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2016 Aprilia Caponord Rally – First Ride Review

Ken LeeFebruary 25, 2015
Even with its stronger emphasis on adventure duties, the Rally serves as an excellent street ride, giving up nothing in terms of hard-charging twisty road capabilities or long-range comfort.

Even with its stronger emphasis on adventure duties, the Rally serves as an excellent street ride, giving up nothing in terms of hard-charging twisty road capabilities or long-range comfort.

Aprilia is on the move and seriously courting the long-range crowd, first with the 2015 Caponord 1200 ABS Travel Pack and now the new Caponord 1200 Rally. Incorporating many of the core components found in the earlier and more basic street-oriented crossover-style Caponord, this new Caponord Rally now ups the ante with many of the elements that more serious adventure types deem necessary for tackling tough terrain—or at least necessary for projecting the impression of Tierra del Fuego readiness.

To that end, the Caponord Rally sports lighter spoked wheels in place of the crossover’s cast items; more specifically, a 3.00 x 19-inch front and 4.50 x 17-inch rear, versus the cast 3.50 x 17 and 6.00 x 17 combo. There’s also a standard skid plate and brush guards, auxiliary LED lights, oversized, manually adjustable windscreen and larger 33-liter hard bags. The tubular-steel frame remains unchanged, but new triple clamps tweak the steering geometry more towards off-road use. A new exhaust system and ECU mapping boost low-end and midrange power while maintaining the claimed peak 125 horsepower from the 1197cc, 90-degree V-twin engine. Like the crossover Caponord, the Caponord Rally also incorporates the full suite of Aprilia electronic rider aids: ride-by-wire, antilock braking, traction control, cruise control, and the real gem of the bunch, Aprilia Dynamic Damping (ADD)—a fully active system that automatically adjusts rear shock spring preload as well as compression and rebound damping in the shock and fork.

The Caponord Rally ups the adventure quotient with 19-inch front wheel, skid plate, brush guard, larger, more effective windscreen, LED spotlights, handguards and 33-liter saddlebags.

The Caponord Rally ups the adventure quotient with 19-inch front wheel, skid plate, brush guard, larger, more effective windscreen, LED spotlights, handguards and 33-liter saddlebags.

An all-too-brief one-day ride covering about 200 miles in Sardinia, Italy, gave us a good taste of what the Caponord Rally has to offer. Upon straddling the bike, it immediately feels quite comfortable, if just a pinch tall—not overly so, considering its adventure-bike target. Thumb the starter and the engine becomes a paragon of V-twin virtue; burly and torquey down low with excellent throttle response, ripping strong through the midrange and eager to rocket to rev-cut at about 9,000 rpm. Take it easy while cruising along to enjoy the scenery or set your hair on fire and charge hard through the tight twisties; the Caponord Rally is fine any way you want it.

Equipped with a handlebar that is only moderately wide by adventure-bike standards, the Caponord Rally steering feels nicely responsive with only a moderate amount of bar input required. Left-right-left transitions come easily and naturally. But it is the ADD semi-active suspension action that left us surprised and delighted. Initially, the suspension action feels deliciously plush—so much so you’re convinced that terminal wallowing will take over once the road starts to curve. Didn’t happen. Suspension action is simply superb through all kinds of hard riding, from tight-tight corners through fast sweepers and Autostrada-fast straightaways. I purposely aimed for every pothole, seam and bump in the roadway to try and fool the ADD suspension, but no such luck; it handled everything exceeding well, including a few miles of off-road work. All in all, a terrific handling package.

We logged about 200 miles over twisty and straight roads, city streets, plus a brief stint on dirt roads complete with mud holes. The Rally proved comfy, capable and fun all the time.

We logged about 200 miles over twisty and straight roads, city streets, plus a brief stint on dirt roads complete with mud holes. The Rally proved comfy, capable and fun all the time.

At $15,699, the Caponord Rally only costs a couple Benjamins more than the crossover 2015 Caponord. And it’s a very competitive contender—in every respect—in this growing segment of the market. It’s due in dealerships in May 2015.

* A previous version of this post listed the bike as a 2015 model, and said the pricing was tentative.

(A version of this story Adventure Italian-Style was published in the June 2015 issue of Rider magazine.)

2016 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally Specs

Website: apriliausa.com
Base Price: $15,699
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 90-degree V-twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 1,197cc
Bore x Stroke: 106.0mm x 67.8mm
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 62.0 in.
Rake/Trail: 27.4 degrees/4.6 in.
Seat Height: 33.1 in.
Claimed Dry Weight: 525 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 6.3 gals.
MPG: NA

Winter weather in Italy isn't all sunshine and olive oil, but we got lucky with a good deal of sun and mostly clear skies in Sardinia so we could enjoy the views and the roads to the fullest.

Winter weather in Italy isn’t all sunshine and olive oil, but we got lucky with a good deal of sun and mostly clear skies in Sardinia so we could enjoy the views and the roads to the fullest.

The lightweight spoke wheels come standard with Metzeler Tourance Next tires, excellent rubber for super-aggressive street riding. The front Brembo brakes are simply superb.

The lightweight spoke wheels come standard with Metzeler Tourance Next tires, excellent rubber for super-aggressive street riding. The front Brembo brakes are simply superb.

For a bike of this size and weight, the Caponord Rally feels quite rider-friendly once the pavement ends. We rode only a few miles in the dirt but came away impressed.

For a bike of this size and weight, the Caponord Rally feels quite rider-friendly once the pavement ends. We rode only a few miles in the dirt but came away impressed.

With the new Caponord Rally, Aprilia now offers riders a full-on adventure-style option to complement the crossover-style Caponord 1200 ABS Travel Pack introduced previously.

With the new Caponord Rally, Aprilia now offers riders a full-on adventure-style option to complement the crossover-style Caponord 1200 ABS Travel Pack introduced previously.

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