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