Test: 2008 Aprilia SL 750 Shiver: With the Shiver and its forthcoming…

27 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Test: 2008 Aprilia SL 750 Shiver: With the Shiver and its forthcoming…
Aprilia Shiver 750 ABS

Test: 2008 Aprilia SL 750 Shiver With the Shiver and its forthcoming derivatives, look for Aprilia to gain floor space in American garages.

Photography By Jeff Allen

Times are good, as 2008 has produced a bumper crop of pickin’s for riders in search of an affordable, user-friendly, sporty motorcycle. The midsize-naked category is well covered in this regard, with recent additions including the Ducati Monster 696, KTM 690 Duke, an updated Suzuki SV650 and the spirited Triumph Street Triple 675. While residing in the upper end of the class price range, the $8999 SL 750 Shiver is Aprilia’s first major step toward broader mass-market appeal.

Said to be the first of several new models under development at Aprilia’s Noale, Italy-based facility, the Shiver has an engine and chassis that set the foundation for the modular design scheme that Aprilia has adopted as a means of expanding its model line while being more price competitive. The 90-degree V-Twin powering the Shiver is an all-new design produced entirely in-house.

The liquid-cooled, dohc engine is very compact, clean in appearance and incorporates what Aprilia calls “Ride by Wire” technology, otherwise known as an electronically controlled throttle similar to that used on the Yamaha YZF-R6. The frame is a mixed structure of a tubular-steel trellis section and cast-aluminum parts, not unlike that first employed by Aprilia’s RXV and SXV 450 and 550cc Twin enduro and supermotard models.

While the highly oversquare 92.0 x 56.4mm bore-and-stroke dimensions of the Shiver engine yield 750cc of displacement, the basic engine architecture leaves plenty of room for larger configurations in the future, all part of the modular production concept.

Anxious to see what level of performance has been achieved in its current form, we strapped our Shiver test-bike to Cycle World ‘s dyno for a batch of pulls. We were impressed with the linear nature and steady rise in horsepower production throughout the entire rev range, accompanied by a very broad and flat spread of torque.

The peak numbers are about what we had anticipated, with 11 more horsepower and 3 more foot-pounds of torque than what the “Best Firsts” SV650 tested in our last issue had mustered. We also learned that while the 78-horse Twin is no match for the higher-revving Street Triple’s 93 peak ponies, it is slightly meatier through the midrange, as you might expect for a bike displacing 75cc more.

Rolling off the dyno and onto our calibrated scale subdued our enthusiasm a bit, though, because the Shiver weighs in at a portly 470 pounds with its 4.0-gallon fuel tank drained dry. While we hadn’t put much stock in the manufacturer’s claimed 416-pound figure, the sad reality is that on our scale, the Shiver weighs 77 pounds more than a Street Triple, 79 pounds over a Monster 696 and spots the SV650 58 pounds. The significance of this added chub, while well-masked by the bike’s superb steering agility, helps explain the lackluster acceleration performance our testbike posted.

Midsummer heat in excess of 100 degrees didn’t help matters when we arrived at our Mojave Desert test site, even though there was a stiff tailwind offering some compensation—if not a scientific correction factor—in the later part of the run. Launching the bike without bogging the engine in first gear required a minimum of 8000 rpm and far more clutch slippage than I would have imagined considering the torque numbers recorded on the dyno.

The Shiver’s best pass of 12.17 seconds at 110.89 mph was worlds off the 11.06/121.73 quarter-mile mark our Street Triple had previously set, although that bike was run in much cooler conditions. Worse still, the $3000 less-expensive SV650 gets in its licks with an 11.99-second run down the strip.

With that straight-line skeleton out in the open, we can now get down to the bare bones of how the Shiver performs in town, on the highway and on twisty mountain roads. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a sporting Twin that produces less vibration than this rigidly mounted mill. Its smoothness throughout the rev range is uncanny, with just enough of a hearty beat felt under load at low revs to remind you that two sizable pistons are at work within.

At freeway cruising speeds, running 4000–6000 rpm in top gear, the engine has a soothing, silky quality. And even spinning the crank to the 10,000-rpm rev limit won’t have you guessing at what appears in the vibe-free bar-mounted mirrors.

