200 actually share very little in the way of common parts. Instead of simply enlarging the 750’s engine to achieve the 1200cc displacement, all-new cases were designed to support the massively oversquare dimensions of the 1200. Bore and stroke dimensions are 106.0 x 67.8mm, respectively, making for an engine that technically has 1197cc of displacement.

But in order to keep outward dimensions of the 1200 engine as minimal as possible, Aprilia switched the position of the connecting rods on the crankpin compared to the 750. The result is an engine that Aprilia claims is as narrow as its little brother. Otherwise, the 1200 is still a 90-degree V-Twin that retains its dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and a mixed gear/chain timing system, similar to that used on the 750.

The result of this rearrangement of parts from Aprilia is an engine with a torque “curve” that is practically flat starting at 4000 rpm. That means you get at least 70 ft.-lbs. of torque from the moment you start rolling all the way to redline, no matter what gear you’re in. That’s the kind of performance you feel from the saddle.

When the V-Twin is wound out, it produces 73.9 ft-lbs of torque at 7400 rpm before peaking at 8900 rpm with 115.1 horsepower, according to the Superflow Dyno at Gene Thomason Racing.

Supporting this engine is a steel trellis frame that has been strengthened in key areas compared to the 750. Aluminum side plates are used for reinforcement and as mounting points for the engine. Because the frame is a little beefier to cope with the power, it’s also slightly heavier than that on the 750 as well, though to help compensate Aprilia has lightened the subframe.

Keeping the wheels on the road are Sachs components front and rear. A 43mm fork is adjustable for rebound and compression damping, as well as spring preload. The rear shock features the same adjustability and is mounted directly to the swingarm without the use of linkages.


As you’d expect on a pumped-up motard, suspension travel is quite generous — 6.3 inches (160mm) in front and 6.1 inches (155mm) in the rear. Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier tires make contact with the pavement, but we’re slightly surprised to see a 180/55-17 rear tire fitted to the six-inch wide wheel instead of a 190. Up front lies a conventional 120/70-17.

European sportbikes are known for incredible stopping power, and that’s not lost on the Dorsoduro 1200. Dual 320mm rotors up front are clamped by four-piston, radially mounted Brembo calipers that are fed fluids via steel-braided hoses. Out back is a 240mm disc and a single-piston Brembo caliper, also with a steel line.

Aprilia offers ABS as part of its Aprilia Traction Control (ATC) system on the Dorso, though it isn’t as sophisticated as the system seen on the RSV4 APRC models, using only wheel-speed sensors to modulate the amount of intervention. That point is moot here, however, as our test bike wasn’t equipped with ATC.

The Roads Are A Playground

MO’s European correspondent, Tor Sagen, spent some time aboard the Dorsoduro 1200 during the model’s European introduction. Judging by his glowing initial reaction to the bike, it’s pretty clear the Dorso 12 is just as much of a riot on the other side of the pond as it is here.

But first things first: Tor is a little taller than the usual crew here at MO, and the Dorso’s high seat feels every bit its claimed 34.3-inch height. With my 5-foot, 8-inch frame and 30-inch inseam, the tips of my toes were just grazing the tarmac. “The Dorso’s seat is taller than just about anything without an MX nomenclature, so short riders who are tentative won’t enjoy riding it around town,” says 5-foot, 8-inch Duke.

Another reason it’s not a fun “around-town mobile” is because of its fairly heavy clutch lever. After repeated clutch work through town, even strong hands will start to get tired.

That’s a small price to pay, however, for a machine that actually makes riding through town an otherwise enjoyable experience. If you’re like us, you may be tempted to hop a few curbs as you slice through some traffic, but isn’t that the beauty of a motard? As typical for this supermoto sub-class, the Dorso’s seating position is rather upright and relatively comfortable.

Its anodized and tapered bars are up high and wide and give the rider plenty of leverage to maneuver pretty much anywhere. The pegs are positioned rather low, and the seat is cushy enough, though it borders on the narrow side.

While a machine like the Dorsoduro 1200 can ably carve its way through town, a bike like this thrives on tearing up tight roads. With its fly-by-wire throttle, Aprilia is able to equip the Dorso with three different ride modes to suit the rider and/or conditions. It’s adjustable by pressing the engine start button with a closed throttle and then toggling through the modes.

In Sport mode all 115 horsepower and 73.9 ft-lbs are readily on tap with sharp throttle response that borders on being too aggressive. This is fine for experienced riders with a deft throttle hand, but we actually preferred the slightly less sensitive throttle response offered in its Touring mode, which still delivers the same amount of peak power.

Even though power delivery in the lower gears is a little more relaxed, there’s still plenty of grunt to squirt you out of sticky situations or paint a smile on your face. Or, to put it in terms hooligan types can better understand, Touring mode lets you modulate power wheelies easier.

The system’s Rain mode considerably softens its power delivery, neutering an otherwise exciting ride. Perhaps it would be appropriate in super-slick, wet conditions, but it’s of no use in the dry. And if your skill level is such that you’d consider using Rain mode when it’s not wet outside, then the Dorso 12 is probably the wrong bike for you anyway.

After seeing Tor wax poetic about the Dorso 12 from its press launch, I wondered to myself if his excitement was warranted. The answer is a clear “Yes.” With torque readily available from the V-Twin engine, twisting the throttle is not only met with a rush of speed, but also a throaty and muscular exhaust note. Despite being a knee-down sportbike guy at heart, I couldn’t help but stick my leg out when attacking corners on the Dorso.

It exhibits a sure-footed nimbleness despite its rather heavy claimed dry weight of 457 lbs, which will likely push the 500-lb mark with it full of fluids. Credit for its responsiveness is due to its wide MX-style bars providing plenty of leverage and an agility-enhancing 180 rear tire.

One difference between this maxi-motard and its sportbike cousins is that the long-travel suspension helps to absorb bumps and imperfections in the road that would otherwise be unsettling on a sportbike. The downside, however, is that “sportbikes with tall suspensions can sometimes steer and handle oddly,” notes Duke. “But the Dorso turns in very neutral and responds just as you intend.”

Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200
Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200
Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200
Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200

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