The Factory version of the Aprilia Mille is blessed with Ohlins suspension, radial-mount Brembo brakes and forged aluminum OZ wheels that justify its $17,899 price tag.
Once our group had the opportunity to get accustomed to the riding position of the 999S, it quickly became a favorite on the track, especially for road racing vet, Shawn Roberti.
"Every time I get on the Duc it's easier to ride," Roberti reports. "By the end of the second day it was definitely my favorite bike to ride. It feels so small, you sit low and it feels so thin compared to all the other Twins I've ridden. It's really just an awesome bike."
The stability that we experienced on the street was embraced wholeheartedly as our group navigated the ultra-long sweeping Turn 2 at Thunderhill. It's a corner that seemingly never ends and requires the utmost concentration. Yet the Duc ran through the turn like a breeze thanks in large part to the O–hlins suspension and steering stabilizer. Neither of the other two Twins could match the cornering stability of the 999S.
"The O–hlins suspension is definitely the highlight of the 999S," Don Becklin notes. "It's so compliant over the bumpy sections. The Aprilia was close in my opinion, but not quite as good as the Duc. But compared to the Honda, the 999S is light years ahead."
- Super-sick aggressive engine
- Quickest steering
- Most aesthetic appeal
- Lowest pony output
- Lowest bars
- Look Ma, no rear brakes!
The Mille Factory, by contrast, is a much quicker steering bike than the 999S. Around Turn 2 and subsequent sweepers it is a little more likely to move off line if the rider loses concentration. However, when it comes to getting it leaned over quickly there is no better ride than the Factory. Through the serpentine sections of Thunderhill, the Mille is a scalpel, going where we pointed it at exactly the right moment.
While the 999S puts the rider low and inside the bike, the Factory positions the rider on top of the bike. Moreover, the girth of the tank and riding position left some riders asking for a smaller, slimmer fuel cell.
"The square edges on the rear of the gas tank pressed into my thighs when hanging off in corners," the boney Don Becklin complains. "It actually became uncomfortable after a few laps. The riding position is more on top of the bike with the hands forward and the feet up, it's a real race posture."