Aprilia RSV4 R

Full Test: 2010 Aprilia RSV4 R

Section: Sports Bikes Post: Alex Gobert

MotoOnline.com.au brings visitors the first Aussie test of Aprilia’s RSV4 R superbike to see how it stacks up against the Factory model.


Engine type: 65° V4, DOHC, four valves per cylinder

Bore x stroke: 78 x 52.3mm

Displacement: 998.9cc

Compression ratio: 13:1

Transmission: Six speed

Power (claimed): 180hp

Torque (claimed): 85ft-lbs

Frame type: Twin spar, aluminium, adjustable engine position, swingarm pivot position, and steering stem angle

Wheels (front/rear): Six split-spokes, aluminium alloy, 17 x 3.5 / Five split-spokes, aluminium alloy, 17 x 6.0

Tyres (front/rear): Metzeler Racetec Interact 120/70 ZR 17″ / 190/55 ZR 17″

Brakes (front/rear): 2 x Brembo Monobloc four piston caliper, radially bolted, twin floating 320mm brake discs / Brembo two piston, fixed caliper, 220mm brake disc

Weight (claimed): 184kg

Seat height: 845mm


Price: $23,990 + orc

Warranty: 24 month, unlimited km

Colour options: Black or White

Availability: March 2010

Test bike from: John Sample Automotive

There are so many beautiful things about Aprilia’s RSV4, the market’s lone V-shaped four-cylinder superbike coming direct out of the Italian factory in Noale.

Personally, the look of the bike displays sheer elegance in both the up-spec Factory and the R model that we have on test this week, with just minimal differences setting them apart.

The good news for those who have been waiting to see how the R stacks up to the highly acclaimed Factory model is that it’s performance isn’t to far in arrears.

Priced at $23,990 + orc, the R model features the exact same engine as the Factory, however it features Showa forks and a Sachs shock rather than Ohlins, aluminium engine cases instead of magnesium, it doesn’t have the adjustable frame or swingarm geometry, or the variable intake ducts.

Other differences include a swap for cast aluminium instead of forged magnesium wheels, while the assortment of carbon-fibre and other minor details that make up the Factory are also absent.

So, the question now is, at $8500 less than the Factory, does the R perform anywhere near as greatly as the more expensive version of the unique RSV4 model?

Generally speaking, it does. But when you’re delving deep into the technical advancements on the Factory then there are certain things that are just irreplaceable.

The fact that you can adjust the Factory so much more is a great advantage for racers to start with, but also a nice little additive for track day riders who like to experiment with geometry.

You can scratch those options from the R, but then again if you’re comfortable with the standard geometry you’ll have no worries ignoring this upgrade.

The pieces of carbon-fibre and minor details such as not having Aprilia Racing logos on selected bolts remove some of the beautiful features from the R that the factory possesses, however you can’t say the R isn’t a sensational looking bike in its own right.

Another major difference is the suspension and wheels, which make up the majority of the actual differences while riding because these parts are some of the most vital aspects of the chassis.

Upon firing up the engine and clicking into gear, memories of my Full Test of the Factory immediately come to light as I give it a quick blip of the throttle to hear the sweet V4 engine note.

The engine is everything I remember, made even sweeter by the fact that I just swapped the RS 125 to climb aboard one of Aprilia’s new RSV4 R that’ll spearhead its superbike assault alongside the Factory.

Torque is very much a key to this engine as you power through the corners and out of them. Even while focussing on where the power starts to kick in through the rev range, there’s no doubt that it comes on from the very bottom.

It pulls harder from around 4000rpm, builds momentum at 6000 and accelerates hard as you burst from 8000 all the way to around 11,500 before up shifting.

The RSV4 R looks amazing in black, only lacking minimal features of the Factory.

As with the Factory, there are three engine modes to select from (Road, Sport or Track) with Road being the least powerful of the trio and limiting the bike to output just around 135 horsepower of its claimed 180 horses.

Rode mode is usable and has an ample amount of ponies to get you by in traffic, while Sport mode is a comfortable compromise for the street that has a smooth throttle response and crisp fuelling. From there it’s the Track mode, which is pretty self explanatory, although it is usable in the real world as well if you roll on the gas smoothly.

All of that is operated via a switch doubling as the start button on the right handlebar.

Since the engine is the same as the Factory it’s difficult to tell them apart, however the lack of the variable intake ducts take away from the power at higher rpm judging by the feel in the seat of the pants.

It’s not that it feels that much slower, more that the Factory tends to have that last gasp of grunt before you’re required to click the next gear, something that would really help on the race track when it comes to posting fast laps. Apart from the top-end, you can’t notice much of a difference on the street.

One of the major things I notice on the R considering I’m testing it in the warmer summer months is the heat that the engine runs at. You can feel it externally, but the main indication comes via the sky-rocketing temperature gauge on the dash, where it reads up around the 100 degree Celsius mark if you’re sitting behind another vehicle anywhere under 70km/h.

