2008 Aprilia Shiver

by Molly Gilbert

I was hopping up and down and clapping like a little girl when Kevin pulled into my driveway riding the brand-spanking new Aprilia Shiver. “Oh yeah, bay-bee!” was all I could say to myself. This is more like it! The Shiver is a looker with its two-toned silver, finely tuned Italian body (do I sound like I’m drooling here?) accented with gold-toned hardware and handlebars. My first impression was that the Shiver is a tasty combination of my Ducati Monster and a Suzuki SV-650. Then I noticed it was a 750 – not a 900-something cc, like I had thought it might be. Not to worry. The Shiver is plenty punchy when accelerating. Wheee!review102a

After cajoling, threatening, and lots of puffing up on email, I got Kevin to reluctantly ride it over to me. To be fair, the day he picked it up from Editor Pearman, good old April in Minnesota dumped a bunch of snow on us in some sort of weird, cruel joke. Shortly after, I got the obligatory email saying “Hey Mol, since the weather’s so crappy, don’t worry about it. We’ll get you something to review for next month in case you don’t want to ride in this crap.” Say WHAT?? “Oh (as Whitney would say) Hell to the no” I will be coveting the Aprilia, no matter what it takes. And covet I did.

First, the bike is a little taller than what I am used to. With my 32-inch inseam and the Shiver on its factory settings, I was on my tippy-toes at stops. While riding, I felt higher than I do on either my Triumph Speed Triple or Ducati Monster. I couldn’t help but feel I was on more of an off-road bike because of this. Not that I tested that concept out – but I just felt so much…taller. It wasn’t Paris-Dakar tall, but taller (to me) nonetheless. The seating position was very nice – leaning away from sport into more of a standard stance. I would expect this bike to be quite comfortable for long-distance travel.

The Shiver is Aprilia’s ‘nekked’ bike and count me as a fan. You can throw a naked bike into corners a bit more freely without having to worry about scraping up a whole bunch of plastic. Speaking of fairing, note that most of the bodywork is…um, plastic. The only metal I could find on the body itself was in the copper-toned frame. Tank? Plastic. Fenders? Plastic. Crazy! I still like the heft of a metal tank, and by the way: you can forget about using your magnetic tank bag on this bike.

But, back to what made me shiver. The beauty of it. If the Italians do one thing exquisitely, it would be design. The cockpit combines both digital and analog displays and includes a visual on how much gas is left in the tank. Why this was left out on every other model of bike I ride? I’ve no idea. Why must I have to calculate numbers while I ride? Why?? Aprilia takes care of this for you.

Signals and brights are at your fingertips, though when riding in sunshine, I found it difficult to see wether I’d canceled the turn signal or not. Turn radius was better than my Ducati (why have a turn radius when you are supposed to be leaning in order to turn?) but due to the height issue, I was a bit shaky at slow speeds. The bike seemed a bit choppy on the throttle when trying to move slowly, but once in the mid-range, it kicked up nicely and rode much smoother.

After being seduced by its looks, I noticed the insane ability to go from zero to wheelie on this bike! I had to keep chanting, “No wheelies on the new Italian motorbike,” to myself during my time with the Shiver. I’m not a wheelie type of gal – at least it would certainly be an accident if I pulled one, so the fact that it seemed so easy to go from wheelie to stoppie says more about the bike than it does the rider (sadly).

The other thing I noticed was that unlike my Duc, when I took my hand off the throttle, it didn’t automatically slow the engine for me. (lesser engine braking due to flywheel effect. Ed.)

Shifting gears was smooth and easy – the only thing I didn’t like was downshifting into first. It was w-a-a-y too choppy for me. Instead, I’d downshift from second to neutral. I never felt the need to get it out of third when off of the freeway. The Shiver had plenty of oomph and lots left over in second and third gears. I had to force myself to keep it on the pavement and not jerk the bars and head onto dirt. The Shiver felt like it was made for both! My mantra of “Must not drop new, Italian motorbike” kept running through my head.

