The growing adventure-bike segment is about to get some Italian flair with the arrival of the all-new Aprilia Caponord 1200 Travel Pack -which shares nothing but its name with the earlier 998cc Caponord.
The latest version's 1197cc 90-degree V-twin engine is derived from that of the Aprilia Dorsoduro, retuned to deliver 92kW - that's 27.5 percent more than the old Caponord - and 115Nm at 6800 rpm.
Today's biggest advances in motorcycle technology are electronic rather than mechanical, and Aprilia's new adventure tourer comes with the whole package, including a ride-by-wire throttle that works with the engine control unit to offer three maps for Rain, Touring and Sports riding, two-channel anti-lock braking, and three-mode traction control - both of which can be switched off for riding on gravel.
The Travel Pack version of the Caponord that we'll be getting in South Africa also comes with a semi-active suspension system that measures the energy transmitted by bumps on the road and continuously tunes the front and rear damping to suit, while numerous sensors monitor rider input and recalibrate the suspension to take things like throttle position and braking forces into account, all in real time.
Unlike other electromechanically adjustable suspension systems, you don't have to push any buttons - the system adjusts automatically to suit the conditions and riding style.
Also standard is an electronically adjustable piggyback rear monoshock with a choice of four preload settings - for solo rider, rider and passenger, rider with panniers, and rider with passenger and panniers - operated from a button on the handlebars.
Experience in Europe shows however, that once the novelty wears off most riders leave the system in automatic mode, which monitors the load on the bike and automatically recalibrates the spring preload to maintain the optimum ride height - even allowing for the continuously diminishing fuel load on a long ride.
STEEL TRELLIS FRAME
Electronic cruise control maintains a pre-set speed up hill and down dale but disengages when the rider uses the clutch or brake.
The new Caponord is built on a trellis of steel tubes, bolted to a pair of die-cast aluminium engine plates. Fully adjustable upside-down 43mm Sachs forks look after the front wheel, while the Sachs rear shock absorber is laterally mounted to lower the centre of effort and keep it away from exhaust heat.
Brembo monobloc four-piston calipers grip the 320mm floating front discs, while a single-piston floating calipper does the job on the back wheel.
Standard kit on the Travel Pack version also includes colour-coded panniers, a centre stand, an adjustable windscreen and a 24-litre fuel tank.
The Aprilia Caponord Travel Pack will be released in South Africa in late May or early June. Prices, as always, when they get here.
Engine: 1197cc liquid-cooled four-stroke V-twin.
Bore x stroke: 106 x 67.8mm.
Compression ratio: 12:1.
Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.
Power: 91.9kW at 8250rpm.
Torque: 115Nm at 6800rpm.
Induction: Electronic fuel-injection with two injectors per cylinder and ride-by-wire throttle control with three maps: Sport, Touring and Rain.
Ignition: Magneti Marelli 7SM twin-spark electronic ignition.
Clutch: Hydraulically-actuated multiplate wet clutch.
Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by chain.
Front Suspension: Fully adjustable 43mm Sachs inverted cartridge forks with electronically controlled semi-active damping.
Rear Suspension: Sachs piggyback monoshock with electronically controlled semi-active preload and damping adjustment.
Front brakes: Dual 320mm floating discs with Brembo monobloc four-piston callipers and ABS.
Rear brake: 240mm disc with single-piston floating calliper and ABS.
Front tyre: 120/70 - 17 tubeless.
Rear tyre: 190/55 - 17 tubeless.
Seat height: 840mm.
Dry Weight: 228kg.
Fuel tank: 24 litres.
Warranty: Two years unlimited distance