Once you’re in clean air or above that speed then it’s fine, otherwise you’ll have to be a little careful in the summer months of where you’re situated in traffic.

The instruments are identical to the Factory and remain as efficient as ever via its left handlebar-operated switch, something that adds to the emotion and feeling that you’re onboard a high class Italian superbike.

The riding position is the same on both the R and the Factory.

Also identical to the Factory I’d earlier tested is the riding position that stands tall off the ground, is narrow, but has plenty of room for all sizes of riders. The seat’s roomy, footpegs are in a racey position, and the reach to the handlebars is quite short – which is great for me at 168cm tall. If you’re into travelling long kays you’ll probably want an aftermarket seat for added padding though.

The mirrors are also quite good, with only a slight raise of the elbow required to see directly behind you.

Now for the section you’ve been waiting for… the suspension and chassis handling.

First of all, unless you’re pushing to the absolute limit, you’re not going to feel a lot of difference between the Showa/Sachs suspension of the R or the Ohlins on the Factory.

Yes, Ohlins look cool, but we mustn’t forget that Showa and Sachs have their own rightful racing heritage and there’s no doubt that they know how to build sportsbike suspension.

The most noticeable difference is that the Showa forks aren’t quite as stiff as the Ohlins, which actually makes it slightly more composed on the road. You brake for the turns, the front dives quicker than the Ohlins, and it remains settled upon turning into the corner.

Only when pushing on a race track would you most likely notice any limitations in the Showa forks, although we didn’t get to put the RSV4 R through it’s paces on track this time around.

The rear shock is stiff in comparison to the forks, which enables the bike to steer through the corners supremely quick without unbalancing the bike too much.

I say too much because it does bounce off select bumps and give you a slight tap in the rear, however it’s handling on smooth, long, sweeping bends is something that you just have to sample to fully appreciate.

There’s no denying that it’s harsh at times, but considering the sheer build quality and joy that the engine provides I’d be willing to put up with a slight kick in the rear as I search for the smooth roads.

Having heavier wheels add unsprung weight, however you also wouldn’t notice this until the quickest change of direction, most likely on the track as you extract all you can get from the bike at speed.

Overall the R is five kilograms heavier than the Factory, most of which you’ll feel at a standstill while holding up the bike and then also on the tighter corners where you’ll input more lean angle and have to bring it back up again.

The R doesn’t have the carbon or the detail of the Factory, but it’s still a hot motorcycle.

I’m a big fan of styling and Aprilia has most definitely hit the nail on the head in this department, the look of the bike being the most closely matched to its World Superbike contender on the market.

Whether it’s the R or the Factory that you’ve got your eye on, you’ll be satisfied with the performance. However, if you do have that bit of extra cash to shell out on your new ride, the Factory is worth the extra money.

Like I said at the top, it’s not so much about the overall performance apart from a bit of extra steam and a ‘different’ feel from the suspension, more for the added detail and look of the extra features. But that’s just me, I’ve always been one for bragging rights.

And the best thing about the R compared to the Factory? Aprilia has this model available to test throughout the country. Visit Aprilia Australia’s website and book your test ride here to see what it’s like for yourself.

You’ll love every minute of the ride.


Aprilia has utilised and designed the narrow V configuration 65-degree four-cylinder engine for the RSV4 range, a configuration that the Italian manufacturer says is ideal for maximum performance, mass centralisation and dynamic balance.

World Superbike hero Max Biaggi has proven that the engine is competitive in race trim, with the goal of the engineers to make the engine usable in its nature compared to the traditional inline fours.

The RSV4 R’s engine is identical to the one slotted into the Factory, which means that all the technical details are exactly the same as what we covered in the Factory’s Full Test.

The V4 engine is the key to the RSV4’s soul.

Besides the exclusive configuration that makes the 65-degree V4 unique around the world, the technical advantages of the Aprilia four-cylinder engine include that it’s perfectly integrated into the frame, with optimal mass centralisation and minimal inertia for benchmark agility, absolute slimness.

Its overall width is comparable to that of a twin cylinder motorcycle, with huge benefits in terms of ergonomics and aerodynamics, and the compactness of the engine makes a very over square cylinder layout possible, using large bores and subsequently larger valves, helping the engine breathe more freely and achieve higher engine speeds.

The engine was entirely developed by Aprilia’s Research and Development division, aiming at producing record performance and rideability, while complying with the strictest reliability and quality standards. Aprilia’s V4 design exploited the most powerful calculation programmes currently available on the market, resulting in a highly optimised engine layout.

By slightly opening the angle of the V (with respect to a 60-degree V engine), the designers could make use of the larger space to optimise the inlet ducts and maximise engine efficiency.

The unique timing system makes extremely compact heads possible (measuring only 250 mm high at the rear), especially in the area beneath the frame spars, which are much narrower than would otherwise be possible.

