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-adjust