THE RSV4 FACTORY has been the benchmark in the superbike category till this day. Year after year it has evolved with incredible dynamic balance which took it to five WSBK titles including the 2012 and 2014 title, all in Aprilia’s 54th world title. So we got a road test the RSV4 for a week.
The Factory will raise your riding level without trying very hard. Our first ride test was to the North South Highway, destination to Tanjong Malim, averaging a speed of 200km/h, the factory feels light in the front but as I tucked in behind the wind shield the RSV4 easily pulls to 260km/h. The cockpit fits me nicely but I only can tip toe when I reached the traffic light.
Once the off the highway we took a twisty route through Kuala Kubu and Ulu Yam, and on Traction Mode 4 increased dramatically increased the throttle control with higher RPM, the RSV4 encouraged me to tuck position which was comfortable and allowed more kneedowns. Our test bikes tyre was Pirelli Rosso Corsa, just fitted in by the manufacturer when we took the RSV4. So we got some nice slide out of tight corners. Standard fitted tyres are Diablo Supercorsa.
The bike will, basically, go as far as one is willing to take it, then more. Overcooked corner entries are often remedied with only a tiny dose of trail braking or just more lean. For me, almost every corner exit is accompanied by a slide; I could have taken it faster. The RSV4 does exactly what it’s told, engenders confidence, and the engine sound encourages speed.
I setup the APRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) electronics for my riding style usual twisty road I will use TC2 and normal ride for me is TC4. There are 8 TC modes to choose from.
Traction control is adjusted with thumb and forefinger paddles below the left grip. It can be managed on the fly without accessing any menus and has 8 levels, lower being less intrusive. In clean and dry conditions I like running in Map 2 which allows all the rear wheel slide and spin I am able to muster but still has enough protection to keep my wheels in line.
Other package including consists of AWC (Aprilia Wheelie Control), ATC (Aprilia Traction Control), ALC (Aprilia Launch Control) and AQS (Aprilia Quick Shift).
Next is wheelie control which has Maps 1-3. I like to set it in Map 2 which limits wheelies to about 30cm and then lowers the front wheel down gently.
If you want to feel what makes this bike so special try hitting your apex with the engine on the boil at about 6000 rpm or higher. Open the throttle and hold your lean. As you charge out of the turn ATC will keep the rubber on track and AWC will make sure you don’t over-wheelie.
When performed correctly the front tire may loft while still at full lean and the turn will be completed on the rear tire only. As the bike straightens up the front tire returns to earth and you are off to the next corner.
It is an amazing feeling to experience and can be a real ego boost but APRC can make it possible for a good rider to achieve feats previously available only to real experts.
A quick shifter is not a unique feature to race bikes but Aprilia does it a bit differently in the way they cause the engine to hesitate for the shift. This quick shifter allows full throttle clutch less upshifts and the sensor produces a torque cut-off through ignition and fuel injection control.
Upon gear-change completion the torque is progressively restored. On the road, this happens in the blink of an eye and is smooth a silk. Combined with their cable-actuated mechanical slipper clutch this is a potent system for performance and helps any rider shift up or down like a pro.
Launch control is a “track only” feature designed to get the bike off the starting line as quickly and easily as possible. Aprilia wants the rider to only be required to think about clutch action and the APRC electronics use all of its logic to make this happen.
Engage ALC with a two-button press, pin the throttle, hang on tightly and quickly feed in the clutch. APRC is monitoring every factor involved in the launch and makes adjustments accordingly. This feature is not for the faint of heart and if you do it more than once or twice you may want to have a spare clutch pack available.
Three fuel maps are also available. They are Track, Sport and Rain. All feel correct and linear without flat spots. I favour the Track map as it channels all power on demand yet is superbly tractable around town even in slow zones with stop lights. The Sport map is all the Track map is except at the top but, I reckon, why pay for all the horsepower and not have it on tap?
The 180kg dry RSV4 is powered by the 999cc, 65 degree V4, 16-valve, DOHC engine that produces 184 hp (up four from 2013 due to the exhaust canister upgrade) and 86 ft/lbs of torque. Power is applied through a 6-speed cassette-style gearbox. It’s all held together by an adjustable aluminium dual-beam chassis designed to balance braking and traction forces.
Masterfully, Aprilia electronically orchestrates all this potential through its APRC and delivers a bike that is tame as a kitten when required and fierce as a lion when whipped and the sound it makes is heavenly.
Suspension is by Ohlins with 43mm upside-down forks, and a piggy-back shock absorber on the aluminium alloy swing arm in back. The bike also arrives with a FACTORYOhlins steering damper. All suspension components – including the damper – are fully adjustable.
As expected, the suspension and chassis action are predictable and make riding fast through curves a pleasure. Combined with smooth tarmac and the sticky rubber the RSV4 makes a ballet out of direction changes. On poorly paved sections the ride can become quite rough.
Braking duties are performed by radial-mounted, twin Brembo M430 Monobloc calipers clamping 320mm floating rotors up front. The 220mm rear rotor is squeezed by their new floating caliper all connected by metal lines.
Brembo, like Ohlins, is synonymous with the highest quality and their efforts do not disappoint. They are, simply, a no-drama system that just works. No matter your speed or number of repeated hard stops, they deliver smooth engagement and initial bite with linear, proportional and predictable lever and pedal pressure required in any given scenario.
The fuel tank is 18.5 liters, but everyday riding would require pumping it up full as I have an full gas throttle hands to throttle the extra juice of the RSV4, since the fuel warning light can come on after riding 180km or sooner, depending on how you ride. Get aggressive and see your consumption go from 8 liter per 100km cruising to 11 litre or less.
If you are a spirited sportbike rider seeking a rare, exotic and exhilarating machine, you may not have to look any farther than the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC.