2015 Aprilia Caponord Rally First Ride Review
The Aprilia Caponord Rally is the most high-tech road motorcycle in Aprilia’s range, a touring flagship fit with everything from active suspension to traction control. What separates the Rally from the standard Caponord is the extra versatility of having standard large and sturdy panniers (33 litres each), spoked wheels enabling off road tires, a taller windscreen, front fairing crash protection and extra LED lights. Still, dynamic damping is the highlight.
Riding for more than 200 miles in the past could make your bum and back shiver in fear of any speed bump or pothole in the road. Active suspension has all but solved this problem, or at least extended the range before such fatigue becomes a problem. The Aprilia Dynamic Damping system is one of the most advanced systems in existence and is, for now, only available on the Caponord.
The ADD improves the handling enormously, and the Caponord would be a completely different motorcycle without it. It’s simply a treat to ride the Caponord Rally through any corner – fast or slow. Nothing puts it off, and the ride is always solid and comfortable. Even cruising slowly through built up areas over speed bumps and other hindrances causes minimum stress to arms and back.
The ADD utilizes solenoid technology which is the only thing fast enough to keep you on the straight and narrow over bumps at high speed. New for 2015, the active map adjusts the rear shock automatically to any weight being added (luggage or pillion passenger). Other acronyms demonstrating the Caponord Rally’s tech prowess are RbW (Ride-by-Wire), ACC (Aprilia cruise control), ATC (Aprilia traction control) and ABS. I have my own suggestion for a new acronym; Aprilia Connected Drive Control aka ACDC! The electronics combine to create a comfortable, safe and great-handling motorcycle.
After plenty of miles on twisty mountain roads using the brakes, throttle and clutch constantly, the cruise control comes in handy for straight transportation stretches. The ACC works by activating a button on the right handlebar and setting the speed. Like all other cruise control systems, it disengages by using any brake lever, the clutch lever or by accelerating.
The handling is impressive, and the Caponord Rally likes corners. I rode with the TC set to level one, the least intrusive setting. We had both sun and rain on the test day, meaning I got to test in realistic conditions, and I think it worked well in the wet, too. If you’re not comfortable with a bit of rear wheel slip, you can switch to rain mode, which reduces both torque and horsepower, along with delivering maximum TC intrusion.
The ABS brakes are powerful and along with the ADD makes for perfect braking, offering additional safety should you need to make an emergency stop. The ABS wiring is different on the Rally to offer extra protection, as Aprilia expects the Rally to live a harder life than its more road-biased sibling, the standard Caponord.
The spoked wheels on the Rally are new but based on an Aprilia patent from the old ETV1000 Caponord. The design makes them lighter than similar spoked wheels. The front is an offroad-friendly 19-incher fitted with a 120/70-19 Metzeler Tourance tire. The rims can accommodate a narrow 110mm front tire and a 150mm rear (170/60-17 standard)
The Rally also gets tubular engine guards and upper fairing protection outfitted with two additional LED lights. The front fairing on the Caponord is expensive, so this could save globetrotters some money. Long-distance travelers need good luggage solutions, and the Caponord Rally gets sturdy aluminium-covered panniers – each taking 33 litres (8.7 gal.) of luggage. A 55 litre (14.5 gal.) top box is also available as an accessory.
The windshield is larger than on the standard Caponord. It’s adjustable, but I preferred it in its lower position to avoid helmet buffeting. The one thing missing, which I think should be included for both the Rally and Travel Pack versions, is heated grips. The Rally is all set up with the button but it is not connected. This is an accessory – for now.
The Caponord Rally is Aprilia’s most serious touring bike ever, one you could ride on African unpaved roads between the dunes – but not on them. The engine protection is more to protect from rubble, and I don’t think it could stand hitting a rock.
We rode a short but fast stretch of unpaved road littered with small potholes that all contained water from fresh rain. This stuff is something the Caponord Rally handles really well, thanks to its ADD suspension. Although I was standing on the pegs, I could feel the ADD compensating so incredibly quickly that I probably could have remained seated without a worry in the world.
The Rally is only equipped with a sidestand, but in the accessory list I found an oversized side stand base for parking in a sandbox.
If you fancy getting a host of interesting and not-so-interesting engine and system readouts, the Caponord is ready for the Multimedia Platform. Roll angle, real-time torque/horsepower output, g-forces during acceleration, etc. are all stuff that can entertain you while on the move. Aprilia is at the forefront in this area – albeit it’s currently between the gimmick-really useful stage. For example, pushing a button on the smartphone app will tell Caponord Rally (and standard Caponord) riders exactly how far you are from the North Cape at all times (Caponord means North Cape in Italian).
- ADD suspension adds to both comfort and handling capabilities
- Smooth and strong V-Twin engine
- Practical with 2×33 litre hard panniers and taller windshield
- Facing staunch competition in the adventure segment
- Heated grips are not standard
- No centerstand
The engine is a lovely 1200cc V-Twin with 125 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and 84.8 lb.-ft. of torque at 6,800 rpm. The Rally version has been tuned for as much torque as early as possible, and from 2-3k rpm, the Caponord moves in a smooth and comfortable manner. The mid-range starts early and lasts long before being replaced by a V-Twin punch on top. It’s a great engine for touring.
The Caponord 1200 Rally is Aprilia’s touring flagship with state-of-the-art technology, ADD being the absolute highlight. Believe me, it makes a vast difference for road riding. ADD directly contributes to great handling and comfort, which are the two best aspects about the Caponord Rally. With huge luggage capacity and extra protection, the Rally is the most adventurous and practical bike in the Caponord range, and as such, it’s definitely worth the premium. It’s a shame Aprilia doesn’t throw in the heated grips on the Rally, though. They should. It isn’t quite a desert fox, yet, but the Rally is as close as you can get on an Aprilia today.
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