The Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 isn’t the fastest bike in a straight line, neither will it necessarily be the most comfortable on a long-distance journey.
But it’s definitely one of the most entertaining bikes I’ve ridden for a long time.
For pure, unadulterated, hooligan fun, there isn’t much that matches this big-engined Italian super motard recently launched in South Africa at a price of R120 000. It’s the bigger brother to the Dorsoduro 750 and after riding it I reckon hyper motard is actually a more accurate term.
It’s a great idea, really. Take one of the slickest-handling types of bikes around – the kind you see being thrown sideways and leaned at impossible angles in Supermoto racing – but instead of the regular 450cc engines that usually power these race bikes, stick in a monster 1200cc engine and see what happens ...
What happens is a bike that makes you snigger in your helmet from the unbridled enjoyment of it.
Motards came about when someone decided to fit road tyres to motocross bikes, and discovered they were such ultra-nimble machines that a dedicated racing class was created just for them.
The big and high-tech Dorsoduro 1200, which comes with ABS brakes and traction control, has come a long way from those basic origins but in essence it still delivers an agile riding experience.
Though the Dorsoduro’s heavy for a motord it still has the essential quick-turning nature and tight turning circle that makes life such fun in the saddle.
It’s so engagingly rideable and flickable that I reckon it’ll even give some superbikes a good go around a racetrack.
Apart from a tiny cowling there’s almost no wind protection so the Dorsoduro’s not suited to extended high-speed touring, although the seat’s reasonably wide and comfy and has plenty of room for a pillion.
To go with its aggressively insectile styling – it reminds me of a female praying mantis that chews the male’s head off after mating – this Aprilia has a fittingly sharp bite in the form of its 96kW vee-twin engine.
The power delivery is all about mega midrange grunt, and the powerband starts way down low. This makes for not only kickass acceleration but also accessible performance throughout the rpm range, never leaving a lazy flat spot even when you’ve forgotten to downshift. Yank the throttle and the surge is always there.
It’s all accompanied by a gloriously gruff sound, the kind only a vee-twin can make. The six-speed box is suitably smooth shifting, although neutral is trickier to find than a woman’s g-spot.
The abovementioned traction control is adjustable to three levels to suit your levels of riding talent (and bravery), or it can be switched off altogether so you can engage in heroic Supermoto powerslides. -Star Motoring