Aprilia RSV4R Review
Words and Photos: Brad Puetz
Edited by webBikeWorld.com
Photos and Text Courtesy
Motorcycle Reviews Directory
Growing up in
the rural northern Canada (Saskatchewan), it should come as
no surprise that I live my life without a lot flair; I prefer
sneakers over Italian shoes, steak over pasta and a cold beer
While I have always admired the Italian's passion and ability
to build extremely competent motorcycles, there has not been
a model that I felt really suited my character or made me feel
as though I just had to have one in my garage.
Well my friends, that day has come. Just one look at the
Aprilia RSV4R was all it took for me to hang up the sneakers
and throw the steak to the dog. No more post-race Pabst Blue
Ribbon for this guy; I'll have a nice Chianti, grazie.
OK, maybe the transformation didn't happen quite that abruptly.
But I must say that many of my opinions have changed thanks
to my three weeks with the Aprilia RSV4R.
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Aprilia RSV4R Styling
start with the styling. While I have always been impressed with
the motorcycle design coming out of Aprilia, the RSV4 is hands
down the best looking bike I've seen to come out of Italy. Having
said that, I was surprised to find how divided people seem to
be on the styling.
There seemed to be a sort of love-it-or-hate-it feeling about
the new RSV4R styling when speaking to other riders. Among the
non-riding public I came into contact with the comments were
almost 100% positive however.
The angular lines of the RSV4 and triangular tail section
are quite extreme but it is a look I fell in love with from
the first time the photos of the new Aprilia surfaced. The Aprilia
RSV4R comes in two different color combinations: black/red or
white/black. I would be spending my three weeks on the white
one with the black forks.
That's right -- not the gold forks, which only means one
thing. This would be the RSV4R, not the RSV4 Factory.
The paint scheme is quite simple yet it manages to look like
a racing machine without having to plaster the bike with dozens
of go-fast graphics. The fairings are clean and tidy and the
tail section is extremely tiny. The forks are topped off in
orange, adding just a bit of style to the already impressive
With today's emissions controls there are seemingly very
few sexy stock exhausts to be found on modern sportbikes. While
Aprilia has done a better job than most, the 4-into-2-into-1
exhaust is still a far cry from being attractive.
Sitting on the new RSV4R you soon find the small size is
not an illusion; this is one compact sportbike. While the package
as a whole seems to be on par with the smaller 600's, the seating
position was not cramped and I instantly felt at home in the
cockpit. The only drawback of the small size seemed to be the
placement of the mirrors which, on this narrow fairing, were
almost impossible to move into a position that was of any real
RSV4R Engine and Specs
Aprilia RSV4 comes in two versions, the RSV4R base version and
the higher-spec version, the RSV4 Factory. The R model is essentially
very close to its pricier sibling in all areas except suspension.
The R version features Showa/Sachs suspension instead of
Öhlins; aluminum components instead of magnesium; plastic portions
of bodywork instead of carbon fiber; and a non-adjustable chassis.
The Factory also allows you to change the swingarm pivot point,
steering head angle and even the engine position.
Both RSV4 models are powered by the same super-compact 999.6
cc 65° V four-cylinder engine producing a claimed 180 hp at
12,500 rpm and 85 lb-ft of torque at 10,000 rpm.
The engine features a ride-by-wire multimap system, a sophisticated
electronic injection system with two injectors per cylinder
and 48mm throttle bodies. The RSV4's forged pistons deliver
a high 13:1 compression ratio. The only thing lacking on the
RSV4R are the variable-height air-intake trumpets fitted to
the Factory model.
I would not be losing any sleep however due to my current
ride's lack of magnesium or gold shiny suspension. I would be
instead taking joy in the Brembo monobloc brakes, fully adjustable
43mm Showa fork and Sachs shock . I would also be enjoying the
25% less money I paid for the bike, had I actually paid for
The RSV4R is wrapped in an aluminum dual spar frame and has
a dry weight of 405 pounds. The whole package is quite small
and closely on par with the current CBR1000 in terms of size;
although, surprisingly, it feels even tinier.
