2009 Aprilia Shiver

Say hello to the new kid on the block. Where Ducati’s entry level Monster has been around for over the last decade (however completely revamped in 2008), the Shiver is an entirely new model. If you’re a diehard motorcycle fan than you’re going to recognize that it’s an Aprilia right away. From its sharp, angular body panels, to its chiseled steel/aluminum hybrid frame and aluminum swingarm—it’s classic Aprilia, representing the company’s commitment to contemporary motorcycle design.

While it’s easy to be mesmerized by the Shiver’s pleasing aesthetics, perhaps even more impressive is what’s inside. Radial-mount four-piston brakes hang off the bottom of a thick Showa inverted fork; a liquid-cooled V-Twin engine utilizing an advanced engine management system, complete with ride-by-wire technology and rider-selectable engine settings (Sport, Tour and Rain) round out the big highlights of construction.

Hop aboard the Shiver and the first thing you notice is its substantial heft as compared to the feather-light Monster. Weighing in at 484 pounds fully fueled and ready-to-ride, the Shiver carries an extra 80 pounds over the Ducati. Also notable is the Shiver’s taller seating position. While it only measures an inch and a half higher, the difference is readily apparent and will be especially felt by shorter riders.

Vee engine configuration ensures a slim chassis. However, the Shiver’s fuel tank and disproportionally wide plastic tank cover make it feel much wider than the Monster. As you maneuver out of the parking lot, the Shiver continually reminds you of its extra mass. Fortunately, working the clutch in such situations is easy as it features short, progressive engagement and really light lever pull—plus its adjustable for different hand sizes as opposed to the Monster’s fixed position lever.

As you upshift into second gear the Shiver’s low-speed unwieldiness vanishes. Keep the throttle pinned and the Shiver’s 750cc engine not only spools up much faster than the Ducati’s but also provides more grunt throughout the rev range. The exhaust note emitting from the twin underseat pipes starts off raspy but as the rpms climb the sounds morph into more of a sportbike-like shriek, which only adds to the thrill of acceleration. The Shiver’s fuel-injection system assists in its smooth power production but as you close in on its 10,000 rpm redline, you’ll notice a slight power surge that will paint a smile on even the most experienced rider. Upshift quickly though, because, like the Monster, once you hit the rev ceiling the engine cuts out quickly in protest.

“I actually really like the Shiver,” said Executive Editor Steve Atlas. “After riding the Monster, I assumed the Shiver’s motor might feel lethargic. How wrong I was. Its got decent power right off the bottom and I liked that you can get gangster with it and wheelie it around in the first two gears. Plus you can see 100-plus mph on the dash, which can really help when you’re late for work on Monday.”

While both bikes’ engines deliver considerable buzz in lower rpms, as you reach highway speeds, the Shiver’s vibrations mellow out. Sport-oriented ergos and zero wind-protection are also mutually shared, which makes these Italians not the best suited bikes for covering long distances. So look for cities or zig-zagging back roads because this is where you’re going to want to romp these machines.

“It’s a great urban-moto bike,” remarked Atlas after hopping off the Aprilia. “It bombs through traffic really easy. The mirrors are usable and don’t vibrate too much. It just feels like a real motorcycle.”

There’s no doubt that the Shiver feels larger dimensionally than its competition, yet hustling it through the corners is easy due to its sharp chassis geometry and excellent turning leverage courtesy of its wide aluminum handlebars. A surprising amount of lean angle can be achieved before hard parts like the foot pegs, gearshift and brake lever start to drag, and even when they do, grip from the Dunlop Qualifier’s is high enough to ensure a fun yet safe experience.

By adding a few turns of preload on the rear shock absorber, ground clearance is enhanced as is steering response, while stability remains solid. Both motorcycles feature similar suspension components (43mm Showa inverted fork, Sachs hydraulic rear shock), but the Shiver’s is more versatile than that of the Monster. While aggressive riders will still complain that the suspension of both bikes are too softly sprung, we felt that both sets of suspenders do an admirable job on both street and track absorbing road imperfections smoothly while delivering a fair amount of feel when cranked over through a corner.

Other similarities between the two machines include a pair of twin-piston radial-mount brake calipers biting down on 320mm rotors with stopping force delivered through stainless steel brake lines. Yet, the Aprilia’s set-up is more adept at shedding off speed—especially when riding on the speedy confines of the track. Initial brake bite is mild and braking force ramps up slightly as you pull back on the lever, offering a good balance of non-intimidating stopping power. Another added plus is that the Shiver’s brake lever features four lever position adjustments.

Given all the high-tech hardware engineers bestowed on the Shiver, it’s no surprise that even the instrumentation package is cutting-edge. Termed a “Matrix Instrument Panel”, the display includes all the good stuff including a swept tachometer, speedo, dual trip meters, gear position indicator, coolant and ambient air temperature as well as a clock. Additionally, you can use the handlebar mounted toggle switch to view immediate MPG, average MPG, engine running time, or maximum and average speed. An easy-to-navigate menu system provides additional customization allowing you to change the language, units of measurement, and display brightness. On the road, both the tachometer and the orange back-lit display are easy to view at a glance. Our only gripe? We wish the gear shift position indicator would be much larger.