Aprilia ETV 1000 Caponord - Suzuki DL 1000 V-Strom

Text: Beatrix Keckeis • Photography: Daniel Neuhauser

One concept, two characters. Both are players in the still growing, successful segment of big dual-purpose bikes, each equipped with a powerful engine on a lighter frame. But two different interpretations went into production.

The Aprilia ETV 1000 Caponord and the Suzuki DL 1000 V-Strom have a lot in common. They have powerful V2 engines (almost identical to V2 power plants in the supersport bikes). And both are built around a light, but stiff alu-frame in contrast to their competitors. All of them - Honda Varadero, BMW R 1150GS, Cagiva Navigator and the Triumph Tiger - have steel frames.

The differences begin with engine construction. The Aprilia's V-twin cylinders are arranged at a 60-degree angle, small and compact, whereas Suzuki fit theirs at a conventional 90-degree angle. Another divergence concerns the wheels. While Aprilia's developers decided the Caponord would run on spoked, aluminum wheels, the V-Strom staff chose cast-aluminum alloy wheels.

Definition & Design
The demand for big dual-purpose bikes with powerful engines, long wheelbase, comfortable travel, upright seating position, protective windshield, space for luggage and comfort for the passenger is greater than ever.

Aprilia supplies that need in 2002 with the Caponord, delivering a cutting-edge design with sharp contours (similar to the Futura). It's a matter of taste: sporting looks trump elegance in this case. The basic characteristic, the Caponord's role, is a hearty performance in all venues, on every kind of road in combination with comfortable riding abilities.

Suzuki finally developed their own dual-purpose bike after supplying Italian producer Cagiva with the V-twin of the super sporty DL 1000 for the Navigator. The Japanese turned to conventional styling elements and obviously laid more stress on power output than exceptional design. They define the V-Strom as a "sport-enduro tourer," and it represents a clear departure from the other offerings this eminent but somewhat old-fashioned outfit produces.

Riding & Performance
Common elements include the heart-warming sound of a powerful V-twin, the sensation of power and torque up from low revs; the kind of vibrations riders need to feel on a motorcycle; and the pleasure of riding a solid, reliable bike.

The low-seated Caponord is smoother to drive than the Suzi, but seems to be deficient in (Italian) temperament. Riding is easy and comfortable for driver and passenger due to the well-integrated seating position, wide-set handlebars, and excellent wind-protection. Handling is precise, easy, and the same goes for gear shifting. The Caponord's agility is convincing on any kind of road, except on extremely constricted turns.

The Suzuki runs more on the sporty side. The seat height rises 10 mm more than the Aprilia, the riding position is more off-road, which makes cornering even simpler than experienced on any of her sisters or competitors. And there's hardly any chance for semi-racers on twisty roads to beat her. In addition, the Suzi is the most rigid of all the big duals. But wind protection is better on the Aprilia.

Chassis & Brakes
As mentioned, both bikes are the only ones in their segment with aluminum frames. The Aprilia's dry weight is competitive, only 215 kg/473 lbs.; but the Suzuki wins the weigh-in, carrying eight kilograms/17.5 lbs. less, making her the lightest in her class now. The Italian and Japanese chassis are completed by aluminum-alloy swingarms combined with a single shock - a Sachs of Germany for the Aprilia and a "home-made" Showa for the Suzuki.

The mightiest fork of the segment is mounted on the Caponord, the excellent, non-adjustable 50 mm Marzocchi works fine on any surface and the ergonomic setup is very comfortable. The comparatively fragile-looking Showa components supply solid damping, even if non-adjust­able. Her character is more rigid and, as already stated, more sport-oriented.

One more similarity: The effectiveness of the brakes. Both used trustworthy home-suppliers, the Aprilia equipped with Brembo, the Suzuki with Tokico. Both brakes react reliably to the demanded effect (not sportsbike-like, as in the Triumph Tiger), steady and progressive without fading tendencies. More hand power is needed on the V-Strom.

