It's a battle of the ages as the Honda RC45 goes head to head against the Aprilia RSV4. It's 1990s Japanese racebike engineering against modern-day Italian exotica...
We have to admit, we have a freakish obsession with 1980s/1990s Honda V4s – we think the VFR750R RC30 and RVF750R RC45 are simply two of the coolest bikes ever made on the planet. And if ever had to choose between the two, it would have to be the RC45.
Launched in 1994, the RC45 wasn’t massively powerful – in stock form, its 750cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected DOHC V4 only produced about 118bhp. But it’s the bike’s sheer raciness, its single-minded performance intent, the resolutely purposeful 1990s styling that has us lusting after the Honda even now, almost two decades after it was launched.
Despite having a great heritage of high-performance V4-engined sportsbikes, Honda don’t seem to be interested in building a successor to the RC45. The current V4s in the Honda line-up – the VFR1200F and the Crossdresser Crossrunner – may be undeniably refined, capable and competent etc., but they are just so… dull!
The best modern-day V4-engined superbike is, of course, the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC. It is, perhaps, the bike that Honda could have, should have, built. But they did not. And Aprilia seem to have taken up things from where Honda left off when they stopped producing the RC45 in 1999. The RSV4 is fabulous bike – in terms of styling, handling and engine performance, it’s second to none. So you have to wonder, how would an RSV4 stack up against an RC45? The UK-based Performance Bikes magazine did a story some time ago, where they compared a race-kitted RC45 with a new RSV4. The bikes were ridden by PB’s Matt Wildee and Kar Lee, and here are some excerpts from what they had to say about the match-up: