View Full Version : 1000 mile Caponord Report -- long

09-20-2002, 05:17 PM
I just got a silver Ď02 Caponord. My last bike was an '87 Guzzi LeMans IV. In the last 30 years I've had an assortment of Suzuki dirt bikes, Nortons, BMWs, and Guzzis. In í97 I moved from Iowa to New Jersey and in the process sold all my bikes and let my cycle license lapse.

Last Spring I started thinking about buying a bike again. Living in the Desert Southwest with all the desert trails and marginal roads it seemed to make sense to go with the Adventure Tourer style. I started reading everything I could get my hands on about the Caponord, Triumph Tiger & and the BMW. I had experience with other air-cooled BMWs (mostly good), but none with either the Aprilia or Triumph. There was something about the looks that made me gravitate towards the Aprilia, however. Last June my wife and I were in Tucson for a business meeting so I stopped by Renaissance Cycles. They had the Caponord I had been reading about. Unfortunately since I didnít have my license I couldnít take it for a test ride.

It wasnít until late August when we were negotiating a very fun road in my VW diesel that I realized it would be much more fun on a bike. The next week I got my permit, allowing me to ride solo during daylight. I called Steve up at Renaissance and he still had the bike so I made an appointment the Saturday of Labor Day weekend to test it. Saturday AM Iím on a bike for the first time in 5 years. I requested taking the bike out the back way on residential streets so I would be spared the embarrassment of dumping it on a busy street. Out back I tested the low speed handling and it was great. The bike handles like a great big dirt bike on the street. I tested the throttle response and brakes and they were all great.

An hour later Iím heading west on I-10 on the Caponord. I tried to vary the speed as much as I could on the 250 mile ride back to Yuma. One thing I immediately noticed was the blast of heat from the Caponord radiator. Of course the air temp at he time was 102. An hour and a half later it was 116 on the instrument panel and stayed there from Gila Bend to Yuma (100 miles). Fortunately I had a gatorback water holder on the outside of my black leather jacket and I went through 2 liters of water in 3 hours.

My initial impression of the bike was extremely comfortable riding position, smooth engine, not too tall (Iím 5í11 with 31 inch inseamómy wife at same height and 36 inch inseam can sit flat footed on the bike), excellent wind protection, great brakes and great handling once the bike is moving.

I spent a few days riding around two-up around Yuma and the bike is very comfortable for both rider and passenger. In order to get my full license I had to ride the bike through the rider course at the DMV. In the tests of turning, stopping and maneuverability the bike was easy to take thru the course. The lady there told me it was the first time she had ever seen anyone get through it without losing any points. I donít think many big bikes could have physically negotiated the u-turn and the cone weave.

All the time Iím riding the bike Iím noticing itís getting smoother and more powerful. Out on nice black top roads the combination of power, handling and brakes makes the Caponord a very enjoyable bike to ride. It doesnít have the ultra-low-end grunt of a heavy flywheel, long-stroke twin, but it pulls like a Mack truck through the gears at anything above 3000 RPM (keeping within break-in limits).
Our first ride in city traffic was fine. However never having owned a water cooled bike I was a bit concerned when the water temp hit 209, but it never went above and would quickly cool back down to 180 once moving over 30 MPH. Last night we went for a 50 mile ride up AZ 95, then across Yuma Proving Grounds to Martinez Lake. Speeds were 50-75 MPH and the bike was happy in 6th at all these speeds. Big dips in the road gave me a real roller coaster sensation in my stomach, but no surprises in the suspension.

Maybe Iíve been reading too many posts or it was the first time weíve ridden the bike when the air temp was below 100, but when we got to the Lake I was experiencing the throttle problems mentioned elsewhere in the posts. In 1st gear the throttle acted like it was only closed or 15 percent or more open. This made for a very jerky ride. I think it may have to do with the fuel I filled up on. I tried a new station and used the 87 octane. Next tank Iíll try my old station and hi octane. Another thing I noticed is that the back brake is difficult or impossible to lock up. At high speeds this is good, but I prefer a little stronger brake action at slow speeds. It could be that Iím used to the linked brakes on the Guzzis. Overall Iím impressed with the stopping power of the Caponord.

Another thing I noticed was how this thing will haul! Having 1000 miles I ran it up to 8000 in 3rd gear. The engine pulls smoothly and powerfully up to 8000 at which point I could feel some throbbing vibration from the otherwise glassy smooth engine. Another thing I noticed is that the headlights are excellent for lighting up the highway and the sides of the road. In fact I was constantly being flashed by oncoming traffic because they thought I had high beams on. Iím going to check the aim tonight.

As far as off-road riding the Capo you wonít see me at the Imperial Dunes on it. I thought 30 years ago that my 300 lb Suzuki 250 dirt bike was too heavy and I must say adding 75 horses, 200 lbs plus the weight of the passenger doesnít change the laws of physics. There are a lot of interesting hard-packed roads in AZ that the Capo will work on, but sand, and deep loose gravel are not its strong suitsóat least 2-up. Moreover I agree with several posters that there are just too many vulnerable and expensive components on the bike to risk all out thrashing in the rocks. If I want a dirt bike, Iíll buy one a little more appropriate.

Handling: Excellent steering, brakes, suspension. Seat, handlebar, footpeg relationship excellent for me.

Fairing: Superb wind protection from both the screen and the side panels. In 100 plus heat the blast of air from the radiator is uncomfortable at speeds below 30 mph.

Brakes: Front excellent, rear a little weekóI think itís the design of the master cylinder because components are first-rate.

Switches and Instruments: Levers and controls are quality and easy too use and adjust. Iíd prefer a separate trip meter that I could easily reset at gas top ups to gage my fuel level. Iím just not use to the electronic gas gage and as others have said it takes about 4.4 gallons to top off when the light comes on. Last Saturday the bike was in the sun in 110 temp for about 15 minutes. The entire LED surface became black and grainyóno miles, no temp, no nothing. Five minutes after I parked it in my garage everything was back to normal. Might want to put a cover over it when parked out in hi heat and intense sun.

Seat: very comfortable with room to move around for both rider and passenger. Longest trip so far 250 miles with no complaints. One thing thatís really neat is that you can adjust rear spring preload while riding!

I like the looks of the bike and feel it will be a great ride for years to come.

If youíre ever through Yuma, AZ, look us up!

07-18-2003, 08:53 PM

What a great ride report! Better than all the magazines I've read!

Really appreciate your sharing your personal experiences with your Capo.


07-23-2003, 05:03 PM
You mention that you would like a seperate trip meter, well the Caponord has one. You just press the set button on the dash, the one beside the mode button.