2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 ABS Travel Pack | First Ride Review

2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 ABS Travel Pack

2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 ABS Travel Pack Test

Aprilia of Noale, Italy, has released the 2015 iteration of its Caponord – designed by the irrepressible Miguel Galluzzi (of Ducati Monster fame) – and it has come a long way.

This model was first released in 2001 as the Caponord ETV 1000, and it has engendered a small, but loyal, following. It disappeared from the US lineup after 2005, and now, 10 years later, the new Aprilia Caponord 1200 ABS Travel Pack shows itself as a world-class sport tourer aimed straight at the underbelly of Ducati’s Multistrada. The revised bike made its European debut in March 2013, but it wouldn’t arrive in the US until now.

Aprilia owns 52 world racing titles to date, and have done their best to infuse the “Cap” with all the goodness of their DNA. Their aim is to deliver a machine that is simpler and lighter with unique technology in hope of setting this bike apart from other strong players in the this category of sport bike, set up for fast touring with an ADV flair.

The 2015 Caponord 1200 features a twin-cylinder 90-degree 1200cc twin featuring twin-spark and fuel-injection, and a silky-smooth 6-speed transmission that uses a hydraulically operated clutch for smooth performance.

Aprilia claims 125 horsepower and 84.6 ft/lbs of torque sent to the same wheels supplied to its racing brother the RSV4. It is shod with Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier II rubber, 120/70-17 in front and 180/55/17 on the rear. All this results in a package weighing a claimed 470 pounds dry, including the standard luggage. A matching top box is also available.

Other notable features are the new 52mm throttle bodies, double injectors, cruise control, taller gearing, 690-watt generator, center stand, a mixed-structure frame with new geometry (steel rear sub-frame for strength), Brembo Monobloc brakes, adjustable windshield and a narrower tank.

These features are considered mandatory for a motorcycle to now compete in this segment. Many riders will say that they eschew electronic aids but sport touring and ADV (and most other) bike makers are adding digital features in an ever-escalating race to have the best and brightest of innovations.

Even though the above technology compares well to the competition and operates magnificently, the really impressive ingredients are Aprilia’s use of computers and leading edge electronic management throughout and in some new and impressive ways as you will read here.

Many new and some unique features adorn the Caponord, including ADD, Aprilia’s take on dynamic suspension. The ADD (Aprilia Dynamic Damping) system, is a unique configuration with a 100-percent active rear suspension (the first motorbike with such a system) and semi-active suspenders in the front. There are no modes to set. The system knows the way although you have five choices for preload.  They are Rider, Rider/Passenger, Rider/Luggage, Two-up/Luggage and Automatic – a first in the industry.

Aprilia has been able to amalgamate the older Skyhook low-frequency damping with their patented Accelerator Driven Damping that reacts best at the medium and high-frequency rates generated by high speeds. This formula is then combined with throttle and brake sensors so the computer knows what the rider is doing with the goal of offering the rider the greatest handling potential. The worn down peg feelers on all the test bikes is a sure indication that the system works.

ATC (Aprilia Traction Control) also gets a unique bit of programming finesse. The ATC is built with two intervention thresholds instead of one. The goal is performance but with more safety. In operation, ATC intervenes at the first level with only mild power reduction, allowing the rider to get a sense of knowing he is near the edge yet more power remains available to push harder before more serious intervention takes place.

Aprilia has its own formula for TC intervention, as well. A “slow torque” event yields smooth power reduction exclusively through manipulation of the throttle bodies. A “fast torque” event results in a quick loss through action related to timing advance. Never do they cut the spark as is done on other bikes. It works well and the slides I experienced that initiated TC intervention were smoothly continued without any upset or noticeable reduction in ride pace.

On another front, Aprilia has leapfrogged the entire field with their recently announced Aprilia Multimedia Platform (AMP), which offers more information and flexibility than we have seen to date anywhere. AMP will be standard on, and exclusive to, the 2015 Caponord for now.

The Multimedia name might suggest entertainment, but that is not the case here. What Aprilia has done is to create a slick iPhone/iPad (only) app that pairs the bike’s computer via Bluetooth to your phone and, effectively, replaces the laptop as a high-tech data logger – all on your dashboard if you purchase a mounting device. For this review we used an iPhone 5S. Techie that I am, I do not think I am ready to mount an iPad on my handlebars.

The highlights of this are a virtual dashboard, trip computer with data-logging, advanced navigation and an online instruction manual. The features are robust and myriad. To start, there’s a Find My Bike function as well as a Touch screen in digital or analog styles.

The Dashboard allows four parameters to be displayed simultaneously. There are left, center and right sections of the display along with a Digital Button (rectangular area in the center of the screen). These gauges can be set to monitor and display speed, RPM, crank torque, rear wheel thrust, crank power, power reserve, acceleration wheel slip, estimated roll angle, acceleration, instant fuel consumption, average fuel consumption and average speed, gear, water temperature, battery voltage and suggested gear for eco-riding. These functions can also be displayed digitally if you are not partial to the analog look.

Add to all these features an Adaptive Rev limiter that adjusts its threshold based upon coolant temperature and changes the screen background color to red with increasing intensity as the motor approaches redline. ATC traction control is handled similarly and, when the dashboard is set to show the ATC controls, the background turns shades of yellow as TC intervention increases.

