NEW Aprilia RSV4 Factory (2021)

 

Over the last three years around 450 RSV4’s have been sold in the UK. To be honest, when Aprilia gave me that stat I was surprised. After all the purpose of this feature is not only to ride the new 2021 RSV4 Factory but also to think about why, over the years, has the bike received such plaudits in media reviews across the globe but it simply doesn’t sell in the volumes it should. Ok, sports bike sales have taken a dramatic hit over the last 20 years, dropping from almost 40,000 a year in 2000 to less than 5,000 in 2019 so there’s still a desire to watch the bike win on Sunday, then buy on, er Sunday afternoon. On the internet perhaps.

Let’s look at this new £23,000 Aprilia RSV4. Updated for 2021 with an increase in capacity plus reworked styling and chassis meaning more torque, less weight and improved handling… the holy trinity of sports bike updates. Despite having to comply with Euro 5 emissions regulations the V4 engine has suffered no loss in power – why? Because its capacity has increased from 1077cc to 1099cc, so it still pumps out its whopping 214bhp.

Revamped electronics based around a more powerful Marelli ECU and six-axis IMU mean there are now six riding modes – three track, three road – half of which are customisable for even more granular settings, and adjustable engine braking control has been added to the already sophisticated suite of electronics.

There’s new switchgear, a new colour TFT display, redesigned and lower seat plus fuel tank and the new, more sophisticated double-layered fairings to replace the stuck-on winglets of the previous generation, which was known as the RSV4 1100 Factory. There’s also a new exhaust system, new LED’s and underbraced swing arm. Yes, it may seem like each year Aprilia bring out a tweaked version of the previous years’ model – but this one has had quite the overhaul.

So, while it’s likely to be faster around a track, today I’ve enlisted the help of two BikeSocial Members – Andy Bushnell and Mark Robins - to help me assess its road-going prowess on a set 40-mile route taking in some dual carriageways, towns, villages and B-roads around Northamptonshire. Both are current Aprilia owners and I also asked Griff Woolley, the UK’s leading independent Aprilia expert and owner of AP Workshops in Tamworth, for his opinion.

 

For and against
  • The sound of that V4 as you barrel through the mid-range
  • Ferociously capable brakes
  • Electronic suspension handling UK roads
  • Colour scheme not to everyone’s liking
  • Wings/fairing not to everyone’s liking
  • £23,000 not to everyone’s liking
Two BikeSocial Members test the 2021 Aprilia RSV4
Michael Mann invites two Aprilia owners to ride the new £23,000 sports bike, and here’s what they had to say about it
Aprilia RSV4 2021 Review Price Spec_002

 

Aprilia RSV4 Factory (2021) Price

How much is the 2021 Aprilia RSV4 Factory? £23,000

It’s a hefty price tag but one that begins to justify itself when you take a closer inspection of the spec sheet. With so many class-leading components and updated electronics plus a striking appearance and you’ve got yourself a real contender for sports bike of the year. On track and off.

Available in black with red details or the ‘Lava Red’ colour scheme, which is blatantly purple, though, according to Aprilia UK, the precise reason is; “These colours are part of Aprilia's sport heritage. The pairing of purple and red is a tribute to the RS 250 in its 1994 Reggiani Replica version”

And if laying down twenty-three grand in one lump sum isn’t for you then there’s always the PCP route with this as an example:

 

Cash Price

£23,000

Customer Deposit

£5,750 (25%)

Term

36 months

Monthly Payment

£308.49

Credit

£17,250

Annual miles

4000

Optional final repayment

£9,976

Total Amount Payable

£26,523.15

Representative APR

8.9%

 

Or there’s an Aprilia PCP calculator if you'd rather use different figures.

 

Aprilia RSV4 2021 Review Price Spec_029

 

Power and Torque

Racing performance and necessities for the road are all packed into this 1099cc 65° V4, which is an increase of 22cc over the previous generation and up by 100cc since its debut in 2009. And the latest update, with a small increase to the stroke, means the peak performance level doesn’t drop while the latest set of emission regulations are adhered to.

The 214bhp figure remains though it peaks 200rpm lower in the rev range at 13,000rpm. Meanwhile peak torque is increases from 122Nm (89.98 ft-lbs) to 125Nm (92.2 ft-lbs) @ 10,500rpm. Off the bottom of the revs, away from a standstill and the bike doesn’t feel lumpy or hesitant, the throttle opening/clutch release is as easy as a CB500 though on this Italian stallion you’re soon plundering towards the mid-range were scenery becomes blurry.

