Pure fun: thrashing the new Aprilia Dorsoduro 900
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I could take the easy way out on this and just sum the new Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 up in three words: Pure. Unadulterated. Fun.
But I won’t.
Aprilia is a master of lustful bikes (you just need to listen to its flagship V4 motors to get hooked), so it’s unsurprising it has done a bang-up job of making the Dorsoduro a bike so focused on fun. You can’t help but get swept away with it.
We already knew the brand to be capable of this from the previous generation of Dorsoduro, which made use of the 750cc V-twin found in the Shiver of the time. It was a brilliantly fun machine, and the 900 builds on this and turns up the volume to 11.
The 2018 bike still features the same supermoto inspired styling, with a gorgeous red trellis frame holding the fantastic sounding V-twin in pride of place.
The only downside to the styling of the Dorsoduro is a firm seat — which harks back to the dirt bike routes of the genre — and lack of tie-down points for luggage.
A long distance tourer this is not.
Aprilia’s new 900cc V-twin, which is also found in the new Shiver 900 is, in fact, not an all-new engine, with Aprilia finding the 750cc V-Twin to be such a reliable performer it instead used it as the base for the new 900.
In order to bump up the capacity by 150cc, Aprilia’s engineers stroked the engine, increasing it by 11mm to 67.4mm but leaving the bore unchanged at 92mm.
The result is a slight increase in power but, more importantly, torque is now a thumping 90Nm which the rider can fully make use of.
As usual, an increase in performance is usually matched by some tweaks to the electronics, and the Dorsoduro is no exception.
Along with the new engine, there is a cutting edge TFT dash — which greets you with the Dorsoduro 900 logo at each turn of the key — and it reads crystal clear as TFTs tend to, switchable ABS, and multiple traction control modes.
The new TFT display is beautiful to look at, and is easily readable in all conditions. But, oddly, despite its ability to display all the technical info under the sun, it doesn’t display a fuel gauge.
Call that a minor issue or a typical Italian quirk if you like, but either way I was not impressed when the 12-litre tank nearly went dry on me between Morrinsville and Cambridge.
Limping into the local service station, the engine surging as the fuel level got closer to nothing, I was wishing the bike had warned me earlier and allowed me to fill up and continue my merry blast home.
That’ll teach me for having too much fun with the throttle on my commute.
The rest of the electronics are top notch, and seemingly are much quicker to flick between using the familiar toggle on the left-hand bar than the previous generation from Aprilia. The addition of the TFT display has also made the electronics more intuitive, meaning there are no menus within menus to navigate to alter the bike’s settings.
Everything apart from ABS can be adjusted on the fly — including the Aprilia Traction Control — meaning you can tailor your ride as it happens. Want to wheelie? Turn the ATC down to zero and lift away. Rain starting to fall? Swap modes to rain and up the ATC. It’s all incredibly easy.
One thing that feels unnatural, however, is that in order to change rider modes between the three settings (Touring, Rain and Sport), the Dorsoduro requires you to thumb the starter, which doubles as the mode switch. It feels wrong, but once you make the mental leap it is a nice way to quickly switch between modes.
But it’s the hardware that puts the Dorsoduro on the map. There’s the quality 41mm adjustable KYB forks and a similarly adjustable monoshock out back absorbing bumps, but the standouts are the front brakes. I would think twice before switching the ABS off and grabbing a handful of the twin, 320mm four-piston anchors up front.
With the ABS on, I decided to put those brakes to the test. After all, they’re not the monobloc Brembos you often see on Italian machinery. The result was what felt like the biggest stoppie in my riding history as I rapidly came to a halt. You can literally stop the Dorsoduro on its nose if you’re not careful.
Regardless of its little “Italianisms”, the Dorsoduro is fun incarnate. If you can see past the Supermoto styling and its lack of practicality, you are in for a grin of a time riding the Dorsoduro through our tight, twisty roads.
APRILIA DORSODURO 900
Engine: 90-degree V-twin engine,
Max power: 71kW at 8750 rpm
Max torque: 90 Nm at 6500 rpm
Pros: Crystal clear TFT display, great engine, incredible brakes
Cons: No fuel gauge, firm seat