The RSV4R uses
a mixed digital/analog instrument display and it provides a
clean, functional view of what's happening aboard the Aprilia.
Instrumentation includes tach, speedo, shift light and displays
for gear and engine mode.
Riding the RSV4R
I had heard
the rumors of the sweet sounds emitted from the new Aprilia,
so with the anticipation of a small schoolboy about to open
a birthday gift, I fired the big V4 up for the first time. The
Aprilia has a fierce roar that screams race bred; it is a sound
Aprilia pilots will come to lust. Walking into the garage every
morning gave me the feeling that I was in the Grand Prix paddock
firing up a factory-built race machine.
Once out to terrorize the local streets my first impressions
were on how compact the Aprilia is and how it feels like you
are directly connected to the front wheel; both in body position
and feel from the bars. Input was instant and responsive and
although the RSV4R is compact it was surprisingly quite comfortable.
Sore knees and numb hands are the norm after a day of long
riding for me on most modern sportbikes, but even after long
days in the saddle I was pleasantly surprised at just how easy
the Aprilia was on my abused frame.
I would have no problem riding this bike as a daily commuter
-- this is not something I would not have expected from such
a proven, fiery track weapon.
Another thing I found quite fiery on the RSV4R however was
the amount of heat generated in the saddle area.
Things were getting pretty toasty while sitting in stop-and-go
traffic, even though I was riding in very cool conditions.
Riders of the Aprilia will definitely be breaking a sweat
when riding on hot summer days in slow moving traffic.
This is no doubt caused by the high running temperature of
the RSV4R; the temp gauge would regularly hover around the 210-220
degree (F) mark and seemed to climb there quite quickly..
It is a common misconception, and one that I am guilty of,
to think every motorcycle with the letter "V" in the
name is going to be a torque monster. So it was to my surprise
that this V4 Aprilia does not make tractor-like torque.
While the motor pulls strong from the bottom, it does not
have the grunt of a V-twin or even the CBR1000 for that matter.
Hit the 7,500 RPM mark and the RSV4R truly comes to life in
an impressive manner; this V4 has one serious punch in the mid-range.
The fun doesn't stop there, however, as the RSV4R pulls hard
until just short of the 14,200 rpm redline and does it with
an exciting power delivery with the front end dancing through
the air. Perhaps not the most electrifying power delivery of
the liter bikes but definitely one of the most exhilarating.
Maybe the best part of this rush is the captivating melody
being played by the V4 engine as you pour on the power. I put
the RSV4R right on par with the current crop of liter bikes,
especially when you tap into the potent top-end that will challenge
any of the inline fours.
The V4 Aprilia engine feels perfectly balanced with no vibration
to speak of and the fuel injection worked to perfection making
the RSV4R an amazingly smooth ride. The Aprilia uses a 6-speed
cassette-style transmission with a tall first gear which likely
had an effect on the lack of torque feel down low. While shifting
was adequate, finding neutral was a challenge and a delicate
foot was required at nearly every stop. The cable-actuated slipper
clutch pull was low-effort with a nice feel and linear action.
My ride on the RSV4R was a true real-world test taking place
on the city streets and local canyons. While much of the cutting
edge technology was most certainly designed with the track in
mind it also makes the RSV4R a sharp, enticing ride on the street.
The nimble chassis comprised from a mixture of both cast
and pressed pieces of aluminum with a beautiful polished finish
made me feel as if I was truly enjoying the best of exotic bike
performance. It changed direction with complete ease making
it a simple task to put the Aprilia on the perfect line through
The RSV4R comes equipped with 43 mm inverted Showa forks
and Sachs gas-charged shock absorber. Sachs also provides the
non-adjustable steering damper. For all of you out there with
tender tushies, the suspension is fully adjustable for preload,
compression and rebound damping adjustment.
