Winter season is a great time to get on a motorcycle and head for a ride. The temperatures are bearable, there is no sign of rain and the soft sunlight makes for very pleasant scenery all around you. And it doesn’t get any better than the editor handing you keys to the Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 – a big, bad 1200cc power-packed supermotard machine that has come straight from the Italian shores. These are the days that you look up in the sky, pass a soft smile while repeating ‘Thank You’ inside your head. It’s the calm before the storm. A storm encompassing psychosis spawning from 130 horses let loose to play on a snaking road that goes disappearing into the vast horizon.
Backing it is a grunty 1,197cc 90-degree liquid-cooled Vee-twin motor that makes an empowering sound to wake up the dead as the needle on the tachometre whizzes past the 8,000rpm mark. It was a surreal experience each time I whacked opened the throttle on the Dorsoduro 1200 a bit recklessly and felt the acceleration jolt me hard into the saddle all the while struggling to grab the handlebars. Although, there weren’t many straights on the chosen twisty road where I could keep the throttle pinned to stop to find out how longer I could play stupid. And thank god for that.
While most supermotards that I have ridden before have been lightweight and somewhat easy to get used to in rather short period of time, the Dorsoduro 1200 scared the wits out of me for most part of my first spin astride it within the city. It was only later that I straddled it on the open country roads and onto the curvy b-roads outside of the city limits is when I got a bit used to its hooligan character and the rather lanky stance of the 1200. With a saddle height of 870mm, the Dorsoduro 1200 is not exactly comfortable for stubby riders but more suited to 6-foot tall physiques.
So my 5’5-inch frame had a tough time getting accustomed to the tall riding position and I tip-toed most part of my ride in the stop and go traffic conditions within the city and through the countless traffic lights. But once out of the city to play on the winding roads, the Dorsoduro’s agility and precision trumped its vulgar display of horsepower. Utterly well-mannered and sure-footed, the Dorsoduro 1200 held the line with precision attacking corners one after another at blitzkrieg speeds without letting out a single hiccup.
I wouldn’t have been as impressed by its handling as I was if it was not for the bulk of the machine, tipping the scale at 212kg, and yet boasting such incredible road-manners. I did love it if Aprilia could bring that number further down to make the Dorsoduro 1200 a complete hoot to ride supermoto riding methodology of backing-it-in and outright sideways action.
But then the nimble handling character and well-heeled conduct of the Dorsoduro 1200 is largely attributed to the supple combination of a modular steel trellis frame secured onto aluminium side plates which hold the lightweight aluminium alloy swingarm in place aided by a pair of fully adjustable long-travel 43mm inverted suspension unit upfront and a piggy-back fully adjustable hydraulic monoshock on the rear, both being provided by motard-specialist German firm Sachs. The anchors on the Dorsoduro are provided by Brembo, with twin 320mm discs handling the stopping duties upfront and a single 240mm disc on the aft. The underpinnings on the Dorsoduro are ideal for supermoto setup and provide excellent road-holding capabilities to the motorcycle.
The slender frame despite its bulk makes for a great supermoto riding stance and sliding to and fro on the slim saddle is effortless. While initially I was mostly riding the Dorsoduro in a traditional road-riding form, as I got comfortable astride this maxi-motard, it felt like a natural progression to start riding with the leg out supermoto style shifting the weight all forward going into corners and then swiftly changing the direction of the machine from left to right for the next set of twisties.
But with 130 horses available on tap at 8,700rpm and 115Nm of torque coming in at 7,200rpm, the performance of the over square big-bore Vee-twin motor with a bore into stroke config of 106mmx 68mm is quite a handful on public roads – even for seasoned riders. Initially I spent some time in the Sport mode while on the open roads but soon decided to calm my nerves and wriggle some sense into my head and opted for the rather pacifying Touring mode.
If you are wondering what the modes mean, it is an engine management system helped by Ride by Wire throttle mechanism which offers three different riding modes, namely – Sport, Touring and Rain, wherein the horsepower reaching the rear wheel is monitor as per the Mode chosen with Sport being the most brutal form allowing all of the 130 horses to be set free. In the Touring mode, the acceleration is much calmer and suited for highway cruising and also helps in better fuel efficiency, which is vital in case you go touring on the Dorsoduro for it has a feeble fuel tank capacity of just 15 litres (including 3.5 litres of reserve).
The Rain mode is for severe bad road conditions where the horsepower output is limited to 100PS making for a very controlled power delivery. In addition to the riding modes, the Dorsoduro 1200 also gets advanced rider aids like traction control, (which is adjustable in three different modes) and ABS made by Continental to keep things under check, albeit both of these electronic systems can be switched off completely for some adult fun with the Aprilia. And I mean serious adult fun here. Although, I did restrain the urge that a gorgeous Italian bella can infuse in a young bloke but it was not an easy call to take.
Anyways. With the electronics working and the Touring mode chosen, the ride back into urbania was a pleasant one with just enough power at hand all the time and not much to worry about the changing traction levels on the city roads. And now a lot more used to the tall riding stance and the wide handlebars, I could actually soak in the adulation this beast brought upon itself as it rolled along the streets of Pune. Turning heads and fingers pointing directly in our direction, out of all the non-faired motorcycles that I have rode till date, the Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 certainly beats them all when it comes to street-cred as its almost impossible to go unnoticed unless one possesses the attention span of a goldfish.
Now at a pricetag of Rs 15 lakh (ex-showroom, Pune) it is not exactly a steal but considering the competition it faces in the current Indian scenario, the Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 is a lot of motorcycle for that money. Its machine which is versatile in every sense of the word which can be ridden around the city (a lot easier for the tall blokes) and one can go have serious fun with it on the mountain roads with just as much ease. The only weak link we figure is the small tank capacity which hampers its potential to be a good touring machine but then it more than makes up for it with all the sideways action it brings to the table.
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