That motor and its throttle connection is harnessed by a delicious, if not quite Tuono V4 standard, ride-by-wire fuelling system which is incredibly precise with such a tiny amount of lag that is only noticeable if you’ve jumped off the perfect Tuono onto the RSV4. The relationship between gearbox, engine, throttle and drive is as harmonious as you’d want from a £23-grand motorcycle and is the cherry on top of the very fast cake with slick changes that require the smallest amount of foot pressure which is then rewarded by a click and an audible pop. It is possibly the most refined, slick, consistent and satisfying quickshifter and autoblipper system of any road bike I’ve ridden.

 

Above: Independent Aprilia expert, Griff, talks to Michael

 

OPINION: Griff Woolley, AP Workshops

Why doesn’t it sell well? This is my theory, in the mountain bike world there’s a phenomenon called ‘boutique bikes’ and they tend to be the top 5% of bikes sold. They are the exotic. And these are Italian exotica right here, the high-end fancy bits and pieces which comes with a price tag and that’s the biggest problem, it’s not that they’re a bad bike. They’re fast, they’re fully loaded with every kind of gadget you ever want; traction control, electronic suspension, the APRC system is widely regarded to be one of the best in the world, the OZ wheels, Brembo brakes, the whole lot. But it’s still £23,000. With the advent of PCP it really kind of helps but the price is probably holding back the sales.

At AP Workshops the most common booking is servicing though a lot of the customers come in for upgrades too, they’re enthusiasts so you can spend a lot of time talking to the guys about things like levers to make it more comfortable or suspension set-up and tyres – they’re the most important things people ask us about.

Why the engine capacity increase? Since I was a kid there’s a phrase, ‘no replacement for displacement’ so I believe that’s because of customer driven sales. In order to make that engine easily over 200bhp they’ve had to increase capacity. So if you want to make a good, reliable, strong, powerful bike, then make it big. It’s also got to be Euro 5 friendly and on this example, the stroke has been increased by 1.05mm meaning they could redesign the cylinder heads.

This is next generation stuff, the aesthetics have changed quite dramatically with the size, shape and the frontal area and aerodynamics, even down to the bigger dashboard. If you look at the underbraced swinging arm, look at the slot where the spindle slots through, that’s been made quite a lot longer so people who use it on track days can change the wheelbase which can change the handling characteristics and it’s those kind of upgrades that make it better. Even things like the new 6-axis IMU takes it back to the Aprilia RS660.

 

 

OPINION: Andy Bushnell, BikeSocial Member

Having previously owned a Honda Fireblade, the Royal Mail’s Andy Bushnell owns a 2015 Aprilia RSV4 as well as a Caponord. He loved his Fireblade but wanted something a little more special and couldn’t decide between Ducati or Aprilia. He’s owned it since new and has never had an issue with the dealer network. 

2021 model pre-ride thoughts

Clearly it’s got a lot more electronics than mine. Mine’s got quite a lot of electronics already which I’ve leaned on before having taken it on track and you can play around with it quite a lot. I’d be very interested to take a look at the electronic suspension before. Apparently, it’s slightly bigger. I’m 6’2” and it’s mostly legs so I found the ‘blade quite tight on very long journeys so I’m really interested to see how the electronics pan out and what the step is in 7 years. 

Post-ride

I thoroughly enjoyed that. There’s a big difference between this and mine. Initially, just pulling out the car park it’s the same nice and safe and secure and you can actually ride it slowly which is great about mine compared to some of the others on the market. But once you get out of that, it’s a bit of an animal. Definitely the bigger engine has made a huge difference, it picks up from nothing. Mine’s pretty good, you know there’s a bit of a powerband that comes in about 3,500-4,000 which is quite low down but this picks up from even lower than that and makes that deep kind of grunt… and you’ve got to be awake!

It’s a very similar riding position to mine which I have tailored to me like where I have the levers, so this is bit like going back to the factory reset. Some people have said it’s bigger but I didn’t notice it. It’s a very similar layout.

The electric suspension was great, I tried a few different modes – it took a while to figure them out. And you could certainly tell the difference between the two Street and Sport mode. Street mode felt very floaty, there was quite a few cracked roads and potholes and the farmer had been down the road and the scattered gravel everywhere, there was a big, big difference. The other is very stiff like mine and probably more track oriented. The brakes are a massive difference to mine though the tyres are similar as I have the same. The front end gave me a lot of confidence.

The engine management light came on about halfway through an even though we turned the bike off and on again it didn’t clear. It reset itself randomly and it didn’t seem to affect anything in terms of the ride. One thing I did notice when turning around, the button packs are so big now that when you’re at full lock you can’t touch any of the buttons which are tucked into the tank.

