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Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4

Monday, November 30, 2009
Aprilia Racing RSV4R World Superbike
Compact-feeling in size, the first thing one notices about the Aprilia is the ease in which the bike steers and it's mid-corner ability.
Aprilia RSV4

Last but not least. We’ve all heard it a million times but if it were ever true in my lifetime this would be it. With only minutes to go in the day I managed to hop on Max Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4 and what a revelation it was. Instantly feeling at home due to the super small size, right out of the box I was on pace with the quickest times of the test and only going faster as the laps progressed. This comes as all the more surprise when you consider ’09 was Aprilia’s first year in the series on an all-new machine – one which is only just now available for sale in the United States.

The chassis is tiny and nimble, utterly easy to steer and flicks from side to side with just a feather’s touch. Biaggi’s set-up was a tad on the stiff side for my lightweight frame, skipping over some of the bumps and running ever so slightly wide in areas, but the byproduct was off-the-charts flickability. In fact, before I really opened the taps, it felt more like a 600 than a 1000, only giving its displacement away by the sound of the low rumbling V-Four engine between your legs – and what a beautiful sound it is. But twist the right grip and things quickly went from 600 to well beyond 1000.

Not for the faint of heart, no question the RSV4 packs the most punch of any machine here, especially in the upper portions of the rev range, feeling as if redline would never come. Pinned down the front straight and tucked in the bubble, it felt as if the Aprilia was going to take flight the speed built with such tenacity, never letting down and always begging for more.

Max Biaggis Aprilia RSV41000RR World SuperbikeThe high-tech dash on Max Biaggis Aprilia RSV41000RR World SuperbikeIts amazing how many different items can be transferred to a carbon fiber counterpart  i.e. exhaust hanger bracket  in order to shave weight from these World Superbike machines.
(From left) Good looking and fast; Basic stock gauge cluster hide big-money electronics; Custom exhaust and swingarm out back.

At the same time, though, power delivery from down low was quite docile and easy to control, the V-Four making corner-exit a thing a beauty. It really is the perfect combination. Furthermore, the TC worked flawlessly, allowing the bike to spin slightly so as to complete the corner but cutting in just when things got a bit hairy. This allowed one to keep the right grip twisted to the stop with relative ease, especially considering the beast of an engine which lay between one’s legs. Braking was more of the same, the factory-spec Brembos bringing the Aprilia to a halt with absolute precision and truck loads of power.
Aprilia Racing RSV4R World Superbike
The V-Four engine delivers one heck of a punch once exiting the corner and stood up, feeling as if the top-end will never end.

The only downfall of the Aprilia, if you even want to call it that, would be the dash. Instead of using some utterly trick LCD unit like most of the paddock, sans Ten Kate, Aprilia opts for the stock gauge cluster. Nothing fancy here, just what you would be looking at on an OE street bike. Now, behind it sits tens of thousands of dollars worth of data equipment, but what the rider sees is anything but trick. Though this is hardly a complaint. And when one considers the staggering overall performance from Aprilia’s first-year WSBK machine, I’d have a tough time betting against them in 2010…

The Experience

First off, well, I’m still pinching myself that all of this even happened. But once past that and down to business, rating these bikes pretty much falls just where they did on the championship. The Kawasaki handles great but doesn’t have anywhere near the power of the competition, while the Suzuki has the motor needed but it’s big in size and heavy to steer. As for the BMW, well, it’s a great bike that’s plagued by a host of small flaws which add up to a mid-pack machine; but trust me when I say there’s some serious potential in there.

The Yamaha World Superbike YZF-R1 has a crossplane crankshaft which smooths out the torque curve so the rider can get back into the throttle earlier.
As a whole the Superbike experience was one for the record books, all seven machines awesome as expected. But when it comes down to it, I like a Superbike to be super, so give me that Yamaha!
When it comes down to easy-to-use and utterly amazing overall packages, one would be hard pressed to find any flaws with either the Aprilia or Honda. Both are wickedly fast, yet at the same time mild mannered and extremely easy to ride. And as for the Ducati, it’s got a chassis that gives motorheads wet dreams and an engine that jumps off corners with mind boggling tenacity – though takes some mojo to really ride fast.

But when it comes to back-breaking, spleen-scrambling, eyeball-spinning madness there’s no question one bike stands head and shoulders above the rest: Ben Spies’ Sterilgarda Yamaha R1. Trust me when I say the Texas kid is ‘The Man’ for riding it like he did and winning the world championship. And while it probably wouldn’t be my pick to go racing on – if results mattered, that is – when it came to sheer exhilaration and outright adrenaline-pumping fun-factor, which is why I got into this sport in the first place, there’s no comparison: Give me that Yamaha!

