The Parabolica Ayrton Senna leads me on to one of the fastest straights on the MotoGP calendar. The straight is almost a kilometre long, and leading up to it is a third or even fourth gear corner. I always short shifted up from second to third gear to allow the rear tire to do its job and to allow me to get the bike upright before shifting up to fourth. The six-speed gearbox is very precise and I’m working my way up the gearbox without using the clutch. I did see around 165 mph at the end of the straight, but with more confidence in the tarmac conditions I could have left the braking later for an even higher top speed.
Is the base model RSV4 any good? Oh yeah!
I know that the Factory setup is a better one that’d given me even more confidence and feel; however I’m still impressed with the RSV4 R chassis as it’s more than good enough for road and track day use. Aprilia have swapped the Factory’s Ohlins for a fully adjustable item from Sachs. The 6-spoke aluminium wheels are not as light as the forged items on the Factory, and overall the RSV4 R weighs in at 11 pounds more than the Factory (a claimed 406 lbs for the RSV4 R versus 395 lbs for the Factory).
Despite a lesser-spec suspension and a few extra pounds, the RSV4 R is still an extremely impressive handler.
The RSV4's compact dimensions are even palatable for Tor's tall frame.
The V4 is very addictive and I felt no significant difference in this area between the two RSV4s apart from perhaps a slightly “milder” throttle response. The one good thing about Estoril being slightly damp in the morning was that I finally got a good chance to ride a lot more using the powerful midrange. Aprilia says 85 ft-lbs of torque peaks at 10,000 rpm, but at these revs the engine was way too powerful for the level of grip we experienced in the morning session. Between 7 and 10K rpm the midrange produces great pull, and even below 7,000 rpm there’s plenty of go that’s exclusively reserved for the roads.
The Gancho chicane that everybody loves to hate brings speed down to 35 mph, and the flick from left to right is done with ease as there’s no high revs or speed. On the Estoril circuit there’s plenty of hard acceleration through second and third gear as the corners are so slow. This again gives a good feel with what the RSV4 R is capable of in terms of pure acceleration from low speed. Imagine a 600 supersport with 180 horsepower and you’ll get the idea.
The RSV4 R feels very solid under both braking and acceleration. It’s down to the tires what sort of grip you can achieve, and since it was cold and not completely dry, the Metzeler Racetecs performed well.
The whole package is so nimble and transferring weight is the easiest thing in the world. After each session I did the “hold a cup of coffee test” and felt almost no shake at all. This is very important as it proves how little vibration the V4 engine transfers to its pilot. I could mention a handful of Inline-Fours and V-Twins where this is not the case at all. The only time there’s a shake is when the RSV4 R reaches its upper rev range, and even the Sachs steering damper can’t tame the big lion completely then. There’s never danger for a proper tank slapper, but without the steering damper it would.
I turned up at the Mugello circuit a couple of months ago where the original launch took place. However upon arrival I was told the launch had been cancelled due to 5 bikes blowing their engines due to a poorly manufactured conrod.
Since then Aprilia has issued
I’m very tempted to say that the RSV4 is the best handling motorcycle available out there. There are other motorcycles that handle just as solid and safe but not quite with the same overall easiness of it all. The mass centralisation is supreme, and all 180 horsepower is kept in check at all times through all the aluminium goodness.
The $5000 difference in price between the RSV4 R and the upscale RSV4 Factory will be worth it to only the most discriminating clientele.
| || |