Aprilia’s brawny RSV4 adds velvet gloves to its bare knuckles
Following two World Superbike titles, the RSV4 has more than proven itself. But it got better for 2017.
We now offer a more refined RSVR RR and the upgraded RSV4 RF, which features upgraded suspension, wheels, and graphics. The RF is fitted with Öhlins suspension—NIX30 forks and TTX36 shock—and a steering damper, forged wheels, and performance-forward Superpole graphics.
The RR version no slouch; it is equipped with Sachs suspension, steering damper and cast aluminum wheels, plus Grigio Bucine and Nero Ascari graphics. All other features, including the full electronic suite, are identical on both models. Both versions wear Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tires (200/55 rear!).
The common heart of the RSV4 models remains the stompin’ 65-degree, 999.6cc DOHC, four valves per cylinder V4 mill that pounds out 201 horsepower and 84.8 ft/lbs of torque. Internal refinements have been made to reduce friction, lighten pistons and connecting rods, as well as a revamped ECU to improve rev capabilities and raise the redline to 13,000 rpm—300 rpm higher than the 2016’s V4.
Aprilia has dialed in some rider control enhancements for both models that include three adjustable rider modes (sport, race and track); adjustable eight-level traction control system that allows changing settings on the fly; three-level wheelie control; launch control; cruise control; pit limiter; TFT dash that is visible in all lighting conditions; and a Bluetooth compatible multi-media system.
Both versions feature a Quickshifter that allows clutchless smooth shifting up and down the six ratios, and the stopping power of Brembo M50 calipers working on 330mm discs up front and Bosch 9.1MP ABS. The 4-2-1 exhaust system on each version is Euro 4 compliant.
The Aprilia’s horsepower and technology was put to the test recently at Austin, Texas’s 3.4 mile 20 turn Circuit of the Americas (COTA) by some of the premier riders and motojournalists in the business. Here’s what some of them had to say.
Ron Lieback, Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling, found the suspension choices to his liking, saying, “The RF’s upgraded suspension and wheels are noticeable when riding the RR and RF models back-to-back. The RF was quicker to flight through the tight transitions from right-left-right at COTA’s esses (turns 3-6). Surprisingly, I preferred the base-model’s Sachs suspension, which was more than sufficient for my caliber of riding.”
Lieback also put the RSV4’s cornering ABS to the test: “During my final session on the RSV4 RF, I tested the cornering ABS on the tight turn 11 that dumps you onto the back straight. It’s damn magical how it brought me to a stop with ease, which will help keep some bikes intact during emergency stopping situations on the street.”
Mark Miller of Cycle News, who also gave both bikes a go at COTA, extolled the V4’s powerplant: “It purred not like a sleepy feline, but a pissed-off animal who’d just been released back into the wild, and liked it. Still under control but highly motivated to get the hell out of there, the RSV4 engine offered a powerful rush from down low, a brilliant yank throughout mid-range, and a top end so fierce it took me several laps before I understood that I had to consciously cover the shift lever with my toes before storming up the front strait as not to bounce off the rev limiter like some racetrack virgin. But boy, can she moan! The RSV4’s one of the sweetest sounding engines ever invented.”
Motorcyclist magazine had Zack Courts on hand at COTA for some track time,l and while Courts had a lot to say about the exotic electronics, engine and handling of both bikes, he also pointed out some lesser-known adjustable features: “The list of features is hard to even discuss without sounding like you’re talking about a MotoGP machine: You can adjust the swingarm pivot, the steering head angle, and even the position of the engine in the frame, not to mention the obvious stuff like front and rear ride height and fully adjustable preload and damping characteristics in the fork and shock.”
Courts summed up his impressions saying “After a handful of sessions around the Circuit of the Americas I was left impressed, as usual, by what passes for a streetbike these days. The RSV4 is viciously fast, incredibly composed, and yet still just as fashionable and appealing as it has always been.”
Bradley Adams of Cycle World liked the 2017 RSV4—from the creature comforts to the main points of handling: “Starting at the smaller details, this RSV4 is better. The TFT display is absolutely gorgeous, plus easy to navigate once you figure out which of the new switches does what. Ergonomics are the same as they’ve been, which means taller riders will look a little bit silly when tucked in behind the small-ish front fairing, but feel surprisingly comfortable in the roomy saddle.”
“Chassis feel is as good as it’s ever been, which is to say you’ll almost never feel like you’re actually pushing the bike’s limits. The bike is stable, planted, and doesn’t mind in the least if you want to trail the brake right into the corner. If there’s any one standout feature of the RSV4, it’s how much feedback it gives you, and how little the chassis detracts you from your job.”
Motorcycle.com had Tom Roderick on hand at the COTA to take a crack at that venue on the RSV4 models. Speaking of the RR, Roderick said: “Accelerating off the slow Turn 11, pointing the RSV down COTA’s long back straight and firing, the 65-degree V-Four spins furiously fast, reaching speeds in excess of 170 mph before brake pressure need be applied.
“Keeping all this ferociousness manageable is Aprilia’s laudable electronics package. For the most part, I kept both ATC and AWC at level 1, allowing for an enjoyable amount of rear-wheel spin and enough front-wheel lift to make me feel like a MotoGP stud in full control of a 200-horsepower firebreather.”
After putting the RF version through its paces around the course, Roderick captured the essence of a lot of the reviewer’s feelings: “When you piece the whole picture together; a manageable 200-hp engine, grade-A suspension and brake components, MotoGP-level electronics, and magic-carpet-ride handling, you begin realizing the RSV4 RF would probably run circles around a 10-year-old World Superbike racer.”
The media has spoken, and all agree that the 2017 Aprilia RSV4 RR and RF have all the horsepower needed, and controllability, too. Test one today at one of your local Aprilia dealerships.