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APRILIA SL1000 FALCO (1999-2005) Review

Published: 12 December 2006

"A well-regarded, half-faired, 'street sports' version of the RSV"

Aprilia SL1000 Falco motorcycle review - Riding

"A well-regarded, half-faired, 'street sports' version of the RSV"

  • At a glance
  • 997cc  -  118 bhp
  • 42 mpg  -  135 miles range
  • Insurance group: 15 of 17
    Compare insurance quotes now
  • Medium seat height (815mm)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

The Aprilia SL1000 Falco is a generally well-regarded, half-faired, ‘street sports’ version of RSV which never quite took off in the way it could have. Unique twin beam frame and slightly detuned V-twin made it more streetable, although still very much a sportster. The Aprilia Falco is often overlooked so is a potential used bargain.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The Aprilia SL1000 Falco's frame was an all-new double twin spar designed to show off the engine. With geometry bordering on the sporting it allows the Aprilia SL1000 Falco to change direction quickly while maintaining stability. Where the RSV is tall and uncompromising, the Falco has a lower seat and less extreme footpeg positions. The result is that you sit 'in' the Falco, rather than 'on' it, which makes for better cornering with confidence.

Engine 4 out of 5

The Aprilia SL1000 Falco uses a detuned version of the 60° V-twin engine from the Mille sportster. Less powerful it may be, but the Aprilia SL1000 Falco will still reach 155mph and wheelie when the throttle's wrenched in anger. Broader power comes from a twin silencer exhaust and remapped fuel injection, which crops the peak power slightly but bolsters bottom and mid-range.  

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

Aprilia has something of a reputation, in terms of build quality and durability at least, as an ‘Italian Honda’, and the Aprilia SL1000 Falco is as good example as any of that. The standard of components, fit and finish is high and there have been few reliability issues. Instead, the biggest blackmark against Aprilia in recent years has been patchy dealer back-up and spares availability.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

Less is sometimes more. By making its roadster less extreme than the RSV Mille sportster it's based on Aprilia broadened its appeal and produced a motorcycle that's both easier and more fun to ride. The Aprilia SL1000 Falco is a bit of a wolf’s in sheep’s clothing (and price) too. If you like the rather subdued looks, the Aprilia SL1000 Falco is a damned good value all-rounder with a sporting edge. Find an Aprilia SL1000 Falco for sale.

Insurance group: 15 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Angular styling and fairing give the Aprilia SL1000 Falco a unique look while providing adequate weather protection and pillion accommodation. Large grab handles mean an easy time for passengers. Other components shared with the Aprilia Falco's more sporting sibling are the brakes, and they are just as sensitive and powerful as on the out-and-out sportster. In all, far posher than its sober looks suggest. Compare and buy parts for the Aprilia Falco in the MCN Shop.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1999
Year discontinued 2005
Original price -
Used price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 15 of 17
Annual road tax £88
Annual service cost £150
Performance
Max power 118 bhp
Max torque 70.5 ft-lb
Top speed 156 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 11.8 secs
Average fuel consumption 42 mpg
Tank range 135 miles
Specification
Engine size 997cc
Engine type 8v 60-degree V-twin, 6 gears
Frame type Aluminium trellis
Fuel capacity 21 litres
Seat height 815mm
Bike weight 190kg
Front suspension Preload
Rear suspension Preload, rebound
Front brake 2 x 320mm discs
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1999: Aprilia SL1000 Falco launched.
2005: Aprilia SL1000 Falco discontinued.

Other versions

None.

Owners' Reviews

16 owners have reviewed their APRILIA SL1000 FALCO (1999-2005) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your APRILIA SL1000 FALCO (1999-2005)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.7 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.5 out of 5
Engine 4.9 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.8 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.8 out of 5
Equipment 4.3 out of 5
5 out of 5

This bike really got under my skin

04 April 2018 by Miha

Great all-rounder, not much left to be desired. If I crashed mine, I'd buy another one!

