2016 Aprilia Dorsoduro 750
Supercross still holds the number-one slot in my heart for “motorsports that are actually fun to watch,” but Supermoto is definitely my next favorite and closing fast. The unusual combination of dirtbike, flat track and pavement requires a very broad skillset, and necessarily, very specific bikes as well.
Given my affinity for this style of racing, I decided it was time to take a good look at this ride and see what all the factory has done to accommodate the dizzying array of demands placed on the bike by Supermotard tracks.
Continue reading for my review of the Aprilia Dorsoduro 750 ABS.
2016 Aprilia Dorsoduro 750
The factory makes much of the fact that it worked closely with its race team to put together this ride. Even though the vast majority of these bikes will never see a race course, they are much more likely to pull duty as an urban-shenanigan bike and are quite capable in that role as well.
This bike is the epitome of the form-follows-function mentality, and since the designs within the sport are still in flux and have not yet completely gelled into a “standard” format, builders still have a lot in the way of artistic leeway to work with. What we wind up with is a sort of half-breed, street/dirt bike with a dirt-style bird’s beak front fender, flyscreen, cheek fairings, fuel tank and seat. But from that point down, the Dorsoduro quickly shows its streetbike DNA with inverted front forks and slick street tires.
Minimal body panels leave the Trellis frame and engine clearly visible, and in general, the Dorsoduro keeps to the gasser/bobber philosophy in that it’s lean as a snake, with nothing of excess fat anywhere on the bike. Seat height approaches nosebleed altitudes at 34.2-inches tall, great for extreme lean angles, but for short inseams, not so much. The rider triangle seems to favor taller riders as well with plenty of distance between the jockey-mount footpegs, handlebars and seat, but this isn’t exactly the kind of bike one shops by comfort and ease of use, is it?
Aprilia set out to build the frame to provide strength at a light overall weight and balance rigidity with elasticity. To achieve this, it started with a modular frame that uses a tubular-steel Trellis upper frame with bolt-on aluminum members and a stressed engine that completes the skeleton. A removable subframe makes it easier to access the rear wheel and exhaust components. The steering rake is set at 26 degrees, and the trail is a trifle longer than I expected at 4.25 inches. Somehow I figured the trail would be something in the three-inch range considering how agile the Dorsoduro is, but I suppose it isn’t far off that mark, and one must consider the demands of multi-surface use which introduces variables that change the “normal” equation.
An aluminum swingarm works with an offset, coil-over monoshock for the rear suspension; a visually striking arrangement that leaves the shock well exposed to world and wrench, and adds to the already minimalist panache prevalent in the design. The shock comes with adjustable rebound damping and preload so you can dial in the ride, and 6.1 inches of travel so your innards can survive said ride.
Likewise, the front suspension comes built with the expectation of hitting some rough terrain. Inverted, 43 mm forks buoy and stiffen the front end and come with the same adjustments as the rear. I’m a little surprised Aprilia didn’t spring for high- and low-speed compression damping as well, or at least a single-speed compression damper for total control over the suspension, but it is what it is.
Brakes on the Dorsoduro are all business with four-pot, opposed-piston calipers to bind the dual, wave-cut, 320 mm discs. A single-pot, piston-and-anvil caliper pinches the 240 mm, wave-cut disc in back, and both ends benefit from a two-channel, Continental ABS system. The factory added aircraft-grade, braided brake lines that deliver accurate pressure and feedback with no losses due to hose flex for a little extra icing on the cake. Aluminum rims mount the 17-inch hoops, and the bike runs a 120/70 up front and a wide, 180/55 in back.
Aprilia stuffed its 749.9 cc “V90” into the frame to drive the Dorsoduro. This water-cooled, 90-degree V-twin runs dual over-head cams, four-valve heads and a decidedly oversquare bore and stroke at 92 mm and 56.4 mm, respectively. The factory also graced this mill with its second gen, Ride-by-Wire system that manages and moderates the induction based on speed, gear, temperature and throttle control data.
You can choose between three separate power-delivery modes; sport mode that delivers instant throttle response and unbridled power, touring mode that still delivers full power but with a gentler roll on and rain mode with the softest delivery of all for adverse conditions and inclement weather. Unfortunately, the Aprilia Tri-Map system requires the throttle to be fully closed before switching modes, so you can’t switch on the fly like you can on some other bikes. Not exactly a deal breaker, but there it is.
A stainless-steel exhaust system runs through a channel in the subframe to keep the weight of those components as close to the center as possible, and the header pipes are routed to prevent rear shock fade due to excess heat transfer. A catalytic converter and lambda probe system help keep the emissions within regulated standards.
The Dorsoduro mill punches above its weight with 60.4 pounds of torque at 4,500 rpm, and 92 ponies at 8,750 rpm, all on a bike that weighs in at just over 400 pounds, dry. Plenty of power for your particular brand of shenaniganery and hooligansim, whatever that may be. A six-speed transmission crunches the gear ratios, and a chain drive makes the final connection to the rear wheel.
Depending on the widely-variable skill factor, you can expect to get something in the neighborhood of 12-second quarter-mile times at something around 110 mph. Yeah, I know this isn’t a drag bike, but the numbers should give you an idea of its capabilities all the same.
