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  • October 9, 2017
  • Billy Bartels
  • Kevin Wing and Brian J Nelson
  • 55 Comments

2018 Aprilia Shiver 900: MD First Ride

Almost a year after it was announced, we finally got the chance to ride Aprilia’s new Shiver. Now with increased power and torque, at a reasonable price for a well-finished Italian, it’s a bike that can appeal to riders of every skill level.

So much feels so premium on this bike: styling details, the many modes of engine maps and traction control and ABS (all switchable), and (most importantly) the power and handling. While giving the Shiver a displacement boost, Aprilia’s designers also put it on a diet; shaving weight wherever possible and simplifying systems.

The Shiver 900 has a strong resemblance to the decade-old 750 it replaces, with cool red accenting and revised intake scoops highlighting the new 900. A stroke increase to the 90-degree v-twin (shared with the also-new Dorsoduro) gave the Shiver it’s greater displacement (now 896 cc). The power gains were almost all to mid-range torque (peaking at 67 foot/pounds at 6,500 rpm), with just a modest bump to top-end power (horsepower peaks at a claimed 95 at 8,750 rpm).

Aside from greater displacement, Aprilia took a look at the efficiency of the four-valve dual overhead cam, liquid-cooled powerplant and updated it with friction-reducing pistons, lighter piston pins for less reciprocating weight, and a new semi-dry sump crankcase that reduces frictional losses (and also eliminates the need for an oil cooler).  A Mareli 7SM ECU injection system (which includes traction control) comes from the RSV4 superbike, and reduces the number of components from the 750. It’s equipped with new, more efficient injectors as well.

The frame is a hybrid steel trellis up top connecting to aluminum lowers, utilizing the engine as a stressed member. Lighter, three-spoke wheels were also sourced from the RSV. It still sports a ride-by-wire throttle that it pioneered almost a decade ago in its original version, though the current version is simpler and lighter (see a theme?).

There’s a bright 4.3” combined info screen (same one as on the RSV and Tuono) that’s easy to read at all hours via automatic light adjustment. The “Mode” joystick on the left control cluster isn’t entirely instinctual, but fairly easy to adapt to. It controls traction control, ABS, a setup menu, and two sets of trip information (including miles ridden, maximum speed, fuel mileage, average speed, and elapsed time). It also includes the standard speedometer, tachometer, ambient temperature and gear indicator. There’s an optional AMP kit to hook up the Shiver to your phone, so you can vocally control making calls and playing music though the bike (displayed on-screen), your smartphone, and your helmet communicator. It even has a built-in intercom.

In a couple nods to passenger comfort, the rear pegs now sport rubber peg covers, and restyled exhaust exits that route exhaust gasses to the side, so they collect less in the low-pressure behind the passenger.

As we mounted up to actually go ride the Shiver, we were first given a tutorial on how to set up the electronic aids. It wasn’t as hard as it could be; while not as tunable as Ducati’s DCT, it’s also easier to use. The three systems are independent of one another. ABS is simply on or off (unlike the other stuff it always resets to “on” when you start up the bike), Advanced Traction Control (ATC) is simply one of 3 intervention levels (or off), while ride mode (which controls power delivery) breaks down to: Sport (giving maximum responsiveness and power), Tour (giving full power but with smoother engagement), and Rain (limiting max power to about 80% and also smoothing power delivery). Another, simpler, electronic aid is a multi-stage shift light. It comes set to 7500 rpm, so it kicks in right when the party really gets started.

I started with the electronics set in the middle (ATC 2, Tour, ABS) to get a feel for the bike, but heading out onto the Interstate I’m pretty sure I immediately engaged the traction control. This is a really quick-revving powerplant, and a burst of throttle (even in Tour mode) will make the front end pretty light. The emphasis on torque was immediately obvious. In fact, this motor doesn’t lug anywhere, it just seamlessly pulls until the lights start to come on the dash (and then some). The electronic intervention was extremely subtle: it felt like it was going to lift the front end, it just didn’t happen.

Needless to say, if you’re planning on doing wheelies and burnouts, you’ll want to set the controls to Sport, off and off. I spent some time in all of the modes. On the twisty roads of California Highway 33, I was lucky enough to not ever need the traction control again (as far as I know). ABS is quick acting (and not jarring). Rain mode feels much like Tour, differing only at the top end, while Sport is extremely twitchy, requiring concentration and lots of active wrist control to keep it steady; Tour was more my jam (and ATC 1).

