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First ride: Aprilia Caponord Rally

Published: 20 February 2015

Updated: 20 February 2015

Aprilia’s Caponord Rally is currently being put through its paces in Sardinia by MCN’s Andy Davidson. Here are his first impressions:

“Rewind back to 2013 when Aprilia originally launched the 1200cc Caponord. It was released in two guises, the standard model and the Travel Pack complete with an impressive electronics package including Aprilia’s semi-active suspension unit.

“Despite rave reviews for the standard Aprilia Caponord 1200 and the Travel Pack model (complete with fancy-pants gizmos like innovative semi-active suspension), the Italian firm hasn't done particularly well in the sales department, selling only 57 in 2014. So Aprilia has launched the 'Rally' for 2015, which is basically the Travel model with an adventure makeover to help the firm pitch their bike at a wider audience.

“The changes include spoked wheels and a 19'' rim up front, new panniers, crash bars, a fresh lick of paint, bigger screen and fog lights. You may be thinking there's nothing earth shattering there, and you'd be right. But while the changes are subtle, they are effective

“Aprilia has decided to drop the standard Capo, so customers can either look to the road going Travel model (£13,134) or the new dual purpose Rally (£14,134). Both bikes share the same internals and swish electronic package so you won't be missing out whichever model you pick, with the exception of a centre-stand as you don’t get it as standard on the Rally (£138). It all comes down to whether or not you want to ride the occasional rocky track, or past it. For those who like a bit of the rough stuff the Rally's 19'' spoke front wheel will soak up impacts - not that you'd be slamming a 14k machine over motocross tabletops anytime soon - but still, it adds to the off-road cred and beats the Travel's 17'' aluminium rims.

“Other than the adventure bolt-ons and mods, it is effectively the same bike as before. So, the Rally retains its trick suspension, variable traction control, switchable ABS, three throttle maps, cruise control and semi-active preload too. You can thumb through four preset preload options or select the automatic function and the clever electronics package will continuously calculate the load and adapt accordingly. Smart stuff.

“The Caponord is a well adjusted, poised and balanced machine with a plethora of functions, gadgets and gizmos including a multimedia platform, USB sockets and mobile phone app which lets you access everything from your lean angles to fault detection. But, it's main selling point is the clever suspension, it's so gorgeously sublime, that the word smooth doesn’t do it justice. The Rally may only have a few adventure-bobs thrown in so Aprilia can pitch to an additional market, but rightly so. It’s a fantastic machine with an impressive array of tech, a sweet motor, it’s fun and deserves a little more recognition.”

Read the full test in MCN, out Wednesday March 4. 

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