The line between supermotards and streetfighters is becoming blurred with the advent of big, outrageously torquey, litre-class machines such as Ducati's Hypermotard that still pretend they're derived from motocrossers.

Aprilia's racing department, however (for that's where this bike was developed), has tried to combine the agility of a genuine supermoto racing machine with big V-twin grunt in the SMV750 Dorsoduro - now available in SA at R117 995.

How well it has succeeded we'll tell you when we've ridden one; meanwhile, here are the details to whet your appetite.

First, the name: Dorsoduro is one of the six districts of Venice, just up the road from Aprilia HQ in Noale. It's also Italian slang for a humpback, since that part of Venice is the nearest thing the city has to a hilltop.

Then the engine: if it looks familiar, it should. It's the same basic lump as found in the Shiver all-rounder, but re-tuned in this application for 67.3kW /at 8750rpm and 82Nm at 4500, compared to the Shiver's 71kW and 8Nm.

It also retains the Shiver's three engine mappings - sport, touring and rain - but that's where the resemblance ends.

The frame geometry has been revised to move the V-twin engine forward and provide space for a longer swing arm - which in turn changes the bike's weight distribution to make backing the rear wheel into corners that much easier.

Can you say, "hooligan tool"?

The bike's mid-section has been slimmed and the saddle flattened to make it easier for the rider to move about but, like the SVX550's, it's as hard as a plank. The Dorsoduro is obviously intended as a short-range missile.

The seat is quite high at 870mm but that's part of the supermotard design language - real motards are derived from motocrossers - and it's so narrow that even the vertically challenged should have no problems reaching the ground.

What impresses you most when seeing the bike in the flesh for the first time is just how compact it is for a 750cc V-twin - it's very little bigger than an SVX550 - and the pared-down, sharp-edged crispness of the styling details.

COMPACT BUT INFORMATIVE

Everything is plainer, less fussy than on the Shiver, restrained almost to the point of austerity - the tapered tail light, poking out between the high-mounted exhausts, is a genuine work of art - and the impression is of a no-nonsense performance machine. It's only three kg lighter than the Shiver but looks like more.

The compact but very informative instrument cluster include an analogue rev-counter (backlit in white) and a comprehensive liquid-crystal display screen for everything else, including a lap timer, gear indicator and ambient air temperature.

More importantly, there's no need to take your hands off the tapered aluminium handlebars to access all this data. All the read-outs are controlled from the handlebar switchgear.

It's not possible to gauge performance and handling without riding the bike - the one you see in these pictures is the only one in Cape Town and not available for test rides. As soon as we get our hands on one, we'll tell you all about it.

Aprilia SMV750 Dorsoduro specifications.