I am not a big tweaker of damping, so the Aprilia was right
up my alley -- no tweaking needed. Sure, the gold Öhlins parts
on the factory look ultra trick but it should be noted that
the "R" model is sporting some top-notch suspension
components as well.
Something that should
not be forgotten is that the RSV4R does sport some of its own
trick parts. Can you say Brembo 4-piston monobloc calipers and
a radial-mount master cylinder with a pair of 320mm diameter
discs? I knew you could.
The rear brake is a single 220mm disc with a Brembo twin-piston
caliper. Metal-lined brake hoses are used both front and back.
I have ridden with some nice brakes in my day but these Brembo’s
take the cake. Absolutely the best-feeling brakes I have ever
laid my paws on. Perfect feel, coupled with awesome stopping
power had me staying on the gas just that bit longer knowing
the RSV4R brakes would be there to haul me down from warp speed.
I have had the pleasure of riding many bikes with Brembo’s
and while many had great stopping power they often lacked the
feel or progression I look for in a braking system. Brembo has
really nailed the braking system on the RSV4R however. Never
has it ever been so much fun to slow down!
The RSV4R comes equipped
with Metzeler’s Racetec K3 high-performance street tires. It's
been quite some time since I have seen a sportbike come equipped
with Metzeler tires, so I was not sure what to expect.
They have a very aggressive tread pattern that looked very
well suited for track days. During my first week in rainy conditions
the tires were a bit of a handful as they gave me a few good
wiggles in the wet. Once conditions dried out however, the Metzeler's
were much more in their element and provided great sporting
characteristics and grip.
Variable Engine Mapping
spent a short time playing with the variable engine maps and
found them slightly difficult to navigate quickly. The Aprilia
features Track, Sport and Road settings. Track mode is full
power while Sport mode limits power in the first three gears.
Road mode brings the power down to 140 HP in all gears. It
feels somewhat strange hitting the starter button to change
modes. The mode takes a good amount of time to change which
is annoying and had me double checking on more than one occasion
if I was hitting the right button since it did not seem like
anything was happening.
To be honest, I have never been a big user of mapping mode
switches while riding on the street. I normally forget if a
bike is even equipped with the option.
I rode the first week with the RSV4 in the rain and completely
forgot that I even had the option to switch modes to help me
out in the slick conditions. Had I remembered, I no doubt I
would've switched from the Track mode anyway. What fun is riding
if you can't flirt with a little disaster every once in a while?
has always produced some exciting and competent motorcycles,
none have had such a wide appeal at such an affordable price
for a motorcycle that is capable of winning straight out of
There is plenty of technology packed into the RSV4R for the
$15,999 price tag. I love riding all types of motorcycles, from
50cc scooters to 600 pound cruisers, but deep down I will always
have a desire to ride the most race-worthy, performance oriented
So to me, the arrival of the Aprilia RSV4R is almost like
my personal wish list being answered. A hardcore piece of machinery
built for serious sport use in a price range that is affordable
to the average motorcycle owner.
For any rider who dreams of the rush and excitement of piloting
a factory racing machine, the RSV4R will get you closer to that
experience than any other mass produced sportbike under $20,000.
For this, Aprilia (and Italy), I thank you.
UPDATE: 2010 Aprilia
RSV4 Recall (US)
Manufacturer: Piaggio USA, Inc.
Date: Jan 25, 2010
NHTSA Campaign ID Number:
Component: Engine and engine cooling
Potential Number of Units Affected: 335
Summary: Piaggio is recalling certain model year 2010
Aprilia RSV4 "Factory" and RSV4R motorcycles manufactured
between July 2, 2009, and October 30, 2009. In manufacturing
the connecting rods, a process was used to straighten the rod
in order to meet specifications. This process introduced stresses
into the rods which greatly affected strength and reliability.