Rush hour freeway adventures, whee! The Shiver lived up to it’s name. I left at 9 o’clock at 34ºF with no heat anywhere, except that which was coming from the high-mounted exhaust pipes (which was thoroughly appreciated, I might add.) It was one of those mornings that made me wish I was aboard a two-wheeled Barcalounger, complete with adjustable windscreen, heated grips and while we’re at it, a nice heated cupholder for coffee.

review102bDespite the cold, I throttle onto the four-lane freeway and am immediately concerned with what appears to be some sort of warning light that comes on every time I (apparently) exceed the standard rpm requirement before the bike demands that I switch gears. I wasn’t even at 5,000 rpm and this “warning light” was flashing. It is very distracting if you aren’t expecting it, considering it looks an awful lot like the “Engine Failure Light” in an automobile! I don’t know about you, but that kind of stuff freaks me out a bit. I get images of fine, metal shavings within casings and immediately doubt the wisdom of any further forward motion. However, once I realized my brakes weren’t failing and there wasn’t a slick of oil trailing behind me, I decided to ignore it and roll on.

Just as I got over that particular issue, I noticed that as soon as I passed 80mph, the same warning signal stayed on until I went below said speed. Now, this is no fun, I thought – I mean, these things were built for speed! (not that I ever would…speed that is.)

Alas, I realized, if I was to actually test this thing out, I was going to need to either put a piece of electrical tape over the damned thing, or just keep my eyes on the road ahead. Which is exactly what I proceeded to do.

The temptation to throw this bike into a corner was more than I’d ever felt on a bike before. Was it was the lightness of it? The seating position? Whatever it was, it sure was fun coming into the approach. Not the usual glimmer of dread or last-second regret I sometimes feel when coming in too fast astride 800-lbs of steel. Aside from the tippy-toe issue when trying to maneuver in a driveway, I felt no fear of loss of control, or threat of the bike’s weight taking me somewhere I didn’t want to go.

Kevin conveniently managed to reclaim the bike just as the weather was about to hit 70 degrees. Shiver, indeed. So much for the Grrrls among us talking the easy way out. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to sample such a tasty machine and duly note Kevin’s inaugural two-wheeled ride to my place in the midst of a snowstorm.

In short, the Shiver was a joy to ride. Aside from not having the owner’s manual to look up all the bells and whistles (not to mention warning lights) I had a blast, despite the unnerving belief that Big Brother had placed controls on my bike.

by Kevin Kocur

There’s an old saying about Minnesota weather: if you don’t like it, just wait a few minutes.While that usually brings a chuckle, this time it doesn’t. Winter has overstayed it’s welcome. Minnesota’s riding season is short enough already!

“So,” you ask, “What is Mr. Krabby ranting about now?” It’s simple, really: a shorter riding season means less time available to test bikes. This translates to riding in all kinds of weather, on all kinds of bikes. While heated seats and full-fairings will help keep you comfortable when the thermometer plummets, most of the bikes we test don’t offer these features, nor does every rider want them. Some riders simply desire a plain and simple motorcycle that can slice through the curves or carry you on your daily commute. If this sounds like you, then have I got a bike for you!

The Shiver is Aprilia’s answer to the naked sport bike. Or, you could call it a sportier Standard. With wider, flat tubular handlebars and a more upright riding position than some, I found the Shiver’s ergonomics to be almost perfect. Between the slightly-forward bars and footpegs (which aren’t too high) I was fairly comfy. Only the seat would prevent me from taking this baby across the country, but more on that later.

review102cStyling-wise, the Shiver is a looker. The trellis frame is not only light and strong, it’s also visually stunning in a shade of gold that would make Cleopatra jealous. Overall, I really like the lines of the bike. The headlight is not only, for lack of better words, badass looking, it’s also functional as well. Looking at the rear of the bike, the tailpipes are almost Batman-like. I kept looking for the switch that lights the flamethrowers. Tucked in between the exhaust sits a gorgeous taillight.

Yes, this 750cc bike is worthy of a second look, but the reality is that this is a motorcycle that’s built to ride. If you want to just hang around coffee shops staring at your ride, buy something that you can throw a bunch of chrome onto and go dazzle everyone while sipping twelve dollar lattes. Real riders know that you won’t need all that caffeine once you’ve ridden the Shiver. So let’s do that, shall we?

First, I’ll give you a rundown on the features; starting with the instrument cluster, which consists of a large tach and LCD display featuring a speedo and multi-function instruments. A full array of indicator lights are present, and while none of them will tell you when the clothes in the dryer are finished, there is one to remind you that your side stand is down. Most of the controls are in the usual spot, with the exception of the headlight switch. You need to activate the high beam with your index finger. Where the hi/lo switch would normally be, you’ll find a switch to operate the multi-function LCD display. You can toggle the switch between multiple functions, including a trip meter that features MPG’s, average MPH’s and fastest MPH. I don’t think Molly was aware of that last feature or how to reset it. Let’s just say that “someone” was really having a good time on the bike. There’s even a feature to record lap times. Bring on Track Day!

