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The Doctor
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119 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
2001 aprilia SL mille Falco


Note: Most of these photos
are click-able



INTRODUCTION

The aprilia SL mille Falco is an Austrian Rotax powered 990cc 60-degree V-twin producing 108hp @ 9,500 rpm. The Falco has been discontinued in the United States for 2005. Nevertheless, the 2001-2004 models are generally the same, except for the substitution of Marzocchi forks in 2003 for the Showas, and of course colors. There are some great buys to be had on this mille bike, both new and used, for the patient and discerning buyer. There are any number of very favorable articles available online about the Falco, so I won’t regurgitate those, but simply give you a link to a few.

Motorcyclist Magazine Review
Link to Falco article
Motorcycle Online Review
SL mille service manual
Ken's Site




OVERVIEW

I bought my Falco in April 2004 with 3250 miles on the clock for loan payoff of $5,200. The MSRP sticker price on this bike was $11,200. It appears that even newer Falcos can be had for less. Keep your eye on ebay and cycletrader.

My bike came with a couple of factory options; the dual RSC Carbon Exhaust and EMPROM. This was a $950 option which boosted horse power by about 10. Original factory sprockets came 16t front 41t rear. The previous owner had the popular after market 15-tooth front already installed which helps some with acceleration off the line, and some frame sliders. Other than that, and the European Union "EPA" de-restriction (this bike comes from the factory restricted to about 80hp. Removal of the air box plug and clipping a wire at the ECU raises that number to about 108hp), my bike is stock.

I bought my aprilia after 18-months of enjoyable, determined, and daily motorcycle research on the internet and in person at various dealerships across the country. I was looking for the “perfect motorcycle” for me. I was a 51-year old, retired Navy pilot, with a need for speed, who had not ridden a motorcycle in 30 years. My last bike was a 1973 Triumph 750 Bonneville, which I had purchased brand new in Rota, Spain, back when I was a young Marine. (I don't recommend liter bikes for inexperienced riders. However, I felt my maturity and judgment would overcome any temptations to exceed my riding ability with such a powerful and explosive motorcycle.)


20 years old checking out James Michener's The Drifters Torremolinos, Spain

After getting married and having a child, I sold that bike and never looked back. However, 30 years later, with all the chicks out of the nest, I got an urge to own another bike. I carefully considered whether a liter bike was more performance than I should start with, re-entering the motorcycle scene after 30 years. However, I felt that my maturity and judgment would compensate for my lack of recent experience, and went with the bike I felt would be the best for me over the long haul.

I travel quite a bit in my line of work, gas pipeline construction, so I decided I wanted a motorcycle to ride on Sundays. I first started looking at Harley’s and Harley clones, like most old guys my age, and read quite a bit about them on various internet sites. However, once I saw a new Triumph Thunderbird Sport, it had such an impact on me, I felt I had truly found the perfect motorcycle.



It reminded me of that old ’73 Bonneville, classic Triumph styling, but with a sport bike suspension and brakes. I was pretty much set on buying that bike when I discovered AMA and MotoGP racing on Speed Vision. That sold me on sport bikes.

After much deliberation between the Kawasaki ZX7R, the Triumph Daytona 955i, and the Falco, (all classic bikes), strangely enough it was insurance costs that drove me to the aprilia; about half the cost of the other two bikes.



BEAUTY IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

One of the first things that draws me to any bike is how it looks, parked. The Falco has great lines. The twin beam frame is not only super ridged, it is a really gorgeous piece of Italian art. The tail section has a pleasing “hump” to it, with plenty of room inside for tools, a Scottoiler reservoir, and a couple of cans of sugar-free Red Bull! Of all of the photos I saw of the Falco, the one below is the one that really “sold me” on its sexy curves!


Motorcyclist Magazine

I tried to duplicate these shots on a trip out west to Arizona, but fell miserably short of my goal. There’s more to quality photography than meets the eye of a novice like myself. A tri/bi pod would go a long ways toward sharpening my pics.



