Aprilia’s RSV-4RF: Epic ad­ven­tures on track

The tech-laden su­per­bike is the last one to launch of the cur­rent crop of su­per­star mo­tor­cy­cles – but last most def­i­nitely does not mean least. Oh no.

Motorcycle Monthly - - First Ride - Tested by: Tony Carter Photography: Mi­la­gro

First im­pres­sions count in the su­per­bike world. You’ll knowin­stantly if you can get on with the bike un­der­neath you while the pair of you hit nearly 200mph. It’s a spe­cial sort of bond be­tween ma­chine and rider that just isn’t found any­where else in the two-wheeled world.

So, in terms of those all-im­por­tant im­pres­sions, here’s the run-down on the RSV4-RF Aprilia, a new Ital­ian en­try into the nowawe­some, tech-laden mod­ern su­per­bike mar­ket.

The seat is fairly low(not like big Aprilia su­per­bikes of old), there’s a lot of room to shuf­fle about in, the footrests aren’t cramped, the new tank is tucked out of the way… the whole nar­row­ness of the V4 be­lies its size.

For a first im­pres­sion, and one at zero miles an hour, this su­per­bike al­ready feels like it’s been thought through for the rider in­stead of chas­ing num­bers.

The throt­tle pick-up, from 2000 to 14,000rpm, is in­stantly amaz­ing. There’s not an en­gine un­der­neath you but a su­per­smooth tur­bine of pure power. Flick­ing the bike through a few cor­ners it’s clear that you’re rid­ing some­thing crafted by those who know about sus­pen­sion.

Pick a line and the RSV barks oblig­ingly and hur­ries along it. The brakes are WSB stop­pers on the new front end and hit them hard enough to get the bike just lift­ing the back wheel and the new chas­sis (longer, lower cen­tre of grav­ity, much more sta­ble) isn’t fazed.

The en­gine, all-new with a host of race-bits as stan­dard, is in the 200bhp club – 16bhp up on the old en­gine and an ab­so­lute gemto use. That mo­tor is lus­cious to use. De­lib­er­ately go­ing into slow cor­ners a gear too high doesn’t worry it, the elec­tron­ics save your mo­men­tu­mand the en­gine note drops but it can stand ham­fisted abuse.

The power builds rapidly as you stir the pot and it’s so re­spon­sive (and gives a great ‘boost’ from about 8000rpm on­ward) that there’s a real de­light in let­ting the bike rev and hold­ing a gear be­tween cor­ners.

The chas­sis is all-new with a lower cen­tre of grav­ity, a longer feel and pulled-in steer­ing an­gle. It’s su­per clam and won­der­fully easy to flick about. That Sachs rear shock is pre­dictable and tiny in feel. Where a month ago I was drag­ging the whole of the side of my boot on the floor on the Yamaha R1, on the RSV my toes never touched the track. That gives you some idea of just how­nar­row this bike feels. It never dom­i­nates the rider, mostly be­cause it’s phys­i­cally as in­tim­i­dat­ing as a nice pair of slip­pers.

The rid­ing po­si­tion puts you at less of a rad­i­cal pitch to the bars than on the Tuono sib­ling. The bars feel wide at first but make sense on the move and that fair­ing is both easy to get un­der and ab­so­lutely bril­liant at keep­ing the wind off.

Play­ing around with sub-rou­tines in the dig­i­tal brain isn’t straight­for­ward how­ever. It’s def­i­nitely worth in­vest­ing time with the RSV4 and learn­ing howto set up the myr­iad of op­tions that you can dial in for trac­tion con­trol, throt­tle and anti-wheelie set­tings. I dropped the trac­tion con­trol over the course of a 20 minute ses­sion and from ‘7’ to ‘4’ there wasn’t too much dif­fer­ence in terms of feel, but set­ting ‘3’ found the bike slid­ing on the edge of my skillset.

It’s a very so­phis­ti­cated sys­tem in truth and knows your lean an­gle, throt­tle ag­gres­sion and ac­cel­er­a­tion rates as you ride. You never feel the sys­tem butting in to the ride though, it’s seam­less in its in­ter­ac­tion and never de­tracts from sheer and re­peated joy of crack­ing the throt­tle and lis­ten­ing to that V4 howl.

Turn eight at Misano is cru­cial be­cause, like many turns at the track, of the straight that fol­lows it where you jet along the track, lean into turn nine – but use it as part of the straight – and then fix­ate on brak­ing for turn 10.

I found that go­ing into turn eight in sec­ond was fine but even­tu­ally I opted to hit turn eight in first, just so I could

The en­gine

keep the revs high and en­joy a small slide on the exit. This hap­pened af­ter just one ses­sion on the RSV and tells you just howat home with the RSV a new rider feels al­most straight away.

