Though it's 5kg heavier than the Factory, the Aprilia RSV4 R still has the same 180bhp V4 engine and ride-by-wire electronics. How bad can it be...
For those who can live with Showa/Sachs (instead of Ohlins) suspension, aluminium (instead of magnesium) components, plastic (instead of carbonfibre) parts in the bodywork, and a non-adjustable chassis (instead of one that allows you to change the swingarm’s pivot point, steering head angle and even the engine position…), the Aprilia RSV4 R is probably a brilliant deal. You still get the same sharp styling, the same 180bhp V4 engine, and the same ride-by-wire electronics as the higher-spec RSV4 Factory, but at a price that’s about 25% lower.
MotorBox recently had the opportunity to test ride the RSV4 R at the Estoril circuit, in Portugal, and here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the bike:
Aprilia aim to sell around 2,000 units of the RSV4 in Europe in 2010, so launching a ‘cheaper’ version of the RSV4 Factory was probably a must, in order to achieve those sales figures. And for Aprilia fans who want a bike that can work on the track as well as on the street, the RSV4 R is just great, because it still retains most of the best bits of the Factory version.
The R version’s 65-degree V4 remains unchanged and still produces the full 180bhp at 12,500rpm – the same as the RSV4 Factory. Dual injectors per cylinder, 48mm throttle bodies, ride-by-wire electronics, and tri-mode mapping – it’s all there. And while the chassis doesn’t permit you to change the engine’s position or alter the swingarm pivot, it’s still beautifully finished, and the 43mm Showa fork and Sachs shock are fully adjustable.
At 184kg dry, the RSV4 R is 5kg heavier than the Factory, but that makes little difference to the bike’s performance. With Aprilia’s own test riders on board, the RSV4 R laps the Mugello circuit within a few 10ths of a second of the Factory’s lap times. The R’s very ‘front-endy’ riding position is also similar to the Factory’s, though in real-world riding the Factory feels a bit more ‘edgy’ and aggressive, responding to the rider’s inputs with a tad more urgency.
A lot of people may actually like the RSV4 R more than the Factory, since the former is more street-friendly, while the latter is definitely a bit more track-oriented. The two bikes have their own unique personalities – the R is a bit more stable under hard braking while the Factory accelerates out of corners harder.
In the end, the Factory is a ferret and in terms of handling, remains the absolute benchmark in its segment. The RSV4 Factory is small, slim and compact, changes direction very quickly and often feels like a 600 in the way it handles. The R model makes you work a bit harder to go as fast, but ultimately the R is also a bit easier to control than the rather more explosive Factory.
The BMW S1000RR might be bit more powerful, but the Aprilia’s V4 sounds fantastic and goes very, very hard. It also delivers its power across a wide rev range, though the Factory’s engine is happy revving all the way up to 14,000rpm while the R’s engine stops a few hundred revs before that.
Coming to the two bikes’ ride-by-wire electronics, the R’s electronics seem to work a bit better than the Factory’s, which is understandable since Aprilia have had a few months to fine-tune and optimise the system. The R’s V4 is blessed with perfect fuel-injection and even its gearbox feels just a bit smoother than the Factory’s. The only thing we’d like changed is low-rpm response in ‘Track’ mode, which is currently a bit too aggressive. Milder response in the first quarter opening of the throttle would probably work better.
Finally, the RSV4 R’s strength lies in the disarming simplicity with which it allows you to go so fast. That V4 makes a scary amount of power, but Aprilia have managed to engineer a package that lets you actually use all that power rather. The RSV4 R is bike that’s perfectly balanced – focused on performance and yet easy to ride – and as a package, it works very well indeed. This was Japanese litre-bike territory at one time, but Aprilia engineers have produced a bike that’s ready to take on the world’s best!
Here are some pics of the Aprilia RSV4, which you'll probably like very much... ;-)
And here, from Gizmag, is a very comprehensive road test video of the Aprilia RSV4 R
More RSV4 R action...
For the original article, please visit the MotorBox website here