I was excited to ride the new Aprilia RSV4. It's not often I get a chance to ride a high-performance V-four. Besides, I used to own a 1998 Interceptor. The engine was great, although I never will understand why some manufacturers are all about different engine modes these days. I've never found much use with them and I'm still not convinced. The RSV4 turned effortlessly and noticeably quicker than the other motorcycles we were riding. It also felt quite a bit lighter and smaller. The engine would spin quickly and the transmission was crisp. A little bit of effort on the brakes went a long way. The bad news is the seat is hard, the mirrors are useless and oh, did I mention it's twenty one thousand dollars? But hey, having the latest bad-ass sport bike from Italy is going to cost you so start saving your pennies.
The RSV4 Factory may be compact, light weight and minimalist, but it begs to be stripped down even more. After the first round of musical bikes with those bully-in-line fours, the initial thought was why bother installing a useless set of passenger pegs and mirrors on this Italian work of art?
Calling this a street bike doesn't jive with this machine-unless you happen to have a nice set of twisties or a race track in your backyard. I really try and refrain from using all the clichés that have become standard over the years but this bike begs several: thoroughbred, a focused machine, and race-oriented cutting-edge technology all come to mind. The Aprilia still has its work cut out when trying to outrun the mighty Kawasaki ZX-10R though. All things considered, the word "Factory" is not a stretch in the case of the all new RSV4 and for 21 grand it better not be! You get your money's worth as long as you have the expertise to fully appreciate the Aprilia's capabilities. Oh, and I almost forgot...the words "beyond sick" in describing this Italian beauty.
You know that feeling when a new movie comes out and all your friends tell you how great it is? You then watch the movie with high expectations hoping that you come away fulfilled. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. This Aprilia is the exception. A friend of mine was one of the first to receive his RSV4 Factory just days prior to our scheduled delivery and couldn't (or should I say wouldn't) stop raving about it. So naturally I was cautiously optimistic when throwing a leg over it for the first time. But it didn't disappoint-not at all. Like Jim, I'm not a big fan of different drive modes either, but I'll gladly forgive Aprilia if that's the biggest gripe I have about the bike. The sensitive suspension could be a pain for the uninitiated, but once we got it dialed I couldn't stop smiling. Granted I've never ridden a 250 GP bike, but otherwise I've never ridden something that handles as crisp and precise as the RSV4 Factory. If we can find a way to give it that brutal knock-your-teeth-out power that the ZX-10R has then I think we might have a contender for bike of the year.
This year may just go down as the "Year of the European Sportbike". While the Japanese manufacturers are building defensive positions and hunkering down in their trenches as they try to ride out the economic storm, the Europeans are clearly on the offensive. The Japanese have enjoyed a long and prosperous reign atop the sportbike heap, but if they don't react quickly-despite the obvious financial difficulties that are affecting everyone-that supremacy is in serious danger.
The Aprilia RSV4 Factory is the real deal. Strong yet very flexible engine, ultra-sharp chassis, superb suspension, brick-wall brakes-it will basically run rings around the current Japanese machinery that are certainly no slouches when it comes to performance. It may be lacking a little steam up top, but the only place where that will show is on a dragstrip or racetrack with long straights.
Yes, the RSV4 Factory's price tag is a little steep. But most people in the market for a literbike aren't pinching pennies-and if that sticker is a deal-breaker, then the "standard" RSV4 R model (which we'll be testing soon) is a good fall-back plan.