Th­ese days the sports­bike mar­ket is awash with qual­ity. So why have Aprilia down­graded the spec of their RSV4 RF?

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Ben Lind­ley Pho­tog­ra­phy Aprilia

Aprilia down-spec their RSV4 RF, and it works out quite well.

FIRM, FU­RI­OUS, AND fo­cussed: that’s the RSV4. First you no­tice the bold, race-style graph­ics. Then the tall and cramped er­gonomics as you an­gle a leg over the seat. Smart top yoke and TFT screen say ex­pen­sive fin­ish, while a tippy-toe tot­ter round the Post Of­fice car park sug­gest a track fo­cus. But then you use the throt­tle. V4 thrust is im­pec­ca­ble and bal­lis­tic – a straight-cut line as ad­dic­tive as Class-a drugs and con­trol­lable in the way my old scooter’s fuel tap def­i­nitely is not. Tickle the clip-ons and the thing curves into a cor­ner with a fo­cus born from 53 world ti­tles-worth of chas­sis devel­op­ment. Out the cor­ner and you pull the pin… Good news! Th­ese mar­vel­lous sen­sa­tions no longer cost £20,000. That’s the price of the top-spec RSV4 RF. Aprilia have junked ex­pen­sive pe­riph­er­als and re­placed them with cost fo­cussed kit to cre­ate the RSV4 RR. It’s a 2017 model, but is be­ing im­ported to the UK for the first time. Out go forged wheels and Öh­lins ad­justable steer­ing damper, TTX36 shock and NIX30 fork. In come 2kg-heav­ier cast wheels, Sachs sus­pen­sion and a Sachs non-ad­justable steer­ing damper. Im­pres­sively, the en­gine, elec­tron­ics and chas­sis are un­changed. And the cost? £15,599 (plus an op­tional £250 if you fancy smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity). Rid­ing the RR means a blurry mix of V4 roar and con­stant ad­just­ment of wheelie con­trol (left switchgear, rocker) and trac­tion con­trol (same switchgear, trig­ger pad­dles). Both can be op­er­ated on the fly, and it soon be­comes an ad­dic­tion. Turn­ing hap­pens with the same bloody-minded fo­cus as on the RF de­spite the heav­ier wheels. Same fo­cussed rid­ing po­si­tion, too. You’re hemmed in by the 845mm-high seat, race-po­si­tioned rear sets, and the short reach to low clip-ons. It feels more like a late-2000s R6 than 2018’s more spa­cious Du­cati V4. Tall rid­ers will be

‘Rid­ing the RR means a blurry mix of V4 roar and con­stant ad­just­ment of wheelie and trac­tion con­trol’

cramped – choose a roomy KTM RC8R if you want some­thing ex­otic and Euro­pean. My 5ft 7in fit well, but it’s a reach to the floor. No is­sues with the down­graded sus­pen­sion, though: Sachs fork and shock feel firm on the road, but are fully-ad­justable. The only dis­ap­point­ment is hav­ing to break out a C-span­ner to ad­just rear preload. Do you miss the RF’S Öh­lins units on the road? Ab­so­lutely not, but brak­ing deep into Rock­ing­ham’s Tarzan hair­pin or at­tack­ing Cad­well’s Hall Bends might be a dif­fer­ent story. So is this RSV4 a good value bike? It’s cer­tainly in among other base­line su­per­bikes. Yamaha’s R1 runs an up-down quick­shifter and an in­er­tial mea­sure­ment unit for cor­ner­ing ABS and trac­tion con­trol – just like the Aprilia – but costs £740 more. Kawasaki’s ZX-10R is £1450 cheaper, and the Suzuki GSX-R1000 un­der­cuts the RSV4 RR by £1900, but nei­ther have that small-batch Ital­ian feel to them. Du­cati’s V4 is a more for­giv­ing road bike, but costs a con­sid­er­able £3791 more... which all means that Aprilia’s RSV4 is now a cred­i­ble op­tion for any­one look­ing for a new sports­bike. Cu­ri­ously the RSV4 RR’S most se­ri­ous com­pe­ti­tion ac­tu­ally comes from Aprilia’s own, top-level, RF. Yes, its list price is £19,999 but its ram­pant de­pre­ci­a­tion means year-old bikes with clean odome­ters are ad­ver­tised for £16,000. Fall­ing for the track-fo­cussed RSV4? Buy it, but make sure there’s an Aprilia dealer near you.

There’s a qual­ity feel through­out Clear, easy to read, and colour

RR’S big­gest com­pe­ti­tion, cu­ri­ously, comes from Aprilia them­selves

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