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2009 Aprilia RSV4 Factory First Ride

Friday, April 10, 2009
Theres no doubting the RSV4 is small  but you can still squeeze on even if youre a six-footer like Neevesy  although if youre any bigger it might start to get uncomfortable. Pegs are high but the 845mm tall seat position is too. Smaller riders fit  and look  better.
Our friend Michael Neeves from Motorcycle News UK got an early go on the ultra-compact Aprilia RSV4 superbike.
Not even grey skies, rain and a sodden Misano race track can dampen MCN’s excitement for Aprilia’s new £14,999 RSV4 Factory. We’ve waited a long time to ride the Italian firm’s dazzling new V4 superbike, which cost 25 million Euros and three and a half years to develop, but it’s been worth it.

We’ll have to wait a little longer to ride it in anger in the dry, but even in soaking conditions, it’s clear this is shaping up to be one of the best superbikes ever built.

A slightly damp Senior road tester, Michael Neeves, tells us the five reasons why:

V4 Power Delivery

Riding in the wet is something usually to be tolerated rather than enjoyed, but I loved every drenched, visor-steamed moment on the RSV4 Factory in the rain at Misano, which makes slippery Donington look grippy in the wet. When the chequered flag came out to signal the end of each of our riding sessions I could’ve cried.

The Pirelli racing wets had a lot to do with this, as did the softened Ohlins suspension to suit the conditions, and the beautifully responsive chassis. But the main reason I was having so much fun is down to Aprilia’s new 999.6cc 65-degree V4 engine, the jewel in the RSV4’s crown.

Pile into a slippery turn  bang down through the gears and the RSV4s slipper clutch removes most of the engine braking and prevents rear wheel lock-up on all but the most slippery sections.
Six-foot tall Neeves just manages to squeeze on the tiny RSV4. Smaller riders fit, and look, better. 
The V4 Aprilia is as friendly and easy to ride in the conditions as a Suzuki SV650, but with the straight line speed a FireBlade would be proud of.

With the medium of the three engine maps selected, getting on the throttle out of a corner and feeling for grip in the wet is easy. I’m not tensing up, waiting for a big bang of power to come crashing in like with a conventional Inline-Four or big, brutal V-Twin. Everything seems to happen in slow motion, thanks to the RSV4’s linear torque curve and seemingly lazy power delivery.

Off the throttle it’s the same story. Pile into a slippery turn, bang down through the gears and the RSV4’s slipper clutch removes most of the engine braking and prevents rear wheel lock-up on all but the most slippery sections.

Along the straights the Aprilia’s equally impressive. With the throttle pinned to the stop, power just builds and builds. Sophisticated electronics silently monitor everything to perfection: a flutter of exhausts valves, fuel injection squirts, fly-by-wire inputs and variable-length inlet trumpets all work with the magical V4 layout, so there are no big steps in power. What you get is seamless speed, a hardening engine note and increasing pull on your arms, stomach muscles and neck as you hang on under acceleration all the way until the power drops off at 12,500rpm.

Short-shifting is the best way to get a move on in the rain. Using the motor’s deep well of mid-range torque, it’s flexible enough to use a gear higher through the corners or to change up along the straights around 9-10,000rpm instead of the redline. It gives the rear tire an easier time and still lets you turn in serious speed. The gearbox also works better under less load. The changes are quite slow using full throttle and is crying out for a quick-shifter.

Theres lots of low-down grunt  a fat midrange and a storming top end  a fantastic mix of big twin and in-line-four.
The chassis and suspension has so much feel you can open the throttle hard and the Aprilia RSV4 digs in and flies around bends.
There’s lots of low-down grunt, a fat midrange and a storming top end, a fantastic mix of big twin and Inline-Four. Now where have we heard that before lately? Yep, it’s a lot like the new cross plane crank R1 in that it has usable power everywhere. It’s deep, growling engine note is similar, too. But unlike the Yamaha, the engine is far more compact, which allows the RSV4 to be smaller and more agile.

The V4 motor is so linear and smooth. As WSB rider Shinja Nakano told me: “It doesn’t feel fast, but the speed is there.” It is deceptive and it’s only when a corner rushes up and it’s time to brake you realise how damn quick you’re going.

With a claimed 180bhp at the crank, I reckon it’ll make around 150-155bhp at the rear wheel when we get to dyno it. That’s a bit down on the best of the Inline-Four superbikes, but as the new R1 has recently taught us, it’s not how much power you have, but how you use it.

