You’ve toured on a Transalp. You’ve captained a Gran Canyon. You’ve even expeditioned on an Elefant. Now, you’re looking for your next esoteric (and used) European adventure bike.
Aprilia’s ETV 1000 Caponord combines exclusivity, Italian flair and modern design. The model was launched at the turn of the century, powered by a Rotax-built 60-degree V-twin pumping out a claimed 98 horsepower and 72 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s basically a detuned version of the Aprilia RSV 1000 Mille superbike motor. Suspension consists of a 50mm Marzocchi Enduro fork and Sachs monoshock with a rising-rate linkage. A superbike-style aluminum twin-spar frame ties the package together. A second generation debuted in ’04 with anti-lock brakes, stiffer front suspension and new graphics. By ’08, the Capo mysteriously disappeared.
Claimed dry weight is 473 lbs.—not bad for a liquid-cooled literbike. The Aprilia will pummel curbs, dig up dirt or slash sweepers with the best modern adventurers, and the current value of roughly one third of the original $12,999 MSRP makes it fairly irresistable.
According to Aprilia technician Amauri Nunes, connections at the alternator, headlight, fuel pump and other high-amperage circuits can overheat and fail. Periodic disassembly and inspection plus liberal use of dielectric grease helps, as does watching the starter solenoid and ignition coils for signs of failure. He also advises replacing the plastic fuel fittings on the early bikes with later metal ones. Aprilia released updated ECU software that improves rideability, too. The Capo is hungry for brake pads,requiring replacement every 10,000 miles or so.
The big adventurer shares many parts with its superbike brethren, so filters and other sundries can be had from any Aprilia dealer. If you bend the fork or swingarm, though, expect a phone call to Europe for a replacement.
And talk about rare, do you know what you call two Caponords together in the same place at the same time? A rally! Caponords occasionally pop up in Internet classifieds, so keep your eyes open and your money stashed.
As with any semi-exotic, it's best to find an example that has been enthusiast-owned and well-sorted. Doing so will lead to a long, respectful and very adventurous relationship. MC
Prodigious muscle, surefooted as an Alpine goat.
Italian electrics, rare as an albino Yeti.
Melted electrical connectors.
Obscure yet capable mile-eater.
2002 | $4325
2005 | $5675
2007 | $6865
KTM 950 Adventure
2004 | $6335
The more common European off-road superbike, offering mega-power, long-travel suspension and rangy ergonomics. The S-version offers even longer-travel suspension.
Cagiva Gran Canyon
2000 | $4065
A favorite “go anywhere, do anything” machine. Catapults over city curbs, burns along fire roads and makes cool klakka-klakka Ducati dry-clutch noises.
Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom
2003 | $4130
The best choice for those who like riding more than discussing various issues with other owners of obscure European bikes. Available in a “Wee” (650cc) version, too.