Aprilia Caponord and Moto Guzzi Stelvio: Major Casualties of Euro 4

A quiet farewell...

Aprilia Caponord Rally static 3/4 view
Aprilia Caponord RallyBruno dePrato

EICMA 2016 marked a radical trimming of both Aprilia and Moto Guzzi model ranges: the maxi enduros from both makes, CapoNord 1200 and Stelvio 1200 respectively, have been cancelled. It happened quietly, a silent kill in Ninja style, while everybody at the Milan show was looking the other way. There was no retirement announcement, no farewell ceremony. After hearing the first rumor, I called Piaggio P.R. Department Manager Paolo Pezzini. He was straight and correct as always, confirming the rumors.

“Piaggio top management felt the investment needed to upgrade the two engines to Euro 4 was excessive.”

I was sorry because I loved the Aprilia CapoNord for its great chassis and its superbly rational 1200cc 90° Vee Twin designed by the late Federico Martini. He was a good friend with whom I shared a few months at Ducati. He’d been hired after graduation by Dr. Taglioni just as I was about to leave Ducati. It was from his experience with the Ducati Vee Twins that he designed the Piaggio-Aprilia 1200cc 90° Vee Twin, correcting the shortcomings of the original Piaggio-Aprilia 750cc Vee Twin). With all due respect I have always rated his design more rational and reliable than Ducati’s old bevel Twin and Pantah Twin derivatives.

I wondered why it was deemed not worth the money to upgrade the CapoNord engine to euro 4 standards. The same goes for the Moto Guzzi Stelvio (and for the other Moto Guzzi 1200cc Vee Twin powered models), so I asked Mr. Davide Zanolini, Piaggio Executive Vice-President for Marketing and Communication.

Moto Guzzi Stelvio static side view
Moto Guzzi StelvioBruno dePrato

Cycle World: Mr. Zanolini, how well did the Moto Guzzi Stelvio and the Aprilia CapoNord sell during their respective lives?
Davide Zanolini: Moto Guzzi Stelvio had two separate editions, the first in production from 2008 to 2011, and the second in production from 2011 to 2016. In total the Stelvio sold about 7,000 units. In comparison the short lived Aprilia CapoNord 1200 sold better totaling about 5,000 from 2013 to 2016.

CW: Throughout our tests, the Aprilia CapoNord 1200 confirmed that it had solid qualities, even when compared with the best in its class. Was there in your opinion no possibility of saving it?
DZ: We knew the qualities of the CapoNord, featuring innovative solutions like semi-active electronically managed suspension. Yet its sales did not justify the cost of meeting Euro 4. This was a necessary decision to save resources that will be used to develop a future generation of top quality Aprilia projects. The same goes for Moto Guzzi Stelvio. As with Aprilia, radically new Moto Guzzi models might appear as early as EICMA 2017, and the big novelties will debut at EICMA 2018.

aprilia caponord 1200 tour pack on-track action
Aprilia Caponord 1200 Tour PackBruno dePrato

CW: Is the Aprilia 1200cc 90° Vee Twin gone for good or might it be updated to euro 4 standard at a more favorable time?
DZ: The Aprilia 1200cc Vee Twin is an excellent engine, state of the art all around. It became the euro 4-conforming new Aprilia 900cc 90° Vee Twin by combining its stroke with the 750's bore and refining its excellent combustion. But we must adapt the Aprilia brand to the expectations of a younger audience - hence the new, very accessible 900cc unit. And there will be more Aprilia models in the intermediate displacements from 125cc to 900cc.

CW: The new Aprilia 900cc Vee Twin is rated at about 95Hp at 8,750RPM and with wide torque peaking at 66.4 lb-ft/6500RPM. The numbers sound adequate for an entry level maxi-enduro based on CapoNord experience. Is this in Aprilia's future?
DZ: Not upgrading CapoNord 1200 to Euro 4 does not mean we are uninterested in the maxi-enduro segment. Aprilia will market the new Shiver and Dorsoduro powered by the euro 4-conforming 900cc 90° Vee Twin. This is a major fact for 2017, and Aprilia will expand the range of its models in that displacement. Now is too early to discuss these projects.

Moto Guzzi Stelvio on-track action
Moto Guzzi StelvioBruno dePrato

CW: Last year we tested the V7 II Stornello, a light enduro model based on the V7 chassis and that was fun. Then the V7 evolved into the new "hemi head" V9 which is euro 4 homologated, more powerful and with extra torque. Can we expect a V9 Stornello?
DZ: At Moto Guzzi they are hard at work on a totally new engine, very advanced, a radical evolution compared to the present V7, V9 and V1400 units. It is due to complete this range of units and I will not say more at this date. We expect to be able to introduce some radical Moto Guzzi novelty at EICMA 2017, though at its concept stage.

Well, thank you Mr. Zanolini for this frank discussion. BMW’s veteran R1200GS dominates the highly competitive maxi-enduro market, with strong competition from KTM’s Adventure and Duke, and from Triumph’s Tigers. Both makes invested substantially to win their parts of this market. Piaggio does not currently see an opportunity in such investment.

Aprilia Caponord 1200 Tour Pack static 3/4 rear view
Aprilia Caponord 1200 Tour PackBruno dePrato