Navigation functions of the system are augmented by the data connection on the iPhone and are designed to capture the last position of the bike before the key is turned off. This might just help you find the bike on your next trip to Sturgis. Navi also will show you the nearest authorized service centers and help you find a gas station, albeit something the phone will do anyway. Trip computer functions offer trip distance, max speed, average speed, average fuel consumption and max roll angle.

Next comes File Manager and this is for data logging. Files created by the system may be emailed or downloaded through iTunes on your computer. The last main feature of AMP is the User and Maintenance Manual built in. This allows riders to conveniently look up most information related to the bike without having to lug a manual. And in this age of complex gadgetry these books get pretty heavy.

Let’s Take A Ride on the 2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 ABS Travel Pack

Now that we have more of that long list of technical details out of the way, let’s get back to basics. The Caponord has a very comfortable, slim, two-piece seat with red stitching – very nicely done.

Ergonomics are quite similar to most naked sportbikes with a sit-up position, slight forward lean and hips over feet. Reach to the bars is also just right for my 6-foot proportions, and there is plenty of room to move to back and forth for comfort or during fast cornering. Cabin layout is fairly straightforward with no surprises. The hand-adjustable windshield is small but positioned perfectly to fend off breezes as are the standard hand guards. All making for an environment in which you will be happy to spend lots of time.

The chassis allows for impeccable manners, and the bike is neutral steering and not easily upset. During my introductory 100+ mile ride, with preload set in Automatic mode, the bike was sharp and responsive. We anticipate further testing on the Cap and our review in our next print issue will fully evaluate the ride and the results of other preload choices.

Brembo Monobloc braking, need I say, is more than usually needed, but does not overwhelm. The chassis can handle the forces generated even under near-race scenarios and two fingers are all one ever needs. Two-channel ABS that can be disabled is standard.

The dashboard looks like most modern Aprilias, but has a new layout. A digital speedometer occupies the center and a digital sweep tachometer is on top. It may not be as easy to read as an analog meter but it does the job. The engine spins up quite quickly, especially for a twin, and charges up the tach which does not have a red line. It hits the rev limiter pretty quickly and is just shy of being abrupt when it intervenes. The engine also feels like it could use another thousand revs added to redline as it feels like that would be right.

Fueling maps are well implemented without flat spots. Touring is described as “full power – smooth,” Sport is “full power/fast response” and Rain has “limited power.” I find Sport just fine with excellent response throughout the rev range and use it for all types of riding. I don’t want to limit the fun and it is not harsh. Given the 125 horespower in an over-500 pound package, I’m not concerned with too much power.

During our one day of riding we are very impressed with the specs, performance, feature integration and consistency. We are looking forward to further evaluation and comparisons, but think Aprilia has a hit on its hands with the Caponord 1200 ABS Travel Pack 2015.

Photography by Kevin Wing

Specifications: 2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 ABS Travel Pack
Engine type: Aprilia V90 four-stroke longitudinal 90° V-twin engine, liquid cooled, DOHC with mixed gear/chain timing system, four valves per cylinder
Bore x stroke: 106 x 67.8 mm
Displacement: 1197cc
Compression ratio: 12.0:1
Maximum power at crankshaft: 125 horsepower at 8,250 rpm
Maximum torque at crankshaft: 84.6 ft/lbs at 6,800 rpm
Fuel system: Integrated engine management system. Injection with two injectors per cylinder and Ride by Wire throttle control with three maps: Sport (S), Touring (T), Rain ®
Ignition: Magneti Marelli 7SM twin spark electronic ignition integrated with injection system
Exhaust 100% stainless steel 2-in-1 exhaust system with dual catalytic converters and double oxygen sensor
Alternator: 690 watts at 6000 rpm
Lubrication: Wet sump
Transmission: 6 speeds
Clutch: Multiplate wet clutch, hydraulically operated
Primary drive: Straight cut gears
Secondary drive: Chain
Chassis: Modular tubular steel frame fastened to aluminium side plates by high strength bolts. Removable steel rear subframe
Front suspension: Fully adjustable front Sachs 43mm upside-down fork. Hydraulic brake in rebound and compression electronically managed with ADD (Aprilia Dynamic Damping)
Rear suspension: Sachs dynamic rear monoshock absorber. Spring preload and hydraulic brake in rebound and compression electronically managed with ADD (Aprilia Dynamic Damping)
Front: Dual 320mm stainless steel floating discs. New 32mm Brembo M432 monoblock four-piston radial callipers. Metal braided brake hoses.
Rear: 240mm stainless steel disc. Brembo 34 mm single-piston calliper. Metal braided brake hose. Continental two channel ABS system and Aprilia Traction Control (ATC).
Wheel rims: Lightweight aluminium alloy with three split spokes
Front: 3.50 X 17″
Rear: 6.00 x 17″
Tires: Radial tubeless; Front: 120/70-R17; rear: 180/55-17
Max. length: 88.4 inches
Max. height: 56.7 inches
Saddle height: 33.1 inches
Wheelbase: 61.6 inches
Trail: 4.9 inches
Steering angle: 26.1°
Dry weight: 503 pounds
Tank capacity: 6.3 gallons (including 1.3-gallon reserve)
2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 ABS Travel Pack MSRP: $15,499


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