Supermotos are an interesting breed of bike. Race versions are little more than 450cc dirt bikes with 17-inch wheels and beefier suspension and brakes. But the riding position and style is attractive to a wider variety of riders, which is why we've seen more companies come out with more streetable versions.

Aprilia has a longer history with supermotos than one might expect from a small Italian brand. In 2006, it answered the Suzuki DR-Z400 SM with the SXV 450 and 550, which ditched the traditional single-cylinder engine used by most supermotos for a super compact, 77-degree, V-twin 450cc or 550cc engine. The bikes were basically race bikes with lights and license plates, and they became quickly beloved amongst anyone who could keep the high-strung bikes running.

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900
2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900Kevin Wing

The Dorsoduro 750 followed in 2008 and continued with the V-twin configuration, though with a much mellower motor, and then a 1,200cc variant came in 2010. The 750 had a hard time bringing the wild supermoto spirit the SXV was known for, with a 467-pound wet weight and putting down about 70 horsepower to the rear wheel. The 1200, on the other hand, brought too much of it with 118 horsepower, 76 pound-feet of torque, and fueling that made the throttle feel more like the launch control button for a rocket. Suspension on both machines wasn't ideal, and neither bike really took off.

For 2018, Aprilia is doing away with both of them, combining the two into the all-new Dorsoduro 900 which, they say, is better than ever.

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 beak
No supermoto is complete without the beak.Kevin Wing

The Specs That Matter

The Dorsoduro is powered by an all-new 896cc 90-degree V-twin engine that it shares with the new Aprilia Shiver 900. Aprilia stroked out the motor from the 750, retaining the 92mm bore but increasing stroke from 56.4mm to 67.4mm. It produces 83 horsepower at 8,990 rpm and 56.38 pound-feet of torque at 6,000 rpm per our dyno. The biggest difference with its Shiver brother is gear ratio, down a tooth at the front from 16/46 to 15/46.

Most of the architecture from the previous bike remains the same, though Aprilia has reduced friction through redesigning the pistons with a reinforced piston pin, new piston coating, and slightly revised crankshaft geometry and balancing.

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro TFT 900 dash
Aprilia's full-color TFT dash works well both during the day and at night.Kevin Wing

The uniquely shaped twin undertail exhaust remains, though the new motor makes for a more gutteral and aggressive bark.

One of the biggest updates to the Dorso comes in the form of the new Marelli 7 SM ECU, which is the same used on the Aprilia RSV4 and Tuono. This system controls the ride-by-wire throttle system, as well as the three fuel maps (Sport, Touring, and Rain), three-level traction control system, and ABS.

The Dorso gets a new upside-down Kayaba 41mm fork which is 450 grams lighter than the Dorso 750, and adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping. Out back, the shock is also adjustable for spring preload.

Weight is also reduced with wheels taken directly from the Aprilia RSV4 RR, shaving another five pounds of unsprung weight.

Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 and Shiver 900
The Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 and Shiver 900 share the same new motor.Kevin Wing

Despite the lighter wheels and fork, the Dorso 900 still tips our scales at a whopping 485 pounds wet and full of fuel, a number far heavier than I expected. We don’t have our own numbers on the Ducati Hypermotard, but Ducati claim a wet weight of 450 pounds and Aprilia claim 467.

Braking is handled by four-piston, radially mounted calipers biting on dual 320mm discs up front and a single piston caliper and single 240mm disc at the rear.

The 2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 has a suggested retail price of $10,999, comes in just the one Tuono-like paint scheme, and is on dealer floors now.

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900
Mind the rail.Brian J Nelson

We Rode The Thing

Ojai is a tiny town just inland of Ventura, California, and home to one of Southern California’s best riding roads: Highway 33. The plan was to take advantage of this road to test both Aprilia’s new Shiver and Dorsoduro. Zack Courts and I drew straws to see which we’d be starting on—though I’m still undecided as to whether “winning” meant being on the supermoto first or second—but either way I was up for the morning stint.

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900
The Dorso wanted to be ridden like a naked bike than a supermoto.Brian J. Nelson

Highway 33 starts off with some beautifully long sweepers before tightening slightly as it heads up into the Los Padres National Forest and—as with many supermotos—the Dorso felt a little unsure at first. Although the bike’s 26 degrees of rake isn’t too aggressive, it does make it eager to comply with even minor inputs when combined with the bike’s high center of gravity.

The initial part of the ride was slow, but the pace picked up after our first photo stop and the Dorso finally started to come into its own, settling down more as I loaded the chassis on the climb.

With more speed came more braking, which highlighted maybe the biggest issue with the Dorso. The brakes are a little lacking in power, but it’s mostly the lack of bite that’s almost shocking as you grab a handful of front brake.

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900
Like any supermoto, the Dorso works better if you push it a little.Kevin Wing

Sadly, our ride ended far earlier than anticipated with us turning around about 15 miles up the hill after our second photo stop. When faced with the option of doing the same thing on the opposite bike, Courts and I decided instead to make our way home: putting the bikes through the 115 miles of urban nightmare known as the 405 Freeway South at 3:00 p.m.

In this more real-world test, a few other things struck me as I ducked, dipped, dove, and dodged my way through freeway traffic. The first is that, while incredibly smooth on upshifts, the transmission in the Dorsoduro does not like to be down shifted. Attempts to shift down needed something between a forceful push and a downright kick, and forget about trying to get the bikes in neutral on the first or second try.

Secondly, the seat got uncomfortable quickly. I noticed some discomfort during the morning’s canyon ride, but my moving around on the seat kept that to a minimum. Now stuck in place, my rear fatigued quickly with the hard and forward-canted seat.