Aprilia barely breaks the 10K mark with a $10,299 MSRP on the Dorsoduro, placing it “close enough” to my entry-level cutoff for that slice of the market. This price gets you a two-year, unlimited-mileage warranty complete with one full year of Road Side Assistance through Road America, and the Dorsoduro can be had shot in red with black trim, white with red trim or white with yellow trim.
There can be no denying the passion and attention to detail Aprilia packed onto the Dorsoduro, and I kept that in mind when I went looking for a worthy competitor. I didn’t have to look very far as I found a likely candidate without even leaving “The Boot” in the form of the Hypermotard 939 from Ducati, one of Aprilia’s main domestic competitors.
Lookswise, they both fit well within the supermoto mold with bird’s beak front fenders, Trellis frames and minimal accouterments. The Hypermotard doesn’t quite carry as much dirtbike DNA as the Dorsoduro. Tank, seat and subframe design is much more “streetie,” and the Duc looks a bit more like a pure-bred bike than a hybrid, Frankenstein creation, but as I pointed out before, form follows function.
Both bikes run 90-degree, short-stroke V-twin plants complete with liquid cooling and four-valve heads, but the 11-degree Testastretta in the Ducati carries a few more cubes at 937 cc against the Aprilia’s 749.9 cc, and naturally it comes with Ducati’s signature Desmodromic valvetrain. Ride-by-Wire is consistent across the board, and while both rides boast variable rider modes, Ducati takes it a step further by adding its proprietary traction control as well. That’s pretty much the only electronics advantage to be had since both manufacturers offer ABS as standard equipment.
Speaking of advantages, Ducati definitely enjoys some at the dynamometer with 113 ponies and 72.2 pounds of grunt for a bit more built-in “fun” than the Aprilia 750 with its 92 ponies and 60.4 foot-pound output.
Perhaps the traction-control feature and the displacement difference explains the price discrepancy. Aprilia keeps the Dorsoduro toward the bargain end of the pricing spectrum with a $10,299 tag while Ducati creeps up into the mid-range just a bit with a $12,695 sticker on its Hypermotard. I guess it really comes down to how “serious” you want your “toy” to be.
“I think this is a cool-looking bike, and I definitely appreciate the engineering in it and the organized supermoto/supermotard races. Having said that, it’s been my experience that riders on this type of bike seem to have some aversion to keeping both wheels on the ground. In the right circumstances, there’s nothing wrong with that, but then there is the other 99% of the time when it’s not appropriate, or even safe. For this reason, my (not so) secret sub-category for these kinds of rides is ’jackass bike,’ but who am I to judge, some people have managed to take jackassery straight to the bank.”
My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I’m not sure what to say. I want to say it’s a nice bike in a good cc range for that middle-of-the-road crew, but it scares me a bit the kind of jackassery I see folks doing on it. Stunts in an empty mall parking lot are one thing, but doing them in traffic is another. They do make the best crash videos, though.”
|Engine type:||Aprilia V90 four-stroke longitudinal 90° V-twin engine, with liquid cooling, double overhead camshafts driven by mixed gear/chain timing system, four valves per cylinder and Ride by Wire throttle control|
|Max power (at crankshaft):||92 HP (67,3 kW) at 8,750 rpm|
|Max torque (at crankshaft):||60.4 lb-ft (82 Nm) at 4,500 rpm|
|Fuel system:||Integrated engine management system. Latest generation 3 maps (Sport, Touring, Rain) Ride-by-Wire throttle management|
|Exhaust:||2 into 1 exhaust system in 100% stainless steel with three-way catalytic converter and lambda probe|
|Clutch:||Multiplate wet clutch, hydraulically operated|
|CHASSIS / SUSPENSION / BRAKES:|
|Chassis:||Modular tubular steel frame fastened to aluminium side plates by high strength bolts. Removable rear subframe|
|Front suspension:||Ø43 mm upside-down fork, with adjustable hydraulic rebound damping and spring preload. Wheel travel 160 mm|
|Rear suspension:||Aluminium alloy swingarm. Hydraulic shock absorber, with adjustable rebound and preload. Wheel travel 155 mm|
|Front brake:||Dual Ø320 mm stainless steel floating wave discs. Four piston radial callipers. Metal braided brake lines|
|Rear brake:||Ø240 mm stainless steel wave disc. Single piston calliper. Metal braided brake lines|
|ABS:||Two-channel Continental ABS system|
|Front tire:||Radial tubeless; 120/70 ZR 17|
|Rear tire:||Radial tubeless; 180/55 ZR 17|
|Max. Length:||8732 in. (2,216 mm)|
|Max. Width:||35.6 in. (905 mm)handlebar)|
|Max. Height:||46.6 in. (1,185 mm) at instrument panel|
|Seat height:||34.2 in. (870 mm)|
|Dry weight:||409 lbs (186 kg)|
|Fuel tank capacity:||3.17 gal. (12 lt)|
|WARRANTY / ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE / APPROVAL:|
|Warranty:||2-year unlimited-mileage warranty|
|Roadside Assistance:||1 Free Year of Road Side Assistance provided by Road America|
Source: Aprilia Range Brochure