Consequences: Connecting rods in the affected
vehicles could fail and cause engine failure that could lead
to a loss of vehicle control, resulting in a crash, personal
injury, or death.
Remedy: Piaggio will notify owners and replace
the engines free of charge. The safety recall is expected to
begin on or about February 28, 2010. Owners may contact Piaggio
Notes: Owners may also contact the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration vehicle safety hotline
at 1-888-327-4236 or go to http://www.safercar.gov .
Aprilia Mana 850 Review
2010 Aprilia RSV4R
||Type: Longitudinal 65° V-4
cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid cooled, DOHC, 4 valves
||Capacity: 999.6 cc
||Bore/Stroke: 78 mm x 52.3
||Compression Ratio: 13:1
||Ignition: Magneti Marelli
digital electronic ignition system integrated in
engine control system, with one spark plug per cylinder
and “stick-coil”-type coils.
||Exhaust: 4-into-2-into-1 layout,
single oxygen sensor, lateral single silencer with
engine control unit-controlled butterfly valve and
integrated trivalent catalytic converter (Euro 3).
||Generator: Flywheel mounted
420W alternator with rare earth magnets
||Lubrication: Wet sump lubrication
system with oil radiator and two oil pumps (lubrication
||Fuel System: Airbox with front
dynamic air intakes. 4 Weber-Marelli 48-mm throttle
bodies with 8 injectors and latest generation Ride-by-Wire
engine management. Choice of three different engine
maps selectable by the rider with bike in motion:
T (Track), S (Sport), R (Road)
||Gearbox: 6-speed cassette
type gearbox 1st: 39/15 (2.6) 2nd: 33/16 (2,063)
3rd: 34/20 (1.7) 4th: 32/22 (1,455) 5th: 34/26 (1,308)
6th: 33/27 (1,222)
||Clutch: Multi-plate wet clutch
with mechanical slipper system
||Primary Drive: Straight cut
gears and integrated flexible coupling, drive ratio:
||Final Drive: Chain: Drive
ratio: 40/16 (2.5) or 42/16 (2.625)
||Frame: Aluminum dual beam
chassis with pressed and cast sheet elements. Sachs
||Front Suspension: Upside-down
43 mm Showa fork. Forged aluminum radial caliper
mounting brackets. Completely adjustable spring
preload and hydraulic compression and rebound damping.
||Front Wheel Travel: 120 mm
||Rear Suspension: Twin sided
aluminum swingarm; mixed low thickness and sheet
casting technology. Sachs piggy back monoshock with
completely adjustable: spring preload, wheelbase,
hydraulic compression and rebound damping. APS progressive
||Rear Wheel Travel: 130mm
||Brakes: Front: Dual 320-mm
diameter floating stainless steel disc with lightweight
stainless steel rotor and aluminum flange with 6
pins. Brembo monobloc radial calipers with 4 Ø 34-mm
opposite. Sintered pads. Radial pump and metal braided
brake hose Rear: 220-mm diameter disc; Brembo caliper
with two Ø 32 mm separate pistons. Sintered pads.
Pump with integrated tank and metal braided hose.
||Front Wheel: Aluminum alloy
with 6 split spokes, 3.5”X17”
||Rear Wheel: Aluminum alloy
with 5 split spokes, 6”X17”
||Front Tire: 120/70 ZR 17
||Rear Tire: 190/55 ZR 17 (alternative:
190/50 ZR 17)
Weights and Capacities
||Length: 2040 mm
||Width: 735 mm (at the handlebar)
||Height: 1120 mm
||Clearance: 130 mm
||Saddle Height: 845 mm
||Trail: 105 mm
||Steering angle: 24.5°
||Fuel tank capacity: 17 litres
(4-litre reserve included)
||Dry weight: 184 kg *
(Measured at crankshaft to 95/1/EC)
||Maximum Power: 180 CV (132.4
kW) a 12,500 rpm
||Maximum Torque: 115 Nm a 10,000
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