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Jerry -Derrick you fool  June 24, 2010 10:24 AM
any 1000cc streetbike is 20 light years beyond your capability anyways, unless your ben spies or rossi your comments have no credibility.
Kaspersky -WHATEVER!  June 2, 2010 03:08 AM
comparisons does not matter at all! What matter is everyone has it's own bike! :D
Derrick -streetbike vs superbike  March 14, 2010 01:49 PM
Dude. The WSBK machines are very different then their street-legal counterparts. Just because the WSBK R1 was the WSBK Champion with Ben Spies in 2009, doesn't necessarily mean it is the best bike period. I have a ZX-10R, and have ridden the street 2009 R1 simply because I love the sound it makes. But it seriously lacks some steam up top. It is an easier bike to ride, especially for those going on the track for the first few times, but my conclusion was that it lacked a lot of power (in comparison to the ZX-10R and the CBR1000RR) in the upper rev range. I have also tracked the 2009 GSX-R1000, and it is a heavier bike to ride, and also seemed to lack the punch of the 05-08 GSX-R1000. But it had very comfortable ergonomics. Back to the R1. These is absolutely no benefit of the crossplane crank, other than the sound it makes, for an average street rider. It is there to simply prevent too much power from overwhelming the rear wheel...causing a slide. But that's only a risk when you're dancing in the upper revs all day long and sweeping in and out of corners. When are you doing that in the street? The crossplane crank is also heavier than a conventional flat plane. Why? It is more complex. I don't know if the R1's crank has counterweights, but I'm sure that crossplaned V8's do. These make the engine very very smooth. It provides no power benefits. In fact, the 4-wheel racing world such as ALMS uses flat plane cranks almost exclusively. For example, the M3 street version is a crossplaned V8 while its ALMS version uses a flat planed crank. Ferrari has been using flat planes forever. That's why the sound of a Ferrari V8 is a howl while a crossplaned American V8 (such as a Corvette) is a burble. Uneven firing = different sound. Same concept. A flat planed crank is lighter, so it revs faster and higher. So that makes it more powerful (if you're looking at pure horsepower figures at the top, and ignoring the rest of the rev range) period. Formula 1 exclusively uses flat planes as well. If you put a crossplaned V8 in a Formula 1 car and raced it right next to a flat planed Formula 1 car, you will laugh and see that in this world...flat planes still rule. But because 4 wheels don't suffer the same traction issue as 2 wheels, traction is obviously not an issue and cars can go for max power delivery. I like the R1 don't get me wrong. But you have to look at the hard facts first before saying the R1 is the best. The best in what sense? Sound? Yes, if you're a fan of that sound. Corner Traction? Yes, if you're capable of riding the bike at that level. Power? No, because more rotational weight makes the whole thing slower period. Weight? Obviously not.
Jerry -Timbo  December 9, 2009 07:55 AM
I only said that Australian superbike league is insignificant, however i did not say australian riders lack talent i also mentioned that (USA) AMA superbike racing league is insignificant, so don't take it as a personal attack, i'm merely stating the truth about both racing leagues. The R1 is the best racing machine in 2009 whether you like it or not.
Timbo -To Jerry  December 7, 2009 09:03 PM
With all due respect, perhaps we should skip over Troy Corser, Troy Bayliss, Wayne Gardener, Mick Doohan etc, because they really weren't that talented either.