It’s the Complete Package

The RSV4’s motor is powerful and flexible – but it’s physically small, too (around 175mm narrower than an Inline-Four) and that allows the RSV4 to be extremely compact. What’s more, it all works as one, Swiss Watch-like, a tightly-packed, harmonious package between engine and chassis.

Considering the conditions, there’s not much I can tell you about the RSV4’s handling other than there’s lots of feel transmitted through the chassis. The Ohlins forks and rear shock have a superb range of adjustment and today are softened off to give lots of movement in the rain for feel, and they still give the support needed for relatively hard braking and acceleration.

With its MotoGP-style short engine/long swingarm layout, rear tire grip is maximised and it’s the same trick now being used on the new GSX-R1000 K9 and Fireblade.

The riding position is very racy, with low bars and high pegs, but with plenty of room to move back and forth on the seat, there’s little sensation of bulk on the move. It feels short, like a supersport 400 and there’s no lazy weight transfer on and off the throttle like a typically big litre bike. Side to side, the RSV4 is incredibly agile.

The Aprilia RSV4 has about the same amount of usable power as the new cross plane crank Yamaha R1 but packed into a far more compact engine  making the RSV4 smaller and more agile.
The 'sport' map allows you to ride the RSV4’s seamless mid-range torque rather than hold onto risky revs in the wet. 
Variable Engine Maps

Life wouldn’t have been quite as rosy in the wet if it wasn’t for the RSV4’s choice of three engine maps. I used the ‘sport’ map for most of the riding sessions, as it lops off 25% of the V4’s torque in the first three gears, making it friendlier getting on the gas out of corners. In the high gears you still get full-fat power to play with.

I also tried the ‘road’ map, which gives you around 140bhp and very soft power, enough for it to be possible to hold the throttle wide open for more of the time, although it wasn’t powerful enough to get down the longer straights quick enough. I didn’t try the full-fat ‘track’ map with full power and torque in the first three gears, as there’s more than enough power there already in ‘sport’ mode in the wet. I didn’t want to join the eight or so fellow journos who tasted wet Misano tarmac during the launch, either. One even fell off following the camera car, so dodgy were the conditions. We’ll wait for a dry test to sample full power in the lower gears.
The chunky top yoke and Ohlins fork tops dominate the riders view. A multi-function LCD display shows everything from speed to the engine map youre using. A big tacho takes centre stage  it doesnt matter where the needle is  theres always power on tap.
This back straight section allowed Neeves to give the RSV4 full throttle for a few seconds, pushing him right back in his seat and unleashing the roar of the V4.

The Noise... 

The roar of a V4 superbike is a rare thing on our roads, but get used to it because the Aprilia is coming and it sounds spectacular. The RSV4’s racket is distinctive Aprilia and is remarkably similar to the RSV twin, but with a howling, dirty metallic MotoGP V4 overtone. God, I want an RSV4!

The Beauty

Ogling the RSV4 in pitlane I wasn’t sure if I’d wet myself or if the rain had finally soaked through my leathers. It is beautiful. It’s not shiny and blinged out like a Ducati.It’s more subtle, like a factory MotoGP bike. The styling is gorgeous, especially the Batmobile tail unit (a pillion seat and pegs are an optional extra, but don’t bother, I’ve seen bigger bird tables); the compactness awe-inspiring; the attention to detail absolute.
According to Aprilia, as it was built as a race bike first and foremost, it’s easy to take apart, too, which makes the guys and girls on the Aprilia production line in Noale happy. To take the engine out there’s just one electrical connector to unclip, despite the host of electronics on-board.
2009 Aprilia RSV4 Photo Gallery
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2009 Aprilia RSV4 Specs
Check out the stunning new 2009 Aprilia RSV4. Price and availability haven t been announced yet.
Engine: 65º cc longitudinal V-four, liquid cooled, double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder
Bore & Stroke: 78 x 52.3 mm
Displacement: 998.9 cc
Max power: 180 HP at 12,500 rpm
Max torque: 110 lb-ft (150 Nm) at 10,000 rpm
Fuel system: Variable height intake trumpets. Airbox with aerodynamic side intakes. 4 throttle bodies, 8 injectors, ride-by-wire fuel management
Exhaust: 4 into 2 into 1. Lambda probe oxygen sensor. Single lateral silencer.
Gearbox: 6 speed cassette type
Clutch: Multi-plate wet slipper clutch
Frame: Twin beam aluminium frame with mixed cast and pressed sheet sections. Adjustable headstock position and angle, engine height, and swingarm.
Front suspension: Ohlins 43 mm upside-down fork. lower fork bottoms for radial calipers. Adjustment for preload, compression and rebound.
Rear suspension: Ohlins monoshock with piggy-back cylinder. Adjustments for compression, rebound, spring preload and length.
Front brake: Double 320 mm lightweight stainless steel floating discs. Brembo monbloc radial calipers with 4 opposed pistons.
Rear brake: 220 mm disc. Brembo floating caliper with 2 insulated pistons. 
Wheels: Aluminium alloy; 3.5"x17"/6"x17" (front/rear)
Tires: Radial tubeless; 120/70 ZR 17 (front) and 190/55 ZR 17 (rear)
Overall length: 80.7 inches (2,050 mm)
Overall height: 45.8 inches (1,165 mm)
Wheelbase: 56 inches (1,424 mm)
Dry weight: 394 lbs (179 Kg)  
Fuel tank: 4.5 gallons (17 litres)
MSRP:  $22,000 (£14,999)  