PERSONAL FIT AND ERGOS

Like most people, and unlike Triumph dealerships, I did not have a chance to take a Falco for a test ride, so I did the next best thing, I sat on them. I like to feel the ergos, if you will, of different bikes. How long is the reach to the bars? How do my knees, and hips feel with my feet on the pegs? How does the tank feel between my legs, etc. Since I am now a “big man,” (6’3” – 250lbs), the poseur in me comes out, and how I “look” on the bike is also important. I may be self conscious, but I don’t want to look like a gorilla riding a mini-bike, if you know what I mean. I think the Falco fits me about as well as any sport bike I sat on. The riding position on the Falco is not as aggressive as many sport bikes, but it fits me well. I think this bike was designed for the “big” rider in mind.



The Falco provided a comfortable ride for my 6'3" frame

During my 18-months of research/shopping, though I never had the opportunity to ride any of the three bikes in question, I did have a chance to see all three bikes in person at various dealerships. So when my bike came up for sale on cycletrader.com, I was ready to buy.

FIT AND FINISH

The fit and finish on the Falco is superb. Typical Italian styling. The cranberry red/orange paint was brilliant.



Everywhere I took the bike I got multitudes of compliments on the color and styling. The bike came with the stock Metzler Z3 tires, which were designed as high mileage rubber. At the advice of many on apriliaforums.com, I swapped tires almost immediately. However, I did stick with a high mileage type sport/touring tire, the Dunlop 220, which I bought at my local aprilia dealer, on sale. These tires gave me great service, and were particularly confidence inspiring while riding down a mountain in southwest Pennsylvania during a thunderstorm in which I got caught by surprise one night. I have since put new rubber on the Falco, Continental Raod Attacks, but the D220s have 4000 miles on them and still look new.

The dash panel on this bike contains a computer chip that has a multitude of usable functions. I really like all the information it gives me. For those who like to visit the track, the lap functions really come in handy.



RIDING STYLE

I have done all kinds of pleasure riding on this bike, everything from straight away, high speed Arizona desert runs, to tight switchbacks and long high speed sweepers in the mountains. This bike is a lot of fun. I have done a couple of 600 mile days, one from Clyde, Ohio (near Toledo) to the Mackinac bridge on the upper peninsula of Michigan, and back.

The other 600 miler was with 1BigDawg and his bride Joanna (out of Phoenix), from Gila Bend AZ to Flagstaff and back (scenic route).
I had no problems with comfort, and was able to easily cruise between 80-100 all day long, with the bike barely breathing. This bike is virtually bullet proof and trouble-free. I change my own oil, with just simple hand tools.


My Phoenix AZ buddy 1BigDawg checking out his bike on an overlook of Sedona AZ


1bigdawg and his wife Joanna on the descent into Jerome, AZ

AFTERMARKET MODS

The Falco lends itself well to various after-market modifications. One particular internet site, aprilia falco.info has alot of useful "how-to" articles and info on all sorts of mods. One of the most popular is a swap out of the rear shock for an RSV mille Sachs, or any number of other popular shocks, such as Penske or Ohlins. Also, I really like the looks of an RSV mille rear swing arm on the Falco, and I swapped mine for an '04 RSV swinger. High mount exhausts show off that Italian work of art swinger. If you like belly pans, there are a few different types available. I added one made by Skidmark out of the UK.



Here is a pic of a particularly good looking Falco with some of these mods in place:



ACCESSORIES


The Falco was designed as a Sport Lite (SL mille) touring bike,
and thus aprilia sells a luggage system



Other after-market companies have also stepped up and developed some
pretty good luggage such as this offering from Ventura - (Click the Pic for link)


FINAL ANSWER

When all is said and done, the question always comes up . . . “If you had to do it all over again, would you buy another Falco?” The answer is unequivocally . . . YES!

You will have no problem walking out to the parking lot on bike night and finding your SL mille. Not only does it look different than most sport bikes, it will be the one with the crowd gathered around it, admiring it's sexy good looks and all around unique Italian styling.

UPDATE 2005

Last October 2004 I had a little off while riding some twisties in northwestern Delaware with my friend CarlosT from Philly. I cracked my front and rear fairing, scratched my tank, and bent my right brake peddle and footrest. My frame slider was also torn off the right side, though it did it's job. Over the winter I began to fix her up and decided to go with a different paint scheme from stock. Since Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden were my two favorite riders, I decided to go with a Repsol theme. I had alot of fun with it.

