A motorcycle that provides a good mix of acceptable performance on both bush trails and tarmac makes for a versatile adventure machine. Motorcycles that offer these benefits can be split in two camps.
Bikes such as the DR650 Suzuki, F650 BMW, XR650L Honda and KLR 650 Kawasaki have large single cylinder engines and are the 'relative' lightweights. While multi-cylinder machines such as Triumph's Tiger, Cagiva's Navigator, BMW's R1150GS and Suzuki's V-Strom are members of the heavyweight class.
Aprilia offers machines in both those categories; the ETV 1000 Caponord uses a 998cc V-Twin engine and is the bigger machine. While at the lighter end of the scales is the Pegaso 650 model, which I sampled during a recent trip to New South Wales.
The Pegaso's 652cc powerplant is liquid-cooled and features double overhead camshafts operating on five radial valves. Aprilia claim 47hp from the big single. In the real world this translates to around 35hp at the rear wheel. All machines in this class are fairly equal in performance at around that mark, 35hp at the wheel, no matter what the makers claim.
The test machine had a nice set of Staintune mufflers fitted but still seemed top get a bit breathless at higher revs.
One feature that the Aprilia does have over the competition is a large 21-litre fuel capacity which provides for a genuine 300km tank range if riding conservatively. A sophisticated twin-injector EFI and engine management system ensures the right amount of fuel and air is provided to the engine.
Five gears are available and the box makes for reasonable shifting. It is maybe a little agricultural in operation but works well enough and missed shifts are a rare occurrence. Around 120kph is about the maximum cruising speed that remains manageable, above that the vibrations and fuel economy take a dive for the worse.
The engine does have a balancer shaft, but, like all big singles, it does vibrate more than would be preferable. Luckily the rider is isolated from most of this with no annoying oscillations coming through the bars or pegs. Unfortunately the same can't be said of the seat. This is one area of rider comfort that could be improved, but again, most of the opposition suffers the same foible. But the Pegaso is at the worse end of that scale.