2009 Aprilia Dorsoduro 750 First Ride

January 26, 2009
Jane Omorogbe
Janie Omorogbe
Contributing Editor|Articles|Articles RSS

Previously known as Gladiator Rio, Janie hung up her Pugil Stick and swapped lycra for leather. She's the motorcycle correspondant for The Sun Newspaper and the Press Association, and the pitlane reporter for ITV's British Touring Cars and Isle of Man TT.' Sure beats hitting housewives with cotton buds!

2009 Aprilia Dorsoduro 750
The Aprilia Dorsoduro 750 brings supermoto looks and performance to American streets as a 2009 model.

Aprilia has bagged four World Supermoto titles since 2004 and it’s keen to extend this success to the showrooms. So, using the SL 750 Shiver as a base, the Italian marque produced the Dorsoduro, its first 750cc road-going Supermoto.

Mainstream Supermotos often look the part, but they’re usually a compromise of hard slim styling, a low fuel range and loose front-end handling. So I expected the Dorsoduro to have these very same characteristics that are evident in rival bikes like Ducati’s Hypermotard.

First up, the design. It’s cool. There’s no two ways about it. The Dorsoduro looks every inch a stylish Supermoto, and it’s one that has the edge on the barn-door-wide Hypermotard, whose mirrors do indeed flick back to make life a tad easier, but none of that’s necessary with the Aprilia. OK, so splitting through traffic still requires a sensible pace and a good degree of consideration, but that’s never a bad thing anyway. Plus the high 34.3-inch seat height and upright riding position gives you a perfect stance to negotiate the inevitable traffic jams.

The slow speed balance is also impressive. The steering lock, combined with the bike’s agility, makes chopping through stationary traffic simple and effortless. Changing direction, U-turning on a slender bridal track, none of it’s a challenge and all of it’s fun. Although the Dorsoduro slices through the heavy town traffic like a warm knife through butter, the lack of bungee hooks at the rear means carrying a change of clothes or work essentials would have to be confined to a rucksack. A small price to pay for getting to work on time with a smile on your face!

2009 Aprilia Dorsoduro 750
The slow speed balance is impressive. The steering lock, combined with the bike’s agility, makes chopping through stationary traffic simple and effortless.

Out on the motorway, I twisted the throttle until the red dot on the dash flashed frantically at 8000 rpm, reminding me to change up another gear. I worked though the six-speed box, tucking in as I reached top, with the light still manically morse-coding ‘slow-down’. The 90-degree V-twin reached its peak at 8750, offering a respectable 92 hp at that point, with the engine refusing to pass the 10k mark. By then you could expect to be hitting over 135mph. That’s more than enough for the road and plenty for a slender Supermoto. Waggling the handlebars at top pelt, I braced myself for the characteristic front end wobble. It came, but not to the degree that I’d expected. The Dorsoduro does move under duress, but it’s not overly nervous or twitchy.

Out on the twistier roads and fast sweepers, I barrelled into a bend that was rippled with good old fashioned badly-laid-asphalt. The front skipped lightly over the imperfections, with the bars wiggling from side to side like a sassy salsa dance move. But it wasn’t something that concerned me too much and I’d imagine a superbike would also react unfavourably in these conditions. So I just relaxed and let the bike sort itself out. And it did. Every time.

2009 Aprilia Dorsoduro 750
Jane puts it on ‘F’ mode and has a little front-wheel lofting fun on the able Supermoto.

Punching out of corners is an absolute hoot. The bike feels like it digs in deep, sucking up the road ahead with an insatiable appetite, depending on what mode you’re riding in. A simple flick of the starter button switches between three different engine mappings. It gives you a choice of how the power’s delivered, so you can find a solution that best suits your riding style and the circumstances. ‘R’ is for rain and although it offers the smoothest ride, it’s also the most sedate with the least engine braking. I found myself frustratingly snatching the throttle back the instant I’d exited a corner to squeeze every drop of potential power from the castrated Twin. Mode T is for Touring and it’s a fair compromise between the rain setting and the sportiest of all, which is, unsurprisingly called ‘S’. Opt for ‘T’ and you’ll have enough grunt to punch away at the lights, without the abruptness that’s part and parcel of the sports mode, but it still has all the same liveliness in the midrange. Swap to ‘S’ and expect a considerably harsher ride, especially in the lower revs. There’s a more immediate, almost snatchy feel which is great for an aggressive ride in the country, but less suited to a gentle potter. Which is why this bike really works. You can set it to suit your needs and the changes are really quite significant.

2009 Aprilia Dorsoduro 750
The 2009 Aprilia Dorsoduro has in-your-face Supermoto styling cues.

So, after playing with these options at every conceivable opportunity, I left the bike on the Touring setting and set off for a mini adventure. Throwing the bike around country lanes and generally hooning around is what it’s all about. It’s easy and addictive and it’s almost as though there’s a separate, hidden button which is permanently on ‘F’ for Fun.

It’s a road-going Supermoto. And by the very nature of the beast, some things are a given. The seat’s high and on the hard side, the tank holds just 3.7 gallons ( I managed to get 40mpg on my test ride) and there’s no wind protection, but it’s still more comfortable than you’d expect and I didn’t even notice any annoying vibrations. Bottom line? The Dorsoduro is yet another Supermoto success for Aprilia.

Technical Specifications
2009 Aprilia Dorsoduro 750
2009 Aprilia Dorsoduro 750
92 HP at 8750 rpm.
60.48 ft. lbs. at 4500 rpm
90° V-twin
410 lbs