Aprilia RSV4 Factory
Curb Weight: 453 lbs
Horsepower: 154.6 @ 12,300 rpm
Torque: 75.1 lb-ft @ 10,000 rpm
Quarter Mile: 10.30 seconds @ 139.8 mph
Racetrack Top Speed: 153.8 mph
Best Lap Time: 1:28.21
Aprilia RSV4 Factory
The new Aprilia comes into this test as the only stock motorcycle, but does so for good reason. Touted as one of the top new 1000cc rides for 2010, this served as the perfect OE benchmark for which to compare the other two modified machines. Its $20,999 price also puts in right in the ballpark with the Yoshimura GSX-R, allowing for a direct comparison between a modified Japanese machine and a stock European exotic.
Impossible not to notice by simply glancing at the Italian V-Four, the bike feels very small between one’s legs. And while not much bigger in width than today’s compact 600s, the Aprilia still fit our 6-foot-tall Road Test Editor, Adam Waheed, quite well. This is because the actual on-bike ergos are surprisingly relaxed, with lower-than-expected footpegs and ample room provided by the long solo seat. This allowed the Aprilia to be a comfortable machine for everyone who tested it, sizes ranging from my vertically-challenged 5’6” stature to the aforementioned lanky frame of Waheed.
One would also think by virtue of its small overall size, it would be a featherweight fighter. Not exactly. Our test unit rolled across the scales at 453 lbs full of fluids, making it one of the heavier liter-class bikes currently produced. Where does this girth come from and how does it hide the weight so well? Its V-Four engine, that’s where. Not light by any means, the compact design allows a lot of metal to sit in a small and low place. While this raises the curb weight, due to the engine’s low CG (Center of Gravity) and the under-seat mounted fuel tank, the bike feels as if it were one of the lightest 1000s both at speed and tooling around the parking lot. The Aprilia is truly a sportbike Houdini.
Aprilia’s new 2010 RSV4 Factory really impressed all who rode it (top); The compact V-Four engine (center) keeps the CG low but is on the heavy side; Gauges (bottom) are simple, to the point and easy to read.
And while the V-Four engine may be on the heavy side, the power which it produces, and the way in which it puts it to the ground, greatly impressed all who rode it. With almost the ideal mix of low-end torque from a V-Twin and the high-revving nature of an Inline-Four, it’s nearly impossible not to be drawn in by the Aprilia’s powerplant.
Exit the corner and open the throttle, even as low as 6000 rpm, and the RSV pulls with a strong yet somewhat deceiving ferocity. This push keeps building as the revs rise, and just as one thinks the mid-range will taper off as 10,000 rpm splashes across the dash, it hits what feels like overdrive, surging into the upper revs and keeping on strong all the way up to and slightly past 13,000 rpm. Due to the strong bottom end and mid range, I found myself riding it somewhat like a Twin at first, short-shifting quite often. That was until I experimented at the top of the revs and realized what I had been missing.
The power is downright impressive, especially considering the highly-modified competition we were riding alongside it. Taking a look at the cold, hard numbers, on our dyno the RSV4 pulled a solid 154.6 hp at 12,300 rpm with 75.1 lb-ft of torque at 10,000 rpm – very competitive numbers from a stock machine.
“The engine of the Aprilia is awesome, everything about it,” Road Test Editor Waheed says. “It’s crazy that up against a Yoshimura-built GSX-R1000 and Ducati Performance 1098R that it would still feel as fast as it does. I rode the base ‘R’ model in Mugello at the press intro but today this Factory feels quite a bit faster for some reason, even though there’s not much different between the engines. This Aprilia has one of the best stock engines made today. Not to mention that exhaust note – absolute musical harmony.”
