Living with a 2001 Aprilia Caponord

Giles Butcher, who? Talks about owning an Aprilia Caponord

August 2001

The beauty of a broad-based magazine is the spread of interesting bikes at your fingertips. Having spent the last 12 or so years screaming around on sportsbikes and the last two falling off them, it seems that the time has finally come to rest my brittle wrists and try something a little different.

With little time for trackdays this year, I need a bike that will slice through traffic and handle lengthy motorway blasts with ease. I generally try to avoid the top sellers, opting for something less mainstream and am still hooked on the charming rumble of any 1,000cc V-twin motor.

I've got particularly fond memories of living with Aprilia's RSV Mille, so the quirky-looking Caponord seemed worth a try. With its tall seat height and torquey motor, back road blasts along bumpy B-roads should be top fun. Its tall screen should deflect enough wind blast to enable high speed cruising, and if the tyres seem up for it, I may even try it out one day at Donington, assuming my frail skeletal structure is up to it.

I'm less optimistic about using my soft luggage on the Capo as there is a frustrating lack of bungee hooks - I suspect Aprilia would like me to purchase their own brand of luggage. Also bizarre is the light switch which has dip and main beam the opposite way round to every other bike in the world, and as yet undiscovered is a trip meter. Well I wanted quirky and that's what I've got. Serves me right.

September 2001

Little does my unsuspecting Aprilia know it's about to become the company workhorse.

But before it slips into its new role, there's one fly in the ointment in the shape of the screen which, although rather stylish, is at such an angle it creates the most deafening wind roar. Fortunately, Givi are aware of this and are sending a taller screen. They're also sending a top box which should be bloody useful as the bike trawls the country delivering journos to airports, collecting film from the deepest recesses of central London, and acts as a company car to our new roaming ad rep, Giles.

Otherwise I can't imagine heaps of other aftermarket bits will be available for it just yet, so we'll concentrate on racking up the miles for now I reckon.

October 2001

I'm new and I now come with a new attitude towards bikes like these - thanks to the CapoNord.
In just one short month and 5,000 miles, it's turned me into somebody who no longer despises anything that doesn't claim to be a sportsbike. I now appreciate comfort (I'm 6ft 9in), tank-range, and user-friendliness.

The Caponord is an extremely good bike for covering long-distances and I've even grown to love my shiny new top-box from Givi - that's how sensible I've become!

Still, Mr. Sensible wants a little fun at the weekend, so I intend to firm up the suspension and get some loud pipes. The Caponord handles pretty well and is quite happy to scrape the footpegs at every opportunity (due to limited ground-clearance rather than my skill), but the front end feels vague under braking.

A bit of a fiddle, set of pipes (anyone do some for a Caponord?) and the glorious but (sadly) detuned engine will be set free from its shackles.

February 2002

So the cold weather's with us, and you know what? I couldn't care less! Why? Because for the first time in my motorcycling life, I'm prepared for it. 

No more misery for me. The heated grips and muffs have been fitted, and mean that I can still wear summer gloves even in sub-zero temperatures and still have warm, dry hands. And now all I need to wear under my waterproof jacket to keep toasty-warm is a t-shirt, and my lovely new heated waistcoat from Giali - without doubt the best accessory you can buy if you intend to do any serious miles in winter.

To further add to the bike's long distance capability, Baglux have kindly given me one of their colour matched tank bags and harnesses, which in conjunction with the Givi topbox gives me plenty of carrying capacity. And Magnum Lock's Power chain and Ultimate disc lock should ensure that the CapoNord's still where I left it when I need to use it. The bike itself is standing up to winter pretty well. Underneath the layers of salt and grime (and artificial snow now for the photo shoot - thanks Dwaff), the bike is still looking good. The only problems I've had with it have been a punctured rear tyre at ten thousand miles (replaced with the excellent OE Metzeler Tourance), the second set of front pads wore out - again replaced with the OE Ferodo items - and both rear bulbs blew just before my dark, wet return journey up the M1.

The engine doesn't seem to be quite as smooth at low revs as it used to be, but then it is a couple of thousand miles since the service light came on, so I guess I should get that done soon, which will no doubt sort it out. But in the meantime, I'll just get on with enjoying riding it - whatever the weather.