Riding Impression: 2009 Aprilia Dorsoduro 750

The name literally translates to ‘hard back,’ but Aprilia means ‘hard enduro,’ as in a dirtbike for paved surfaces.

Photography By Jeff Allen

2009 Aprilia Dorsoduro 750 - Riding Impression

2009 Aprilia Dorsoduro 750 - Riding Impression

Oh, I wanted to like this bike. A lot. The concept—a supermotard for the street—makes sense, especially with a 90-degree V-Twin in the engine bay rather than a thumpy one-lunger. Styling is fabulous; that may just be the best ass-end in motorcycling, with twin high-rise exhausts and a stylized taillight lens squeezed in between.

Tech-wise, there's much to take in, too. The frame is a composite arrangement, a tubular steel trellis top half bolted to aluminum sideplates in which the swingarm pivots. Said swingarm is a tasty piece, a see-through "biplane" affair in aluminum. The single shock mounts cantilever-style on the right side, freeing up interior space for the rear cylinder and exhaust plumbing. Up front, a 43mm inverted fork and a pair of four-piston, radial-mount calipers chomping down on 320mm wave rotors. Suspension travel at both ends is 6.3 inches.

No problem at first with the seating position. Yeah, it's high at 34.3 inches, but the actual dirtbike-style, in-command ergonomics are just about perfect for sub-6-footers. Well, at least for the first half-hour. After that, it's as if the seat has somehow liposuctioned all the comfort cells from your fanny. The 3.2 gallon gas tank needs to be replenished every 100 or so miles, anyway, but I was looking for excuses to stop well before that mark.

Then there's the electronics. There is no redline on the analog tachometer; instead, the red hazard-warning light on the dash blinks ever more annoyingly as the needle sweeps to—I found out later—the 10,000-rpm redline. What I also didn't know is that this shift-light feature is programmable and our Aprilia's light had been left in break-in mode, set to activate at 6000 rpm. With the appropriate thumb action on the mode switch (ask your kid if you can't figure it out), you can move the activation point up the scale to a more suitable level. Nice wizardry, Aprilia, but maybe slap some paint on the tach face, too.

Not so easy to tweak is the ride-by-wire Tri-Map engine-management system with its three ignition settings, R for Rain, T for Touring and S for Sport. The latter could also stand for Snarl because that's what the engine does in this mode. Great sound and very entertaining but pretty haphazard fueling below 2500 rpm, which gets old around town. Switching to T mode calms things down considerably in the lower revs, though the mapping is still not as precise as on, say, the Suzuki Gladius, a V-Twin that goes about its duties with no mapping options whatsoever.

Which begs the question: Does a 75-horse (in either S or T; R drops hp to a lowly 58) middleweight Twin really need three fuel maps?

My advice to Aprilia, not that they're asking, would be to nix the electro-trickery and get one fueling solution absolutely spot-on. Next, I'd get the same guys who did the wonderful seat on the old Futura sport-tourer to fix the padding, and while I was at it I'd maybe go down from that massive, race-inspired 180mm rear tire on a 6-inch rim to something smaller on a 5.5-incher—as is, the rear tends to steer the front in bumpy corners. Otherwise, the D'duro is as much fun to fling down a backroad as you'd expect.

Still, a little less motard would make this thing a lot more super.