Forget the 996…
’98 Aprilia RSV is the Italian twin to invest in
Over a decade after Aprilia’s 2004 meltdown and takeover by Piaggio it’s easy to forget how dynamic and ambitious the Noale-based Italian firm were in the late 90s and early Noughties.
Having served their apprenticeship in the tiddler classes, Aprilia, from 1998, decided to put not just Ducati but even Honda in their sights with an all-new family of big V-twins.
The first, the RSV Mille superbike, was arguably the best. Its compact, 128bhp 60-degree V-twin not just out-punched its Italian rival, but was more reliable and required less maintenance. Its gorgeous, polished aluminium twinspar frame was not just a work of art, it also delivered great handling, and its roomier proportions compared to the Ducati gave it plenty of appeal to taller riders.
Trouble was, the Mille wasn’t quite the success Aprilia hoped. Despite Troy Corser’s efforts, the Mille never deprived Ducati of the WSB crown, nor did it ever quite have its Italian rival’s charisma.
On the plus side, though, that does mean the Mille’s still something of a steal today – and certain to appreciate. Overengineering and high build quality means the RSV’S both durable and classy. Its performance still satisfies; a spec that includes Brembo and Marchesini still impresses (even more so in higher R or SP spec) and, best of all, used prices start under £2000 (when a comparable 996 is well over £5k). Watch out, though, those values are already on the rise...
With used prices starting at around £2000, an early RSV is a cracking bike for the money
£2000 for this view is a small price to pay Polished frame and swingarm are stunning