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jim -mr  March 20, 2010 02:33 AM
I have an rsv1000ron a 57 plate , i love the new rsv4 but am short and find the rsvr i have a bit tall sometimes.Does anyone know the true seat height of the rsv4 and is the seat narrower so as to gain extra reach from my short legs? I have heard so many different seat height ranging from 810-855 mm
VIN -How is the heat management?  December 4, 2009 06:28 PM
This is a high hp and compression ratio bike, heat creation is fast,thus the radiator role to keep it cool.

But does the heat rise-up from the engine and exhaust right up to your thigh and bottom?
Is there good heat channelling away from your "skin",especially at traffic lights.

Erwin -Amazing Machine!  November 18, 2009 10:17 AM
I was lucky enough to pick one up from the new Long Beach Aprilia dealership with the best mechanic for this bike Amauri, who set? the sag for me before I happily rode off...many thanks for an easy and friendly transaction, the bike rides just as good as it looks...unbelievably SEXY!!!
ranson -Fuel remaining in tank.  September 19, 2009 12:24 PM
Display is not shoing the fuel, remaining in the tank.how to check?
neil -some objectivity please  August 14, 2009 11:26 AM
Hi - can you please assist with an objective discussion on the points to be raised below. Possibly even an article on the subject. In many tests on this new Aprilia RSV4 we read how nimble and 'chuckable' this thing is. Some RSV4 specs as follows: 1. wheelbase = 1420mm 2. trail = 105mm 3. rake = 24.5 degrees 4. dry mass = 179kg (no fluids, no battery) 5. assumed wet weight = 179 + 15.5 (fuel) + 3 (battery) + 0.5 (brake / clutch fluid) + 3 (transmission fluid) = 201kg Honda CBR1000RR (2009) 1. wheelbase = 1407mm 2. trail = 96.2mm 3. rake = 23.3 degrees 4. wet mass = 202kg Honda RC51 SP2 (2004) 1. wheelbase = 1405mm 2. trail = 95mm 3. rake = 23.5 degrees 4. dry mass = 194kg 5. wet mass assumed = 194 + 16.2 + 3 + .5 + 3 = 216.7kg - - - Can you please explain - using the above statistics: 1. how the RSV4 is more nimble? 2. how the RSV4 is tiny in comparison to the others? 3. why the RSV4 and the 2009 CBR1000RR require steering dampers, when the SP2 RC51 doesnt? Maybe some other readers have further questions. yours faithfully, Neil (Durban, Republic of South Africa) neil-van@ananzi.co.za
Math Pro -Your Terrible Math  July 7, 2009 02:51 PM
So I'm not sure if anybody here knows how to convert engine torque at a given RPM to HP. If you did you might have wanted to apply said knowledge to the specs list. Where you have listed, 110lb-ft @ 10,000rpm. Since I'm such a genius I'll convert this magical number into hp for you, 209.4hp. So at peak torque you are generating 30 more hp, 2500rpm before you are generating peak HP. Good math guys, way to go. Is there an opening on your team for content editor? I'll provide my own scale so that we can finally take care of the drastic difference between claimed weights and actual weights.
cggunnersmate -RedRover  June 12, 2009 10:08 PM
The VFR is great if you want a sport tourer with the emphasis on Sport (Honda's superbike back in the mid-late 80's). It sounds great with a good pipe on it but it's old, without any major updates for years. It's heavy and underpowered as well. Now if Honda would take the engine from the RC212V, detune that down to about 150-160HP (which being a Honda would make it dead reliable) and put it in a lighter chassis they'd have a great bike. The RSV4 looks to put Aprilia back in the hunt for top superbike honors (not in the same category as the VFR) and with an engine configuration no one else is using so they'll be unique as well (one of the things that drew me to the Tuono I bought). I would love to have an RSV4 though the Factory model will be waaaay too expensive so I'd like to see the standard model (hopefully Aprilia fired their paint and graphics team from the last few years) and price the standard model competitively. I may have to sell my bikes for it but... Well, I'll probably wait another year or two and make sure they've worked all the bugs out. My Tuono's motor is as reliable as a Honda but the electrics have the occasional issue and the rear brake is crap (as in non-existent after the first 500 miles from bleeding). And yeah RSV4 is small, Aprilia basically wanted to make a 250 GP bike with a superbike motor. (they've won tons of 125-250 GP world championships)