Climbing into the coastal ranges, the Shiver has a really nice balance. It’s a light-steering bike and (unlike some more finicky machines) you can ride it aggressively or relaxed, just guide it through corners, or really get involved. Whether you like moving around in the saddle or just countersteer and hang on, it’s really easy to adapt to your riding style. The 900 holds a line really well, but can change up (if needed) without upsetting the chassis. That huge spread of torque just pulls out of the corner whether you came in a gear high or low. The most drama I ever ran into was when hitting a small rock mid-corner, which seemed to upset the Shiver a lot, but it settled down again before my pulse did.

The radially-mounted brakes are very strong, with a nice hard bite. The reported lighter clutch action seems right on the money. At no point — even sitting in California’s famed traffic — did my left hand get tired. The adjustable suspension is pretty solid right out of the box, perhaps a touch on the soft side for canyon running, while a touch stiff on our washboard freeways. Very well-damped all around.

Importantly, this is a bike to appeal to a large range of sport riders. While maybe not a beginner bike (not that that will stop people from buying inappropriate bikes to start with), for the intellectually mature (beginning/intermediate) rider there’s a ton of electronic assists that will keep things civilized while learning the ropes.

Both the midrange torque (even in tour mode) and the hard-biting brakes will slap a noobie in the face, but backed up with strong traction control and ABS shouldn’t be a problem.

It’s also a high-performance tool for experienced riders. All of those rider aids I’ve been rattling on about? They all turn down or off. While it doesn’t have the 120+ hp of a competition 600, it does have gobs of satisfying torque at just about every RPM level; it truly doesn’t care what gear you leave it in.

Its $9,399 price tag makes it quite a bit cheaper than competition 600s (@$11k+) and just above the more casual naked inline bikes (often delivered with lower spec suspension and brakes). It really is a lot of motorcycle, from a unique brand, that hits a sweet spot in our US market. Take a look at Aprilia’s web site for additional details and specifications.


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55 Comments

  1. austin zzr 1200 says:

    If not for the undertail (hate frying me nads) I would consider this vs the FZ-09 as it is 10X better looking. The Italians do a better UJM than the Japanese do, apparently

  2. Rennie says:

    Was loving the article until that last photo. My knees no longer bend that much:(

  3. Neal says:

    I live in Atlanta, not exactly the middle of nowhere, and the closest Aprilia dealers are 4 hours away in Charlotte and Savannah. There’s one major motorcycle seller here (Mountain Motorsports) that dominates the market and sells every brand but the Piaggio brands and BMW in at least one of their stores. They only Piaggio dealer in Atlanta is a used car dealer that happens to awkwardly sell Vespas and Guzzis. If Piaggio can’t or won’t sell in major retailers in major markets, then what the heck are they trying to do?

  4. Jeremy in TX says:

    It is a very nice looking machine, but – and I know Dante would probably add another circle of hell for such blasphemy directed towards Italian machinery – I honestly think the Suzuki GSXS750 may be a prettier bike. The Monster 797 certainly is. I’m sure the fit and finish of the Shiver is top notch, but the design comes off to me as looking a little clunky. Maybe the lines flow better in person.

    That aside, the Shiver is still a very attractive bike in my opinion, and it seems like a good value for the money. Like others have lamented, I don’t consider 4 gallons to be sufficient fuel capacity for a versatile motorcycle (unless the bike gets better than 50 mpg under routine use), but I have come to accept that the market has spoken on this matter despite what I think. It is what it is. “Please, Sir, may I have another?”

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “That aside, the Shiver is still a very attractive bike”

      i dig the “Testa Rossa” engine styling. sure, a minor detail but it’s indicative of somebody paying attention. dunno, maybe that’s always been there…? i have never seen anybody with one anywhere. Aprilia’s left a bad taste in alot of people’s mouths in this area back when they first came to the states, and it seems nobody’s forgotten.

  5. RyYYZ says:

    Good looking bike. The engine sounds just like what most people need, even if they want more. Maybe there are people who can actually use a full 100 HP (or more) in street riding, but personally the only time I come close to using all ~95 RWHP that my bike produces is on top acceleration/speed runs. I certainly couldn’t use all of it on the kind of twisty roads in northern/central Pennsylvania I was riding two weeks ago, or in central/eastern Ontario last week.
    Just needs a half-fairing for some weather protection and it would be right up my alley.

    Having said that, I don’t know where there’s an Aprilia dealer around here, which means I’m unlikely to pick one of these up.

