Aprilia's ultra-exclusive RSV4 X features a weird "no neutral" gearbox
Don't get too excited about the Aprilia RSV4 X. You can't have one. Only 10 people can, one of them being Max "Curse you Valentino, I'll beat you if it's the last thing I doooo" Biaggi, and another being Andrea "turning Aprilia into a competitive MotoGP team is the biggest challenge of my life" Iannone.
That would leave eight for us lesser mortals to fight over, but those were sold within a few hours, even at the RSV4 X's €40,000 (US$44,000) price tag. So you can't have one, even if you might want one.
And you might indeed want one. The RSV4 platform may be getting a little long in the tooth now, having made its debut way back in 2008, but it was the raciest road bike we'd ever seen at the time, and there's still nothing else out there that matches its obsessive degree of chassis tuneability. Indeed, with a few engine updates and suspension evolutions it remains an utter weapon on the road and track alike. And the RSV4 X takes things to a whole new level.
For starters, thanks to carbon fairings, a lightweight tank and plenty of bits of billet aluminum, it now has an astonishing dry weight of 165 kg (364 lb). For reference, World Superbike race bikes must weigh at least 168 kg (370 lb) at all times during race events, including whatever fuel is in them, even at the end of a race.
Furthermore, its titanium/carbon Akrapovic exhaust, high-flow air filter, some new bits in the valve train and a tailored ECU mapping combine to boost power from an already extravagant 217 horses on the standard RSV4 up to an even sillier 225, out of its 1078 cc V4 engine. With 225 hp and 165 kg this thing has one of the most extreme power-to-weight ratios ever seen outside prototype racing.
It's also the first bike to feature what the company calls the "Aprilia No Neutral" system, which places neutral below first gear in the gearbox so there's no chance you'll accidentally grab it between first and second. This is a system directly derived from GP racing, and we assume there's some sort of extra lever or button to hit if you want to get the bike into neutral, like there is on the race bikes.
Brembo has also used the RSV4 X to debut its GP4-MS brake calipers, which are completely obscured in these photos by cooling airflow elements. Jolly good, then. You can get a lot of the X's fancy bits and pieces as accessories for your RSV4 1100 Factory, but not these brakes or the wacky gearbox.
Mr. Biaggi was delighted to receive the first production RSV4 X, and took it straight to Mugello for a couple of days on the racetrack. "On this bike," he declared, "the sensations are exactly like those of a racing bike, and as soon as I got on it, I felt like I had never quit racing." Well, I guess it's nice that at least two of these things are going to have the magnesium wheels ridden off them a few times before they end up stuck in some rich guy's collection.