I am tempted to upgrade and have been for a while, that’s expensive but it’s great to have a ride!

 

Above: Mark’s own 2018 model vs the new kid on the block

 

OPINION, Mark Robins, BikeSocial Member

Standing in front of his 2018 Aprilia RSV4 yet dressed in Ducati branded leathers, Mark spent about eight years with the Bologna brand before switching allegiance to the Noale factory. He thought they were the best thing since sliced bread and never once thought about changing brand from Ducati or a V Twin. But then with lots of reliability issues there came a point when I had to change.

I went to SP Motorcycles in Exeter, sat on it and then bought it about three days later. I’d seen a few articles that confirmed it would be a good bike. Most bikes are good to most normal people, so I knew it wouldn’t be a stinker! It’s the best bike I’ve ever owned. I’ve done about 7,500 miles in the two years and I’ve had no issues.

2021 model pre-ride thoughts

I’ve been thinking about when I next change mine (which will be May 2022) and so long as the bike’s not any worse then where’s the chequebook?! Then I saw it from the front which I’m struggling with, so I’ll see how it rides and hope that can be overcome. It works from the side and the front three-quarter and when you see it face-on, you think what is the point of a road bike to be wearing all these extra accoutrements – I don’t think they’ll make any difference on the road, they seem like they’re just there to make the bike modern. Maybe it’s a good storage holder!

Post-ride

It was well worth the ride. There were a few things I noticed that were different and other things are fairly similar. I could tell there was a difference in the capacity, it certainly had a bit more pull, probably more low down. What I did also notice with the same traction control and wheelie control setting as I run on mine, there was less intrusiveness on the traction control, and the front also came up more than mine.

The seat height on this one doesn’t seem any different to mine, and I’m on tip-toes on mine being a ‘person of compact stature’ (5’8”) and this seemed the same. The low speed manoeuvrability, especially with the turning circle and how tight the bars come into the tank is still not brilliant. Once you’re rolling it’s fine, and it also feels a lighter bike than the previous bike. I have a short inside leg and it (the bike) is pretty wide so you sit with your legs kind of straddled so it does make the balance of the bike when you’re stationary, it can be an issue. It’s certainly a bike that prefers to be moving!

From the riding position you can’t see the wings! When you’re sat in the saddle and your hands are on the bars you don’t notice the top flat section that when you’re stood at the front of the bike looking at it tend to hit you in the face!

The brakes feel stronger and slightly more progressive. They’re not as grabby as mine but they are the next level up. Manoeuvrability of it at speed is good. The throttle response is just the same as mine but what I think does change the character of the bike is having an aftermarket exhaust compared to a standard exhaust – it just feels like you’re not going as fast or pulling as hard, probably by the way it’s fuelled. It certainly doesn’t seem as racy as my bike with the exhaust or the tune.

I changed the modes from ‘Sport’ to ‘Comfort’ (Street) but if I’m honest, with the riding we’ve done, I couldn’t notice much of a difference. Maybe if we rode the same bit of road in each mode you might notice the difference. I was expecting the electronic suspension to blow me away but it kind of hasn’t. Now I don’t feel as though I’ve missed out for all the years I’ve not had it!

I like the colour of the seat but I don’t think it’ll wear well but the actual paintwork I think is amazing, I love it! The ‘bars seem slightly wider

I think what it shows is the previous model is a brilliant bike and brilliantly underrated too, it’s probably one of the best bikes out there. I think people have a thing with Italian bikes and they think they’ll break down – I can relate to that but not this brand! If you’ve got a bike that looks like a Ducati or goes like a BMW or is easy to use as a Fireblade, people might not want to take a risk with an unknown where they have to ride 50-miles to a dealer  but my experience of Aprilia is the dealer, the mechanics, the salespeople… it’s a good set-up and if you’re willing to travel then it’s not an issue.

 

 

Rivals

The Aprilia has been at the big boys table for a long time now, and deservedly so. No longer compliant with top level production bike racing regulations but more than compliant within esteemed company from Germany, Italy and Japan. Price-wise, the performance and electronic levels have taken these machines way beyond £20,000 now and the RSV4 is the least expensive compared to these four, though the base model Fireblade plus S1000RR are missing here, purely because of space! 

