Last year we missed out on including the Aprilia RSV4 APRC in our 2011 Superbike Smackdown VIII. In the previous year the RSV4 did not fare so well, but soon after the Aprilia literbike got some revisions, most notably the addition of the APRC traction control system. In the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 APRC First Ride article we felt that if it had been available for the smackdown it might have been a contender. Aprilia came loaded for bear this year, delivering the $22,999 up-spec Factory edition of the 2012 model. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t excited to put this V-Four screamer through its paces.
RSV4 Factory APRC – it’s a mouthful for sure, but what does it all mean? The Factory edition features Ohlins suspension, forged aluminum wheels, gobs of carbon fiber and adjustable front and rear geometry. Then heap the Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC) system on top of all that mega-spec goodness. The APRC is by far the most intense and feature-rich traction control system out there, based on Max Biaggi’s 2010 World Superbike Championship winning machine, this is the real deal. There are 8 levels of traction control, 3 levels of wheelie control, 3 levels of launch control and a quick shifter all stemming from the fly-by-wire throttle system. An F-16 jet-fighter just might be less complicated than this thing.
The basic 65-degree V-Four engine architecture hasn’t changed much since we had the bike in the 2010 smackdown except for a new, lighter exhaust intended to unleash some more ponies. And this is a good thing, the engine is super compact and is
The 2012 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC has the one of the sweetest exhaust notes coming from its V-Four motor.
just about the same width as V-Twin. This design makes for a very small, narrow chassis. There is some punch in that diminutive-dimensioned 999.6cc engine too. On our Dynojet 250i the RSV4 cranked out a fourth-best 159.82 horsepower and 76.16 lb-ft of torque, also fourth highest. On the street the power impressions from our varied crew of riders was generally positive. Starting at the mid-range the rush to the top-end is frantic yet smooth as silk at the same time.
Leah Petersen ranks the engine power and character first for both categories. “This bike is smooth and subtle, you’re hitting over 100 mph long before you realize it. This engine just sounds exciting; I think it would even get non-motorcycle people amped up.”
Our stunt-buddy Ernie has an interesting counterpoint to Leah’s comments stemming from the tall first gear that hurt the low-end power feel from the Aprilia. “The top end on this bike is insane – pure race bred power. It’s amazing for anything track related, but if your looking for in city torque it’s nowhere to be found.”
And that is the crux of the Aprilia’s street performance. It’s has a stellar engine character, but the taller first gear makes getting away from a stoplight a chore. Once underway the track-focused and narrow gear spacing keeps the RSV4 in the sweet spot of the power, but you have to ask yourself if you can live with the slowest 0-60 and quarter-mile acceleration of the category for a transmission that works best when you are shredding mountain roads. At our imperfect drag strip the RSV4 hit the 1320-foot mark in 11.56 seconds with a 135.3 mph terminal velocity while hitting 60 mph in 3.996 seconds. This was without using the APRC system’s launch control settings as all bikes were compared without any electronic aids engaged. Even with the uber-tall first gear, the Aprilia rated near the top of the heap in the subjective drivetrain category.
Slowing down the 451-pound Aprilia is nothing short of marvelous. Ranking second in the subjective braking category,
Although the brakes on the Aprilia didn’t rate the highest with our testers, they destroyed the competition on the skidpad.
most of our riders felt the binders we just a hair behind the impressive BMW binders. Everyone raved over the race-bred Brembo monoblocs’ feel and consistency. The tale of the tape showed the Aprilia annihilating the competition on the skid pad, stopping almost 20 feet shorter than the next best at 112.5 feet. We didn’t believe it ourselves, but Waheed backed-up the data with two more stops in the 112 and 113-foot range.
“I don’t know why it stopped 20 feet shorter,” admits Adam. “The brakes didn’t feel that particularly much better—they work well and I would rate them mid-to-upper pack. Perhaps it can be attributed to the action of the fork as the Ohlins unit is the best, offering responsive feel and movement throughout the stroke. I was surprised by the numbers.”
Using the APRC system is as complicated as the system sounds for our testers. With so many options to choose from and two separate screens for street or track, it is easy to get completely lost in the menus. Changing the TC modes is the most straightforward and easy with index finder and thumb triggers on the left bar that allows the rider to dial up or down the amount of electronic wheelspin control on the fly. But the rest of the system is confusing and frustrating. Make sure to carry that owners manual with you if you intend to make any changes.
“The two paddle-style buttons on the left clip-on allow the rider to adjust wheelspin intervention on the fly, while riding. It’s the only bike that allows this and is a great feature for sure,” commented Waheed. “The launch control on the other hand is difficult to figure out. The menu system is tricky to navigate, and just when you think you figured it out, it turns out you haven’t. I couldn’t ever figure out how it works. Aprilia definitely needs to steal some cues from Apple and work on the functionality of the menu system.”
With such a compact, race-bred chassis, the comfort and rider interface scores settled near the bottom of the scale as we
expected they might. The high footpegs, small seating area and low bars make for aggressive riding for the everyday cruise, but it makes complete sense when blasting up Palomar Mountain’s famed curves. By the time you get there, however, you might very well be sore and need a stretch before turning the RSV4 loose.
“The Aprilia felt awkward at first on the highway, but once we got to the curves we bonded,” says our second lady test rider, Lori Dell. “Up on the mountain I felt like I sat in the bike, like I was a part of it, like being hugged.”
After burning through a few tanks of high-octane fuel, the RSV4 managed a fuel mileage of just 27.42 mpg. That ranks it down near the bottom of the scoring with only the Ducati 1199 Panigale S and the Yamaha YZF-R1 getting less bang for the buck at the pumps. The 4.5-gallon tank gives the Aprilia a range of 123.4 miles before the next fill-up, which is the second shortest.
The 2012 Aprilia is an amazing performer when the tempo gets turned up, but to live with it on a daily basis would take some sacrifice in comfort and usability. As this is the street portion of the Superbike Smackdown, the track-focused and race-bred pedigree hurt the RSV4 here, but it will certainly work to its advantage when we turn it loose on the track.
2012 Superbike Smackdown IX Street
2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 Street Comparison
2012 KTM RC8R Street Comparison
2012 Aprilia RSV4 APRC Factory Street Comparison
2012 Kawasaki ZX-10R Street Comparison
2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Street Comparison
2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale S Street Comparison
2012 Honda CBR1000RR Street Comparison
2012 BMW S1000RR Street Comparison
2012 Superbike Smackdown IX Street Conclusion