2017 Aprilia Shiver 900 - More Shover than Shiver

 

Aprilia’s original Shiver 750 was a bit of a misunderstood creature. It was the first bike to feature a ride-by-wire throttle and throttle maps when it debuted in 2007, went hard with 70kW crammed into a compact wheelbase and looked pretty darn good. But when Triumph released its ridiculously popular Street Triple 675, the Italian was soon overlooked. Now though, it’s back and better than ever.

Words: Nile Bijoux   |   Photos Nile Bijoux

First, the engine. As the name suggests, capacity has been boosted to just under 900cc (896cc if counting) but careful tuning has kept power identical to the 750’s. Torque increase however from 81 to 90Nm. This results in a more useable bike, with pull across a broad rev range. Indeed, you can chug along at highway speeds in sixth, open the throttle to pass someone, and be safely back in the correct lane without changing down.

Out on the open road typically means more time will be spent in the lower gears, in the meat of the power. To this end riders who like wringing an engine will not be disappointed, as all 70kW come on song at 8750rpm. For reference, max torque is at 6500rpm.

The v-twin can really snarl when given a fistful and downshifts result in a symphony of mechanical pops.

It’s here when the sublime chassis comes to the fore. The whole package weighs 220kg with a full tank but it barely feels over two hundred at speed. Its mix of steel and aluminium in the trellis frame makes the bike stiff, nimble and flickable, even when chasing cream-of-crop sports bikes. The short wheelbase definitely helps too. Brakes are hefty, with dual 320mm discs at the front pinched by radial four-piston calipers. They don’t offer the best initial feel but stopping power is fine. ABS is standard and switchable.

The underslung exhausts are an iconic part of the Shiver’s look and the 900 sees the addition to the pipes of what seem to be satellite dishes. That’s unlikely to be their actual function but darned if we know what they’re really for, other than aesthetic/Italian reasons. Perhaps they permit the exhaust gases to travel downward and outwards in the interests of enhances pillion comfort. In typical Aprilia fashion they sound wicked.

The v-twin can really snarl when given a fistful and downshifts result in a symphony of mechanical pops. It’s very easy to get into a habit of aggressively dropping through the gears before a set of traffic lights just to show off its symphonic talents. Other niceties include braided metal brake lines and a clutch that has been lightened 15 percent compared with last year’s model.


The Shiver 900 arrives standard with switchable ABS, three-stage traction control and three riding modes, all controllable from the 4.3” TFT screen lifted from the RSV4 and Tuono models. The screen is easy to read, with two different backlight modes to allow maximum visibility depending on the time of day.

Sun up, it is a white with black text, and under starlight it’s inverted so the rider isn’t blinded. It offers a wealth of information, from revs to speed to air temperature around you but strange is the omission of a fuel gauge. In a modern bike with a system as functional as this it seems bizarre to just stick with an amber light to let you know when you’re running on fumes.

The traction control isn’t the same as that on the RSV4/Tuono pair, so it’s a tad rougher when it kicks in but is effective enough. Thankfully you can switch the system totally off, but be careful as the front end can head skyward rather quickly if you aren’t careful. Then when it rains - as it inevitably does in springtime Auckland - you just click it back on and away you go, even if you’re already on the highway. No need to stop and reset things.

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Mention of weather, you have a choice between Sport, Touring and Rain modes, as before. Sport is as it sounds - sharpened throttle response and the full Monty of power, Touring softens the fuelling but keeps the power at full, and Rain drops power by about 30 percent. I ended up mostly sitting in Touring with the traction control off as the majority of my time with Shiver was spent on the commute.

Spring in Auckland tends to mean all four seasons in the space of as many hours. It does help get a thorough test in, and riding in the wet is not as terrifying as it might seem when looking at the specs of this bike. The traction control works its magic if you’re a tad liberal with the throttle, and is not too intrusively either. In the dry (one precious afternoon) you kill the TC entirely, stick it into Sport mode and go like blazes. The chassis will take you to the limit of your ability (and then some if you aren’t careful), and experienced bend swingers will be scraping pegs in no time.

Direct competition is Yamaha’s MT-09, which does have a slight edge in the power and weight games, but the ‘Priller has a better set of stoppers and forks. The tank can also take one more litre of fuel, if that matters to you. Stretching your cash a bit further north will put you in range of Triumph’s excellent Street Triple 765 or Ducati’s Monster 821, both of which outclass the Shiver but, depending on the individual, possibly not enough to warrant the extra cash splash.

The Stats

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Model Aprilia Shiver 900  Price

Engine 900cc, liquid-cooled, fuel injected, V2, 70kW / 6500Nm

Transmission 6-speed, chain final drive Vitals 4.1s 0-100km/h

2.5s (72m) 80-120km/h, 50m 100-0km/h, kg