It's been a while since we last checked in with Aprilia's flagship superbike, the magnificent RSV4, but a fresh version has just dropped that takes this absolute weapon of a thing to new heights. Abandoning WSBK's 1,000cc engine displacement limit to go chasing Ducati's Panigale for no-holds-barred road superiority, Aprilia has beefed the RSV4 Factory up to 1100cc, 217 horsepower and a top speed around 305 km/h (190 mph).
The 1100 engine is a development, of course, of the monster unit at the heart of the Tuono V4, which debuted in 2015 and has been more or less neck-and-neck with the KTM Super Duke 1290 R in competition for the title of wildest naked bike on the market. It maintains the 65-degree V-4 architecture and 52.3-mm stroke of last year's RSV4 engine, but each cylinder gets bored out from 78 to 81 mm, making it even more oversquare and rev-happy than its predecessor, singing soprano up to a 13,600 rpm rev limit. Torque peaks at 11,000 rpm with 122 Nm (90 lb-ft).
It pips the Ducati Panigale V4 – just – making 217 horses compared to the Duke's 214 hp in standard trim. This outcome is doubtless helped by the inclusion of a street-legal titanium Akrapovic exhaust as standard, and the good lord only knows how much power could be extracted with a full system, a tune and some fiddling with the airbox.
The chassis maintains the impressive adjustability with which the RSV4 debuted in 2009. It remains the only streetbike we're aware of with the ability to adjust the steering head angle, engine mounts and swingarm pivot points, as well as things like ride height and suspension settings, in search of handling perfection. That's not to say these things are easy to change – you need to be pretty handy to get in there and play with the spacers – but the fact you can do it at all shows just how focused Aprilia has been with the RSV4 since day dot.
Overall geometry changes a touch, with a slightly steeper headstock angle delivering a 4 mm shorter wheelbase. Suspension is Ohlins, NIX forks at the front with 5 mm more travel than their predecessors, and a TTX shock. Brakes are Brembo Stylemas off the highest shelf, and thanks to touches like a lightweight lithium battery and forged aluminum wheels, the whole shebang weighs just 199 kg (439 lb) with a full tank.
The electronics package on the RSV4 was always impressive, and the latest update is mind-boggling; 8-way joystick-controlled traction control; three different engine maps, each with its own approach to engine braking as well as acceleration; three-level wheelie control that can be adjusted on the fly; three-mode launch control; bi-direction quickshifting that lets you downshift at full throttle; pit lane limiter; three-mode cornering ABS that's sensitive to lean angle, yaw and pitch, so it can keep the rear wheel from lifting up or getting out of line; and the magnificence of cruise control, which offers sweet mercy to your right wrist when it's time to hit the freeway and head for home. Notable in its absence is any sort of active suspension. Pity.
The full-color dash through which you navigate the bike's endless options is brighter than ever, and has road and race views. And if you upgrade the bike with the Aprilia Mia package, you can connect your bike to your phone, which lets you manage multimedia and phone calls (including voice commands), but also appears to operate as a datalogger and offers you the ability, for the first time on a street bike, to change the bike's electronic settings automatically for each corner on a racetrack. Like to back it in to turn 4? Ease off the ABS for that corner. Getting a bit too much slide coming onto the main straight? Tighten things up on the TC, just for that section of track. Got a few buddies watching near the back straight? Back off the wheelie control and give 'em a show. What a remarkable capability.
The Factory version is visually distinguishable from other RSV4s by its prominent aerodynamic front winglets, tuned for high-speed stability, wheelie-killing downforce out of corners and extra stability under hard braking. They'll be functionally useless on the road – possibly even a net negative if you like riding long, fast wheelies – but they'll be great conversation starters at the pub, and a highly skilled rider might be able to squeeze out a tenth or two on track thanks to the extra downforce.
All in all, the RSV4 1100 Factory looks like an utterly superb and outrageously overpowered motorsickle with capabilities so far beyond the reach of regular riders that they'd be flat out dangerous if they weren't reined in by an extraordinary electronics package. Par for the course, then, at the pointy end of today's unimaginably berserk premium superbike market where the RSV4 1100 will compete directly against the Panigale V4 as well as the latest 2019 iteration of BMW's S1000RR – which, it should be noted, doesn't cheat by sneaking in a hundred extra cubic centimeters of engine capacity.
Pricing will place the 1100 Factory at the cusp of the really exotic stuff, at US$24,999. Ouch.
There's also a cheaper RSV4 RR
For buyers with shallower pockets, there's also an RSV4 RR version that lacks the winglets, trades Ohlins for Sachs in the suspension, has regular cast wheels, a heavier battery and a slightly lower spec set of M50 Brembo brakes instead of the Stylemas. It doesn't get the funky Akra exhaust, but all those wild electronics are the same and you can spec it back up with options in most cases.
Crucially, the RR version also runs a regular old 1,000cc engine instead of the 1100, making it Aprilia's World Superbike homologation machine. So instead of those 214 screaming horsepower, the RR will make you a paltry 201 ponies, giving you an excellent excuse if you're late for work. "Sorry boss, my bike was too slow."
Expect to pay US$17,499 for the RSV4 RR.
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