Modifications:$$$$$$$$$
Custom paint and decals
'04 RSV mille swingarm
'04 RSV mille Sachs rear shock
Gilles rear sets
Powdercoated wheels by HPC
Ariete aluminum 90 degree valve stems
Brembo 4-Pad Brake Caliper Set
Titanium Front Brake Caliper Bolt Set
Brembo Meehanite Cast iron Rotors
Galfer SS brake/clutch lines with aircraft aluminum fittings
R&G Frame Sliders
Rhinomoto Fork and swingarm sliders
Skidmarx belly pan
aprilia OEM steering damper
Evoluzione Fuel Pressure Modifier
Evoluzione Billet SP Short Velocity Stacks
Evoluzione Performance Air Filter and air box modification
AF1 Racing Billet Top Clamp and Pre-load adjusters
Carbon Fiber Front Fender
Carbon Fiber Rear Hugger
CRG Roll-a-Click Adjustable Brake/Clutch Lever
Puig Touring Falco Windscreen
RK gold x-ring chain
Scottoiler
Afam Steel Front Sprocket 16t
Sidewinder 44T 525 Tri-Metal Rear Sprocket
MV-Aprilia Stainless Bar Ends
Quick Release Tank and Seat Pins
Rizoma Billet Front/Rear Brake/ Clutch Reservoir
Carbon fiber fender eliminator kit
LED turn signals
Continental Road Attacks
And various other odds and ends











Epilogue: As much as I hate to admit it, I lost my beloved Falco in an off while riding the Loess Hills area of Western Iowa. I was just sick, since I had just spent the entire winter getting my baby ready for another year of great riding, and this was the first ride of the 2005 season.




BACK IN THE SADDLE

After two wrist surgeries and several months of rehab, I'm back in the saddle again. I found this little jewel on ebay and was successful. After I put some miles on her, I'll post up another review.





Click these thumbnails
 

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Just to clarify, a Mille and a Falco are two very different bikes. I ride an '03 Falco myself. The photo of the bike that "sold you", the one that's matte black w/ grey and red accents is what I ride. The pear red that you have is gorgous, too. I friend of mine has a Falco in that color.
 

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Oh, and just to brag, I just can't help myself. Here I am on my Falco at Jennings GP.

One of the things I like best about my Falco. On bike nights, when I go out to get on my bike, there is no confusion or doubt which one's mine. It's the only one like it of it's kind and EVERYONE is checking it out!
 

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The Doctor
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Isabela said:
Just to clarify, a Mille and a Falco are two very different bikes. . . .

Isabela . . . we aprilia guys already know this, but just to clarify your clarification . . . "mille" is not a "model" designation for any specific aprilia, but merely a reference to engine size (ie. mille=1000).

"RSV mille" and "SL mille" are general model designations. For 2004 RSV's come in "Factory," "R," and "Tuono" specific desigantions. The SL mille came out in 2000 originally as the "Falco," (mine) and in 2002 as the "Falco R" model (yours).
 

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So very Feline!
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What a terrific review, and fabulous photos! I had the pleasure of taking a demo ride last year on a 2004 Falco. I was just a little leery, as I'd never ridden a liter bike before. But I was amazed at how easy it was to just hop on and go! The power was very manageable, tame when you wanted it to be, wild when you wanted it to be. I'm 5'8" and thin, but found the ergos to be wonderful, and the bike did not feel "big". It is definitely a bike I'd love to have, for its performance, comfort, and "uniqueness".
 

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Great review!! I think I've just found my next bike. Being 6'6 210, it sounds like this might fit like a glove! Thanks again for the review!:clap
 

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So very Feline!
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Quite an attention-getter- nice!
 

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MotoGP World Champion
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Congrats on deciding upon a bike that worked out for you. I remember back when you were always asking about the Kawi. A guy at the office here has a bike like yours, and I always admire it. the frame looks great.

PS looking at that pic of you as a kid, I guess Marine hair regs weren't very strict back then :redflip
 

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The Doctor
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Homeslice said:
Congrats on deciding upon a bike that worked out for you. I remember back when you were always asking about the Kawi. A guy at the office here has a bike like yours, and I always admire it. the frame looks great.