Oh wait. True, they don't ride in the Aussie series any more, but I think it's a little naive to dismiss the level of talent in every Aus Superbike rider based on your own little view of the world. Personally I have an R6 (well, I did...slid it over an embankment 2 days ago :( ) and I love it, and am currently also riding an R1, so I'll happily extol the virtues of the Yamahas in street trims, but I won't do it to the detriment of other peoples' opinions, even when they differ from mine.
Jerry -This goes to DRMANIA  December 7, 2009 06:10 PM
With all due respect DRMANIA nobody gives a crap about Australian Superbike, it is insignificant and the level of talent is far below what World Superbike and MOTOGP, BSB offer. As far as showroom bikes go, i know you are not qualified to comment on which 1000cc bike is the best considering you along with 99.99% of the MotorcycleUSA readers and dreamers in here are NOT capable of riding any of the 1000cc bikes to it's limits. As stated before unless you are a professional racer/tester there is no credibility in any statements made by YOU or any of the readers in here and i seriously doubt anyone in here (motorcycleusa readers) have tested all the 1000cc bikes anyways and if they so called "claim" they have they are full of b.s.
DRMANIA -PFELTON !  December 7, 2009 02:37 PM
Got sarcasm? :) Or u didn't really read what I wrote? What I DID forget to write is: WAY TO GO STEVE O! Great experience for sure, and great report!
pfelton -Superbike Review  December 6, 2009 10:38 PM
DRMANIA and Jerry,
Didn't they (MCUSA) already test OEM bikes? If anyone has a problem with "their brand" not receiving positive reviews... I think you've missed the point.
DRMANIA -RIGHT ON JERRY!  December 6, 2009 02:07 AM
U r right-the R1 did get a hell of a year around the world (actually, Yamaha in total had an amazing year!). But I hate to burst your bobble...it might not be just the R1 specs which brought all these trophies. Cross plain "Rossi" crank ain't enough to win races, and if u want just a little piece of evident, even almighty Elbowz said "no" when he was asked if this engine config gives him any advantage (I'm not so sure u gonna be able to hear about it again with all the marketing department all over it). In Australia and here the Suzook took the Superbike championship, what does that mean? The Gixxer is the best there is? Yamaha racing department did it's job in '09, and they deserve every credit for it. To get to conclusions on "showroom" bikes from that point, not the best choice.
Jerry -Here comes the excuses..........  December 5, 2009 08:14 AM
i know you guys will come up with the excuses as to why your favorite brand bike got it's arse kicked by the R1 but the truth of the matter is the racetrack doesn't lie, until your cbr1000rr,aprila,duc,gixxer1k,zx10 did what the R1 can do and that is to win world superbike championship, british superbike championship,dutch superbike championship, FIM world endurance championship then you guys can tell me it's better than the R1 until then there is no credibility in any of your statements, the R1 is regarded world wide as the best 1000cc bike in it's class and is the bike to be on this year, so enough with the lame excuses.
Leo -Remember Jerry  December 3, 2009 05:05 PM
I already mentioned to you about 8 series in where the R1 wasn't this thing ot of this world you say and you came up with the duch sbk?! Name a known rider of the duch sbk. Remember Leon Carmier rode a factory spec R1 in brit sbk, much the same as Spies bike? No you don't know that a factory spec bike is about $100.000,00 more expensive than one raced by a privateer team. So the bike you brag so much about has just the looks of even others R1s at eny sbk championchip, that haven't done so espectacular as you say. I won't even bother to remind you of results of Macau Cicuito de Guia race.
Leo -Jerry again :(  December 3, 2009 04:40 PM
It didn't take much time to Jerry start with his Yamaha b... Go look around. If it is not in factory suport or in the hands of Spies, R1 is behind most other brands when raced by privateers. That's got to tell you something, Not to Jerry, he can't read unless it is all about sukin up on R1. Bring your s... up Jerry. We enjoy seeing you make yourself look a fool here in mcusa.
n/a -re: jerry  December 2, 2009 03:25 PM
when you mentioned about other test comparos of the liter class this year...i think you should also give motorcycle.com's shootout a read. I'm sry to say but u are really biased favoring the yamaha over other bikes. i agree it is a unique bike and won many world titles this year but i still believe the R1 and the M1 for that matter have been in the hands of the best riders yamaha has contracted so i think you could be more open minded that ppl feel that the aprilia bmw ducati and the other japanese bikes have a better OVERALL package than the R1
Jerry -Will parker if you base your view on merely 1 shootout comparison that is ignorant  December 2, 2009 12:51 PM
This goes out to not only Will but everybody who base their conclusion on one shootout comparison done by motorcycleusa. It's ridiculous and ignorant for anyone to conclude which bike is best based on the "superbike smackdown" done by the motorcycleusa guys. Many other guys are qualified and do test these 1000cc machines also, cycle world, motorcylist, MCN,2wf,sportrider and the list goes on and on, remmeber the R1 is the bike of choice and the bike to beat this year according to OTHER testers so just because the guys here at motorcycle usa say the R1 in stock form placed last in the superbike smackdown doesn't mean that it's the worst bike, remember it kicked the (gixxer 1k,ducati 1198,zx10r, and last years winners cbr1000r) azz this year in every world class caliber race, no other bike even came close to giving the R1 a run for it's money. the R1 won bike of the year by motorcylist magazine, it was the shootout winner for Street and Track by the guys at MCN so don't give me any b.s. about the guys at motorcycleusa
DON+I=DONI -ducati  December 2, 2009 12:23 AM
ducati forever best motorcycle in the history of wsbk.............
will parker -R1 speed...  December 1, 2009 05:01 PM
yeah, Jerry, as a racebike...in stock form its a tad behind the other japanese brands ( see mc-usa superbike shootout)for example..
Jerry -2010 WSBK season  December 1, 2009 03:49 PM
I don't think ducati superbikes can match the r1's already "legendary" cross-plane crankshaft tech derived from rossi's M1 it's truly a technical marvel and that is the reason why you see the R1 not only won the world superbike championship, it dominated around the world winning British Superbike championship, Dutch Superbike Championship and FIM world endurance championship i can't recall when the last time i've seen a bike actually dominate the world in world class caliber racing as i've seen the R1 in 2009. Congrats Yamaha for building the ultimate racing machine.
SteveO -RE: Racer1 - Great write up!  December 1, 2009 09:08 AM
Racer, thanks. As for your question, well, there's no question: I'd take the Honda or Aprilia. Both were easier to ride quickly and the Aprilia has a definite engine advantage.
Racer1 -Great write up!  December 1, 2009 05:40 AM
Steve - well done - totally jealous here! I have a quick question though... I understand your point about the looser Yam being more fun to ride than the Aprilia (esp. the way Spies sets his bikes up) - however, you had 15 minutes each with the bikes in a - relatively - uncompetitive environment. My question is... which bike would you choose if you were about to have a 27 lap race, fairing to fairing with some of the best racers in the world? Would ot still be the Yam or would you be opting for something else in those circumstances?
SteveO -RE: SD and Andy  November 30, 2009 05:52 PM
SD – No question Ben’s bike is different and a bit harder to ride for the Average Joe. It’s for this very reason I liked it so much. Would he have had an easier time on the other bikes? Probably not. Much of the way the Yamaha is comes from the way Spies himself set it up, so I’m sure if he rode the others they would be similar. He rides the bike loose and slides more than most.