  6. PN says:

    Well, life’s too short not to ride/drive Italian. I just wish there were more dealers. I’m interested though.

  7. ROXX says:

    No stinkbug tail. No beak. A real rear seat that you can put a human passenger on…

    Nail, meet hammer!

  8. allworld says:

    The problem with Aprilia is Piaggio, most dealerships won’t work with them.

  9. Norm G. says:

    re: “The frame is a hybrid steel trellis”

    FISTPUMP…!!!

    re: “Rain (limiting max power to about 80% and also smoothing power delivery)”

    f#$kin’-A, i don’t need no computer to tell ME “where the bear sh!t in the buckwheat”. (Byron Hadley intensity)

  10. Sentinel says:

    The “micro” fuel tank, giving the bike the least fuel range in class just kills it for me.

    • Vrooom says:

      4 gallons doesn’t seem that out of hand for the type of bike it is. I’d want more too, but for the class it doesn’t seem too awful.

      • Dave says:

        This also doesn’t seem like a very high-strung engine tune, so it’s not hard to imagine better fuel mileage than is usual for sporting motorcycles.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Aprilias have never been known for their stellar fuel economy. If it gets better than low to mid-forties, I’d be pleasantly surprised. That said, it does look that have taken some steps to specifically improve fuel economy. Slick pistons, new injectors, more sophisticated ECM.

      • Sentinel says:

        So here’s the Stats for the 750 version,

        Aprilia Shiver 750
        Fuel Capacity: 3.06 Gal.
        Average Miles Per gallon: 41 Mpg.
        Travel Distance on Full Tank: 125 Miles

        Now consider a few of the Shiver’s competitors,

        Kawasaki Z650
        Fuel Capacity: 4.0 Gal.
        Average Miles Per gallon: 49 Mpg.
        Travel Distance on Full Tank: 196 Miles

        Triumph Street Triple
        Fuel Capacity: 4.6 Gal.
        Average Miles Per gallon: 44 Mpg.
        Travel Distance on Full Tank: 202.4 Miles

        Yamaha FZ-07
        Fuel Capacity: 3.7 Gal.
        Average Miles Per gallon: 55 Mpg.
        Travel Distance on Full Tank: 203.5 Miles

        Suzuki SV650
        Fuel Capacity: 3.8 Gal.
        Average Miles Per gallon: 55 Mpg.
        Travel Distance on Full Tank: 209 Miles

        Moto Guzzi V7 III
        Fuel Capacity: 5.0 Gal.
        Average Miles Per gallon: 48 Mpg.
        Travel Distance on Full Tank: 240 Miles

        So now you see my point. Again, the fuel capacity of the Shiver is very sub-par, as is its Mpg. for the class. This is why I’d never even consider buying that bike.

  11. VLJ says:

    Dirck, I’ve never seen that paint scheme on an Arai. What model is it?

  12. Dan says:

    According to another web site the dry weight is 475lbs. I would have considered this bike if it had been around when I bought my FJ0-09. It’s even a couple of thousand less $

  13. Bud says:

    Where is the cat? Under the seat? Any heat issues?

    Kudos to the designers. Its a great looking bike.

  14. Rocky V says:

    What happened to the 1200 they were making ?

    • paquo says:

      euro 4, they didn’t want to spend the money to update it as there wasn’t enough profit in it. Hopefully they make a new lighter capo or pegaso maybe that offers more relaxed riding/touring with this 900 motor.

  15. JamesC says:

    2007 called and it wants its undertail exhaust back! But lovely motorcycle.

  16. Jojo says:

    Owned the 750 and loved it. But why didn’t they just give us the 1200 engine in the Shiver like everyone wanted!!! I’m sure it’s an improvement but a bit disappointing after everyone was expecting much more.

  17. ApriliaRST says:

    I clicked through and still could not find a key spec: What is the weight?

  18. Denny says:

    For 9.4 grand it cannot be Italian made. It looks clean and simple (electronics are hidden elsewhere). Good looking bike. Oh, did I say ergos… are right on.

    • Joe from Canada says:

      I saw this bike at my dealer. He told me all Aprillias are made in Italy.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      Aprilias, despite their exoticness and generally high spec, is not really priced like some other Italian bikes. The RSV costs about the same as any other liter bike (not that any of them are cheap anymore…), despite the V4 and other exotica. I can’t imagine that other Italian V4 about to be launched, will be that price competitive…. So if you like them, and happen to live in one of the few areas with any dealer presence, they can be quite a good deal.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “I can’t imagine that other Italian V4 about to be launched, will be that price competitive”

        like Ferrari the only place Ducati are interested in being “competitive” with this model is ON THE RACETRACK, outside of this context the word literally has no Italian translation.

        their motto is “here’s the kit”… if you want it…? buy it. if not, clear a path for the customer (you don’t know from) to back up the “Brinks Truck” (beep, beep, beep). oh look, here he is now.

