Sunday, December 12, 2004
The Capo is a Keeper
Recent thoughts from a Saturday on the my Aprilia Caponord. For you guys not in the warmer climes, the temperature today varied between 60° and 75° during the day. Blue skies, just about as perfect of weather as you could hope for.
The day started out a bit inauspiciously when after filling up the bike was a bit hard to start and stumbled for a few seconds after starting. Rolling down the road a few minutes later I noticed the infamous "error code 1" on the display. Drat! Not wanting to have the bike go dead on me at some inopportune spot in the desert I turned around and headed home.
Nothing in the owners manual about an error code (always keep the customer in the dark, it makes ownership so much more adventuresome). Naturally, I turned here to the Aprilia forum for some sort of explanation. A quick search turned up several messages and comments, most of which led me to believe the error code was just a quirk of the moment I could ignore. Perhaps I didn't let the EFI do it's full check before hitting the start button. In fact, on restarting the bike the error code was gone. I also suspect though that the battery is weak because a couple of times during the day the engine hesitated just half a sec in initial cranking when I went to start it. Since the bike is about two years old and weak batteries are apparently a well known problem, I'll go ahead and replace it this week. The bike is due for it's 4700 mile service so maybe I'll just add it then if the dealer isn't too high on the price.
Anyway, put together a total of about 220 miles on the bike, mostly back roads, some twisty stuff, and about 10 miles of freeway. Head north out of Casa Grande on the back road to Mesa and visited a couple of dealers to see what was new. I'm also about due for a new jacket and wanted to see what was on sale. The Capo is definitely and attention getter when you stop somewhere and I'm already learning to answer the standard questions: "What is it?" "It's an Aprilia." "Never heard of them." "Made in Italy, like a Ducati, but not as common." "Why didn't you get a GS?" "GS's are like bellybuttons, everybody's got one." (In fact, I sat on a GS recently. I'll pass, thanks)
After the dealers it was out to Saguaro Lake and some winding roads, then a jaunt down a dirt road that looked interesting but wasn't. Tried just a smattering of trail riding, enough to learn that the Capo does not like soft sand. Only came close to dropping the bike once when I stopped for a pictures and the side stand didn't even think about supporting the bike, just sunk like it was in quick sand. Almost wound up with a photo for the "Capos in compromising positions" thread on the ApriliaForum. Note to self: Carry a side stand support of some sort.
After Saguaro Lake it was back into the valley for a few miles and then up Apache Trail to Tortilla Flats. Apache Trail is a nice twisty road for about 15 or 20 miles with pretty good pavement and runs up to Canyon Lake. Tortilla Flats is sort of an old west touristy bar/restaurant place and a popular spot for motorcycle people, sort of the Arizona equivalent of the Rock Store in California. Sadly, the road is also popular with SUVs and other lumbering dullards so the twisty stuff wasn't enjoyed to it's fullest. I did slow up and then take a run at enough turns to know that the Capo will corner as good as I can ride and probably better. Got into one turn a little hot and leaned the bike over pretty hard, enough to feel the back tire squirm just a little but it seemed pretty predictable.
After Apache Trail it was back into town, a short hop down the freeway, and then dead straight back roads through the flat desert to Florence, Coolidge, and home.
Misc. thoughts: The bike definitely needs lower gears. A 16t countershaft will be next. The seat seems ok at first but after about 75 miles starts to bite. The angle is wrong, it's too narrow, and it's demise on my bike is assured. Not sure what to replace it with though, neither Corbin nor Sargent list a seat for the Capo although both will do it custom on the stock seat pan I think. The saddle bags are roomy but I wish they were top loaders instead of clam shells. Stuff always wants to fall out when you're rummaging around. Crash guards for the engine and bodywork seem like a good idea, From looking at it in the picture books, I'm not sure the Aprilia headlamp guard offers much protection though. Adding a center stand to the got-to-get list also. The previous owner put Remus Grand Prix pipes on the bike and they sound great but are too loud for my tastes and seem out of character for the bike. The stock pipes are going back on and the Remus cans will get Ebay'd or something.
One last item that might surprise a few folks: I ran the whole day on one tank of gas and the fuel warning light still had not come on at 218.8 miles. When I got back home I stopped, filled the bike up, and it took 4.48 gallons. 48.8 mpg! Even if I didn't fill right to the brim it would still be about 46 mpg. Amazing.
So the Caponord is a keeper. I could almost sell my '03 1600 Kawasaki and be happy with just the Caponord...but I won't. The Capo makes a great counterpart to the big Kaw. I also enjoy having a bike (theCapo) that is out of the ordinary but not too flashy; sort of a stealth exotic, I guess. Good fun.
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"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence
An Important reminder from the past:
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison