This is the base model Aprilia RSV4 superbike. That’s a statement hard to believe after you ride one
We live in a very special time for motorcycling. Especially if you like riding big, fast superbikes. When I started doing the journo thing 10 years ago, there were pretty discernable differences between the best and the worst of the 1000cc brigade. Now, the differences are small, really small. The current crop of super blasters is very good. Take this Aprilia RSV4 RR, for example.
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Photography by Pirelli
The replacement for the RSV4 R at the end of 2014, the 999cc, 201 horsepower (claimed) V4 RR was a total redesign with a new engine, electronics, bodywork—the whole deal. A quick glance through the spec sheet makes for joyous reading if you like to fiddle with your bike. This is the base model RSV4 behind the RF and the ultra-rare RFW that is made to order by Aprilia’s race department, yet despite this, the RR still comes with a chassis that lets you adjust the engine position, swingarm pivot and the rear ride height—normally the stuff of the WorldSBK paddock.
The fantastic Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC) suite’s performance has been ramped up on the RR and includes the previous machine’s eight different traction-control settings, three wheelie- and launch-control settings, ABS and the Aprilia Quick Shift for clutchless upshifts but not downshifts, ala Ducati Panigale and BMW S 1000 RR. And, for a very small extra fee at purchase, you can get the Aprilia V4-MP software, where you can do a hell of a lot more than just see what top speed you got (see sidebar below for more).
I had the use of the RR at what is now one of my very favorite racetracks in the world, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. A circuit that provides absolutely no rest for the rider, it’s one of the best places in the world to test a bike’s stability, acceleration, handling and braking, through places like the iconic Corkscrew, Rainey Curve and that balls-to-the-wall bend of turn one. Riding Laguna is another bucket-list track ticked off.
First Impressions Last
Since my last ride on an Aprilia V4 superbike in 2012, not a lot has changed. Internally it’s completely reworked as mentioned above, but the feel of the bike is still the same. Thank god, because the original RSV4 was so damn good it has never needed a complete redesign, just little touch ups.
The chassis is delectably small and the ergonomics initially make for pretty hard work if you’re as inflexible as me to fit on. I say initially because once you’re warmed up and in the groove, the RR’s dimensions feel spot on if all you’re interested in is going really, really quick. Something the bike is far better at than me.
For a machine dominated by such a beast of an engine, the primary quality that makes the RR such a great bike is the chassis. Yes, the V4 engine is a glorious feat of mechanical brilliance and the electronics are excellent, but compared to something like a current generation CBR1000RR or GSX-R1000, the Aprilia’s svelte dimensions make it feel like a 600 with almost twice the power.
With spring rates on the softer side compared to the RF and certainly the RFW, the RR is much more pliable when it comes to some of the harsh bumps found around Laguna Seca, which is a trade-off in ultra-fast lap times for a more street focused suspension set up. But to be honest, that didn’t mean a hell of a lot to me on track because the RR handles itself with brilliant poise in everything from turn one to the uphill left of turn six, where Chaz Davies threw his Panigale at the wall this year. At my pace, the RR felt so smooth and forgiving that I started to get greedy, asking a bit too much of the front tire and suffering a couple of brown moments for myself and the boys at Aprilia.
Such a beautifully balanced chassis makes the Aprilia a demon on the brakes, and it’s graced with some good ones. The front Brembo M430 radial Monobloc calipers have bucket loads of bite and feel. These aren’t even the highest-spec Brembos available, far from it, and I can’t say I wanted for more around Laguna Seca.
The Aprilia is a bike that doesn’t like to be slid on corner entry, which is at odds with many of the current crop of 1000cc fours. The RR likes its wheels kept in line with not a lot of rear brake and you just letting that superb slipper clutch do its thing. Back the RR into a corner and the little chassis can begin to get away from you. You can feel the 250GP heritage line in the RR, and perhaps this is of little surprise given the man this bike was originally intended for, Max Biaggi, is a four-time 250GP World Champion.
The linear feel of the chassis is complimented superbly by the engine and electronics, although the electronics game has moved on slightly with the advent of the Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit found in bikes like the Yamaha YZF-R1, Ducati 1299 Panigale, Kawasaki ZX-10R and for next year, the Honda CBR1000RR. The Aprilia’s traction control, even at its slowest setting of intervention, cuts in a touch too much for my liking, however this is only on maximum acceleration out of corners like the final left-hander leading onto Laguna Seca’s short straight. However, the adjustability of the Aprilia’s TC system via the little left hand thumb switches is still the class leader—so much so that Ducati copied the design for the 1299 Panigale’s TC.
The wheelie-control function works very well, with only a slight dumbing down of the power to bring the front wheel back to terra firma on big time throttle openings. Maximizing drive is the name of the game, and Aprilia had the wheelie control game down long before anyone else when they debuted the APRC system way back in 2011.
