Piaggio in China has introduced a new motorcycle under its Aprilia brand. It goes by the name Pagani 150 and is a café racer.Read more
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Is the Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 all the bike that you would ever need?
Seemingly the perfect motorcycle for the Indian ‘sportsbike’ buyer. A machine to swagger around and turn heads. A machine that you can ride any place where there is tarmac. It has all the necessary ingredients – swanky looks, fancy brand, towering ride and a distinct exhaust note. But is the Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 all the bike that you would ever need?
The first thing you’d notice about this bike is the paint scheme. The Aprilia factory colours of silver, black and red have worked like magic on the Dorsoduro. The tall riding stance of the Aprilia is well complemented by the flying beak-like front fender. The triangular headlamp unit means business and provides ample illumination once the sun goes down. The wide handlebar beefed up by the knuckle guards, the chunky golden forks and the fat tyre add muscle to the equation.
Move on to the profile and you can see the entire mass of the Dorsoduro tucked in neatly around the engine. The red trellis frame peaks out from underneath the tank shrouds all the way to the tail cowl. The high stance, 17 inch alloys and the floating tail complete the supermoto look. Extending almost all the way to the fuel lid, the flat motocross style seat along with the narrow midriff allows you move around intuitively.
The tail is neat and minimal, but it gets its bulk from the twin under-seat exhausts. Thankfully, the exhausts are covered by a plastic shield to keep you from burning the pillion rider’s trouser seat, if you ever want one on this bike.
It is a torque fest. The 896cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected V-twin pumps 92.5bhp of power and 90Nm of torque. While these numbers might not give you the bragging rights, the power delivery is sheer bliss. Idling at over 1000rpm, the engine practically waits for you to open the throttle, much like opening the floodgates. The torque kicks in right from 3000rpm and it keeps on building up to its peak at 6750rpm.
For all that speed, you may very well short shift lest the front wheel try to break free. The six-speed gearbox has slightly shorter ratios as compared to its street twin, the Shiver, which means that no matter which gear you are in, you can expect it to lunge ahead when you open the throttle every time.
The digital cluster lights up like it is Diwali every now and then unless you are very deft with your wrist. The 180 section Dunlop rubber must feel helpless because the expectations in terms of grip are always overwhelming. Thankfully, the Dorsoduro gets three riding modes – Rain, Tour and Sport – in the ascending levels of aggression along with a three-step adjustable traction control. And the Dunlops struggle to hold on even in Rain mode. Turn the traction control off and you will become the master of throttle control within a day if you manage to hold on.
Do not expect the Dorsoduro to behave like your regular average motorcycle. It is tall and leaning it into the corners is tricky, but once you get it right, it feels absolutely solid. You might want to hook and lean rather and hang off it for better cornering stability. Because, if you are going to go all in, it is going to be dramatic. The traction control will set off and you will feel the rear sliding under you. And that is when you will appreciate the perfectly tuned chassis and suspension. It has the right amount of give that prevents it from snapping out even when you encounter that odd bump while leaning over. With twin discs in the front and one in the back, the brakes have the right bite and feel despite the ABS in the loop. What’s phenomenal is that despite all the available travel, the front doesn’t dive under braking and that is confidence inspiring.
Looking at its motocross-like stance, if you think you could venture off-road, remember that it is a street bike with road tyres. The traction control gets into Diwali mode and it treads gingerly on gravel and broken surfaces. But if you get dual-purpose on-road/off-road tyres, the Dorsoduro should feel much better. That is because of its ergonomics. The seating triangle is bang on for road riding as well as for standing up. The wide handlebar gives you the stability while the narrow midriff allows you to anchor your knees in both cases.
The Aprilia is typically Italian, brilliant in some ways and not so good in others. For example, the build quality is nice. Through my two days of standing over bad patches or speed humps, there wasn’t a loose clunk or an odd-sounding thud. The overall touch and feel of the bike is nice except for the fuel tank lid. Also, it gets only a 12 litres tank which will need frequent refuelling if you are gunning it all the way. But if you are cruising, you can pit after 200kms.
I would buy it because it is the perfect hooligan. It is fast and well mannered. Despite its height, it is easy to saddle on and almost as easy to ride. It is compact and packs a punch good enough to scare you but not knock you out. Turn the traction control off and you can pop wheelies at will. It is that kind of a motorcycle that you can take to its limit than rather than the motorcycle taking you to yours. Also, there are very few motorcycles that will offer you a ride as plush as this. And with the right set of rubbers, it can become the perfect touring machine for Indian roads.
At a shade under Rs 17 lakhs on road in Mumbai, the Aprilia Dorsoduro is quite expensive. Its direct rival, the Ducati Hypermotard comes in a good Rs 3 lakhs cheaper and it gets all the technology like ride-by-wire, ABS and traction control like the Aprilia. You can also get the Triumph Tiger XCx 800 for the same amount of money and that is a true-blue off-roader. The Honda Africa Twin with the automatic gearbox also fits in the same range. Amongst other street motorcycles, the Kawasaki Z1000 and the Suzuki GSXS1000 also fit into this budget.
Pictures: Kapil Angane
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