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Brakes are top stuff. Quite sporty to ride, gives good feedback, and allows quite a bit of suspension settings. Ergonomy is good also for taller riders.
Engine
5 out of 5
That's something I like the most about it. It's a tractor! No matter the rpm - you twist the throttle and off you go! It had a flat spot around 5500rpm that was annoying, but after I messed with injection system it works like charm. I use JayTune SL1000 EPROM chip that is very cheap and makes a ton of difference - it brings massive torque with linear delivery through the rev range, but there are others as Gabro, FactoryPro etc, I've read they're just as good, but a bit more expensive. I recommend it to anyone, it really does the trick!
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Never missed a beat. Maintenance is quite cheap, nothing special about it. It may eat through rear tyres a bit faster than inline-4 bikes, but that's the fun part after all. :)
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
I change oil, oil filter and brake fluid every year. As I service it by myself, this doesn't cost very much.
Equipment
4 out of 5
No special equipment I could think of... the instrument cluster has some funny stuff like max speed, battery voltage, I'm not happy with use of a passing light to trigger some functions, other than that, there's nothing special I could think of.
Buying experience

I bought it privately for €1800 eur (advertised for €1900) with a bit over 30,000km on the clock - I consider it REALLY cheap for the package I got. The guy was really nice and I am still very happy with the purchase.

4 out of 5

Falco - A v-twin with loads of character and Honda build quality

15 February 2017 by FalcoPete

You will find it hard to find a better v-twin in this category for the money especially with the high level components (Brembo brakes, Marzocchi fully adjustable forks etc.). It is an absolute hoot and joy to ride and will never fail to put one of those silly 8 year old grins on your face. The riding position is the sporty side of sports/touring and can be a little wearing around town but once of on a B road or the motorway (if you must) it is supremely comfortable. I rode in the bikers for Macmillan sunset to sunrise tour from Holyhead to Skegness a round trip of 800 miles + in two days without discomfort.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
The brakes are superb but if the Freudenberg brake lines haven't been changed you would be best installing stainless lines. The standard Brembo pads are fine and many use EBC versions with equal success. The rear brake is almost a waste of time on all the MY's apart from low speeds in town. However the front is so good everywhere else with great initial bite and feeling throughout the braking range. With the suspension being adjustable, fully adjustable if you go down the RSV Sachs or Ohlins route and can be tailored to your road preferences or easily wound up for a track day and Falcos often surprise a lot of more respected track day machinery.
Engine
5 out of 5
The Rotax V60 engine is an absolute stonker and has power everywhere. Keep the throttle bodies balanced (service) and power will be available everywhere in the rev range. It also makes the Falco easy to ride. Docile when you want it to be and an absolute animal when you twist the wrist. Wheelies are easy to initiate without the need of the clutch. Very little goes wrong but you will need to keep the Falco on a trickle charger if you don't use it frequently. The engine demands a lot from the battery to get her started and if that isn't kept in good condition it usually causes the sprag clutch to fail and that is usually a service job. Keep the battery topped up though and you won't have a problem. Whilst you're there swap out the front sprocket from the 16T (standard) for a 15T it will make riding around town that much easier in raising the revs enough to stop the need to ride the clutch anywhere near as much.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
MCN calls this an Italian Honda when referring to build quality and I can vouch for that too. Had this bike since 2008 (second owner) and it has never let me down. There are a couple of sensible mods that you should do to ensure that, as the bike gets older, it will stay reliable. The first is to add additional wiring to the starter and charging circuits. This will give you greater power to kick that lovely Rotax into life. The other is to swap out the start solenoid for a 150 Amp unit (a lot use Yamaha versions) as the standard 50 Amp unit isn't up to the job long term. These mods are well documented on Falco owner sites and are easy to do although take a day owing to the fiddly nature. There's even a new wiring kit you can now buy to make life easier.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
I always have mine serviced at Aprilia Performance (Tamworth) as Griff and the lads really know what they're doing and always deliver a stonking service. They are 150 miles away so that should speak volumes for their capability. These bikes are real value for money but because people keep them, a good sign, but as a result there usually aren't many for sale and they are usually the earlier ali coloured frame ones.
Equipment
4 out of 5
The Falco can be set up specifically for you and your riding style. Don't pay attention to the specs on this sheet the suspension up front is fully adjustable. The single issue is the rear shock which is usually past it's best after 10,000 miles and wasn't the best to start with. The good news is that a rear shock from a gen 1 Aprilia RSV will fit and often Falco owners swap out the swingarm for an RSV unit too along with the dog bones and trangles. I did this and had the Sachs shock refurbished and set up for my weight and riding style with a new spring for way less than replacement after market unit and personally, I think it's better solution. Makes the rear end of the Falco look more upmarket too. There's no fuel gauge but an easy trip mileage readout allows you to keep track of where the fuel tank level is at. I consistently get 140 miles before the warning light flickers on from an 'enthusiastic' Sunday ride. I have fitted some accessories that I would to any bike namely, heated grips, heated seat, 12V power socket, R&G crash protection. Many owners fit after market cans of a variety of brands. If you do this it is recommended you invest in a Power Commander or possibly Bazzazz and a dyno run, it is worth it. I now have the out put at the rear wheel that was originally at the crank and the power delivery is everywhere throughout the rev range. It pulls like a train with no flat spots whatsoever.
Buying experience

