The 2014 Aprilia Caponord 1200 was introduced to the press on the beautiful roads of Sardinia, complimented by rain and wind. If the latest Caponord from Aprilia has been a long time coming, all we can say is good things are worth waiting for.
At the heart of this new adventure tourer is the same v-twin found in the Dorsoduro we previously tested. Peak horsepower and peak torque are down just slightly in the Caponord, delivered at lower rpm levels for a broader spread of power (125 hp at 8,250 rpm and 84.4 ft./pounds at 6,800 rpm). The changes include smaller throttle bodies, and Aprilia is claiming a 20% improvement in fuel consumption compared to the Dorsoduro. The fuel tank holds 6.4 gallons.
As it has already done in its superbike family, Aprilia is aggressively incorporating advanced electronic controls in the new Caponord. In the upper end “Travel Pack” version we tested, in addition to ABS and traction control, Aprilia incorporates cruise control as well as ADD (which means Aprilia Dynamic Damping, rather than Attention Deficit Disorder). A description of ADD could include an article of its own. Suffice it to say that this proprietary Aprilia system controls the SACHS suspension units by sensing road conditions and riding style to make damping adjustments that best complement the given conditions. The bike’s ECU monitors numerous variables (among them throttle opening, braking, acceleration, speed and engine speed) to make the suspension adjustment assessment. Additionally, Aprilia has also incorporated a self-adjusting spring pre-load for the rear shock that reacts to the load placed on the bike by the rider, passenger and luggage.
Finally, the ride-by-wire throttle response can also be adjusted by selecting one of three different maps, including Sport, Touring and Rain.
Compared to the Dorsoduro, the Caponord 1200 has revised steering geometry, with reduced rake and increased trail. The wheelbase has been increased roughly 1-1/2 inches. The ABS braking system includes top drawer radial mount Brembo front calipers.
The Caponord has an Aprilia family resemblance. The RSV4 superbike is brought to mind when viewing the bike from the front, and the silhouette is quite sporty for the adventure tourer class.
Swinging a leg over the Caponord revealed a seat height that is tall, but not excessive for the adventure touring class (33″). The rider triangle created by the wide-set handlebars, footpegs and generous seat provided a very comfortable mount for attacking the twisty roads of Sardinia. The screen height is also adjustable, although it must be done while the bike is stationary. Wind protection is good for the class, leaving a fairly smooth air stream at helmet level.
The instrument panel is thorough and legible, and assists relatively straightforward adjustment of the ignition maps, suspension damper settings, traction control settings and ABS.
The Caponard 1200 with Travel Pack features the 29 liter saddlebags pictured, each of which accommodates a full-face helmet.
The big 90 degree v-twin responds nicely from as little as 2,000 rpm, and vibration levels are noticeable but pleasant. Clutch action is relatively easy, and gear changes positive. A steady 70 mph yield roughly 4, 200 rpm on the tach for relaxed touring. We had all the acceleration we needed on the windy roads by rolling the throttle on between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm.
Although the roads were frequently damp, we stuck primarily to the Sport and Touring ignition maps, finding less difference in the two than we expected.Throttle response was smooth enough that we preferred the more aggressive Sport setting. I also preferred the less intrusive traction control setting despite the road conditions. This is an easy bike to ride fast.
The flexibility of the engine allows you to comfortably wind it on to 8,000 rpm before shifting, and the 125 hp feels more than adequate despite some of the competition reaching for superbike-like horsepower levels.
The Caponord 1200 is not the lightest member of the large enduro market with a claimed dry weight of 502 pounds. Nevertheless, we were impressed by the semi-active suspension performance, and the balanced feeling of the bike. The big Caponord seemed to combine comfortable compliance with stiffer, more aggressive damping when needed for aggressive riding. Quite impressive.
“Balanced” is a good word to describe the Caponord 1200. It is not the lightest or most athletic member of the category, but it combines competent handling with comfort and wind protection suitable for long distances with both a passenger and luggage aboard. The most comprehensive electronics package in the category includes an excellent cruise control feature, as well.
We don’t currently have U.S. pricing, but the Caponord 1200 should be available later this year in the U.S. If European pricing is any indication, however, expect the base model to come in around $17,000.