The cavalcade of boasts doesn't stop there.
"Faster than Jimmy's Gixxer. No foolin!," He brags. "Just beat him up Spunky Monkey Canyon."
For hours, actually, he goes on about how great his bike is. It's a race bike after all. We all know how good that makes a rider when aboard one of these things, right? Wink, wink, prod, poke.
The conversation moves on to the Aprilia SL1000V Falco. Our aspiring Troy Junior is less than impressed.
"The Falco? Nah. Not fast enough. Not enough of an edge, ya-know-what-I'm-sayin?" he concludes. "I need something faster. That Falco is for grandpaw! Hah, hah, ha!"While the Falco may not be the "hyper bike" Aprilia enters in World Superbike competitions, it is by no means meant for sedentary individuals.
Quite the contrary. The Falco has a 60-degree V-twin that makes 112 horsepower and enough of torque at the rear wheel to think that John Deere had a hand in engine design. Sexy Italian aesthetics, meanwhile, promise to rotate the head of every onlooker you happen by.
Based on the same mill that fits into the Mille's chassis, this 997.62 cubic centimeter motor features an identical 97x67.5 mm bore and stroke but combusts its mixture at a 10.8:1 compression ratio. It's racier cousin, by comparison, opts for an 11.4:1 setting.
Double over head cams are operated via a combined gear and chain mechanism that open and close four valves per cylinder. Two spark plugs per cylinder ignite the fuel/air mixture that comes in through 51 mm throttle bodies. Indirect multiport injection is integrated with the ignition module for precise timing. Top this all off with a six speed transmission that comes straight out of the Mille's cases and you have the makings for ample power and character no matter how the package is wrapped; race plastic or almost naked.
The Falco is not clad in all-encompassing bodywork like the Mille, yet "naked" is not really a correct description -- that is, unless you consider a thong and baby t-shirt naked. You see, the bodywork on this Aprilia serves only to highlight what bare metal is visible. Subtle and sophisticated sexiness is far more provocative than all out exhibitionism, we think. It doesn't hurt that the fairing does a decent job of keeping wind blast off a rider's upper body while minimizing buffeting. Sexy and functional is a fine line to tread where style is concerned, but Aprilia made it work.
The lack of bodywork helps to highlight the part of the bike that deserves the most attention: the lusciously sculpted aluminum and magnesium alloy double twin beam frame. Read that again -- it's the "double twin beam" part that gets us. Looks like something from an old Buck Rogers flick, straight out of 1960's sci-fi, wrapped around a thoroughly modern powerplant. Where most frames have a single beam on each side, this frame is split down the middle and offers something extra for our eyes to dissect. Not to mention the fact that it helps to set this bike apart from the rest of the crowd. We don't wanna blend in, ya know?
As nice as the bike is when it's sitting still, it's no parking lot queen. On the road, the frame does a good job of blending chassis rigidity with the sort of vibration damping characteristics that are imperative in a road-going motorcycle. Especially when that motorcycle is a large displacement V-twin.
With a wheelbase of 1415 mm and 100 mm of trail, the Falco feels surprisingly similar to Suzuki's TL1000S of a few years ago in that it requires a bit of a shove on the bars to get things pointed in the appropriate direction when the road gets first-gear-tight. Just like we learned in "Road Riding 101," you want to avoid that guard rail, right? Better get thee to a gym or learn to use some lower body forces to get the thing turned, then.Speaking of rails, when the speeds come up and the throttles get dialed open, the Falco gets settled into a groove and the wheels track like they are on some. The Falco starts making sense and the rider is able to enjoy a broad spread of power that combines with good road manners to make any ride enjoyable. Just stow that ego -- if only for a moment -- and get over the fact that Corser isn't racing your particular bike this weekend. If you can do that, the Falco is what you'll be wanting to own for the "real world."
PAGE 2 Where the Mille makes its power up top and churns out a few more peak ponies at the rear wheel, the Falco actually has a better motor for the street. It wasn't too shabby on the track either, actually.
Come out of a corner, wind the throttle on and you're greeted with a solid bit of forward propulsion that grows as the revs climb towards redline. Like most twins, there's no need to keep this mill revving in the upper ranges, though. The bottom and mid-range on this motor are where it's at. Roll on the throttle in first gear and get ready to say hello to the top triple clamp. The Falco will launch the front end into the air in second gear as well with just a little snap o' the clutch or a nice rise in the road. Isn't that what twins are all about, anyway?
