The Aprilia Caponord 1200 will receive electronic damping adjustment, the Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX will cost $15,990, the 76bhp Aprilia SRV850 scooter will come to America and Vespa will import the retro-futuristic 946, Piaggio Group told its dealers last week. The new models form part of a new push into the North American market that will also see an Advanced Design Center opened in Pasadena.

As fast bike enthusiasts, it’s that Aprilia Caponord and electronic damping adjustment news that’s most exciting to us. The Ducati Multistrada 1200, a direct rival, uses a similar arrangement, as does the Ducati 1199 superbike. 2013 will see a replacement for the RSV4, it’s logical that electronic damping control will make its way to that model as well.

Electronic damping adjustement works in concert with ride-by-wire throttles and other rider-aid electronics to configure a motorcycle on-the-fly for specific conditions. On the RSV4 right now, you can alter throttle response, power delivery and wheelie control settings on the move, while handlebar mounted + and - buttons allow you to quickly tweak TC settings for individual corners. On the Multistrada and Panigale, the suspension adjusts along with those variables for preset conditions like “road” and “track,” as well as user configurable presets. On the highway, you might soften the damping along with reducing the power and throttle response for higher economy then, at the touch of a button, firm all that up to attack a good off-ramp.

We’ve already ridden the Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX, which is a ground-up redesign (including a new frame and new motor) of the old Stelvio. It’s easily our pick of the big adventure tourers, coming with both more character and better handling than rivals like the $14,500 Yamaha Super Tenere or $16,150 BMW R1200GS. The NTX also brings a ridiculously huge 8.5-gallon fuel tank.

The Aprilia SRV850 is a re-styled Gilera GP800 and is the fastest, most powerful stock scooter on the planet. It looks like an RSV4 and goes like a Mana, all with your feet in front of you.

That Vespa 946 is a seriously appealing re-interpretation of the Vespa archetype, something that should help elevate the brand far above its many imitators and give scooters a fresh appeal in general. A regular Vespa is already pretty stylish, this turns that up to 11. Using Piaggio’s new three-valve, four-stroke, air-cooled, Vietnam-made motor, it should also be very affordable and economical.

And that design studio? “Setting up a research center in California opens a window on the changes that will be taking place in our society, our way of life and in urban and metropolitan mobility models in the next few years,” explains Piaggio Group CEO Roberto Colaninno. “The center will be working not only at the cutting edge of style developments, but will also be cooperating with the world’s top universities and research centers.” It’ll be headed up by VP of Design Miguel Galluzzi.

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