The lateral timing chain drives the intake camshaft only and follows an optimised path for improved timing precision and chain durability. A gear pair at the centre of the cylinder bank transmits drive to the exhaust camshaft.

This solution made it possible to obtain an extremely compact head in the exhaust area. The V4 is even more compact than the V60 Magnesium twin mounted on the RSV 1000 R. A countershaft dampens vibrations even more than in a 90-degree V engine.

The crankcase is a monobloc configuration with integrated cylinder liners for maximum rigidity and consistent performance.

The swingarm and frame aren’t adjustable on the R, but still look top shelf.

Aprilia’s RSV4 Factory engine features full ride-by-wire technology. There is no direct connection between throttle grip and the throttle valves, which are completely controlled by a latest generation Marelli control unit.

Each bank has a dedicated servo unit actuating the two relevant throttle bodies. This means that the two banks (and subsequently the quantity of fuel injected) can be managed independently.

This technology immediately benefits the rider who, thanks to the triple mapping that can be controlled directly from the handlebar, can change the engine delivery mode, and thus the motorcycle’s temperament, at any time.

The fuel supply uses two injectors per cylinder. One injector is placed downstream of the throttle valve and a “shower” injector is placed in the airbox, working only at high loads and revs.

A butterfly valve in the exhaust further optimises power delivery.

The transmission was also designed according to the most advanced criteria. To underscore the racing soul of the V4 engine, a cassette gearbox is used, with a multi-plate wet clutch disc equipped with a mechanical slipper system to optimise engine braking torque and ensure stability under hard braking.

The chassis is what stands out as the major difference between the R and Factory models, with differences throughout the pair marking the difference in price.

Centralised mass is just one of the strengths of the RSV4 R chassis. To achieve this result, every single aspect has been optimised down to the tiniest detail.

As on a racing machine, the fuel tank is positioned so that the majority of the fuel sits under the saddle optimising bike balance and cancelling out handling differences between full and empty tank conditions.

The front-end is one of the biggest differences between the R and Factory, however it retains the Brembo Monobloc brakes.

In keeping with consolidated Aprilia traditions, the aluminium frame of the RSV4 R exploits the strength and flexibility of cast and pressed elements, which are welded together in a structure setting new benchmarks in terms of balance and dynamic efficiency. The result is maximum torsional stiffness and flexional stiffness optimised for total bike control.

The swingarm also uses the same constructional technology as the frame and offers the same perfect balance between flexional and torsional stiffness to contribute to the extraordinary handling capabilities of the RSV4 R.

The frame or swingarm don’t have the adjustability of the Factory, but unless you’re planning to race the bike or are a serious track day rider, you really won’t feel the need to adjust it even if you had the option.

The unique construction technology of the frame and swingarm allows them both to proudly flaunt the naturally gleaming colour of aluminium, yet another feature that is increasingly rarer in production bikes that contributes to pure racing look of the RSV4 R.

Compared to the Ohlins-equipped Factory model, the R has 43mm upside-down Showa forks with adjustable spring preload and hydraulic compression and rebound damping.

It also has a Sachs rear shock absorber that was developed from experience learned directly on the track. It boasts a piggyback nitrogen canister (separate and mounted on the body of the unit) and adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping and length, allowing the height of the rear end of the bike to be altered to modify the set-up to suit different riding styles and tracks.

There’s also a Sachs steering damper mounted as standard fitment.

The brake system is made up of monobloc radial front callipers by Brembo, which currently represent the state of the art in racing brake systems.

The dual 320mm floating steel discs employ low profile rotors and asymmetric cross-drilling, shaving approximately 500 grams from the front wheel, in turn reducing unsprung mass. The floating retainer is fastened to the flange with six pins only in order to minimise inertia and weight.

A Sachs shock absorber fitted to the R replaces Ohlins that’s on the Factory.

The brake pump is the radial type to improve lever feel and response accuracy.

The Brembo rear brake system uses a 220mm stainless steel disc with a two-piston calliper mounted directly onto the swing-arm.

Cast aluminium alloy wheels are fitted rather than the forged magnesium wheels of the Factory, adding a slight amount of weight to the ride but remaining exceptionally attractive with six split-spokes at the front and five at the rear.

Mounted on those wheels are Metzeler Racetec Interact tyres, replacing the Pirelli Supercorsa SP rubber that comes fitted on the Factory out of the showroom.

The instrument panel is of a mixed type, featuring an analogue tachometer with the usual assortment of warning and indication lights, as well as a digital readout featuring a speedometer, gear indicator, clock, odometer, two trip metres, a fuel trip metre, average and current fuel consumption indicator, time, top speed and average speed.

From outside to the inside, Aprilia has put its best foot forward with the design of the RSV4 range, with the R model available in black like our test bike, or a sweet white colour.

Either way, it looks unreal.

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