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First ride: Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 'a change of heart'

Published: 03 March 2018

Aprilia UK roll the dice on their big capacity supermoto.

Despite being launched across Europe in 2017, Aprilia UK decided not to import the Dorsoduro 900 into the UK last year. Supermotos are Marmite bikes and it was felt that rather than chance unsold stock languishing in dealers, they simply wouldn’t bring it in. However 2018 has seen a change of heart and the Dorsoduro 900 will soon be landing on our shores, albeit in limited numbers. What has brought this rethink?

Big supermotos have their fans and this niche group isn’t really catered for as in the UK the choice is limited solely to the Ducati Hypermotard 939. Seeing the Ducati’s price tag of £10,795 (or £13,895 for the SP), Aprilia spotted an opening as at £8999 the Dorsoduro is significantly cheaper. Whether this is a wise move has yet to be seen...

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Like the Shiver 900, the Dorsoduro 900 gains the same tweaked version of the V-twin that powered the old 750 models. An 11mm increase in stroke and internal modification have seen it not only meet Euro4 without sacrificing its 93.9bhp power, but also gain 6.4ftlb more torque and a healthier mid-range. Add to this an updated ride-by-wire throttle, new exhaust end cans and the introduction of three-stage traction control to go with its three variable fuel maps and the Dorsoduro matches the Hypermotard in terms of tech and very nearly power. You also get lighter three-spoke wheels, revised Kayaba suspension and the Tuono’s colour dash alongside a bit of a restyle, but in truth the majority of the bike is the same as the 750. However the supermoto-style Dorsoduro has one significant alteration that the Shiver doesn’t – revised gearing.

To give the Dorsoduro a bit more attitude, Aprilia removed a tooth from the Shiver’s front sprocket, taking it from 16 to 15-teeth. While this appears a fairly inconsequential change, to ride it transforms the Shiver’s slightly lackluster ride into one with far more zing. And that suits the supermoto’s attitude perfectly.

Perched up high on the flat bench seat, the Dorsoduro feels like a proper supermoto and its chunky bars (complete with brush guards) give an impression of dominating the bike. In the bends it responds well and without too much of that nasty rocking back and forth that you often get on bikes with long travel suspension. The radial brakes are excellent and if the going gets slippery you have the electronic backup of ABS and TC – both of which can be switched off should you wish to play the fool…

Thanks to its revised gearing, in the Dorsoduro the 900 V-twin’s charm is allowed to shine through. Retaining the same light clutch and smooth revving character as the Shiver, the Dorsoduro adds more urgency to accelerate, making it feel fun and a bit naughty, which is what you want on a supermoto. It now responds like an Aprilia, rather than having the hint of a refined Japanese twin like the Shiver. But will it sell?

It’s a very limited market, but fans of supermotos will look at the Dorsoduro’s price and the fact it has a bit of attitude and combined with its updates I think a few will be tempted to part with their cash. It won’t be a great number, but Aprilia already know that anyway.

Dorsoduro highlights:

  • 896cc V-twin with 93.9bhp with 66.4ftlb of torque
  • Optional A2-legal map to reduce power to 35kW
  • Three riding modes
  • Three-stage traction control and ABS
  • 4.3-inch full colour dash
  • New look with red highlights

The Aprilia's facts

Price: £8999

Engine: 896cc (92x67.4mm) liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8 valve, V-twin

Frame: Tubular steel frame with aluminium side plates.

Seat height: 870mm

Suspension: 41mm inverted forks, adjustable rebound and preload. Rear: Monoshock, adjustable spring preload and rebound.

Brakes: 2 x 320mm discs, four-piston radial calipers; 240mm disc, one-piston caliper. ABS

Colours: Silver

Weight: 212kg (dry)

Tank capacity: 12 litres

Power: 93.9bhp @ 8750rpm

Torque: 66.4ftlb @ 6500rpm

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