Aprilia was at pains to ramhome the mes­sage dur­ing the launch that this bike was built to echo the first RSV4 in 2009: the best, un­com­pro­mis­ing su­per­bike and one that comes clos­est to the real rac­ing bike. With­out rid­ing Haslam’s fac­tory RSV4 it’s hard to say how­close to that goal they’ve come with this bike, but what is im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous is that here is a mas­sive step for­ward for su­per­bikes once again.

There’s no get­ting away from the fact that this is an im­mensely bril­liant mo­tor­cy­cle which looks, sounds and goes like some­thing you see whizzing around in WSB ev­ery other Sun­day, but the pric­ing might be the fac­tor that puts peo­ple off the crafted mo­tor­cy­cle mis­sile.

£3000+ more than the Yamaha R1, it might find that it’s roundly beaten in the sales stakes. £18,000+ is a lot to ask for a bike th­ese days and time will tell if enough rid­ers have enough money to sweep up th­ese things for the road. On track how­ever, well, this is ar­guably the very toppest of the top in the Su­per­bike stakes. Up by 16bhp and tip­ping the scales 2.5kg less than its pre­de­ces­sor, the mo­tor is largely newalthough it’s a case of evolv­ing the old en­gine rather than re­design­ing it – but the tech and parts come from the rac­ing side of things.

The work was done on de­creas­ing in­ter­nal fric­tion, im­prov­ing com­bus­tion ef­fi­ciency and fluid-dy­namic ef­fi­ciency as well as on in­creas­ing the max­i­mum ro­ta­tion speed.

Start­ing from the top, the 65° V4 has a new race-team de­rived air­box with a new fil­ter. The up­per in­jec­tors are new, whereas the vari­able set­ting in­take ducts are re­designed with more travel, as with pre­vi­ous mod­els, each bank has a ded­i­cated servo unit ac­tu­at­ing the two throt­tle bod­ies of that bank only.

In or­der to im­prove the fluid dy­namic per­for­mance, the heads were re­designed with

| in­take and out­put ducts that have new ge­ome­tries and con­tour­ing on the ends ma­chined by a nu­mer­i­cally con­trolled tool.

The com­bus­tion cham­bers are CNC’d for the first time to make them more pre­cise and to im­prove re­li­a­bil­ity.

The heads nowhave a triple layer of gas­kets. The tim­ing sys­tem uses the mixed chain and gear kine­mat­ics of the Aprilia V4 (with the chain camshaft driv­ing only the in­take camshaft, which in turn drives the ex­haust camshaft via a gear) which al­lows for ex­tremely com­pact heads es­pe­cially be­neath the frame spars, much nar­rower than would oth­er­wise be pos­si­ble.

In or­der to in­crease the max­i­mum ro­ta­tion speed a painstak­ing study was con­ducted on light­en­ing the parts in mo­tion of the el­e­ments in­cluded in the heads. All four valves are now light­weight ti­ta­nium (the in­take valves are over­sized at 33mm); the valve springs are com­pletely new and the rel­a­tive tap­pets and caps were light­ened.

The camshafts have a brand new pro­file and were light­ened by a whole 600g. The crankshaft now has con­nect­ing rod pins re­duced to 36mm in di­am­e­ter with 450g more weight, while the Pankl con­nect­ing rods are lighter by a to­tal of 400g. The up­per half of the en­gine case is now made with a new shell fu­sion and has been light­ened (–1.3kg) and re­in­forced; it also now has a bet­ter ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem in or­der to re­duce power loss due to air pres­sure in­side the en­gine crank­case. The lu­bri­ca­tion sys­tem has also been re­designed and op­ti­mised.

A brand new oil sump en­sures in­creased draught no mat­ter what po­si­tion the en­gine is in de­spite the oil level be­ing de­creased in or­der to de­crease fric­tion. The ‘rose pipe’ is also new (oil pump in­take duct), now equipped with a new over­pres­sure valve and a fil­ter in an op­ti­mised po­si­tion. The pis­ton cool­ing oil noz­zles were also re­placed and the gear­box now has a valve reg­u­lated di­rect hy­draulic lu­bri­ca­tion cir­cuit.

The lat­ter uses light­ened drive shafts and gears (–0.35kg), a light­ened pri­mary drive (–0.1kg) and takes ad­van­tage of new ra­tios which have been op­ti­mised to fully ex­ploit the in­creased en­gine power. The en­tire ex­haust sys­tem has also been com­pletely re­designed with re­vamped elec­tronic valve man­age­ment, now equipped with two oxy­gen sen­sors (one per bank), while a new there’s also a more pow­er­ful ECU.

Feels like a 600cc bike on the move.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.