Press Launches

By Jean Paré

April 16, 2018

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 and Shiver 900: Artful Dodgers

Photo: Kewin Wing & Brian J. Nelson

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Aprilia ups the ante with revised models
I’m attacking a copious breakfast, not far from the sea and under a warm southern California sun. With some strong java, the beautiful scenery sure helps to get over jetlag. The folks from Aprilia are making sure that we, the assembled group of journalists that converged in Ventura for this launch, are soaked in that SoCal vibe before starting the technical presentation of the two new models we will ride later, the Dorsoduro 900 and the Shiver 900.

The new moniker is due to the fact that up until now both bikes were 750 models. The motorisation they share has now grown to 896 cc. It is still a liquid cooled, 90-degree V-twin with four valves per cylinder actuated by DOHC but it is now fed by throttle bodies equipped with double-jet fuel injectors. Those two 900s are siblings from the Aprilia family, sharing the same engine and a few other common parts, but they have distinct characters and there is no mistaking one for the other. The naked roadster Shiver is the cool, sporty urban type that has style in spades while the supermotard Dorsoduro is all about hooliganism with an in-your-face attitude.

With more cubic centimetres (147 to be exact, compared to the previous models) come more torque and slightly more power that is easier to access. The new mill is smoother, thanks to a revised balance for the longer stroke crank, and the motor is said to be lighter but no exact figures were given. The primary ratio is now 38/71 (from 40/69) to better match the flatter torque curve and complement the revised six-speed transmission. The shared 4.3 inch TFT dash is borrowed from the RSV4. It displays all the usual information such as speed, RPM, distance, engine and air temperature, electronics parameters . . . but no fuel gauge! The background automatically switches modes according to ambient light, for best day and night legibility and you can connect your smartphone via the Bluetooth link. New three-spoke aluminum wheels are significantly lighter.

Dorsoduro 900
I started my day on the Dorsoduro 900. From the first few kilometres I could get a good feel of the strong motor and sharp handling of that motorcycle. I have to admit that I was longing for the Shiver as it is more akin to what I’m used to riding; exuberant and wild behaviour is honestly not my calling. Out on the interstate the far-forward, dirt-bike inspired riding position made me feel like a sail. I felt the strain on my forearms to stay onboard and did not enjoy that part of the ride.

We veered off the divided highway onto a curvy two-lane road and there the Dorsoduro felt right at home. Ample ground clearance, muscular pull right from the lower revs and a nimble feel, thanks to the high-up riding position and wide handlebar that helps the rider to move freely on the seat, made for quick work of the twisties. I kept the Dorsoduro in the Sport mode for my time on it. It would have been easy to switch to the Touring or Rain mode on the fly by just using the starter button, with the motor running as long as the throttle is shut.

I stayed with the group on the smooth Highway 33 but I maybe should have slipped off on that tight canyon road with the fellow journalist who got a better taste of the real supermotard nature of the Aprilia. He came back with a big Cheshire cat grin under his helmet.

I can attest that the Dorsoduro is a sweet handling machine nonetheless. I was a bit surprised by the braking performance; I expected more initial bite and more feel from the four-pot, radially mounted calipers that are assisted by ABS from Continental. Maybe some different brake pads would help here. The ABS offers three levels and can be turned off, same as the traction control.

Shiver 900
After a good lunch at a typical Californian restaurant, I had a Shiver waiting for me in the parking lot. I swung a leg over that little Italian roadster under the hot afternoon sun and headed out to enjoy more of the nice roads in the Ventura surroundings. The Shiver 900 displays a steel trellis frame that is mated to aluminum side-plates; it complements its look and the whole motorcycle is well finished. The V-twin comes alive from as low as 2000 rpm and I didn’t feel any need to exceed 7500 to make good progress. The gearbox is smooth and feels precise through the six gears, and neutral is easy to find. As with the Dorsoduro, the brakes are a bit underwhelming but get the job done anyhow. The same electronic rider aids are also there; Touring, Sport and Rain mode and the three-level ABS.