The ignition switch is located on the fuel tank, right below the bars. Switch it on, and the instrument panel comes to life while the LCD displays Shiver with a cool red background before the instrument display appears. Since the bike is fuel injected, and doesn’t require a choke, you’re now ready to thumb the starter button (which doubles as the kill switch) and the 90 degree V-Twin fires immediately and settles into a fast idle.

Once on board, snick the bike into first and we’re off. The first thing I noticed is just how light this thing is. The Aprilia site lists the Shiver at 189 kg’s, or about 415 pounds. Flogging a 600 pound Sport-touring bike makes it seems like a behemoth after getting off the lighter Aprilia. Lighter weight and a quick-revving motor make for great fun when the road starts getting twisty. Aprilia set out to build a bike that would be a joy to ride and they succeeded. The grin factor is high with this one.

When it’s time to stop, dual front 320 mm rotors, and four piston radial calipers, are more than up to the task. There’s also a rear 245 mm rotor which is bolted to a trick, two-piece cast aluminum swingarm with bracing. All brake lines are braided metal. The fuel capacity is 15 liters (just under 4 gallons) which is on par with the competition.

While I love the wonderful V-Twin, the 750 lacks a little on low end grunt. I noticed that I had to give it a bit more throttle, and feather the clutch a bit when taking off. And short shifting is right out. The Shiver prefers to wind out a bit before going to the next gear. No biggie once you’re used to it, but a little different from most of the V-Twins that I’ve ridden lately. Don’t let the motor lag and it’ll build revs quickly, screaming to redline with an addicting roar. It’s like removing the thorn from the lion’s paw. Shifting is crisp all the way up to sixth, and I don’t think I botched up a single shift.

Handling is, of course, outstanding. The inverted forks feature 43 mm tubes, and there’s a single shock out back with adjustable preload and damping. Initially, I found the ride to be a little stiff. I can attribute this to riding the bike in 30 degree weather and the condition of our roadways in early Spring. And, in all fairness, I didn’t play around with any of the suspension settings. I’m certain that with some adjustments and warmer weather, the bike would be just fine. Or maybe I just need to acknowledge that I’m getting older. Ack.

The beauty of a naked bike is the complete lack of wind buffeting that you get from a fairing or windshield. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a bike that didn’t have one or the other. It felt good. Really good. Only when I was riding into a combination headwind/rain shower did I wish I had something to tuck behind.

The seat is fine for commuting or a day of blasting around the Alphabet roads. Just remember to get off the bike once in a while, or you’ll pay for it later with a sore backside. The seat material is clingy and doesn’t allow for a lot of movement. It will keep you planted in one spot and attempting to hang off in corners is often difficult.

review102dThe mirrors are a bit of a conundrum. While they appear to be some stylized form of an angular teardrop, they work surprisingly well. The corner of the teardrop is where I found the reflection of my elbows, leaving the rest of the mirror to reflect what’s behind you. I wish that any of my bikes had mirrors that worked as well.

The sidestand works well but, like on many bikes of late, is difficult to deploy. I finally figured out that you need to contort your left leg until it catches the edge of the stand; which is pretty much right up against the peg. With some practice, you can actually get the thing down without looking like a complete idiot. Speaking of pegs, these work well. Even when riding through a wintery rain/snow mix, my feet stayed put. And I’ve already mentioned that their placement is perfect, for me anyway.

So, here’s the bottom line: the Aprilia Shiver is a fun, fast bike. And sexy as hell! I put more saddle time on it than any of the other MMM staffers, yet they practically had to pry the keys out of my hand when it was announced that it was time for her to go back to the dealership. Yes, I admit that I’d fallen completely head over heals with her, and the fact that she hasn’t called or written me since the last time we saw each other does hurt a little, but I’m getting by. And I don’t care what anyone says, that is not me staring through the showroom glass late at night once everyone’s gone home. I mean, there’s lots of guys in beat up Roadcrafters and white helmets, right?

MMM would like to thank the fine folks at Moon Motors for the use of this month’s test bike. And I promise to clean the fingerprints (and drool) off the glass next time. Moon Motorsports is just off I-94 in Monticello. 763- 295-2920 or www.moonmotorsports.com

Sev’s Wife’s First Reaction® “That’s sexy”

M.M.M.

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