2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200 | First Look

A sophisticated, streetwise adventure bike.

Italian manufacturer Aprilia is ready to reenter the red-hot adventure bike category with an all-new 2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200. Besides the nameplate—a reference to Norway’s barren North Cape—this latest Caponord shares nothing in common with Aprilia’s ETV1000 Caponord that was discontinued in 2008. Instead, the new bike is based very closely on the Noale firm’s current Dorsoduro 1200 supermoto.

Like many of today’s so-called “tall-rounders,” the only thing adventurous about the Caponord is its name. With 17-inch wheels front and rear and buttoned-down bodywork that looks more like a super-commuter megascooter than any Dakar-bound dual-sport, it’s unlikely any Caponord riders will adventure much beyond graded gravel roads. But with sophisticated electronics that include ride-by-wire throttle, traction control, ABS, and semi-active dynamic suspension, along with a powerful, 128-horsepower V-twin engine, the Caponord’s paved-road performance should be impressive.

The Caponord chassis is virtually identical to the Dorsoduro, a mixed structure consisting of a steel-trellis upper section attached to die-cast aluminum side plates, but the subframe is larger and stiffer to accommodate the heavier load of a passenger and luggage. The 43mm inverted Sachs fork and Sachs rear shock—the latter offset to the right and longitudinally mounted to isolate it from engine heat—offer 6.5 and 5.9 inches of suspension travel, respectively. Brembo Monoblock brake calipers are monitored by two-channel switchable ABS that can be disengaged if the rider desires.

The 90-degree, liquid-cooled V-twin is fundamentally identical to the Dorsoduro too, but with slight hardware and software changes to increase torque especially at low-rpms—it’s rated to produce 85 lb.-ft. torque at 6500 rpm. Ride-by-wire circuitry enables smooth throttle response, optimal fuel economy, and three distinct ride modes—Sport, Touring, and Rain—to tailor power delivery for all riding situations. Sport and Touring modes deliver the same peak power but sport is more immediate and Touring is more progressive; Rain cuts peak power to 100 hp and blunts power delivery for more safety in questionable conditions. Like ABS, Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC) traction control, derived from systems proven on Aprilia’s World Championship-winning superbikes, is also standard equipment and operates in three modes.

The Caponord 1200 will be offered with an optional “Travel Pack” that includes hard saddlebags, a center stand, cruise control and Aprilia Dynamic Damping (ADD), a dynamic suspension system that monitors acceleration and braking, as well as road surface conditions, and automatically alters suspension damping response to suit. Dynamic damping puts the Caponord on level with the Skyhook-suspended Ducati Multistrada and a step ahead of the electronically adjustable (but not dynamic) systems available on the BMW R1200GS and the new KTM 1190 Adventure. Choosing the best road-ready ADV ride just became more difficult.