        • Joe says:

          Saddened the prospective buyer crosses the street to Kawasaki dealer and buys the bike that kicks Ducati rear end on the race track for half the money.

          Ducati sold to Chinese company as it’s not profitable.

          2 years after Hyosung buys Ducati.

          • Norm G. says:

            beep, beep, beep…

            sound of yet another Brinks Truck (belonging to God knows who) backing up to Duc dealer with a shipment of cash.

  19. Paul says:

    Love the pictures of the Shiver. Your riding position (especially elbows, knees)looks much more comfortable than the Suzuki GSX-S750 just reviewed. Is that the pier in Oceanside?

  20. Sam says:

    That too:)

    Sam

  21. kawatwo says:

    Thank You Aprilia for having passenger grab handles. And a centerstand is optional! Nicely done! I always thought the Shiver was really pretty too. Very tempting.

  22. mickey says:

    Pretty nice looking as these bikes go, and the ergos look reasonable.

    I wish Suzuki would bring out a 900cc SV.

    • mickey says:

      Make that an 800 cc SV

      • R. Singer says:

        They offered a 2003 SV1000 that, in the naked version, was nice and light at just a hair over 400 pounds, with a claimed 120HP on tap. It was a rocket with great all-around utility.

        It didn’t sell.

        The near-identical version with a 3/4-fairing sold a bit better, weighed a good deal more, and was available for a number of years, but it was discontinued years ago.

        It doesn’t seem to me that Suzuki has any motivation to offer a big SV. There just isn’t the potential for a lot of sales. Ducati, Aprilla, and KTM have the market for big sporty V-twins sewn up.

        • VLJ says:

          I had that 2003 naked SV1000. Very underrated bike.

          Oddly, though, I still enjoyed the naked SV650 more.

          • mickey says:

            the SV 650 is a great bike, just needs a little more hp and torque for me hence the desire for an 800.

            VLJ I’m surprised you’d like an SV 650 given the HP and tq numbers. Thought you were a 100/75 guy.

            The Euros don’t HAVE to own that market (even if they do now)

          • Hot Dog says:

            I had a SV1000N. I loved it. I wish I still had it.

          • Neal says:

            The little VStrom seems to get more love from experienced riders than the 1000 as well. Why did you prefer the 650?

          • VLJ says:

            The 650 had a more playful personality. It was lighter and more flickable, it revved more quickly, and overall just seemed more lively.

            I also had a V-Strom 1000. Similar to the SV1000, it seemed to have a more sober, serious manner, whereas the 650 always felt like it just wanted to rip around and have goofy fun.

        • Dave says:

          The SV1000n weighed 460lb. wet and by most dynos, made 106rwhp.

          • R. Singer says:

            You’re thinking of the faired version of the bike, which weighed substantially more than the naked version of the bike.

            Every road-test of the naked version of the SV1000 had the bike doing 10-second quarter miles. It wasn’t overweight and under-powered.

  23. mechanicus says:

    All it’s lacking is a beak. Otherwise, king of the Origami’s?

    • mickey says:

      I thought you were going to say all it was lacking was a dealer network

      • dale says:

        That’s the “shiver”. Trying to find a distributor and the feeling you get when you see the bill.

        • falcodoug says:

          Here in Southern California,dealer network not a problem. As far as bills, I have had 3 Aprilias and for over 80K miles. 2 stators, 1 speed sensor. Other than that tires, sprockets, chains, oil filters…..my dr650’s have cost me more to maintain.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “All it’s lacking is a beak.”

      that’s where the Dorsoduro comes in. i’ve been scratching my head trying to figure out what hell’s the difference between these 2 bikes…? and i see the ‘Duro is “beak intensive”. didn’t this Shiver kit have a “twist-n-go” set up originally…?

      • mickey says:

        They had an auto bucket. We went way down in Kentucky to an Aprilia dealer so my wife could sit on one but it was too tall for her. Can’t remember the model name but it wasn’t Shriver it was something else, but similar motor.

        Remembered… Mana I think it was an 850GT