Kla -Italian  May 13, 2009 03:34 PM
4 ever italian Bike!!
RedRover -I Weigh More Than 90 lbs.!  May 2, 2009 04:37 PM
Very cool...but if you want to see a "de-tuned" V4 that's actually usable on the street look no further than Honda's VFR800 Interceptor. That V4 concept first hit the street in, oh...1983! All part of the circle of life on 2 wheels.
CheapAssBiker -.....  May 2, 2009 06:03 AM
I've got an Aprilia RS125 2006 and a Suzuki GSXR 600 2006 (bought the Suzuki after I passed my test) and I've used the RS125 for 3 years now and it hasn't ever broken down. Never had one problem with it apart from my mistake when I came off a corner and went into a ditch and it needed new fork rims or whatever the mechanic said. I'm not like a guy who even looks after his bikes and I never clean them, just take the Aprilia for a service when the dash says. People always said before buying that Aprilia that it's Italian and it'll always break down and fall apart and to buy a Honda CBR125. However I'm glad I didn't cause the cbr looks like crap, as thin as a bicycle and no power. My Aprilia didn't break down and didn't fall apart and has done over 8000 miles and is still on it's original engine. I know it's a different bike but the same argument.
Grimster -RSV-4  April 28, 2009 08:35 AM
Lou, it would appear the other comments regarding your stupidity are correct. Simply they are made by a moron that doesn't know what he is talking about. I also assume English is not your first language. Granted I ride an Aprilia and I have an RSV4 arriving on the first shipment. My RSV1000RF hasn't let me down, is a fun bike to ride and has not cost me a fortune in servicing, it is actually comparable to or less than your beloved Japanese machines (which I have also owned an enjoyed). So next time you make comments get your crap together.
Miffy -moo  April 25, 2009 11:03 AM
The bike would look better if they got rid of the light at the middle on the front of the bike so it just had two lights, the middle one makes it look goofy. Also if it had more of a back seat cus atm like the new Honda CBR it looks like the bike ends half way and I really like to be able to hold a passenger for a street bike.
jodie919 -aprilia  April 20, 2009 01:58 AM
when will the tuono come out?
fnfalman -Make it into a Tuono and I'll buy it  April 17, 2009 08:40 AM
Let's hope Aprilia doesn't wait too long before releasing the Tuono version of it.
JoMille -Reliability and Expense  April 16, 2009 10:53 AM
I'm an Aprilia owner so call me bias, but I love my bike. It is extremely reliable and the maintenance costs are at or below average. No the valves do not need to be adjusted every time you ride it hard. There are always neh-sayers, but vast majority of owners love their Aprilias for their dependability. Check out AF1 forums.
Deben -22k is the conversion not the set price  April 15, 2009 08:40 PM
in the USA its more likely to be around 18, US bikes are always cheaper.
Wavz -cLUOless  April 15, 2009 12:05 PM
It's obvious Lou doesn't own an Aprilia. Totally inept and clueless comments. Aprilia is one of the lowest maintenance bikes around. Ever wonder why there isn't many dealers???? Service departments have a hard time generating income off a bike that doesn't require a lot of work. Lou, try Pilates, it may help remove your head from your a$$.
Tim B -Ouch..  April 14, 2009 09:10 AM
I just saw that the MSRP is listed at $22,000. If that price is correct this bike better annihilate every other street bike in every performance stat and every shootout for that kind of money. Aprilia hasn't had a viable option if you wanted a top performing hyper bike in a while. They need a hit and with this price it's not going to be as big as it could have been. We're talking Ducati 1198S money here...
jack -Aprilia dependability  April 14, 2009 08:52 AM
I can assure you that Aprilia makes extremely dependable bikes and I would expect no less from the RSV4. I only hope they make a ST version of it.
