2013 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 Motorcycle Test
The idea of a street bike with dirt bike ergonomics has always been appealing to me, given that I grew up riding dirt bikes and now love the pavement, too. The 2013 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 takes the idea of a supermoto bike and cranks it up to a “maximoto” level.
Featuring a ride-by-wire 1197cc V-twin motor with a short-stroke configuration (each piston is 106mm in diameter), the Dorsoduro 1200 is an intense ride if you put it in the Sport (S) mode, which is one of three engine mapping choices you are offered. At full power, the big twin cranks out 130 horsepower at 8700 rpm, along with lots of muscle – 85 ft/lbs at 7200 rpm.
This makes the Dorsoduro 1200 an interesting alternative to the Tuono V4 naked hyperbike. Even though the 2013 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 doesn’t put out V4 numbers, for the dirt-bike style chassis, the DOHC V2 is really too much, and that’s also the appeal. Even though I ride very aggressively, I prefer the Touring (T) mode for going fast. It gives me all the power with a usable delivery.
The horses and pull are still there, but the speed at which the motor spins up is slowed. That means less wheelspin, fewer wheelies, and more forward progress. Touring might sound boring, but it’s an exhilarating ride. In the Sport (S) mode, the Aprilia motor is ridiculously harsh and upsets the bike for me. The throttle response is simply over the top–even Aprilia describes is as “extreme,” and they aren’t kidding.
Crack the throttle in Sport and the bike leaps forward, right at (and maybe beyond) the edge of control. I only tested the Dorsoduro 1200 on the street (and a private road), and I didn’t like it there.
Had I had the opportunity to test he D12 on a road racing course (it’s too heavy–around 450 pounds–for a proper supermoto track), I may have been able to take advantage of the brutal power deliver in Sport. On the street–no way. Really, Sport should be called R for Racing mode, and the Touring mode is better described as S for Sport or Street. The Rain (R) mode drops the maximum horsepower to “only” 100 horses, and that’s still plenty in most conditions. In fact, on the tightest of roads, it’s an advantage–you can be more aggressive on the throttle, which often results in going faster.
Regardless, the Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 is absolutely fast. It will do 134 mph, in fifth gear (with one more to go), and the windblast is your biggest enemy on this naked bike with wide bars. Open it up in sixth on the track and you can do 150, if you can tuck in and hold on.
The handling is what you would expect from a big twin-cylinder supermoto bike. It’s rather heavy for side-to- side flickabilty, and the raked front forks–they’re out at 27.3 degrees–making understeer an issue, though easier to back into turns. Speaking of entering turns, I’d really like a slipper clutch for to reduce chatter and settle down the rear end under heavy braking. This is especially true with the D12’s tall gearing, which requires downshifting to 1st gear for the tightest turns.
The Brembo brakes are flawless. Radially mounted calipers up front (grabbing twin 320mm discs), they are very strong, with a nice, progressive feel. I didn’t ride in the rain, but in the dry, I didn’t miss ABS at all.
After you are done slowing the bike down and it’s time to exit the corner, if you’re in the Sport mode, the Dorsoduro 1200 wants to straighten up rather than hold a line. You can wrestle it around, or back it down to Touring or Rain and give your arms a break.
The Sachs suspension on the 2013 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 is fantastic for urban use. The 43mm inverted forks are robust and fully adjustable. The rear shock is also fully adjustable and exhibits fantastic manners. These units are stiff enough for performance but with enough travel to pop off curbs, slam down the front end from a wheelie, or whatever you can think of doing on a supermoto bike.
A very fun side use of the 2013 Dorsoduro 1200 is a commuter bike. You’re sitting up high, giving you a great view of traffic, and you can adjust the power delivery to suit conditions (it can be done on the fly–just let the revs drop and, unintuitively, hit the start button). The only problem is that the power and seating position puts you in a pretty aggressive mode for dealing with aggravating traffic.
The Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 is an amazing bike. It looks amazing, with its alloy trellis frame, angular plastic, alloy wheels (an upgrade from earlier D12s), and, of course, the way you ride it. A handful of bike, the 2013 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 is pure excitement. If you’re up to it, the Sport mode is mind-boggling. For the rest of us, we’ll just go very fast and have lots of fun on the Touring and Rain modes. This is one fun machine.
Photography by Don Williams
- Helmet: Vemar Eclipse
- Suit: AGV Sport Imola 1-Piece Leather
- Gloves: AGV Sport Raptor
- Boots: Sidi Vortice