Taking a look at the VBox data shows a competitive top speed of 153.8 mph; less than 10 down on the Ducati and roughly 13 off the Yoshimura Suzuki. And while that may sound like a decent gap, for a bone-stock motorcycle compared to two very fast modified machines, it’s quite a bit closer than we anticipated. But even more telling may be the RSV4’s pace exiting the high-speed Turn 8, where it logs a max of 124.9 mph, less than five mph off that of the Ducati. It doesn’t fare quite as well coming out of Turn 9 as the stock gearing held it back to 109.9 mph, which no doubt also contributed to its outright top speed deficit. With proper gearing we don’t doubt this bike would be extremely close to the modified pair.
“The handling of this bike continues to surprise me every time I ride one,” – Road Test Editor Waheed.
Where the Italian steed really shines, however, is its ability to shove that powerful engine inside a motorcycle which feels no bigger than a middleweight and handles nearly on par with one was well. Despite the heavier curb weight, the chassis has a very compact and reassuringly solid feel too it.
The result is a motorcycle that not only changes direction with ease but also is extremely stable no matter the situation. Be it 150 mph sweepers or 50 mph hairpins, the RSV4 seems to find a way to get through each with far less effort than comparable stock liter-bikes, while also inspiring the confidence needed to really push its limits.
As MCUSA Editorial Director Ken Hutchison puts it, “This reminds me of a much smaller and more powerful Aprilia Mille. That bike always had a chassis that was well balanced and easy to exploit. And the RSV4 is very similar. It handled great, and since it was stock the suspension featured a softer set-up than the other two bikes. That made it easier for me to go fast on it as the bike felt familiar and wasn’t jarring and as a result was simply the easiest for me to ride fast.”
“The handling of this bike continues to surprise me every time I ride one,” adds Waheed. “While it’s not quite as flickable as a 600, for a liter-bike it’s right up there with one of the best. Not to mention, one doesn’t sacrifice an ounce of stability for this flickability.”
Aprilia RSV4 Factory VBox Data @ Willow Springs
– The RSV hits a top speed of 153.8 mph on the front straight, while the potent stock machine reaches 138.2 mph down the shorter back straight. Also worth nothing is the 90.2 mph Turn 2 apex speed, which is second only to the Ducati, showing just how capable the stock chassis is.
This is backed up by the data. Looking at corner speeds, you can see that the Aprilia is actually quicker than the Yoshimua Suzuki at the apex of Turn 2, with a best speed of 90.5 mph (compared to 86.5 mph for the GSX-R). In fact, even the Ducati’s highly-modified chassis was only a hair faster than the RSV4 at 91.7 mph – and that’s with nearly 20-grand in Superbike-spec suspension and chassis upgrades.
Further contributing to its trackside manners was a substantial set of binders. Gold radial Brembo calipers up front cinch down on 320mm rotors and make for a stopping combination on par with just about anything sold today. They may not quite have the bite of the racing Brembos on the Ducati, but they are definitely far superior to the Tokicos on the Suzuki, giving the rider loads of power while still being very easy to modulate in tricky situations due abundant feedback through the lever.
In the world of motorcycle appearance it’s tough not to weigh in without too much of a biased opinion, so our goal is usually to stay as objective as possible, letting the reader be the judge. But in the case of the new RSV4, it’s nearly impossible to keep our mouths shut. As one of the most hyped and widely-anticipated sportbikes in recent memory, it’s also widely agreed that the new Aprilia is one of the best looking bikes made today. And I must say, we have to agree, especially the Factory model. Its black and orange paint, Ohlins fork and carbon fiber sprinkling throughout make it far from an eyesore.
Though we will not be using the Factory model for our upcoming Superbike Smackdown, we will have the base ‘R’ model and we don’t doubt it will be very competitive against the current crop of literbikes.
Coming into the test we all wondered how the only stock machine would fair. The answer was quickly very clear: Extremely well. Despite being down 20-plus horsepower and hitting the track just how it comes out of the crate from Italy (plus the addition of our Pirelli spec tire), Aprilia’s RSV4 Factory was only a second off the Yoshimura Suzuki and roughly two seconds adrift of the super Ducati – not too shabby. We also don’t doubt that with an exhaust, gearing and some time to tune the suspension that it would be right on pace with the other two.
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