Power builds smoothly, coming alive at 6500 rpm when the exhaust powervalve is wide open, and accelerates very hard towards the 14,200 rpm redline. Although I couldn't perceive any power jump when the variable intake system switched positions, I did notice the way that the engine starts to slow from 13,700 rpm upwards as the soft-action rev-limiter comes in, accompanied by a couple of brief stutters just to remind you what's going on, before a strange thing happens when you reach the 14,200 rpm peak. The rev-limiter doesn't abruptly cut spark like on other bikes, but instead simply stops building revs and holds a constant engine speed; no matter what you do, 14,200 rpm is all you'll get. While the cassette-type six-speed gearbox's ratios are well chosen, the actual shifting was the one gripe I had with the RSV4. It was hard to make a clean upshift on any of the RSV4s I rode, even after adjusting the eccentric-mounted foot lever.
The RSV4's ride-by-wire package also gives you a choice of three different maps, accessible by pressing the starter button with the engine running and throttle closed. You then have to press it again to scroll through the alternative maps, select the one you want, then wait one second for it to engage. I spent most of my time on both wet track and dry tracks using the "Sport" mode, which reduces torque delivery by 25 percent in each of the bottom three gears. The "Road" setting was OK in the rain, but it meant sacrificing top-end performance since it reduces overall power by 25 percent in all gears. Probably this would be OK for riding on slimy street surfaces in the rain, but it was too restrictive even in the Misano downpour. I also tried the "Track" setting on Day 2 in the dry, but unfortunately it's too abrupt in my opinion, and while the fierce throttle response certainly delivers even more aggressive acceleration in the lower gears, it tended to upset the chassis too much when getting on throttle midcorner. "I've told them this is too much," concurred Aprilia tester and former MotoGP ace Alex Hoffmann about the Track setting. "It's not enjoyable riding the bike with this map, and in any case, you go slower. The Sport setting is very good."
The Brembo radial-mount brakes deliver their usual benchmark stopping power, but there's still a good bit of engine braking left dialed into the default settings for the slipper clutch. Click down the gears without blipping the throttle between shifts, and the Aprilia slows very fast with total stability; even using the front 320mm discs very hard didn't result in a lifted back wheel, and coming down two gears at a time didn't yield any rear chatter either.
To create the RSV4, as well as other equally crucial but less high-profile models forming part of the Italian manufacturer's comeback, Aprilia CEO Leo Mercanti has assembled a genuine dream team of designers and engineers—and race testers too, with Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano already proving their worth on the RSV4 superbike. But the best way to describe it after riding the new V4 Aprilia is that it's an intelligent bike, created with passion and enthusiasm, but also the desire to make something better than anything else in the marketplace or on the grid, simply by thinking outside the envelope. And not simply for the sake of being different, but because of functionality.
2010 Aprilia Rsv4 Factory
MSRP: Approx. $26,000
Type: Liquid-cooled, four-stroke DOHC 65-degree V-four
Bore x stroke: 78.0 x 52.3mm
Compression ratio: 13:1
Induction: Weber Marelli EFI, 48mm throttle bodies w/variable length intake, two injectors/cyl.
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
Rear tire: 190/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
Rake/trail: 24.5 deg./4.1 in. (105mm)
Wheelbase: 55.9 inches (1420mm)
Seat height: 33.3 inches (845mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.5 gal. (17L)
Claimed dry weight: 394.6 lb. (179kg)