Stoner number 1 -.....  April 14, 2009 07:16 AM
Crazy bike LOVE IT
Mike -Lou, seriously man..  April 13, 2009 10:48 AM
Even if you had a point when you vomited on your keyboard, their is no way you made it clear to anybody. Even though I completely disagree with what you are saying, this is not a personal attack. All I am saying is that should try harder so we all don't think you type with your forehead.
Brian -Kick ass!  April 13, 2009 10:03 AM
Looking forward to this bike for sure!
Tim B -Awesome!  April 13, 2009 09:34 AM
That thing looks awesome and it's tiny. It might fit my 5'7" 155lb frame perfectly. The only problem is...what's the seat height! I'm short!
shaun -bike size  April 13, 2009 05:49 AM
-x2468 I've heard that the bike is rather small and compact from the commentators on WSBK.
Aprilia Curious -Price  April 13, 2009 04:56 AM
Anyone have a legitimate source for US pricing? Any firm pricing?
moozh -beauty! but any info on the "but's"  April 12, 2009 02:55 PM
Lovely looking bike, glad to hear the dynamics and delivery all seem to make the testers smile. Also glad to hear that it will accomodate a fellow with long shanks even tho it's a physically small bike. I totally understand why but my continuing dilemma with race bikes is their ever shrinking size and difficulty fitting folks over 180LBS and 6'...small tho it is the ergos sound promising. Something I wish that would be included is these tests are details about service schedules and frequencies. After a few major debacles with performance oriented big twins (duc 1098 and Suz 109) that seemed to need valve clearance checks quite often and the costs associated with it all I find myself with a strong desire to get a sence how frequently and 'loosely' how much will it cost me to own and ride a bike. Weird but I have easily spent more money maintaining my bikes than I have on my BMW sedan
Dan the Canadian -No a 600 please.....  April 12, 2009 07:54 AM
EP I totaly agree with you.... Bring out a nice 600 to go chase all the Ducati 848.......
ep -more V4's PLEASE!  April 11, 2009 07:16 PM
Love it. But it's no street bike. I know a lot of people think it's crazy, but IMO 180 horsepower is far too much for public roads. You're either putting around in 6th or too busy hanging on for dear life while praying there isn't a cop around the corner. I'd love to see a V4 750 or even a 600. So sweet. I'm still waiting to hear more about this new V4 sport tourer from MOTUS.
Buck -Lou  April 11, 2009 12:58 PM
Lou, judging from your poor English, grammar, and spelling you wouldn’t know what to do with this bike! So stick with your 1990s Katana 600 LOL. Get the point you’re an idiot!
Choco -Now where's the ST  April 11, 2009 10:07 AM
Good job Aprilia, now where's the Sport Tourer with this engine? And please, don't call it a Futura even though the Futura was a great ST. As NBS says, the Interceptor's motor is silky and sweet. An Interceptor with the Aprilia motor, something like that.
lou -rsv4  April 11, 2009 06:19 AM
maint on this bike along with other models coast a lot of money. looks like a lot of small people will be buying this bike thats of corse if they have alot money. aprillia just not worth all that money needs vavle adjusted every time u ride it hard and also bolts need to be tighting all the time u ride hard. but bike ok if u ride it like a crusing bike. ps do u get the pic now they suck i will take any of the jap bike over any of there models
Superlight -RSV4  April 11, 2009 06:00 AM
Sure sounds interesting. Machine choice is always a good thing and the V4 engine gives us something unique in this segment. I'm not quite as sold on the appearance, but, again, it has its own look.
Tom -Frame Size  April 11, 2009 03:52 AM
He is 6ft. Aprilia have said that this bike i about the size of a 250 GP Bike. To small for a 6ft rider i think. Suits micro Max Biagi. Very nice looking bike though
x2468 -na  April 10, 2009 11:49 PM
either that rider is really big or that bike is tiny
NBS -Drats... there goes my CBR1000RR  April 10, 2009 09:37 PM
Drats... there goes my CBR1000RR. It looks like I may have to swap out bikes. I've long missed my old Honda V4 Interceptor's motor... thank you Aprilia for bringing it back to the streets!