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900
The Dorsoduro looks more ready to race than it really is.Kevin Wing

Overall, the motor and fueling are excellent. The previous generation had massive issues with the lightswitch they used for a throttle, and this new generation felt smooth in both Sport and Touring (which get full power), and Rain which cuts top power by 30 percent.

The power and delivery feel somewhere between Yamaha FZ-07 and Ducati Hypermotard, which is to say mellow mannered and easily controllable but with oomph there when you want it.

After we left the other journalists at lunch 113.3 miles behind, I pulled into my driveway more excited to get off that seat and out of my leather jacket, but impressed with what a good daily rider the Dorsoduro had been. The old fueling and suspension woes are gone and—with plenty more oomph than the 750 it replaced—the Dorsoduro 900 carved up a solid day’s worth of riding and accepted anything we threw at it.

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900
The oddball exhaust remains the same.Kevin Wing

You Wanted To Know

I posted a pic of the bike on those social medias the teens are always talking about and asked what your questions were about the bike so I could help tailor the review to what you wanted to know. If you aren’t following me on Instagram or Twitter, you really should be. I keep my exercise tips to a minimum, I swear.

“Where is a smaller Tuono?” I have no idea, but this is a great question. An 800-900cc V-4 would be rad.

“Does it wheelie?” It does, but nearly as easily as one would expect. It doesn’t power wheelie like either the Husky 701 or the Ducati Hypermotard, and you’ll need to use some clutch if you want anything more than a few inches.

“How’s the seat height?” Aprilia claims 34.25 inches, and my six-foot frame with slightly shorter legs had no problem putting both feet down.

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 Wheelie
Zack Courts gives his seal of wheelie approval.Kevin Wing

Should You Buy One?

This is where things get tough. The Dorsoduro 900, to me, falls somewhere in between the Husky 701 Supermoto, Ducati Hypermotard, and Yamaha FZ-07. It’s shorter and feels smaller and lighter (not to mention cheaper) than the Ducati, has longer legs and would be better at distance than the Husky, and is more fun lively than the FZ-07.

dorsoduro 900

Crossing an SV650 with a Super Duke

2018 Aprilia Shiver 900 First Ride Review

But, it doesn’t have the hooligan attitude of the Hyper or 701, weighs and costs more than the Yamaha, and has the smallest dealership network of the three. If anything, its blend of multiple bikes made me think that buyers may be better off choosing something more specifically suited to their needs.

If you want something light and fun for around town, get the Husky. If you want something that you can take to a proper race track or tour with, get the Ducati. If you want a nice all-rounder, get the Yamaha. Or, if you have to have something Italian that does all three, get the Dorso.

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900
2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900Kevin Wing
2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900
They look like Brembos from afar, but they sure don't ride like them.Kevin Wing
Dorsoduro 900 dyno
Dorsoduro 900 Dyno ChartCycle World
SPECIFICATIONS
Engine type Aprilia V90 Longitudinal 90° V-twin engine, 4-stroke, liquid cooled, double overhead camshaft with mixed gear/chain timing system, four valves per cylinder, Ride-by-wire system
Fuel Unleaded petrol
Bore and stroke 92 x 67.4 mm
Total engine capacity 896.1 cc
Compression ratio 11.5:1
Maximum power at crankshaft 83.4 HP at 8,990 rpm
Maximum torque at crankshaft 56.4 at 6,060 rpm
Fuel system Integrated engine management system. Injection with 3-map Ride-by-wire throttle valve opening management (Sport, Touring, Rain)
Ignition Digital electronic, integrated with the injection
Starter Electric
Exhaust 100% stainless steel 2-in-1 exhaust system with three-way catalytic converter and double oxygen sensor
Alternator 450 W at 6,000 rpm
Lubrication Wet sump
Gearbox 6 speed, drive ratio: 1st 14/36 (2.57), 2nd 17/32 (1.88), 3rd 20/30 (1.5), 4th 22/28 (1.27), 5th 23/26 (1.13), 6th 24/25 (1.04)
Clutch Multiplate wet clutch, hydraulically operated
Primary drive Straight cut gears, drive ratio: 40/69 (1:1.73)
Secondary drive Chain. Drive ratio: 15/44 (1:2.93)
Frame Modular tubular steel frame fastened to aluminum side plates by high strength bolts. Dismountable rear frame
Front suspension Upside-down fork, stanchions 41 mm. Adjustable hydraulic rebound damping and spring preload. Wheel travel 170 mm.
Rear suspension Aluminum alloy swingarm. Hydraulic shock absorber with adjustable extension and spring preload. Wheel travel 160 mm.
Brakes Front: dual 320 mm stainless steel floating discs. Radial, four-piston calipers. Metal braided brake hose / Rear: 240 mm stainless steel disc. Single piston caliper. Metal braided brake hose. Continental two-channel ABS system.
Wheels Aluminum alloy. Front: 3.50 X 17" / Rear: 6.00 x 17"
Tires Radial tubeless tires; Front: 120/70 ZR 17 - Rear: 180/55 ZR 17
Dimensions Max. length: 2185 mm, Max. width: 905 mm, Wheelbase: 1515 mm, Max. height: 1185 mm, Saddle height: 870 mm, Trail: 108 mm, Headstock angle: 26°
Weight 485 lb. wet, full of fuel
Consumption 5,599 l/100 km (WMTC cycle)
CO2 emissions 131 g/km (WMTC cycle)
Fuel tank capacity 12 liters
MSRP $10,999
Color Adrenalinic Silver