The slightly crouched riding position of the Shriver will feel more natural to most riders and I am one of those. Even with my tall frame I fitted much better on the roadster and could throw it around curves with more ease, feeling that I sat “into” the bike. The ergonomics are sportier and very well adapted.

On the road the Shiver behaved flawlessly. Powerful, nimble and comfortable, it let me attack corners with confidence, power down the straights with authority and enjoy the highway comfortably as I was less exposed to the wind at higher speeds with its riding position.

Still, on a longer trip one expects to have to do a few stops to stretch from time to time. I was suspicious that the under-seat exhaust would be problematic, especially with the very high temperature we encountered during that test, but I didn’t feel any extra heat. Those twin pipes look and sound good.

Conclusion
With these two motorcycles we cannot overlook the price/quality equation; $11,995 for the Dorsoduro and $9,995 for the Shiver means that the Aprilias are very attractive against the competition. The Dorsoduro is a fun bike despite its shortcomings, from my point of view, and is the least expensive of its category. The Shiver is a roadster that is oriented toward plush rather than sport but it is more comfortable, has more power and is better equipped than its Italian competition, for a lower price. It may not be as powerful as a Kawasaki Z900 or a Yamaha MT-09 but if you want some exclusivity it might very well justify the few extra dollars.

I would personally lean toward the Shiver over the Dorsoduro but it’s a question of taste. The Shiver 900 pleasantly surprised me. Lots of electronic equipment, affordable, well adapted to the average rider, powerful engine and the sweet handling combine to make the Shiver 900 a fun motorcycle to ride.

2018 Aprilia Shiver 900 Specs
ENGINE
• Type: 90-degree V-twin, water-cooled, DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder
• Displacement: 896 cc
• Bore x stroke: 92 x 67.4mm
• Maximum power: 95 horsepower @ 8750 rpm
• Maximum torque: 9.2 M-kg @ 6500 rpm
• Compression ratio: 11:1
• Clutch: Hydraulically actuated
• Transmission: Six-speed with straight-cut gears
• Final drive: Chain
CHASSIS
• Frame: steel trellis frame with aluminum side plates
• Front suspension; travel: Rebound damping and spring-preload adjustable 41 mm inverted KYB fork; 130 mm
• Rear suspension/ travel: rebound damping and spring-preload adjustable Sachs shock/130 mm
• Front/Rear tires: 120/70-17; 180/55-17
• Front brakes: 320 mm discs with radially mounted 4-piston calipers
• Rear brake: 240 mm disc with single-piston caliper
• Wheelbase: 1465 mm
• Seat height: 810 mm
• Fuel capacity: 15 liters
• Estimated fuel consumption: 6l/100km
• Wet weight: 218 kg
Price: $9,995
Colours; grey, white, flat green
Warranty: 2 years, unlimited mileage

2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 Specs
ENGINE
• Type: 90-degree V-twin, water-cooled, DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder
• Displacement: 896 cc
• Bore x stroke: 92 x 67.4mm
• Maximum power: 95 horsepower @ 8750 rpm
• Maximum torque: 9.2 M-kg @ 6500 rpm
• Compression ratio: 11:1
• Clutch: Hydraulically actuated
• Transmission: Six-speed with straight-cut gears
• Final drive: Chain
CHASSIS
• Frame: steel trellis frame with aluminum side plates
• Front suspension; travel: Rebound damping and spring-preload adjustable 41 mm inverted KYB fork/160 mm
• Rear suspension/travel: rebound damping and spring-preload adjustable Sachs shock/160 mm
• Front/Rear tires: 120/70-17; 180/55-17
• Front brakes: 320 mm discs with radially mounted 4-piston calipers
• Rear brake: 240 mm disc with single-piston caliper
• Wheelbase: 1514 mm
• Seat height: 870 mm
• Fuel capacity: 12 liters
• Estimated fuel consumption: n/a
• Wet weight: 186 kg
Price: $11,995
Color; red/grey
Warranty: 2 years, unlimited mileage