Introduced to the U.S. for the 2008 model year, the Aprilia Shiver may be the best naked v -twin bike with sporting intentions that you’ve never heard of. Equipped with an Aprilia designed, liquid cooled 750cc motor that puts out a claimed 94 horsepower, the bike also uses a throttle-by-wire system with three ECU map settings: Sport, Touring and Rain. Sport should be called “Hoon”, because it makes power delivery like flipping a light switch; crack the throttle even slightly, and the bike pushes you back in the seat as the front wheel tries to defy gravity. Touring is perhaps the best all-around mode, as it makes power delivery more linear. If you commute in stop and go traffic, this is how you’ll want to run the bike. Rain mode, which I didn’t test, reduces horsepower by about 22% and torque by about 26%. This would make a big difference in slick conditions, especially for new or returning riders.
The Shiver feels narrow, and the ergonomics are a bit strange when you’re used to a big sport-tourer. The seat height is listed at 32”, but I couldn’t flat foot the bike and I’ve got a 32” inseam. The riding position is very comfortable for your legs and knees, which maintain about a ninety degree bend. The reach to the handlebars is a little long, and I would have liked a bit more rise than the stock bar. No worries, since this is easily corrected by adding a riser or a replacement set of bars. The oddest thing (to me, at least) was the bike’s short wheelbase. At just under 57”, it’s probably about 10” shorter than my BMW K1200RS. From the rider’s perspective, the bike just stops at the instrument cluster; this isn’t bad, it just takes getting used to if you’re coming from a different style of motorcycle.
On the road, all sins are forgiven. The bike pulls hard from about 3,200 RPM but runs out of steam above 7,500 RPM, even though redline is 10,000 RPM. This isn’t a problem, since the bike makes plenty of usable power in the range where you’ll spend most of your time. The 90 degree v-twin is smooth, and the exhaust note is amazing. Italian v-twins sound like nothing else on the planet, and I’d almost say the Shiver is worth the price of admission just to park it in your driveway and listen to it run. Better yet, park it in your living room as art; just make sure the windows are open when you fire it up.
If you buy a Shiver, I guarantee it won’t spend much time parked. You’ll look for excuses to ride it, and ride it hard. It’s not a bike that promotes social responsibility; instead, it’s a bike that promotes lofting the front wheel and finding any excuse to take the long way home, especially if it involves a twisty road. It’s light, it’s flickable (and if that’s not a word, it should be) and it’s easy to ride fast. Or slow, for that matter, since the tall seat and semi-upright riding position give you a great view of traffic. The seat worked fine for me, although some reviewers have panned it. It’s a bit on the hard side, but it gives decent rear bolstering for when you whack the throttle in Sport mode. I wouldn’t call it an all-day-long seat, but it works great for the type of riding the Shiver was intended for.
It’s pretty clear that I loved the motor and liked the ergonomics, so what didn’t work for me? First, the under-seat exhaust looks cool and works fine when you’re moving, but it will roast Big Jim and the Twins when you’re doing the traffic light to traffic light shuffle. There are plenty of aftermarket exhausts that correct this problem, so that’s not a deal breaker. Switchgear is a bit funky, but it took me all of two minutes to adapt, so that’s only a minor complaint. Instruments are well laid out and feature a much-appreciated analog tachometer, but the information display gets a bit busy and some of the warning lights are difficult to see in bright sunlight. Again, no deal breakers here – it just means that you’ll spend some time bonding with your bike, and that’s not a bad thing.
The 2009 Aprilia Shiver 750 stickers at $8,999.00, but there are bargains to be had on the internet. Aprilia is introducing a heavily revised Shiver for 2010, which includes brighter colors, improved front brakes, narrower seat (which should improve reach for those with shorter legs) and taller handlebars, so dealers are likely to be motivated to move existing inventory. An ABS version is available for 2010, and those who want a bit more wind protection can opt for the Shiver GT, which features a quarter fairing and windscreen.
If you’re in the market for a naked bike, I’d strongly encourage you to ride an Aprilia Shiver. It may be the best kept secret in motorcycling.
Special thanks to Scooter Superstore for the test ride.