I bought my Falco from the original owner who had to give up riding because of rheumatism in his knees. As with most Falco owners they keep these rewarding bikes in good condition and usually own them for a long period of time. This often means for a buyer the risk of a dud is very rare and the confidence that they have a very good chance of picking up a cracker of a bike at a very reasonable price.

5 out of 5

Excellent beast

05 June 2012 by grumbleweeduk

I bought my Falco after selling my Africa Twin. It is a good bike for taller guys - I'm 6'5 and i can get comfy on it no prob. Mines derestricted and has RSC carbon cans. Sounds fab! Keeps up with modern 1000's and handles better than my old CBR ever could! with 45mpg average (verified over 2000 miles) its cheap to run too! BUY ONE!

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Best Value Italian Bike

19 June 2008 by richtea

Real value for money, and with 118BHP it has plenty of usable power. Ride is firm, not quite perfect, but at the price I have no complaints. Comfy over long distances for lanky gits like me. Warped clutch needed replacing, but was around £150 fitted as far as I can remember, so its a drop in the ocean compared to price of cans, plastics, etc. Overall a very pleasant surprise - no big expenses, no electrical problems, unlikely to be stolen, and will catch out the Sunday-only Fireblades. Which strangely seem to have copied the red Falco colours. V retro :-)

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

01 Falco

23 May 2008 by jovanostu

Great bike overall, especially for the price. Extremely reliable. Fantastic engine. Only drawback is crappy rear shock, but shocks should be custom anyway.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Love it

10 September 2007 by omayj

Had mine since new and she's great fun. Certainly keeps up with the sportsbikes on a Sunday. Equipment is pretty good for a cheaper bike - brembo brakes etc. Now that she's 2.5 years old, she's starting to have a few problems. Had to replace the warped front disc and had oval sprockets after France last year. The stand is also a nightmare but thats a general tali bike problem. It's my first big bike, had a Fazer 600 after I passed my test. Love the v-twin and can't imagine going back to a four now. Plus most people don't know what they are so it get's lots of attention. Cracking bike for the money.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Brilliant Bike

14 June 2007 by D-Rider

Bought new in June '05 for under £5k. This bike never fails to put a smile on my face - it can do just about anything (well, on-road anyway). Excellent Falco community at www.apriliaridersite.com . The motor is awesome and it handles really well. In standard trim it's a great bike .... but fettling and personalising Falcos is completely addictive. This is my first non-Honda and build quality is at least as good - probably better - than any other bike I've owned. Of course the sidestand mod Must be done and upgrading the shock pays dividends. After that, change as much or as little as you want .... but above all ride it to keep that grin permanently on your face!