Andy – Read the second to last paragraph and I refer to the Aprilia being right on point with the Honda as one of the easiest bikes to ride fast, and while it has the most top end, it’s quite docile and easy to use, as well as very TC-controlled. That’s why for me the rear-tire-sliding Yamaha was more fun.

andy -is it a typo?  November 30, 2009 04:40 PM
–" when it came to sheer exhilaration and outright adrenaline-pumping fun-factor, which is why I got into this sport in the first place, there’s no comparison: Give me that Yamaha! "

Is it?..where is the aprilia then in the last overview??

SD -Comparison to Wayne Gardner's opinions  November 30, 2009 03:37 PM
Quick questions for Steve. Wayne Gardner is on record as saying that the R1 was a difficult bike to ride, and definitely not the best SB on track in 2009, at least from the point of view of a former GP rider. This in turn made him say that Spies' title is that much more impressive. Any comments on this? You say the bike is massively fun and exhilarating, but does that make it difficult to ride? Do you feel the bike's characteristics would have held him back, making his title more impressive? Or do those very characteristics make it so that an amazing rider (as Spies clearly is) can push the bike that much harder, actually contributing to good performance?
rsvforum -rsv4  November 30, 2009 12:27 PM
This bike(rsv4),beautiful & dangerous...
Max genius :)
Next year podium :)
KT -Great Review  November 30, 2009 11:14 AM
Wish I could have been there to ride...
SteveO -Thanks Guys  November 30, 2009 10:01 AM
Glad you all dig it. It was a blast. Hopefully I'll be there again next year for Part II!~
MotoFreak -Correction  November 30, 2009 09:33 AM
Correction on my last post. I meant to put Adam crashed the street fighter, not Atlas again. Sorry, I'm dumb.
Frak! -Great Review!  November 30, 2009 08:30 AM
Envy ensues! Fantastic, you got to do what most of us could only DREAM about doing... and, we'd probably all fail miserably to do such an experience justice. Thx for letting us read your experience, so we can live vicariously thru you!
MotoFreak -Superbikes Baby!!!  November 30, 2009 07:24 AM
Awesome review Steve-O.....Tell me though, don't your get freaked out riding bikes like these and possibly crashing? Kinda like Atlas with the Ducati Street Fighter only ten times worse.
will parker -Superbike review...  November 30, 2009 07:07 AM
Good stuff, steve-o..be interesting to see if Ducati lands back on top as Spies is a special talent and Ducs are always highly tuned in WSBK..