Take the electronics out of it and soon you’ll realize the Aprilia’s V4 is one of the finest motorcycle motors you will ever ride. It doesn’t have the banshee top-end madness of an S 1000 RR, nor the thundering torque of a Panigale 1299, it’s somewhere in between and those four cylinders linked to the single right-side muffler emit one of the most righteous noises you’ll ever hear. It’s gruff, mean and obnoxiously loud (as my two black flags for blowing out the stupid Laguna Seca noise meter can attest to) and is the closest sound you’ll get to a road-going MotoGP bike outside a Ducati Desmosedici D16 RR or Honda RC213 V-S.
It’s not just the noise that rocks everyone’s world. Aprilia’s technicians have dialed in a beautifully smooth throttle response—it can be a bit “digital feeling” from the Ride-by-Wire (RbW) throttle if you’re not in Track mode—but its delivery on the side of the tire is soft and unintimidating, allowing the chassis to remain settled and ready to explode you to the next corner.
That velvet glove-esque throttle response gives way to a deluge of Italian torque from about 4000 rpm right up to about 10,000 rpm—below 4000 there’s not a lot there, but this isn’t really a concern on the track because the only area at Laguna Seca you really see that engine speed is the final corner and the entry to the Corkscrew.
A few years back a standard RSV4 would get dumped by a BMW but now I’m not so sure. The Aprilia has serious teeth in the motor department and pulls exceptionally hard right through the rev range as your left foot throws gears at it in a desperate attempt to keep up. I didn’t get the chance to max it out past the top of fourth gear on standard road gearing over the blind crest into turn one, but even then at 11,000 rpm the Aprilia was charging like a bull that’d just seen a tasty matador and with two gears to go the speed show was by no means over. You’ll have to go to Road America to see anything like the max speed this thing has to offer.
Even though this is the RSV4 with the lowest spec of the three, I’d have no qualms sticking this in at least a club race as out of the box the RR feels ready to see the lights. I’d probably throw heavier springs at it front and rear, a set of slicks and away we go. Plus, I’d have the best sounding bike on the grid.
The RR is an exceptional motorcycle. It makes you feel special when you’re squeezing it down Laguna Seca’s front straight and that’s an important thing to note because even in this spec, it’s still one of the most expensive superbikes you can buy. But it’s worth it. The sound, the looks, the performance, the RR has got it all.
When Steve Jobs created the iPhone, I bet even he couldn’t foresee you’d be able to program a motorcycle’s electronics with it. But thanks to the Aprilia V4-MP software and app, you can turn your standard RSV4 RR/RF/RFW into a track missile with features that were solely restricted to factory MotoGP teams only a few years ago.
Like the app you can get for the Yamaha YZF-R1M, the V4-MP allows you to program an incredible amount of information into your machine, as well as log virtually every performance parameter to help you go faster.
Using this app is something many riders will find hugely useful. You can record every square inch of your run, where you were on the track, your lean angle, throttle and gear position, revs and traction control, download it to your phone or tablet and replay it to find precious tenths.
One thing I really love is the fact you can program the traction control and anti-wheelie system to specific corners on the track. The app has a relatively small list of FIM-certified tracks (for us in the States it’s Laguna Seca and Circuit Of The Americas), so it may not help you at Road Atlanta, but the GPS tracking of your run certainly will.
Plus if you and your buddy are riding the same bikes around Laguna and you really want to beat him, you can secretly program his TC to full for the entire run as he watches you ride into the distance. But I didn’t tell you that.CN
Check out this video below for a detailed look at what the app can do.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 Aprilia RSV4 RR
Aprilia longitudinal 65° V-4 cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid cooling system, double overhead camshafts, (DOHC), four valves per cylinder
Bore x stroke:
78 x 52.3mm
201 hp @ 13,00 rpm (claimed)
84 lb-ft @ 10,500 rpm (claimed)
Airbox with front dynamic air intakes. Variable length intake ducts controlled via the engine control unit. Four Marelli 48-mm throttle bodies with eight injectors and latest generation Ride- By-Wire engine management. Multiple engine maps selectable by the rider with bike in motion: T (Track), S (Sport), R (Race)
4 into 2 into 1 layout, two oxygen sensors, lateral single silencer with ECU-controlled bypass valve and integrated trivalent catalytic converter (Euro 3).
Six-speed cassette type gearbox. Gear lever with Aprilia Quick Shift electronic system (AQS).
Aluminum dual beam chassis with pressed and cast sheet elements. Adjustable headstock position and rake, engine height, swingarm pin height. Non-adjustable Sachs steering damper
Sachs 43mm fully adjustable inverted forks. 120mm wheel travel
Fully adjustable Sachs unit. 130mm wheel travel.
Dual 320mm diameter floating stainless steel disc with lightweight stainless steel rotor and aluminum flange with 6 pins. Brembo M430 monobloc radial calipers with four 30mm opposing pistons. Sintered pads. Radial pump and metal braided brake hose.
220mm diameter disc; Brembo caliper with two 32 mm separate pistons. Sintered pads. Pump with integrated tank and metal braided hose
398 lb. (dry, claimed).
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