Aprilia RSV4R Review
Photos: Brad Puetz
Edited by webBikeWorld.com
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Used with permission.
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 over wine.
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
Aprilia RSV4R Styling
Let's 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 front end.
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 use.
RSV4R Engine and Specs
The 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 it.
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
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.
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
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
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 every
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
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
I 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
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?
While Aprilia 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 the box.
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 sportbike available.
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
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.
Aprilia RSV4 Recall (US)
USA, Inc. Date: Jan 25, 2010
NHTSA Campaign ID Number: 10V029000
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 at
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
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Aprilia RSV4R - Specifications
||Type: Longitudinal 65°
V-4 cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid cooled, DOHC,
4 valves per cylinder.
||Capacity: 999.6 cc
||Bore/Stroke: 78 mm x
Marelli digital electronic ignition system
integrated in engine control system, with
one spark plug per cylinder and
4-into-2-into-1 layout, single oxygen
sensor, lateral single silencer with engine
control unit-controlled butterfly valve and
integrated trivalent catalytic converter
mounted 420W alternator with rare earth
||Lubrication: Wet sump
lubrication system with oil radiator and two
oil pumps (lubrication and cooling)
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
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
wet clutch with mechanical slipper system
Straight cut gears and integrated flexible
coupling, drive ratio: 73/44 (1,659)
||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 steering damper
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:
||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 linkage.
||Rear Wheel Travel:
||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.
Instruments and Lights
||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
||Rear Tire: 190/55 ZR
17 (alternative: 190/50 ZR 17)
||Length: 2040 mm
||Width: 735 mm (at the
||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 *
Performance (Measured at crankshaft to
||Maximum Power: 180 CV
(132.4 kW) a 12,500 rpm
||Maximum Torque: 115 Nm
a 10,000 rpm
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