Engine & Transmission
There's no doubt both engines are talented. The Aprilia 60-degree V-twin demonstrates its power in the World Superbike Championship, in the RSV Mille, and in everyday usage (see our Falco/Futura comparison - RR Spring '02). For the Caponord, Aprilia modified the V-twin to achieve lower power output but higher torque. In addition to a reduced compression ratio, the engine also has new pistons and the fuel-injection system has been reworked.

The Suzuki 90-degree Twin premiered on the supersport-bike TL 1000. The engine that proved to be very powerful but quite tricky in its first incarnation underwent some modifications, too: reduction to 98 hp and higher torque, reconstruction of some parts of the engine, e.g. the cylinder head. And like the Aprilia, the fuel-injection system has been reconfigured, and a catalytic system added. When driven, the Suzi feels a bit harder than the already relatively hard Aprilia. But power response on both is very prompt and direct.

Gear changing is smooth, easy and precise on either one. The Suzuki's sixth gear is an overdrive. Aprilia promises more top speed - 212 km/h (132 miles/hrs) to the 205 km/h (128 miles/hr) of the V-Strom. But to confirm this declaration, one must crank the Caponord on a closed racetrack, even in Europe (except for Germany). Circuit trials for both are worthwhile anyway - not only to see if the top speed is really reachable but also to gain confidence with the bikes.

Accessories & Arrangements
The Aprilia and the Suzuki sport all the features of the dual-purpose segment: Upright riding positions, high-mounted handlebars, deep-mounted foot pegs, protective windshields (more protective on the Caponord), and comfort for single and dual riders. Passengers on the Aprilia travel more comfortably than those on the Suzuki. In addition to that, full information is delivered via the dashboard. Some may note that the Italian instrumentation is a touch more sophisticated. Both manufacturers offer a range of options, including - most important on these kinds of bikes - luggage systems, center stands, and for the Suzuki, a higher windshield.

Test Summary
Spaghetti or rice? It is only a matter of preference not taste. Decisions won't be based on money; their prices are almost the same. If you prefer more comfortable riding, you'll steer toward the Caponord. If you like a touch of supersport on a dual-purpose bike, you're probably better off with the V-Strom. Both are excellent companions for city and long-distance rides, but neither should be the first choice for real hard, off-road-driving.

TECHNICAL SPECS:
Aprilia ETV 1000 Caponord

Retail Price $ 10,999
Warranty 1 year unlimited milage
Maintentance Schedule
1000/16,000 every 16,000 km
(600/4700/ every 9375 miles)
Importer/Distributor Aprilia USA, Inc.
109 Smokehill Lane, Suite 190
Woodstock, GA 30188
Phone (770) 592-2261, (877) APRILIA
www.apriliausa.com

ENGINE
Type 2 cylinder V 60° 4-stroke
Cooling water-cooled
Valve Arrangement 4 valves per cylinder, dohc, chain-driven
Bore & Stroke 97 x 67.5 mm
Displacement 998 ccm
Compression Ratio 10.4:1
Carburetion fuel injection
Exhaust Emission Control none

TRANSMISSION
Gearbox 6-speed
Clutch multi-plate wet clutch, hydraulically operated
Final Drive chain

CHASSIS
Frame aluminum-magnesium alloy double-wave twin beam
Wheelbase 1560 mm (61.4 in.)
Rake 27.9 degree
Trail 129 mm (5.1 in.)
Front Suspension telescopic fork
Stanchion Diameter 50 mm (2.0 in.)
Adjustments none
Travel 175 mm (6.9 in.)
Rear Suspension aluminum alloy swingarm w/single shock
Adjustments spring preload and rebound
Travel 185 mm (7.3 in.)
Seat Height 820 mm (32.3 in.)

WHEELS & TIRES
Type spoke wheels w/aluminum rim
Front 2.50 x 19
Rear 4.00 x 17
Front Tire 110/80 VR 19
Rear Tire 150/70 VR 17

BRAKES
Front Brake 2 discs, 2-piston caliper, floating
Diameter 300 mm (11.8 in.)
Rear Brake single disc, 2-piston caliper
Diameter 270 mm (10.6 in.)
Combining none

WEIGHT & FUEL CAPACITY
Dry Weight 215 kg (474 lbs.)
Fuel Capacity 25 l (6.6 gal.)