Further augmenting the engine’s feeling of refinement is its extremely smooth-shifting six-speed gearbox and minimal drivetrain lash. Near-seamless upshifts are easily achieved under casual or hard acceleration, and downshifts are as clunk-free as they get. Operation of the hydraulically actuated clutch is smooth and predictable, with average stiffness felt at the four-position-adjustable lever.

In contrast to our experience at the dragstrip, pulling cleanly away from a stop requires only a hint of throttle because there is plenty of torque right off idle. The engine emits very little mechanical noise and sets the standard in that regard, with a deep and soulful exhaust note even though it is subdued in accordance with Euro III sound and emissions regulations.

While every Aprilia road bike utilizes electronic fuel-injection, the Shiver’s closed-loop system is the first to feature electronic throttle control. The ECU processes twistgrip movement and rotates the throttle plate in each cylinder’s intake tract accordingly, all in an effort to provide crisp engine response. To the rider, the system feels no different than a conventional ECU-controlled secondary-throttle-valve arrangement, as used by many other manufacturers.

If you didn’t know the ride-by-wire system was there you wouldn’t think twice about it. There is, however, a certain eeriness to the notion of handing final throttle authority over to a computer. But it works.

While the Shiver’s electronics and software suite proved far more reliable than any Microsoft operating system I’ve booted up, there still is room for improvement, as there is minor surging during steady cruise at small throttle openings. The problem occurs primarily at speeds below 40 mph. The slight increase in throttle required to maintain a steady pace as air drag increases at higher speeds seemed to be enough to move our testbike past its surging zone.

Aprilia Shiver 750 ABS

Let’s hope a simple software update will eliminate the issue entirely.

In the engine’s current state, I had little to complain about when riding some of Southern California’s best sportbiking roads. Only when the road opens up and a lack of traffic begs for speed limits to be broken does the engine begin to feel lacking on corner exits. But on a favorite tight-and-twisting route rife with second- and third-gear switchbacks, I couldn’t have asked for a more capable corner-carving tool.

Steering is light and neutral, and thanks to the wide bar and upright riding posture, the chassis responds like that of bikes weighing 100 pounds less.

The suspension proved up to the task of tackling all the technical stuff that came our way. While the non-adjustable inverted fork is calibrated on the softer side of a pure sporting setup to provide livable everyday comfort, smooth application of brakes and fluid transitions into and out of corners resulted in good chassis composure and a competent feel. The shock’s right-side location allows easy access to the rebound-damping adjuster.

Even more convenient is that the adjuster can be turned with a coin when a flat-blade screwdriver isn’t handy. Cornering clearance is plentiful and, try as I might, I never so much as scratched a peg when putting the grippy Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier radials to the test.

While the Shiver will suffice as a weekend canyon runner or occasional track-day toy, the real beauty of the bike lies in its overall versatility. The spacious saddle is comfortable enough for extended tours and is heaps better than the Street Triple’s sorry excuse for a seat. Commuting is right up the Shiver’s alley, adding a dimension of play to kick off one’s work day.

The fuel tank’s sculpted knee cutouts allow enough space to accommodate up to a 36-inch inseam; riders with even longer legs are advised to try it on for size before they buy.

The sharp-edged styling drew plenty of favorable comments, and if the “Creamsicle” look of our Code Orange test bike doesn’t suit your tastes, there are two other flavors (blue, black) to choose from. Fit and finish are of high Italian standard, which helps justify the price premium the Shiver commands over its class peers.

When our bike arrived, it was tattooed with more warning labels than a kid’s car seat. In preparation for photos, a heat gun was used to lift the thin vinyl stickers pasted all over the bike, while care was taken to not disturb one raised badge adjacent the gas cap that proclaimes “27 times World Champions.” Aprilia is proud of its rich racing heritage and rightfully so: Such success is quite an achievement for a company that not much more than a decade ago was regarded as a scooter builder with big dreams.

Aprilia has achieved in racing what many would have thought impossible, and now it is set to turn the corner on the street and compete with the Japanese giants at a higher level. With the Shiver and its forthcoming

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