Yes – we are back. Back with a bang! My fingers had been itching to write an article like this. It’s difficult to put into words everyone’s feelings since March 2020, so I’ll let the bike do the talking. I had several bikes lined up in my mind that I was aching to get out to ride. This one was the first one I thought of at about the same time last year, so I thought it was right to start with an “A”.
Aprilias have a massive racing history, and they are pretty good at reminding you of that. I sat astride the bike in the forecourt of Motech in Newcastle, and for the first time, even before I switched the ignition on, my first impression was of a decal on the petrol tank. It reminds me of the Aprilia that has 54 World Cup victories, and both the front mudguards and the TFT when it fires up shows the legend “#be a racer”. That set the tone for the ride.
This bike is in a lovely set of colours which are Lava Red. After being shown around the bike and handed the key, it was easy to find a comfortable riding position on this middleweight sports bike. It’s set against the likes of the Honda CBR 650 but makes no bones about its racing pretensions. It looked to me as it was a racer set for the road. Although it is a parallel twin, it’s basically the front two cylinders of the RSV4 V four bike. It’s the bigger engine cut in half and angled forward. It is, however, a 100 brake horsepower bike (yes!). Put that with a light frame, beautifully machined and engineered accoutrements and I thought that this is going to be a great ride.
Firing it up, even from the standard exhausts racket (Mr Akropovic is available as well), it has an urgent bark and crackle and the TFT display so loved by new bike manufacturers, clicks on with the first thing telling you “#be a racer”. I chose the middle-of-the-road mode which is dynamic rather than commute or race. You can input individual dial codes for engine, brakes, suspension and all of the gubbins necessary nowadays, but I chose not to. With only 21 miles on the clock, I was advised to take it easy on the not yet run in tyres.
I decided to run up the Northumberland coastal route and made it to Alnmouth, along the twisting roads from Warkworth. I liked that stretch so much that I went back and did it a few times. This bike loved those switchback roads. It has that ability to stay exactly where you put it and take you around the tightest bends, without a flicker; far better than you think you can do so yourself. Handling, flickability, brakes and the suspension setup (even to my standardised approach) were fantastic for this bike. I know there is a more relaxed riding style for the similarly sized and engined Tuono, but I didn’t have any problems there and back on the road with my “office workers bad back”. Town work on these sort of racers are harder without a sit-up riding position, but as soon as the open road beckoned, this bike wanted to be away.
I kept the revs to 5,000 instead of the 12,000 indicated, there was more than enough. Those with higher standards than myself, and expectations of what they need from their bike will be delighted to dial in all of their requirements, into the electronic system. This bike has an APRC system. It is one of the most advanced and race orientated systems designed to prevent instability. Obviously, I didn’t call upon it. That tricky misfuelling type, hiccuping at low revs around town; especially when the bike is cold, is a bugbear that some more mature riders are unhappy with on modern production bikes. There was none of it here – I say again none of it. It was sweet from start to finish. Those angular wing mirrors stayed exactly where they were with no vibration or blurring.
I took the bike out on one of the hottest July days. The hot wind was perfect, and the bike settled in on the ride north as soon as we got to respectable speeds. It was loud but not obtrusive and had a willingness to rev which I didn’t want to entertain as this demo had so few miles on it. I was able to shiftless change all the time without any problems, but forgot it had a quick-shifter. There was a lot of traffic about which spoiled my plans. When I did get the chance to let the bike have its head, it responded gloriously. This is a non-run in bike, so the expectations when it will be run in will be fantastic.
I thought of an Italian themed cafe for this bike but everyone I tried to go to was closed. I came across my old friends at Spurrelli’s in Amble and decided it had to be some of their ice cream with a double espresso Macchiato sitting in the veranda. I did change the Italian theme and had sticky toffee pudding-flavour ice cream as my revenge for the euro final. As is always the case, I seem to get the hang of it after a coffee and something sweet and the ride back was splendid. I had a couple of sublime moments on the bike on beautifully tarmacked bends, which flattered my riding style – that’s the effect with this bike. I could have gone over the borders and not come back with it. It was begging to be ridden.
Motech tells me that these types of bikes are flying off the shelves. This bike is beautifully engineered, comfortable and soulful (not every bike has that all-important description nowadays). Get on down there and experience a bit of Northern (Italian) Soul with this cracker of a bike.
Mark Hipkin is a Partner/ Head of the Personal Injury and Civil Litigation department. He welcomes your e-mails or calls on the law (or your biking experiences) at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0191 2533509.