Aprilia RSV4 Factory: 92 points
After being surprisingly disappointed with the performance of the standard RSV4 R in our literbike shootout, we were anxious to see how the Factory version would stack up in this direct comparison. And it didn't let us down.
One telling characteristic of the RSV4 Factory was the fact that every single person who rode the Aprilia came back raving about it. The Aprilia is hands down the most agile of the liter-size bikes here, able to carve rings around the others and feeling like a tight and compact 250GP racebike in the presence of literbikes. And yet that small size apparently doesn't compromise fit for larger riders - several of our testers are six feet or more, and only one mentioned anything about a cramped cockpit. Öhlins suspension components ensure superb roadholding and chassis stability, and Brembo monobloc calipers biting on 320mm discs provide brick-wall stopping power.
Being able to revel in the Factory model's variable-intake-enhanced V-four engine confirmed our complaints regarding the standard R model's lumpy powerband. Instead of a flat-spot-ridden acceleration curve that blunted drives off corners, the Factory model just continues pulling hard, allowing you to maintain that momentum you built up from getting on the throttle earlier and harder. And it's hard not to love the exhaust note of a V-four screaming at 12,000 rpm.
So why did the Aprilia finish behind the BMW on the street? Interestingly, despite the raving subjective comments, many testers' evaluation sheet numbers had the S 1000 RR on top. Nitpicks included a plank of a seat that was small and hard, barely functional mirrors, and an engine bay that radiated a lot of heat anytime you weren't pinning the throttle and going fast.
BMW S 1000 RR: 93 points
The winner of our literbike comparison test acquitted itself well on the street portion of BOTY, with the BMW scoring high marks across the board despite lacking the many raving eval sheet subjective notes of the Aprilia. The S 1000 RR apparently gets the job done quietly (well, if you can classify any bike with 176.5 rear-wheel horsepower as quiet) and efficiently with little fanfare.
As we've stated before, the BMW is an incredibly well-sorted and refined literbike for a first-time effort. Ergos are aggressive enough for track use while still retaining just enough real-world practicality to keep you from making constant appointments with your chiropractor/orthopedist. The seat has enough padding to keep you from going numb yet still gives you some feedback, the mirrors are functional, the instrument panel is nicely laid out and easy to read at a glance, and all modes and information are accessible without taking your hands off the bars.
Although lacking the midrange of some other literbikes, the BMW has sufficient quantities to keep pace until it can access its unrivaled top end power (although admittedly you will seldom find the opportunity to use that much horsepower on the street). Running in Race (or Slick mode, for those with sufficient skill) offered the best throttle response while keeping the DTC from interfering too much with corner drives. Some testers felt the throttle response was too sensitive though, causing the bike to react to minute throttle movements over bumps.
The Sachs suspension offered a nice compromise between street plush and racetrack firm, and the safety net of ABS is a definite plus on the street. And while the BMW isn't the most agile literbike, its handling manners ranked second only to the Aprilia.