PS looking at that pic of you as a kid, I guess Marine hair regs weren't very strict back then :redflip
Homeslice, you remember all those questions I had about the ZX7R? It's still one of six bikes I intend to have in my garage some day. (The other four . . . 99-01 Triumph Daytona, 98-99 Triumph Thunderbird Sport, 98-99 Ducati 748, 04 Moto Guzzi V11 Le Mans). As for the hair cut, I started out high and tight, with just a little bit of a "Beatles" bang.


Early 1973

After about a year or so at the Barracks, well, it was a different culture over there, back then. I let it grow out a bit, and it was still regulation, but I had a bit of a non-conformist attitude, if you know what I mean.


Two very non-comformists

Here's a pic taken a few months after the summer Torremolinos pic of 1973. Hair is still on the long side, but not quite as long. I have to admit I had been greatly influenced by the Beatles since the 5th grade.


Marine Corps Birthday Ball Nov 1973

Then, here is another taken on my wedding day March 1974. You can see that it is even longer.


Our wedding reception party in our apartment in Rota, Spain

I eventually got out of the Marines and went back to college. Got involved in a Marine officer program and started all over again, high and tight.

Went to flight school in the Florida panhandle.


That's me in the front seat. 8,000 feet over "L.A."

Hair stayed high and tight until an inter-service transfer to the Navy in 1986. Hair got a bit longer, but stayed about where it was back in 1974! ha ha
 

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Flying Squirrel
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:clap Man, where to start...
Outstanding review on the Falco...I have a weakness for Falcos; specifically the 2002 R model. :breasts
Your rebuild of the bike after your "off": unqualified success. I have never seen a 'Priller modded as totally, as completely, as detail oriented, and as tastefully executed as yours: well done (ps> got any dyno numbers you can put up...that's some impressive work):hail
The entirety of your post: a wonderful read. Thanks for posting that up.:thumb
Finally, from one retired officer to another> welcome back to bikes, buddy! :toast
 

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Very cool bike :thumb A Falco is on the short list of *next bikes* . IMO the Rotax twin is the perfect street motor , I just love it : below 6 grand you could almost fool yourself into thinking it'd be fine for a novice ... then you give it a big handful in second and float the front for as long as you like :laughing


My Dad had a T-28A , that was a neat airplane . Somewhere , I have a pic of a small me in the backseat circa 1983-84 - of course , after we started hatching he ended up having to go with a more sensible 172 < booooooooooo >
 

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As much as you THINK the Rotax is the perfect street engine... the Triumph triple actually IS the perfect street engine. ;)

Nothing against the Falco, though. Next to the current RSV1000, the Falco is my favorite Aprilia. Actually, next to the Daytona and the Speed Triple, the Falco is my favorite motorcycle.
 

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MotoGP World Champion
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Are you ever going to buy a share in an old fighter or trainer like a lot of guys are doing these days? That would be cool. I've never flown but I am starting glider (sailplane) lessons this summer just for the hell of it.......a license is only 3-4K..........maybe I'll even change careers one day LOL
 

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The Doctor
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Homeslice said:
Are you ever going to buy a share in an old fighter or trainer like a lot of guys are doing these days? That would be cool. I've never flown but I am starting glider (sailplane) lessons this summer just for the hell of it.......a license is only 3-4K..........maybe I'll even change careers one day LOL
It's definitely on the list. I have a good friend who was a Marine/Navy pilot with me. We have talked about getting a T-28 for grins. Maintenance is a big factor in the cost of ownership.
 

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Ya know , I'm looking at that burnt orange and thinking * if I got one like that , it would look so freakin awesome with the blue OZ rims from my Mille and with the 5 spoke rims , the Mille would look like an SP * Hmmmmmmm .


A guy I know has a Navion in spurious Navy trainer paint , looks pretty cool though . I've always thought that since he markets his flights as Warbird Flight it would have been better in the drab , ugly camo L-17's flew in in Korea but that wouldn't get much attention . His partner has a beautifully restored L-19 Bird Dog in RI NG paint , considerably nicer than the original ME ANG paint my Dad's Trojan was in .


you can almost see my house from here :D

 
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