PERFORMANCE
(European measurements)
Claimed Horsepower (crank) 98 hp (72 kw) at 8250 rpm
Torque 9.88 kgm (97 Nm) at 6250 rpm
Top Speed 212 km/h (133 mph)
Acceleration NA
Fuel Consumption NA
Fuel Range NA

EQUIPMENT
Dashboard with analog tachometer & speedometer, digital multifunctional instrumentation with odometer, dual tripmeter, ambiental and water temperature, fuel, clock, inspection intervals, fuel-injection check, 12-volt power outlet, sidestand, adjustable headlight, adjustable brake and clutch levers. Aprilia accessories: luggage system (sidebags, topcase), tankbag, and center stand.

RoadRUNNER Test Diagram
Engine 5/5
Chassis 5/5
Brakes 5/5
Comfort 5/5
Luggage w/accessories 5/5
Equipment 4/5
Design 5/5
Bike for the buck 4/5

TECHNICAL SPECS:
Suzuki DL 1000 V-Strom

Retail Price $ 8,899
Warranty 12 months unlimited milage
Maintentance Schedule
600/1500/ every 400 miles
(1000/6000/every 12,000 km)
Importer/Distributor
American Suzuki Motor Corporation
3251 E. Imperial Hwy.,
Brea, CA 92821
Phone (714) 996-7040
www.suzukicycles.com

ENGINE
Type 2-cylinder V 90° 4-stroke
Cooling water-cooled
Valve Arrangement 4 valves per cylinder, dohc, cams Chain-driven
Bore & Stroke 98 x 66 mm
Displacement 996 cc
Compression Ratio 11.3:1
Carburetion fuel injection
Exhaust Emission Control catalytic converter

TRANSMISSION
Gearbox 6-speed
Clutch multi-plate wet clutch, hydraulically operated
Final Drive chain-drive

CHASSIS
Frame aluminum-alloy twin-spar frame
Wheelbase 1550 mm (61.0 in.)
Rake 26.5 degree
Trail 110 mm (4.3 in.)
Front Suspension telescopic fork
Stanchion Diameter43 mm (1.7 in.)
Adjustments none
Travel 160 mm (6.3 in.)
Rear Suspension aluminum alloy swingarm w/single shock
Adjustments spring preload and rebound damping
Travel 159 mm (6.2 in.)
Seat Height 830 mm (32.7 in.)

WHEELS & TIRES
Type cast aluminum alloy wheels
Front 2.50 x 19
Rear 4.00 x 17
Front Tire 110/80R-19 tubeless
Rear Tire 150/70R-17 tubeless

BRAKES
Front Brake 2 discs, 2-piston caliper
Diameter 310 mm (12.2 in.)
Rear Brake single disc, 1-piston caliper
Diameter 260 mm (10.2 in.)
Combining none

WEIGHT & FUEL CAPACITY
Dry Weight 207 kg (456 lbs.)
Fuel Capacity 22 l (5.8 gal.)

PERFORMANCE
(European measurements)
Claimed Horsepower (crank) 98 hp (72 kw) at 7600 rpm
Torque 101 Nm at 6400 rpm
Top Speed 205 km/h (128 mph)
Acceleration NA
Fuel Consumption NA
Fuel Range NA

EQUIPMENT
Front fairing, dashboard w/LED-backlighted tachometer & speedo­meter, LCD-digital odometer, dual tripmeter, water-temperature gauge, fuel gauge, digital clock, sidestand. Suzuki accessories: Luggage system (sidebags & topcase), higher windshield, handlebar heating, and center stand.

RoadRUNNER Test Diagram
Engine 5/5
Chassis 4/5
Brakes 4/5
Comfort 4/5
Luggage w/accessories 5/5
Equipment 5/5
Design 3/5
Bike for the buck 5/5