Twenty years ago the photos were still terribly tiny, and could you please hang up the phone so I can get on the dial-up modem. You’ve got mail! Who are these Italian upstarts anyway? We thought they only made scooters, and ring-dingy two-strokes for that skinny Italian kid to race? The world was about to find out differently; the Falco was an early messenger portending great things to come. No, I don’t know why it’s two pages? Probably to let the modem catch its breath. Let us give thanks for the wi-fi. Amen.
“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 97×67.5 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.”