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Great twin!

11 April 2007 by andyh2

Bought one new in 05 and although I don’t have it anymore the bike was brilliant! It compared favourably to the VTR I used to own, having better suspension, a bit more power and even better build quality (really, better than a Honda). The engine is really good fun / very good low down as you’d expect and the fuel injection is spot on. Equipment is good, comfort is good (for the rider), faring is good and you get trick components (USD forks, slipper clutch)! The only thing I felt the need to change was the rear shock. This included raising the rear a little to speed up the steering, but that was just my preference. Highly recommended, a shame they stopped making them.

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Awesome wolf in sheep's clothing. Used bargain of the decade

10 October 2006 by danowat

Whilst looking for a sensible replacement for my '01 CBR600F, I wanted something bigger & more comfortable, I was pointed in the direction of the Aprilia Falco. I had never seen or heard anything about this bike before, and on reading as much info as I could, seemed like the bike for me. It does everything very well, it goes well, has bags of grunt, stops very well, excellent brembo brakes, looks nice, is very comfortable for a bike that is on the sporty side of a sports tourer, on my CBR I would struggle to do 150 miles before aching, I have done 300 miles straight on the Falco and could quite easily have done another 300. Wind protection is very good, it handles well enough to keep up with 600cc sports bikes on the ride, which is more than good enough. The highlight of the bike is its engine, just make sure its derestricted, it pulls, and pulls and pulls, all the way to its 10,500rpm limit. Strengths: Engine, Comfort, Looks, High 6th gear, great for cruising, Headlights are like laser beams, VERY cheap used prices, a HECK of a lot of bike for your money.
Weaknesses: Sidestand, Suspension is a bit harsh for UK roads, fuel economy can be a bit scary if you ride flat out everywhere.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

A real world bike without pretensions

26 March 2006 by Mcrooters

I sold a VTR firestorm to buy a new 2005 model falco. The falco really is the perfect bike for my needs. I find it hard to think of any way to improve the bike. It feels a class above the honda and more like the 99 R6 I also ride in sharpness terms. Still running the Falco in I gained so much confidence and formed a bond in under a thousand miles. Strengths: Grunt and handling,the individual aspect of owning a bike that is so low key yet real world fast. Weaknesses: side stand is a bit silly and the wiring looks a bitty exposed

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
3 out of 5

Needs a bit of work but highly satisfying and distinctive

06 March 2006 by blackhill

Stepping up from a zx-6r, i was under 30 and my insurance wouldn't let me have a 750cc sportsbike. big v-twins were the rage (2 years ago) and i looked at an sv1000, which look better but have a poor build quality reputation. i liked the looks, price and performance of the falco, considering it a worthwhile step up. the bike needs more rider involvement than your typical jap bike, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your mood. Poor residual values due to aprilia discounting is a mixed blessing too. Strengths: the feel of the v-twin makes it a world away from 4-cylinder, the optional luggage is good kit, touring potential (france, italy and spain last may) is superb. And the roar from the wolf exhausts, whilst embarressing in town, was great when i had 3 foot long white flames coming out of it at Monza WSB campsite last year. were you there? great handling on smooth roads. Weaknesses: the standard suspension is too choppy on rough roads, when my mates can easily get away from me. very annoying, but an upgrade (possibly maxton) is on my list this year rather than change the bike. a downsize on the sprokets was necessary due to overgearing plus juddery bottom end power delivery. servicing is a bit pricey, but probably worth keeping it all working well. it can be hard work to ride when you're not in the mood. and the s*d*st*nd gives me temporary hearth failure!!

