Although the previous RSV4 was down on power compared to its rivals it handled so well, it hardly mattered. So it’s more tweaks than big changes in the chassis department to control the extra power. Aprilia has used its existing adjustable twin spar aluminium frame to jiggle the engine and steering position and drop the centre of gravity, reduce trail and improve agility. A 4mm longer swingarm improves rear grip and helps stability.
Steering is light through fast flip-flops and trail braking into slow corners. It’s easy to hold a line at high speed and there’s racebike levels of feel through the chassis, suspension and tyres. All this gives you the confidence to bury it on its ear in corners. Brembo monoblocs offer unrivalled feel and power. Although designed to win superbike and superstock races, the new RSV4 RF should be more practical on the road. The new-design mirrors are wider, the clip-ons set higher and the upper fairing, which has 1.5kg lighter headlights, is more aerodynamic.
Aprilia claims 201bhp@13,000rpm (up 16bhp) and 85ftlb of torque from its redesigned harder-revving, 2.5kg lighter 65° V4 engine. A new cylinder head has revised porting, a CNC-machined combustion chamber, new titanium exhaust valves and 1mm-larger titanium inlet valves. It has 100g-lighter Pankl conrods, new crankcases, cams and a lighter gearbox with revised ratios. There’s also a new airbox with a vertical air filter, redesigned variable length inlet trumpets, a new exhaust with 2mm-larger diameter header pipes and a new lubrication system.
Where the old RSV4 would run out of puff around 12,000rpm, this new version keeps on pulling hard to 13,500rpm and hammers straights as quick as its rivals. But it’s not all about top end power. The V4 motor has a silkier throttle than ever and flatter, easier to mange spread of torque.
It’s beautifully built, using top components and goes like stink. But for some strange reason many see Aprilia ownership as a risk, don’t connect with the brand, or haven’t got a dealer nearby.
Aprilia had a poor reputation for spares back-up over a decade ago, but that’s a thing of the past and these bikes are generally bulletproof, won’t let you down and aren’t hard to live with.
It’s pricier than the standard R1 and S1000RR Sport, but cheaper than the R1M, 1299 Panigale S and Panigale R. You get a lot of technology, speed and handling for your money, not to mention that howling V4 soundtrack.
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It has lightweight forged aluminium wheels, and fully adjustable Ohlins forks, shock and steering damper and ‘Superpole’ graphics. You also get Brembo radial monoblocs, a polished aluminium frame and swingarm that wouldn’t look out of place at an art gallery and sticky Pirelli Diablo Super Corsa SP trackday tyres, with a 200-section rear.
The RSV4 RF has a more refined racing ABS system, traction, launch and wheelie control, a quickshifter and three riding modes (Sport, Track, Race). New electronics control engine-braking parameters, depending on the gear position, so there’s less chance of rear wheel ‘hop’ in the lower gears. In ‘Race’ mode the engine braking is reduced below 6000rpm. The only electronic gizmo missing from the new RSV4 RF is an auto-blipper.
But the Aprilia comes with the option of a datalogger, smartly packaged as a phone/tablet app (see annotations). It talks to the bike’s GPS and shows you real-time laps, displaying things like your speed, throttle position, lean angle and traction/wheelie control intervention, once you’ve finished your ride. You can also see where you’re gaining and losing time, lap-on-lap. The app also lets you set your wheelie and traction control corner-by-corner.