The 43 mm forks and rear shock do a wonderful job of soaking up the road nasties even if they are set up on the stiff side of the equation for street use. The front forks were well dialed in from the factory, but we did find a bit of fault with the back end. On the faster sections of the street -- like riding up Angeles Crest Highway, for instance -- the front end felt a bit vague and would tend to push closer to the centerline than we commonly care for. As a quick fix we decreased compression in the front two clicks. That helped a little bit, but not enough. More preload in the rear was in order, but this little change got us home in one piece.Once we took the Aprilia to the Streets of Willow we were able to dial out most of the annoying front end push that had plagued our earlier street forays. A few turns of the preload collars and we were in business. Still, the front end didn't relay as much information to us as the Mille did at elevated speeds. This is most likely due to the different chassis set-up and how it relates to the intended use of the bikes. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with 29-cent hamburgers from McDonalds and our increased girth since we last rode a Mille.
At track speeds where we thought knocking a few ponies off the top end would be a large hinderence, we were happily surprised to find an advantage in the low-end grunt. On the tight Streets course the added bottom-end allowed us to get the jump out of corners that had more peaky -- and more powerful -- bikes bumbling around. The BMW R1100S project bike that we had along for some light camera-bike duty verified, on film, beating bikes like Yamaha's all-conquering YZF-R1 out of corners. Mid-range was wonderful and we never wished for more revs.Ultimately, on the track, the limitation was the stock Pirelli Dragons that began to get greasy after only about ten hard laps. Despite the tractable power of the 60-degree twin, the rear wheel became an important and useful device for steering. Mid-corner, it moved around quite a bit and, on corner exits that begged for an open throttle, we felt like heroes drifting the back end. Fun? Yes. Fast? There are better ways.
As a whole, the SL1000V Falco is the Honda VFR800 of the Aprilia line-up. It has all-around appeal and can do just about anything you ask of it. It also has the sort of sex-appeal and cutting-edge performance that does its Italian pedigree proud.
Should you need a race bike, the Mille is the correct choice. Should you need a motorcycle that will do anything you ask of it -- track duty to touring with soft luggage -- the Falco's a better choice than it's race-bred cousin. It's also a better choice than similar bikes from competing brands and has sex-appeal and character that make it a bike that, whatever your passion, deserves a serious look.
Price - $11,299 US Dollars
Engine - 60° V-Twin
Cooling - liquid cooled, dual radiator
Bore and stroke - 97 x 67.5 mm
Displacement - 997.62 cc
Compression ratio - 10.8:1
Distribution - dual overhead camshaft operated by a mixed gear/chain system, 4 valves per cylinder
Feeding - Indirect multipoint injection, 51 mm throttle bodies
Ignition - digital with two spark plugs per cylinder
Start-up - electric
Lubrication - Dry sump with separate oil tank, double trocoidal pump with oil cooling radiator.
Transmission - 6 speed
Clutch - multiple discs in oil bath with servo-assisted hydraulic control Pneumatic Power Clutch (PPC)
Frame - Aluminium/magnesium alloy double twin beam.
Saddle frame dismountable in aluminium alloy
Length - 2050 mm (80.8 in)
Width - 736 mm (29 in) (at semi-handlebar)
Height - 1210 mm (47.7 in) (at dashboard)
Saddle height - 815 mm (32.1 in) (max extension)
Wheelbase - 1415 mm (55.7 in)
Trail - 100 mm (3.9 in)
Caster angle - 24.5°
Front suspension - 43 mm upside-down Showa, 120 mm (4.7 in) travel, external adjustment system for hydraulics in rebound, compression and preload
Rear suspension - progressive link with APS system, Sachs hydraulic shock-absorber adjustable in extension and preload. Travel 130 mm (5.1 in)
Front brake - Brembo dual floating stainless steel 320 mm discs.
4-Caliper (30 mm, 34 mm) Freudenberg brake tubes
Rear brake - stainless steel 220 mm disc, dual 32mm pistons
Freudenberg brake tubes
Rims - Aluminum Allow, 5 spoke Brembo
Front: 3.50 X 17"
Rear: 6.00 X 17"
Tires - tubelss, radial
Front: 120/70 ZR 17
Rear: 180/55 ZR 17
Dry weight (listed) - 190 Kg (418.9 lbs)
Tank capacity - 21 litres (5.5 gal), reserve 4 litres (1 gal)