Aprilia RSV4 RF Review
We ride the hardcore Aprilia RSV4 RF and come away mighty impressed
What is it?
Why would I buy the Aprilia RSV4 RF?
Because it’s the closest one can get to a road-going race motorcycle
Why would I avoid the Aprilia RSV4 RF?
Because it’s made for the track and is too impractical for the road
I have always loved sportbikes and it’s not without reason. Firstly it’s the looks that get you drooling, the mean stance simply arrest attention like no other. Then there’s the performance. Multiple cylinders and big horsepower available at the slightest twist of the wrist. Finally there’s the mindset. An aggressive, fast motorcycle will beg you to push it hard and there is no other way to enjoy but to ride it like you stole it. Yes it’s extremely demanding and not to mention draining, but the reward of nailing the apex and wheelie-ing out of that exit gives you the kind of satisfaction that is unparalleled.
And that feeling is amplified when you have something madder than mad and faster than fast between your legs. We’re talking about the Aprilia RSV4 RF.
Now you already have the Aprilia RSV4 RR (which stands for Race Road) which is plenty mental with 200 plus bhp on tap, but for a purer racing experience Aprilia is also offering the RF (Race Factory) which comes with more exotic cycle parts like the lightweight forged aluminium wheels and Ohlin suspension (as compared to Sachs set-up on the RR).
As for the design, the RSV4 has been a stunner since its inception and Aprilia has made very little changes to the overall design. The RF stands out thanks to a new dedicated ‘superpole’ black-red-silver livery. We loved the way the RSV4 RF looks and no matter what angle you look at it from, it’s a sure shot jaw dropper.
How does it ride?
To put it in simple words…like a bat out of hell! Well why won’t it? After all it puts out a mind numbing 201bhp and 115Nm of torque and weighs well under 200kg. Even without fidgeting with the electronics which in standard mode are the most intrusive, the RSV4 RF goes like a scud missile on steroids. If the throttle inputs aren’t measured, you just might end up in the grass or plastered on the rear bumper of the car ahead. But the more you ride it and figure out the motorcycles reactions, the easier it gets.
Before you get moving, getting on the saddle requires some work. The saddle height is tall even for my 5 feet 9 inch frame which is not too short. Then there is the seat which is comfortable but wide which meant I could not sit flat footed and had to tip-toe the bike around which can be a chore during parking or at parking speeds. But once on the move it’s quite easy and the bike envelops you well.
Being a racing bike, the footrests are quite rearset and the rider triangle begs a very demanding and aggressive riding posture. If you aren’t the health inspired Instagram poser like my colleague Pratheek, then this bike will make sure you get into shape.
Trying to tame a 200 plus bhp motorcycle requires the skills of Max Biaggi, but thankfully for amateur riders like me, the RSV4 gets a bucket load of electronics to keep things in check. The bike gets APRC or Aprilia Performance Ride Control in order to meet the specific needs of the rider. So you get Aprilia Traction Control with 8 settings to play with, Wheelie control which helps keep the front wheel down should you have the cojones to max out the throttle, launch control for precision starts on the race track or during drags. The ABS gets three settings as well and along with three different engine maps to choose from, one can choose the best possible combination for track or road.
And all this can be managed with a joystick on the left side of the handlebar. The only thing missing was a ‘Max Biaggi’ button that would up my riding skills to match the bike!
Once you set up the bike according to your skill set, and push the starter, the V4 barks to life and settles into a mechanical whirr. Gas it and the tone starts to turn into a V8 like roar and goes totally ballistic as the rev counter gets into serious numbers on the now slightly dated looking dash. Acceleration is beyond fierce and aided by the Aprilia Quick Shift system which lets you go up and down the 6-speed gearbox without shutting the throttle and using the clutch.
Hitting corners unravels the other side of this mental machine. The chassis is an absolute gem. It has plenty of feel, which ultimately eggs you into leaning it over further than you would anything else and going hard on the brakes as you approach a corner at ridiculous speeds, all the while laughing in your helmet and thinking, “How the hell am I still on two wheels?” The RSV4 isn't the lightest bike in the litre bike segment, but it still flicks from side to side with relative ease and only feels slightly sluggish in slower corners. The combination of that brilliant chassis, the Ohlin suspension set up and those super sticky Pirelli Rosso Supercorsa’s means the RSV4 pretty much gives you superhuman capabilities.
Anything else I should know
Now the RSV4 RF is as hardcore as sportbikes can get so you might imagine that the ride quality would be pretty much brittle, but surprise surprise, its not! The suspension is extremely pliant and unless one is on a badly broken patch of road the suspension soaks in pretty much everything. Considering that the bike is meant to destroy racetracks and hunt down apexes, ride quality is a revelation on this hyper Aprilia.
Also what you see here in the pictures is the 2016 model year bike which is sold alongside the 2017 motorcycle. The 2017 gets a TFT dashboard and a slightly different colour scheme amongst other additions.
Should I buy one?
If you have Rs. 24.88 lakh to spend on a fast motorcycle, there are few that exhilarate as well as the RSV4. But then again this isn’t your everyday motorcycle and if you try to make it one, it’s sure to get on your nerves. It gets hot enough to disrupt your family planning, has a bigger turning radius than a truck and rocks and rumbles at slow speeds. The racetrack is its home environment and once on track, the RSV4 will make you forget all its nagging issues and turn you into a superhuman. So if riding your fast motorcycle on the track is your thing, the Aprilia RSV4 RF is in a league of its own. For the other mortals there is always the cheaper and plenty competent RSV4 RR.
Where does it fit in?
The RSV4 RF goes up against the Kawasaki Ninja ZX10R which is priced at Rs. 21.90 lakh, the BMW S1000rr Pro priced at Rs. 19.20 lakh, Yamaha R1 at Rs. 20.73 and the MV Agusta F4 which tops the chart at Rs. 26.12 lakh.
Photography by Kapil Angane
1: Shoei X12: Now replaced by the X14, the X12 was one of the best racing helmets made by Shoei. Fits like a glove and extremely aerodynamic. Price - Rs. 55,000 - X14
2: RS Taichi Mesh Jacket: Very good fit coupled with extremely good airflow, the RS Taichi is the perfect summer jacket. Price – Rs. 11,000
3: Mugen Race Leather Gloves: These are the Mugen MNR 1579G leather gloves which not only offer a supreme fit but also great ventilation. Need to be worn in well though. Price – Rs. 4,000
4: AGV Sport Willow Leather pants: These AGV pants are made of high quality cowhide leather and are comfortable on the track and on the street. Price – Rs. 14,000
5: TCX R-S2 Boots: The R-S2 have now been replaced by R-S2 Evo. These are top of the line racing boots with brilliant protection and a great fit. Price – Rs. 29,000
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