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
-
Engine
3 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Great power, great sound and great value

21 February 2006 by panpan

Purchased a Falco in 04 as I wanted an Italian Twin without the Ducati money. I wanted it to be really different so I located a full Falco Fighter Kit and had it colour matched to the bike. Later I have added Ohlins suspension front and rear, yet still its cheaper than a Ducati. I regularly use it on trackdays and its as fast as any of the other Italian Twins. Excellent power, accelleration, handling and braking. Strengths: The bike is set up for the track, it sounds fantastic, looks different and goes well. Weaknesses: The only weakness is the stock suspension. Junk that and the footrests will be on the floor all the way arond the corner!

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

One of the best all rounder bikes available

16 February 2006 by awoo

Swapped my CBR600 FS for the later Falco (gold forks etc), in 2004 after a serious knee op. The riding position is much more comfortable without compromising any of my sportier aspirations. It came with after market Streetfighter hi-level carbon cans which sounded awesome, window rattling actually, and looked fantastic. unfortunately they caused the engine to run too lean which was picked up at the service on a dyno. i chose to go back to standard which, although quieter, has done nothing to prevent 1st gear wheelies at will and the Falco remains a great looking bike with 116bhp at the rear wheel! every time i ride, this bike thrills and is the first, and i've had many, that fails to bore me into looking for the next one. good levels of quality with brembo brakes, smooth gearbox and comfy seat. good to have a less common and more distinct bike. a piece of Italian exotica with good realiability. (just invest in a battery optimiser for those start-ups after a fews days in the garage!
Strengths: great engine, comfortable and roomy, good realiability, price and handling. hard to fault. Weaknesses: side stand as all find out, i believe Renegade do a conversion. Standard Metz 3 tyres not great Pirelli Diablos transform handling

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

First dabble into V-twins - what a result!

04 February 2006 by vek

Excellent handling, fast, seems to be made very well, must be the ultimate bargain (I paid £4995 otr), comfortable for us tall guys (I'm 6.3). Even the wife's crazy about it. Buy one, you won't regret it! Strengths: stonking motor, handles, stops, comfortable, well made. Weaknesses: side stand

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Long distance capability of the Falco

28 January 2006 by motorbikemad

I undertook a charity ride from Lands end to John O Groats, official distance 874 miles. Actual recorded distance 892 miles. Left Lands End at 00.05 arrived John O Groats 14.75 hrs later. Fantastic bike, easy to ride and the total round trip was 1810 miles in three days. The bike performed without missing a beat and I had no aches and pains after the trip (I was 59 when undertook the challenge). Bike averaged 42MPG even though the average speed was 60MPH. Strengths: Loads of grunt, reliable and a great engine. Weaknesses: Can eat tyres, I find the best BT020's (4500miles). Side stand is poor

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
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Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Superb all rounder

07 October 2005 by Morg

Found this bike superb for inspiring confidence even though I have only been riding for 2 1/2 yrs. Very fast and comfortable even for my pillion, having covered lots of miles in Ireland and even over to the Brno GP it has never missed a beat. After market cans are a must. Found that Pirelli Diablo Stradas work superbly. I ride with pals who ride a varied assortment of bikes and the Falco can hold its own with all of them. I could go on forever... Strengths: Not too many around( 100 GSXR's to 1 Falco per meet), pillion comfort, Superb riding position for my gangly frame and nice looking backend. Weaknesses: Cooks clutch fluid regularly, meaning no nuetral until changed and bled well.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
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Equipment
4 out of 5
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Photo Gallery

  • Aprilia SL1000 Falco motorcycle review - Riding
  • APRILIA SL1000 FALCO  (1999-2005)
  • Aprilia Falco
  • APRILIA SL1000 FALCO  (1999-2005)
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  • Aprilia SL1000 Falco motorcycle review - Side view
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  • Aprilia SL1000 Falco motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Aprilia SL1000 Falco motorcycle review - Front view
  • Aprilia SL1000 Falco motorcycle review - Top view
  • Aprilia SL1000 Falco motorcycle review - Side view
  • Aprilia SL1000 Falco motorcycle review - Riding
  • Aprilia SL1000 Falco motorcycle review - Riding
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  • APRILIA SL1000 FALCO  (1999-2005)
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