The 2012 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC proves how serious Aprilia takes motorcycle road racing. This Italian-built sportbike was designed specifically for the rigors of World Superbike racing and has already achieved one title with Max Biaggi in ‘10, and is on track for the crown this year as well.
Size-wise the RSV4 is one of, if not the most compact machines this comparison. It truly offers 600-like proportions that were adored by all but our tallest pilots. It’s not quite as narrow as the V-Twin powered steeds, but it is close. It’s also short from front-to-back and has the smallest seating area, which makes it a bit of a challenge to tuck behind the windscreen if you’re lankier than average.
“It feels like an [Yamaha] R6 almost but with a whole lot of horsepower,” remembers Neuer. “It was a little cramped but totally manageable. I wouldn’t want to ride it across the country but for putting in fast laps it’s a great place to work from.”
“It’s a really compact bike,” sums up Siglin. “I’m a smaller guy [5’7”, 140 pounds] so the bike fits me really well. I like the ergonomics a lot on this bike—definitely one of my favorites.”
If you look back at the 2010 Aprilia RSV4R Comparison Track test, the RSV4 was one of the heaviest bikes then. So we were pretty surprised when it weighed in at 446 pounds with its 4.49-gallon gas tank topped off (five pounds less than with the stock pipe). Although it’s still 23 pounds more than the Ducati, it’s five pounds less than the BMW and 18 pounds less than the Yamaha.
(Top) The Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC blew us away by how nimble it is. (Center) The RSV4 engine recorded high acceleration numbers out of turns. (Bottom) The cockpit of the RSV4 definitely favors shorter riders as Hutch is about to find out.
Out on track the RSV feels even lighter and more maneuverable than what the numbers tell. Next to the CBR, it was rated as having the best initial Turn-In performance. Bend it on its side in a corner and it continued to impress—delivering a high-level of feedback. Although it didn’t rank quite as high as say the Ninja or KTM it was so close.
“I love how nimble it is,” shares Garcia. “The front end stood out the most to me. It turned quick, it was precise and gave a lot of feel too. I could really rely on the front end and trail brake deep into the corners on this thing.”
“The chassis is bitchin,” admits Montano. “Everything was tight and planted there wasn’t much see-sawing on either end—it was one of the bikes that felt most similar to a racebike to me.”
Next to the Suzuki, the Aprilia recorded the highest side-to-side flick rate (51.1 degrees/second) as measured from the Turn 11/12/13 chicane proving its maneuverability. It also obtained the highest lean angle of 55.9 degrees as the rider barreled into The Cyclone. Despite its excellent handling manners the Aprilia posted some of the lower corner speed readings. When tallied and averaged it was second to last in that scoring category.
“It flicks into the corners easier than almost any bike here,” says Dawes. “A little bit of body english goes a long way. “
Even though it didn’t post astounding horsepower and torque figures, the data shows the Aprilia demonstrated the highest average acceleration force. Off Turn 6 it was right behind the BMW at 0.85g and out of the final turn it had the highest reading of 0.91g. This may be attributed to its punchy mid-range and well sorted rear suspension that puts the power to the road very effectively.
“That V4 engine comes off the corners really nice. It pulls hard and revs fast too,” says Earnest. “But it’s lacks top- end. Honestly, I was expecting a little more—especially since it’s got a race pipe on it.”
(From full stiff)
Ride Height: +3mm
Preload: 146 mm (spring length)
Results from the dyno show that the RSV4 has one of the more mellow torque curves. Sure it is linear and free of any crazy hits, but it only pumps out a peak figure of 75.44 lb-ft at 9800 rpm (third from last). The horsepower curve starts off mellow too before spiking at 12,800 rpm delivering just over 160 horsepower at the back tire which placed it third from last again. Curiously, it gained less than one horsepower and actually lost one ft-lb of torque compared to the bone stock machine as tested in the street comparison.
In spite of its modest top-end performance the Aprilia still posted very respectable trap speeds on the two straightaways. Down the longer front straight it was 159.7 mph (third fastest) and 147.2 mph on the back one (second fastest, behind the Suzuki). One reason why the Aprilia accelerated so well is because of its close ratio gears from second to fifth, not to mention the standard electronic quickshifter. The slipper clutch worked great too and the Drivetrain would have been scored better but the e-shifter didn’t perform quite as swiftly as the aftermarket Dynojet Quick-shifter set-ups.
(Top) The cockpit of the RSV4 definitely favors riders of average or below height. (Center) The Aprilia’s Brembo brakes proved to be very effective in terms of braking force even though they didn’t offer the highest lever feel. (Bottom) The Aprilia surprised us by how hard it drives off corners.
“I was really impressed with the power delivery of the V4 engine,” says Chamberlain. “The engine revved quickly and power delivery was very smooth with no dips of flat spots. The stock quickshifter worked okay too.”
Although the RSV4 didn’t really blow our testers away with its brakes, in terms of feel and feedback they were quite effective from the computer screen. Into Turn 10 they had posted the third-highest g force at -1.38g. But where the Aprilia really shined was into the final corner where it posted the highest figure of -1.41g. Upon tallying the numbers the Aprilia ranked a close second to the BMW in that category.
“At this point we’re almost splitting hairs,” admits Hutchison. “The brakes on all these bikes are so good and so powerful that the biggest thing is just getting use to how each feels. Once you’re comfortable you can brake like a mad man on any of these bikes.”
In Superpole, Siglin was able to post a very competitive lap time of 1’54.65 (fourth-fastest). The author’s time of 1’58.27 (fifth-fastest) was also toward the middle of the group. After Superpole both riders commented on how well the chassis worked, making it one of the easier motorcycles to ride. In fact, if the Aprilia had a few more ponies up top it could surprise some of the big name Japanese brands. Until that happens, the RSV4 finishes fifth.
- Accelerates hard off corners
- Nimble handling
- Compact well-proportioned cockpit
- Could have more top-end power
- Quickshifter isn’t as fast as an aftermarket
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