2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 Review

The 2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 is the next evolutionary step of the Noale-based brand’s revered hooligan machine.

First hitting the streets 10 years ago, the Dorsoduro has been a staple in Aprilia’s lineup for some time. With its highly agile character and powerful V-twin engine, the Dorsoduro satisfies even the more brazen thrill-seeking supermoto riders.

This year, the Dorsoduro receives several updates—from electronics to suspension—and a shiny new powerplant. The 2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 is ready to make short work of your commute, whip around your favorite canyon roads, or take on the local track.

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 mspr1. Turn on the bright lights—the new 891cc V-twin is the star of the show. The 2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900’s spools up with urgency, adding to the rambunctious nature of the entire package. Due to its relatively short gearing, its tractable engine builds power rapidly and predictably. With flawless fueling and throttle response, you’ll be hard pressed not to use the entire rev-range while romping around your favorite haunt.

2. Performance, reliability, and comfort are the name of the game with Aprilia’s redesigned V-twin. The Dorsoduro received new fuel injectors to allow greater control over fueling. Internally, the piston received an anti-friction coating, as well as a decrease in its weight. A semi-dry crankcase with reed valves reduces power loss from oil sumps. Also, the crank assembly was re-balanced and the stroke was increased to 67.4mm, though it is still decidedly oversquare. Even at the bitter end of the engines limits, it remains responsive and smooth.

3. The Dorsoduro 900 enters the modern age with a reasonable electronic suite. Equipped with three levels of traction control and two-channel Continental ABS, the Dorsoduro 900 does a commendable job of offering a helping hand. These updates are facilitated by the addition of the same Marelli ECU found in the top-spec RSV4 and Tuono.

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 msrp4. There are three riding modes to choose from. The Sport and Touring modes have the same 95-horsepower output, with the Touring mode damping the throttle response. The Rain mode drops the bike down to 70 horses, and slows down the throttle response considerably. I used Sport mode for most riding and found it flawless.

5. Supermoto is synonymous with agility and the 2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 doesn’t disappoint. Featuring a nearly 60-inch wheelbase, and 26 degrees rake, you may expect the Dorsoduro to be a bit staid—and it would be if this were a lower slung sport bike. Due to its high center of gravity, I found that the Dorsoduro’s weight could be shifted easily. At lower speeds, any minor input will get you pointed in the right direction. When out in the twisties, it takes little effort to get the Dorsoduro 900 barreling into a corner or better yet, when transitioning from side-to-side.

6. Proper body positioning is essential on the Dorsoduro. If you get up on the tank, you are rewarded with greater feeling from the front end as you push harder. However, feedback can be a bit vague if you’re not positioned correctly. Get your weight back too far and wheelies will result.

7. The Dorsoduro gets semi-adjustable suspension this year. Although the 41mm KYB inverted fork and non-linkage Sachs shock have spring-preload and rebound-damping adjustments, they do lack the ability to alter the compression damping.

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 9008. Baseline settings edge towards the sportier side of riding. Fortunately, they are completely comfortable on roughed up urban roads—what we’d expect from a supermoto bike. Under hard braking, the 6.7-inch-travel fork holds its own, and the Sachs shock keeps the bike stable when hard on the gas during corner exits. Aggressive riders will most likely want to slow the rebound, as the chassis can get a little loose over big dips at high speed. For the average pilot, they’ll just be grinning through the canyons.

9. The trellis chassis remains relatively unchanged and that’s not a bad thing. Although there were updates to the trellis frame to house the new motor, the basic geometry numbers are remarkably similar to the previous edition. There are few things holding the Dorsoduro 900 back, and in most cases, it’s probably the rider. This thing is highly maneuverable and, once you find your groove, it’ll leave you thumbing the keys until the next ride, which are currently next to my keyboard.

10. Lighter wheels now adorn the Dorsoduro 900. Equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, the total weight savings is roughly five pounds of unsprung weight. Keeping the shiny side up are Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier tires (a few generations back from the latest Q3+) offering a good amount of grip for the street.

11. Braking power when you need it most. Using Aprilia-branded four-piston calipers, in conjunction with steel-braided lines and dual 320mm rotors, you can expect more than adequate stopping power. Feel at the lever is positive, allowing for good modulation, especially when trail braking. The same can be said of the rear brake, which I used to tighten up lines every now and again. Both brakes lack a harsh initial bite, making them user friendly. To get the more, squeeze a bit more—no issue there.

12. You’ll be able to get a good amount of riding in with a 3.2-gallon tank. Filled to the brim, you’ll be able to run a few hot laps around the city and canyons—Aprilia estimates fuel consumption of 44 mpg. We should also note that the curb weight of the Dorsoduro 900 is a claimed 467 pounds, so it could use a bit of a diet.

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 wheels13. A TFT display keeps everything in sight. Now featuring a full color, TFT display, the Dorsoduro’s menu system is simple and easy to navigate. This is a huge leap above previous generations. The dash remains visible in direct sunlight and doesn’t distract.

14. You will sit on high and judge the great unwashed aboard the Dorsoduro 900. That might be a bit dramatic, but the seat height is 34.3 inches. With my 32-inch inseam, I have my only that balls of my feet on the ground for stability at a stop. However, once moving, you can make use of the long seating position to shift around as you’d like. While that’s fine and dandy for sport riding, it’s quite handy when dealing with traffic. You have a nice vantage point to finally read what people are texting while driving.

15. The bottom line is that the 2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 is an absolute blast. With a nice refresh to the platform, the Dorsoduro offers an aggressive yet light-hearted experience. This bike should be paired with friends and a good set of canyon roads or a track, but don’t let that stop you from getting the front-end light on the way to the office.

Photography by Brian J. Nelson and Kevin Wing

RIDING STYLE

For a specs and a photo gallery, click to page 2 below.