Aprilia Caponord 1200 First Look

November 15, 2012
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

The Aprilia Caponord 1200.
The Aprilia Caponord 1200 gets its 90-degree V-Twin from Aprilia’s Dorsoduro 1200 and shares the same basic chassis design of its supermoto kin.

The large-displacement adventure-touring class continues to grow as Aprilia debuts its Caponord 1200 at the EICMA show in Milan. The reinvented Caponord borrows the 90-degree V-Twin from Aprilia’s Dorsoduro 1200. It also shares the same basic chassis design of its supermoto kin, though the Caponord showcases the latest electronics from Noale – foremost being semi-active suspension, which Aprilia dubs ADD (Aprilia Dynamic Damping).

The new entry from Aprilia is far from a surprise, the concept having been teased earlier this year at the Piaggio dealer show in Monte Carlo (along with the Moto Guzzi California 1400, also getting its official debut at EICMA). This new 1200 replaces the EVT1000 predecessor last tested by MotoUSA in 2006 and later dropped from the US lineup. 

The Caponord shares the same engine base as the Dorsoduro 1200 – a liquid-cooled 1197cc 90-degree V-Twin. The boost in displacement gives this Caponord a 30 hp gain over its 998cc predecessor. Power claims are 128 hp at 8500 rpm and 85 lb-ft torque at 6500 rpm. (The Dorsoduro claims are 130 hp and 85 lb-ft which come at higher rpm. The Dorsoduro turned 114.49 hp @ 9000 rpm and 72.78 lb-ft @ 7600 rpm at the rear wheel on our dyno in 2011.)

Aprilia Caponord 1200 Spec Sheet
The Aprilia Caponord 1200 shares the same engine base as the Dorsoduro 1200.
Engine: liquid-cooled 90° V-Twin
Bore and Stroke: 106 x 67.8 mm
Displacement: 1197cc
Compression Ratio: 12.0 ± 0.5 : 1
Claimed Peak Horsepower: 128 hp at 8500 rpm
Claimed Peak Torque: 85 lb-ft at 6500 rpm
Valvetrain: Double overhead camshaft with mixed gear/chain timing system, four valves per cylinder
Fueling: Integrated engine management system. Injection with triple map Ride by Wire throttle management: Sport (S), Touring (T), Rain (R)
Gearbox: 6-speeds, drive ratio: 14/37, 18/32, 21/28, 24/26, 25/24, 27/24
Clutch: Multiplate wet clutch, hydraulically operated
Final Drive: Chain
Frame: Modular tubular steel frame fastened to aluminum side plates by high strength bolts. Removable steel rear subframe
Front Suspension: 43mm Sachs upside-down front fork with fully adjustable compression and rebound damping and spring preload. Wheel travel 167mm.
Rear Suspension: Sachs hydraulic shock absorber with adjustable rebound and preload. Wheel travel 150 mm.
Front Brakes: Dual 320mm stainless steel floating discs. Brembo four-piston radial callipers. Metal braided brake hoses.
Rear Brakes: 240mm stainless steel disc. Single piston Brembo calliper. Metal braided brake hose. Continental two channel ABS system and Aprilia Traction Control (ATC).
Wheels: Lightweight aluminium alloy with three split spokes. 3.50 X 17-inch front, 6.00 x 17-inch rear
Tires: 120/70-R17 front, 190/55-17 rear
Seat Height: 33 inch
Wheelbase: 61.6 inch
Rake/Trail: 27°/5 inches
Fuel Capacity: 6.34 gallons (including 1 gallon reserve)

As with most of its Aprilia kin, the Caponord features ride-by-wire technology. This enables three engine maps: Sport, Touring and Rain. The first two offer full power, with Touring a less aggressive delivery. The latter Rain mode restricts power to 100 hp.

Further electric aids include ABS and Aprilia’s traction control system (ATC), which come standard. Riders can disable the ABS, which is mated to high-spec Brembo braking components – top-line radial mount monoblocs up front. Aprilia touts the ATC system as a derivative of its APRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) developed on the RSV4 and also showcased on the impressive Tuono V4. The ATC offers three levels, and appears analogous to the engine maps: Level 1 full sport mode, Level 2 city and touring, with Level 3 for low-grip situations.

Extra features are bundled into a Travel Pack, of which the ADD semi-active suspension is the highlight. Aprilia PR states the ADD sources automotive components and “the system measures the energy transmitted to the vehicle by the harshness of the asphalt, recognizes the riding phases (acceleration, deceleration, braking, constant throttle) and adapts the suspension calibration in order to maximize comfort and maintain the bike’s balance.”

Another bonus from the Travel Pack is cruise control, made possible by the RBW tech. The up-spec package also includes touring friendly amenities like a centerstand and color matched panniers. The latter two are offered as accessories for the standard Caponord.

Steel tubing and aluminum plates comprise the Caponord frame. The chassis rolls on 17-inch wheels, with Sachs suspension components front and rear. A 43mm inverted fork is three-way adjustable. The lateral-mounted shock is preload and rebound adjustable. The aforementioned Travel Pack offers a piggyback shock, with four electrically adjustable presets for preload. The four settings offer quick adjustment for combinations of rider, passenger and luggage.

Touring credentials are bolstered by the accessory panniers (standard on the Travel Pack), as well as 6.34 gallon tank. Aprilia touts a range of more than 300 km (186.4 miles), which doesn’t sound all that impressive for an AT bike with such a large tank. But considering our Dorsoduro netted a piddly 25 mpg, it makes a little more sense… Other nods to the touring segment include the standard handguards, as well as the windscreen, which is adjustable but not electronically.

The Caponord is an interesting entry in the AT market. It seems more street than adventure, but more performance oriented than the Piaggio groups other GS Challenger/ADV mount – the Moto Guzzi Stelvio. Power wise its 128 hp V-Twin, even reckoning a 15% loss of power to the rear wheel on the dyno, should give it the edge over most of the current field tested during our 2011 AT Shootout. The lone exception, of course, is the 132-hp Multistrada. Notably the redesigned KTM 1190 Adventure will source a high-performance Twin, like the Ducati and Aprilia, with the three also standing out as the chain-driven 1200s in a predominantly shaft-driven class.