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2018 Aprilia Shiver 900: MD First Ride (Bike Reports) (News)

Almost a year after it was announced, we finally got the chance to ride Aprilia’s new Shiver. Now with increased power and torque, at a reasonable price for a well-finished Italian, it’s a bike that can appeal to riders of every skill level.

So much feels so premium on this bike: styling details, the many modes of engine maps and traction control and ABS (all switchable), and (most importantly) the power and handling. While giving the Shiver a displacement boost, Aprilia’s designers also put it on a diet; shaving weight wherever possible and simplifying systems.

The Shiver 900 has a strong resemblance to the decade-old 750 it replaces, with cool red accenting and revised intake scoops highlighting the new 900. A stroke increase to the 90-degree v-twin (shared with the also-new Dorsoduro) gave the Shiver it’s greater displacement (now 896 cc). The power gains were almost all to mid-range torque (peaking at 67 foot/pounds at 6,500 rpm), with just a modest bump to top-end power (horsepower peaks at a claimed 95 at 8,750 rpm).

Aside from greater displacement, Aprilia took a look at the efficiency of the four-valve dual overhead cam, liquid-cooled powerplant and updated it with friction-reducing pistons, lighter piston pins for less reciprocating weight, and a new semi-dry sump crankcase that reduces frictional losses (and also eliminates the need for an oil cooler).  A Mareli 7SM ECU injection system (which includes traction control) comes from the RSV4 superbike, and reduces the number of components from the 750. It’s equipped with new, more efficient injectors as well.

The frame is a hybrid steel trellis up top connecting to aluminum lowers, utilizing the engine as a stressed member. Lighter, three-spoke wheels were also sourced from the RSV. It still sports a ride-by-wire throttle that it pioneered almost a decade ago in its original version, though the current version is simpler and lighter (see a theme?).

There’s a bright 4.3” combined info screen (same one as on the RSV and Tuono) that’s easy to read at all hours via automatic light adjustment. The “Mode” joystick on the left control cluster isn’t entirely instinctual, but fairly easy to adapt to. It controls traction control, ABS, a setup menu, and two sets of trip information (including miles ridden, maximum speed, fuel mileage, average speed, and elapsed time). It also includes the standard speedometer, tachometer, ambient temperature and gear indicator. There’s an optional AMP kit to hook up the Shiver to your phone, so you can vocally control making calls and playing music though the bike (displayed on-screen), your smartphone, and your helmet communicator. It even has a built-in intercom.

In a couple nods to passenger comfort, the rear pegs now sport rubber peg covers, and restyled exhaust exits that route exhaust gasses to the side, so they collect less in the low-pressure behind the passenger.

As we mounted up to actually go ride the Shiver, we were first given a tutorial on how to set up the electronic aids. It wasn’t as hard as it could be; while not as tunable as Ducati’s DCT, it’s also easier to use. The three systems are independent of one another. ABS is simply on or off (unlike the other stuff it always resets to “on” when you start up the bike), Advanced Traction Control (ATC) is simply one of 3 intervention levels (or off), while ride mode (which controls power delivery) breaks down to: Sport (giving maximum responsiveness and power), Tour (giving full power but with smoother engagement), and Rain (limiting max power to about 80% and also smoothing power delivery). Another, simpler, electronic aid is a multi-stage shift light. It comes set to 7500 rpm, so it kicks in right when the party really gets started.

I started with the electronics set in the middle (ATC 2, Tour, ABS) to get a feel for the bike, but heading out onto the Interstate I’m pretty sure I immediately engaged the traction control. This is a really quick-revving powerplant, and a burst of throttle (even in Tour mode) will make the front end pretty light. The emphasis on torque was immediately obvious. In fact, this motor doesn’t lug anywhere, it just seamlessly pulls until the lights start to come on the dash (and then some). The electronic intervention was extremely subtle: it felt like it was going to lift the front end, it just didn’t happen.

Needless to say, if you’re planning on doing wheelies and burnouts, you’ll want to set the controls to Sport, off and off. I spent some time in all of the modes. On the twisty roads of California Highway 33, I was lucky enough to not ever need the traction control again (as far as I know). ABS is quick acting (and not jarring). Rain mode feels much like Tour, differing only at the top end, while Sport is extremely twitchy, requiring concentration and lots of active wrist control to keep it steady; Tour was more my jam (and ATC 1).

Climbing into the coastal ranges, the Shiver has a really nice balance. It’s a light-steering bike and (unlike some more finicky machines) you can ride it aggressively or relaxed, just guide it through corners, or really get involved. Whether you like moving around in the saddle or just countersteer and hang on, it’s really easy to adapt to your riding style. The 900 holds a line really well, but can change up (if needed) without upsetting the chassis. That huge spread of torque just pulls out of the corner whether you came in a gear high or low. The most drama I ever ran into was when hitting a small rock mid-corner, which seemed to upset the Shiver a lot, but it settled down again before my pulse did.

The radially-mounted brakes are very strong, with a nice hard bite. The reported lighter clutch action seems right on the money. At no point — even sitting in California’s famed traffic — did my left hand get tired. The adjustable suspension is pretty solid right out of the box, perhaps a touch on the soft side for canyon running, while a touch stiff on our washboard freeways. Very well-damped all around.

Importantly, this is a bike to appeal to a large range of sport riders. While maybe not a beginner bike (not that that will stop people from buying inappropriate bikes to start with), for the intellectually mature (beginning/intermediate) rider there’s a ton of electronic assists that will keep things civilized while learning the ropes.

Both the midrange torque (even in tour mode) and the hard-biting brakes will slap a noobie in the face, but backed up with strong traction control and ABS shouldn’t be a problem.

It’s also a high-performance tool for experienced riders. All of those rider aids I’ve been rattling on about? They all turn down or off. While it doesn’t have the 120+ hp of a competition 600, it does have gobs of satisfying torque at just about every RPM level; it truly doesn’t care what gear you leave it in.

Its $9,399 price tag makes it quite a bit cheaper than competition 600s (@$11k+) and just above the more casual naked inline bikes (often delivered with lower spec suspension and brakes). It really is a lot of motorcycle, from a unique brand, that hits a sweet spot in our US market. Take a look at Aprilia’s web site for additional details and specifications.

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