Aprilia Falco

In late 2001 I was just coming off of a CBR-destroying crash that left me a little mangled. A sand covered corner at 70 mph or so sent my f4i flying through the air sideways while I went sliding ass-first into a tall curb. 1 inch and things might’ve been different, the docs said. I was lucky. The bike survived and I made it out with no broken bones. Sure, 1 leg was slightly longer than the other and I spent the better part of a year in therapy trying to get my back and hips back in line – but I was ok.

I repaired the bike but it was never quite right. I’m not sure if it was the demons in my head or the shock of it smashing into the curb tweaking the front end, but I lost all confidence in that machine. I’d gone on a fall ride with my friend Yen and some lunatics in Connecticut and I knew that I’d never believe in that bike anymore. I couldn’t get in sync with it, and it was time to find a suitable replacement. During the spring of 2002 I was on a mission to re-steed myself.

It’s probably no shock that I like odd, obscure or “special” motorcycles. I’ve never looked at any of the Gixxer family of sportbikes with that “I WANT ONE OF THOSE” feeling. Maybe because you see a billion of them out there? Or maybe they lack the character I tend to like? Or maybe I have no taste? That’s all-together possible.

My initial gut desire was to pick up a twin. I was reading up a ton on the 2000.5/2001 Aprilia RSV. I really liked the bike. It was obscure enough to be different, I was sure that they weren’t flying off the shelves, and I thought that might put me in a better buying position so I went to a dealer and sat on one. Sitting next to it in the showroom was a yellow 2001 Falco.

Aprilia Falco

Yes, I know it’s ugly.

I had a friend and an acquaintance who each owned one. (Later on I’d become much better friends with this acquaintance, one Catfish :) ). Compared to the RSV the Falco had the same great motor but slightly more relaxed ergos. I really liked how odd it looked. I was sure I’d only be the 3rd guy on LI to own one.

I faxed around an email to all the local Aprilia dealers in the NY tri-state area telling them I was ready to move that day and that the best price would win my sale. Within 20 min I had calls and emails back, and I’d made the deal the next day. Maximum Motorsports out in Riverhead was the winner. I am pretty sure they knew I was the only sucker in 300 miles who even wanted that ugly duckling. I got a great deal and the bike was mine. I knew I loved the twin power delivery the day I brought it home. I really thought it was a great decision.

The day I went to pick it up, a new rider with no experience picked up his 2002 1000cc GSXR and promptly highsided pulling out of the dealership. With the synchronized moves of a seasoned pit crew the dealership team rushed out, cleaned up the carcass and handed him the bill for the repairs. I, on the other hand successfully exited the lot and headed home.

When I arrived at my house, I noticed the paint on the seat cowl (which was new, in the protective wrap in my backpack) didn’t quite match. In fact, it looked like it’d been base-coated and left with a single coat of paint on top. I called the dealer immediately and asked them to warranty a new cowl as the one I received was shite. This process, from the moment I called until the day I received the replacement, was about 1 year in length. Eventually the owner of Maximum got so sick of me asking for it that while at a dealer conference – he took the floor model seat cowl and gave it to me. Aprilia USA had yet to be sold, and man, their parts delivery was horrible. (As I write this, somewhere in California Novos is shaking).

Queue William Shatner singing “In love” – play it in the background as you read

This is where I say “30 years later and we’re still together”. Alas, it was not meant to be. Under her ugly exterior she was, well, ugly.

The good part of the bike? Great motor.

The bad part? Well, just about everything else.

It handled like a wet sock. No changes or adjustments really helped. I found a slightly used RSV Sachs shock with comp and rebound adjustments. Still didn’t help. The guys I knew online who had them started dumping more and more money into suspension. I realized I wasn’t willing to make the commitment to making that bike better than it was. I missed the delivery and flickability of an inline 600. I missed what a great handling bike felt like. I’d jumped into a rebound relationship and woke up one day next to a chick I didn’t even really like.

Spring of 2003 rolled around. While at the bike show in NYC I met the object of my next relationship, one that continues on to this day – the 2003 636. It might be the best handling bike I ever purchased. We saw each other from across the room and I knew I was in trouble. She had me at radial brakes.

The next day I cleaned up the Falco and put her up for sale on eBay. The auction ended with no sale – no one wanted that bike. Not even me. A day later a guy contact me offline and we made a deal. He took the Falco off my hands for $7k (unheard of) and picked it up the next weekend.

Sometimes I look at old pictures of her and wonder where she is, what she is doing, and if her current owner hates how she handles too.