Photography by Rohit G Mane
Why does anyone buy an Aprilia? Apart from the fantastic racing heritage that the company boasts of, people don’t buy one after weighing pros and cons, it’s purely a decision made from the heart, for essentially the Aprilia buyer is a thrill seeker, like me. I mean look at the company’s line up, be it the RSV4, the Tuono 1100 V4 or the Dorsoduro 1200, Aprilia has only ever sold machines where The Thrill of Riding precedes everything else. Yet, there seems to have been a change of tack at the company’s headquarters in Noale, Italy. Has the company suddenly gone soft? Or is this them, giving in to a politically correct world where anything that makes anyone feel queasy is dubbed a “misadventure”? While those questions remain unanswered, we set out to decode Aprilia’s new Shiver 900.
The Shiver isn’t exactly a new product entirely, unless you consider the engine, and is based on the older Shiver 750. The V-twin, 896cc, liquid-cooled motor is a stroked out variant of the 750 with changes to go with the added displacement. Lots of work has gone into making the clutch lighter, improve fuelling, reworking gear ratios and the torque being bolstered by 9Nm. It makes the exact figures as the Dorsoduro 900 at 93.5bhp and 90Nm. Now admittedly these aren’t exactly class-leading numbers. Especially if you factor in a 218-kilo kerb weight. It puts the Shiver 900 at a numerical (and psychological, for the rider) disadvantage even before the bike’s engine has been started. Unfair, but inevitable. A revised set of exhaust pipes actually look like they’ve been sealed shut. Possibly after owners of the Shiver 750 complained about the gases leading to carbon imprints on clothing after long rides.
The chassis comprises the modular tubular steel frame of the Shiver 750 but strangely enough the Kayaba forks are 41mm inverted units in place of the 750’s Sachs 43mm USDs. At the rear too there is a simple hydraulic monoshock in place of the Sachs unit. Finally there’s the best bit about the bike: a 4.3-inch TFT display that gives out a plethora of information and also incorporates Aprilia Media Platform (AMP) capability. AMP allows you to connect your smartphone and access trip data and also control media. Strangely, the version available on the Indian App Store supports only the Caponord range, which isn’t sold in India!
Fire up the twin and you are reminded of the… wait for it… a British twin growl! Yes, the exhaust note is outright bassy and it sounds exquisite up to 7,000rpm, after which it’s just noise. The ergonomics are relaxed with a riding position that’ll suit long rides better rather than spirited riding on fast roads.
When it comes to switchgear and user-friendliness of operation, it’s usually a relatively complicated fare on Italian bikes. Not for this Aprilia though. Changing riding modes is child’s play too; just push the starter switch twice and you can toggle between Sport, Touring or Rain. The sensation is even more pronounced after you exercise the right wrist. The engine is smooth as butter and vibrations are negligible. The power delivery is extremely linear and stacks of torque is available in the low and mid-range. Whack open the throttle and the bike surges forward with a slight urgency but nothing unpredictable. The traction control system is almost perfect and isn’t overtly intrusive. In fact, the bike feels so predictable and tame that there are times when you end up questioning the need for a Rain mode.
Gearing feels a little awkward with very short first and second ratios, while third is unusually tall. In fact, you can pull cleanly away from as low as 20kmph in third all the way to around 175. While the classical Italian bike enthusiast like me will cry foul, the relaxed nature and sheer tractability of the motor makes the Shiver 900 an excellent prospect for a noob. One major issue we faced while riding the motorcycle was finding neutral. Even after 100km of riding the bike everywhere, I still couldn’t find neutral at one shot.
By the time we got the Shiver 900 it had already gone through a few media houses and the bike we got did not have the suspension at its stock setting. The front was slightly on the firmer side while the rear was way too soft, a setup that led to nervousness during cornering. The weight of the bike – the Shiver 900 is a staggering 30kg more than a Street Triple RS – means you actually need to put in some effort to get the Aprilia to tip in to a corner. Weight however isn’t the only culprit here, part of it has to go to the lazy geometry (the Shiver 900) has a 25.9-degree rake and the long 1440mm wheelbase. Once tipped in however the bike holds its line well enough. It’s just that it never inspires the confidence that other Aprilias instil in the rider. On the plus side, the geometry and the wheelbase lend itself to phenomenal straight line stability. Even at 150kmph!
However, the setup is just ideal for touring. Add to that the well-cushioned seat which offers oodles of space for the rider to move around and you have possibly the most touring friendly naked middleweight bike in the segment. The braking configuration offers excellent stopping power and bite while the feel from the levers is progressive.
So, worth the money or no?
The Shiver 900 stands out as the black sheep that didn’t follow the family tradition. But here’s the thing, if the nature of the Aprilia Shiver 900 isn’t mad but sober, is it by accident? Or is it by design? I would wager, the latter. That said, then who exactly is this bike meant for? I suspect for the guy who wants a relaxed tourer at heart but in the clothes of a youthful naked. This would be perfect for India where the vast majority of riders equate leisure motorcycling with touring. However, in the naked middleweight segment there are others who will do as much, and a lot more besides, for much less.