Posted: 01 Nov 2012
Aprilia is still viewed as a young company compared to the likes of Honda and even Ducati, but the Italian company has built a solid reputation for producing bikes in all categories. Its heart, though, as with all Italian brands, beats hard to the sound of racing machinery – and Aprilia has a history of motorsport success.
Its latest big-cube race replica is the RSV4 R – a machine based on a failed MotoGP programme. Saying that, the racing design of the chassis and race-like qualities of the V4 engine mean nothing but good news for prospective owners and the design of this machine has fared well for newly-crowned Superbike World Champion, Max Biaggi, in production-based racing.
The 60-degree V4 engine is a masterpiece of pure usable grunt and top end power. 177bhp wringing its way through a short, light weight chassis is a recipe for palpitations, but the engine is surprisingly tractable enough not to ever use the searing top end performance. Not that you would ignore this because the RSV4 entices you to pull every millimetre of the throttle cable.
It’s not just the mermaid-like wail of the V4’s exhaust note that leads you on. It’s the deliciously narrow, perfectly balanced nature of the chassis too. You only have to sit in the narrow, feel-generating seat to know the RSV4 won’t take any prisoners on the weekend ride.
At the same time, you only have to look at the RSV4 to realise it is the finished article in the world of V4 superbikes. Typical Latin loveliness exudes from every alloy casting/extrusion pore. And of course it all works.
The Brembo front calipers aren’t gold-finish for nothing. They are stupendous in terms of feel and stopping power. Suspension isn’t ultra-trick aftermarket branding because it doesn’t need to be when standard suspension is this good.
The Aprilia RSV4 is also endowed with technology; not just in the GP-derived engine but throughout, especially in the electronics department. There’s an eight-stage traction control system that self adjusts according to tyre sizes and other variables; wheelie and launch control; quick shifter; and a dash display that can be switched between road and track use.
All of the aforementioned is top notch stuff and goes a greater part of the way in justifying the RSV4 R APRC’s £14k price tag. But if, like me, you struggle to make sense of an expensive digital watch then all of the electronic settings are going to be lost on you. Just as well the RSV4 R is perfectly good enough to deliver riding goodness straight from the crate.
+ points – the closest thing to a road-legal Italian World Superbike machine you can get, easy to ride too.
- points – technological rider aids a bit galling for road users, it ain’t cheap
Power: 177.5bhp, 84.9ft lbs
Dry weight: 182kg
Seat height: 845mm
Colours: White, yellow, black
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