Although not competing in the World Superbike championship, the Aprilia RSV1000R is a formidable bike out on the track.
The Aprilia RSV 1000R as undoubtedly made its mark on the history of performance Twins. Its combination of an agile chassis, top-shelf brake and suspension components coupled with a 120-horsepower motor has been tough for consumers to ignore for nearly a decade. If there are any doubters among us, look no further than the results of the 2006 Master Bike competition for proof that the Mille is still an elite superbike in this age of In-Line repli-racers. The 2006 RSV1000R Factory was chosen as the bike of choice by a contingent of international moto-journalists and who are we to question their conclusion.
Although we were hoping to procure the Factory version of the mighty Mille for this two-bike review, there is simply not enough of them to go around. Fortunately, the majority of the differences between the two models are primarily cosmetic, with an adjustable Ohlins steering damper, rear shock and Super Corsa Pro tires at the top of a list of ‘Factory’ pieces which includes gold painted forged wheels, frame and carbon fiber kit bodywork components.
Aesthetically the Mille’s more traditional looking design is still quite sharp. Its massive aluminum frame, dual up-swept
exhaust and matte-black finish will attract attention from anyone who is drawn to exotic equipment. Fire-up the fuel-injected 60-degree V-Twin and you are rewarded with the staccato purr and rumbling engine pulses that make these performance Twins so stirring. But there’s a lot to like about the Mille other than just the way it looks, feels and sounds – starting with the way it consumes corners.
On the twistiest sections of track the Mille is in its element and puts some distance on the less-nimble Ducati. The clip-on bars are set wide and low which, when combined with the nimble nature of this chassis and its short 55.8-inch wheelbase, allow it to switch side-to-side with relative ease despite weighing in at a portly 476 lbs with a full tank of fuel. Pare out the petroleum from the equation and it tips the scales at 447 lbs – still 37 more than our 1098S.
The fully-adjustable TiN coated inverted Ohlins fork and Sachs shock do an admirable job of soaking up the terrain and keeping the rubber on the road.
“I really like the way the Aprilia maneuvers in the corners. For how big of a machine it is, it turns incredibly fast: Faster than the 1098,” explains our second test rider, Associate Editor Adam Waheed.
Despite the fact that the motor sounds raucous and ready to go, it doesn’t exactly come on with authority compared to the 1098S – and that’s where it loses the ground it gained in the corners. Considered on its own, the Mille makes pretty good power, pulling in a very linear fashion until its 117-horsepower peak at 8300 rpm. The 64.8 lb-ft of torque seems impressive too, but it gives up 15 lb-ft from seven grand through redline to the 1098. As you can s
The Aprilia RSV1000R delivers its muscle best when the tach is above 9 grand, but even then the Ducati 1098S takes the Horsepower Dyno bragging rights with an impressive 140 reading.
ee in the accompanying dyno graph, the Mille is at its best when kept above nine grand. It’s crucial to keep it in the meat of the power if it wants to keep the lighter and more powerful Ducati in its sites on the track.
Even at the drag strip, the Mille is at a disadvantage as it finishes a half second and eight mph behind the Duc with a best uncorrected run of 11.03 at 127 mph.
“The 1000cc engine was lifeless compared to the 1098,” explains Waheed. “It had a very flat midrange and seemed to only accelerate at a decent clip when the engine was kept at the upper edge of the rpm. Gearing was very tall and the gears were widely spaced too. This makes it hard to keep the engine in the meat of the power.”
An interesting side-effect of the less aggressive power delivery is the need to keep corner speeds high and the stellar Brembo front brakes allow for very precise modulation of scrubbed-off speed. The braking prowess of the four-piston radial-mount calipers, braided steel lines and 320mm rotors provides a level of feel and control most sportbike riders can only aspire to be able to use completely. The rear brake is absolutely worthless though. Literally, it does not work worth a hill of beans, continuing the long-standing tradition of miserable rear brakes on Aprilia sportbikes. Corner entry is definitely a thrill on the Mille. Aided by its PPC power-assisted pneumatic version of the slipper-clutch and an OEM steering damper, the Aprilia is right at home hustling along on either the tightest streets or the most technical tracks. It’s easy to ride smooth and is forgiving enough that even when you get things wrong these components help keep things manageable.
In a nutshell, the $13,699 Aprilia RSV1000R is an incredible sportbike wrapped in bold bodywork that turns heads and conjures up images of apex strafing for the knee-draggers among us but, where it comes up a bit short, is in the motor department. Our Dynojet 200i revealed a best run of 117 hp and that is just simply not enough to give the more powerful Testastretta Evoluzione motor of the 1098S a run for its money on the street or the track. These numbers are all relative, however, as a skilled rider can squeeze the best out of a bike like the Mille and have little to complain about because the base platform is there – it just needs a bit more motor to keep us happy.