 

BMW M 1000 RR

Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR-R SP

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR

Ducati Panigale V4S

Engine

999cc, 4-cylinder

999cc, 4-cylinder

998cc, 4-cylinder

1103cc, V-twin

Power

209bhp (156kW) @ 14,500rpm

214.6bhp (160kW) @ 14,500rpm

201.2bhp (150W) @ 14,000rpm

211bhp (157.5kW) @ 13,000rpm

Torque

83.4ft-lb (113Nm) @ 11,000rpm

83.4ft-lb (113Nm) @ 12,500rpm

82.5ft-lb (111.8Nm) @ 11,700rpm

91.5ft-lb (124Nm) @ 10,000rpm

Weight

192kg (wet)

201kg (wet)

207kg (wet)

198kg (wet)

Seat height

832mm

830mm

835mm

835mm

Fuel tank

16.5 litres

16.1 litres

17 litres

16 litres

PRICE

£30,935

£23,499

£24,799

£25,205

 

Aprilia RSV4 Factory (2021) Verdict

Having put the RSV4 through its paces in unfamiliar territory with several hundred miles of motorways, dual carriageways and bumpy B-roads, the Aprilia still held its rather debonaire head high. One doesn’t usually approach this kind of purchase wondered what the cruise control system on the M25 is like – it’s a valued part of the bike though not the most intuitive or smooth system.

The RSV4 has long been about style and substance. Its looks and performance make it a track day riders dream which has been further enhanced by the electronic options to tinker with. Though it finds itself just as home on the road with reasonable (for a sports bike) levels of comfort, fantastic brakes, wonderful handling and electronic suspension that has a premium feel across the imperfections. On the road, the effort of getting the bike to lean is virtually unnoticeable vs. rivals though I’m sure that might crop up on a track test. However, when cranked over, it is still beautifully poised.

The updated instrument panel is clear and the switchgear is reasonably intuitive though in a couple of years it’ll look dated. Then the instrument surround seems under-premium for the price and for considering how Ducati, Honda and BMW make there’s look.

Above all else, the driveability of the gorgeous V4, packed full of sound and character like a purring lion with an earthy growl, it’s a beautiful noise that makes you feel oh-so good.

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Aprilia RSV4 Factory (2021) Technical Specification

New price

£23,000

Capacity

1099cc

Bore x Stroke

81 x 53.3mm

Engine layout

65° V4 cylinder

Engine details

4-strokes, liquid cooling system, double overhead camshaft (DOHC), four valves per cylinder

Power

214bhp / 159.5kW @ 13,000rpm

Torque

92.2ft-lbs / 125Nm @ 10,500rpm

Top speed

186mph limited

Transmission

6-speed cassette type gearbox Gear lever with Aprilia Quick Shift electronic system (AQS)

Average fuel consumption

41mpg (6.9 litres/100 km)

 

Tank size

17.9 litres

Max range to empty

THEORETICAL: 160miles

Rider aids

APRC system (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) that includes engine maps (AEM), engine brake control (AEB), traction control (ATC), wheelie control (AWC), launch control (ALC), cruise control (ACC), speed limiter (APT). 6 riding modes (3 Road, 3 Track)

Frame

Aluminium dual beam chassis with pressed and cast sheet elements Available adjustments: headstock position and angle, engine height, swingarm pin height

Front suspension

Smart EC 2.0 electronically managed Öhlins NIX fork. Æ 43 mm stanchions, with TIN surface treatment Aluminium radial calliper mounts, 125 mm travel

Front suspension adjustment

Hydraulic compression and rebound damping and spring pre-load

Rear suspension

Upside-down double braced aluminium swingarm; Öhlins TTX monoshock with Smart EC 2.0 electronically managed piggyback, 115 mm travel

Rear suspension adjustment

Spring pre-load, wheelbase and hydraulic compression and rebound damping

Front brake

Dual 330-mm diameter floating stainless steel disc with lightweight stainless steel rotor and aluminium flange with 6 pins. Brembo Stylema® monobloc radial callipers with 4 Æ 30 mm opposing pistons. Sintered pads. Radial pump and metal braided brake hose

Rear brake

220 mm diameter disc; Brembo calliper with two Æ 32 mm separate pistons. Sintered pads. Pump with integrated tank and metal braided hose Bosch ABS with cornering function and 3 map settings, equipped with RLM (Rear wheel Lift-up Mitigation) strategy

Front tyre

120/70 ZR 17

Rear tyre

200/55 ZR 17

Rake / Trail

24.6° / 104.5mm

Dimensions (l x w)

2055mm x 735mm

Wheelbase

1435.8mm

Seat height

845mm

Weight

202kg (kerb – 90% fuel)

MCIA Secured rating

Not Yet Rated

Warranty

24 months with options to extend to 3 or 4 years

Maintenance

1st service: 620 miles then every 6,200 thereafter

Website

https://www.aprilia.com/gb_EN/

 

Photos and Video: Full Gas Creative

 

Aprilia RSV4 2021 Review Price Spec_003

 

What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars, based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has, and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.

 

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