Initial Review of my Aprilia RSV4R.
I picked up a matte black 2014 RSV4R a couple of days ago on a deal that was very, very hard to walk away from. Here are my initial impressions.
Probably the defining aspect of this bike. 65* V4, 184 horsepower. Let's start with the sound. There's nothing like it. Even with the stock pipe, it sounds like the armies of hell has been unleashed! This is the sound that every sportbike strives to have! If you haven't heard it, I urge you to go to YouTube. It's definitely a bad guy bike, if there ever was any. Power wise, there's no shortage here. It delivers power in a very linear fashion, with a very strong mid-range and top end. It makes peak HP at 12,500 RPMs but doesn't drop off all the way to its 14,200 RPM redline. It's also very smooth. Not I-4 levels of smooth, but it's pretty close.
The engine doesn't wake up until past 6000 RPMs and it just accelerates smoothy past to the redline. No power dips, no strange powerband, no surprises. Your powerband is 6000 - redline, which is huge. However, what hurts it in practicality is...
Transmission and Gearing
It's geared high. Like, ridiculously high. I've done a 1st gear redline run and the indicated MPH is over 95 MPH. Insane. Due to the high gearing, you generally can't be lazy with this bike. The right gear for the right corner. No riding one gear higher since below 5000 RPM, you're lugging the engine. Not good. No 6th gear highway cruising unless you're above 70 MPH. At 55 MPH, I'm at 4th gear cruising. If I shift to 5th, I'd have to accelerate to keep the revs up so I don't lug the engine. It takes a while to get used to, and if you're riding really tight and twisty tracks and/or roads, be prepared to corner in 1st or 2nd gear. Luckily, the fueling is spot on.
Shifting the bike is smooth like butter. Downshifting in the same. There's a lot of engine braking as well. Something else to get used to. The slipper clutch is great. I banged downshifts from high revs and I never had an issue of the rear stepping out. Clutch pull is light, but can be a little tricky finding the engagement point. There's also a quickshifter(upshifts only) which allows you to upshift without pulling the clutch or even closing the throttle. As a matter of fact, the only way to quickshift is to hold the throttle open. Never had a bike with a quickshifter before, but it's so nice to have. The gears just fall in to place with no glitches or hiccups. It does what its told.
I have the R instead of the Factory, so I don't have the adjustable stuff on the frame or the Ohlins forks and shock. Touted as the best superbike chassis out right now. The unpainted frame and swingarm is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I've always been a huge fan of bare frames and swingarms. They look great! Never have I ever ridden a bike that imparts such confidence while at lean. This frame is solid. It's insanely stable. So much so, that I had to modify my lines doing the same roads as I did with my 2012 ZX6R. Corner entry is likewise, a no fuss affair. Front end feel is astounding while on the brakes and turn in is very stable. It's so confidence inspiring, that I was dragging knees with 200 miles on the bike. And I haven't even set up compression and rebound yet(but sag has been set for my weight).
This comes with the standard cartridge forks and a Sachs shock. Despite being lower spec, they pair very well together on the bike. I haven't set it up the way I like it so I can't speak on the weaknesses of the stock stuff. That being said, the ride is quite compliant. It's not overly stiff like the 09-12s suspension. For street riding through uneven surfaces, it absorbs bumps quite well. It's almost... comfortable.
The riding position is, surprisingly similar to the 09-12 ZX6Rs. The bars are a little narrower and slightly forward. Clip-on height in relation to the way you sit is also similar to the 6R. The pegs are set higher on the RSV4, but due to the high seat height, my knees are actually slightly less bent when the balls of my feet are on the pegs. The position is definitely in line with sportbikes. It's no GSXR1000 in terms of comfort, but it's not 998 levels of discomfort either. I can ride this bike for a whole tank without feeling like I need to stretch. Those coming from the 09-12 ZX6R will find it easy to get comfortable with the bike.
The seat heigh is 33.3 inches. Heck, maybe taller since it comes with a 200/55 rear tire. The seat is wide. It's no-nonsense, racebike levels of seat height. I'm 5'7 with a 30" inseam. I am literally on the tips of my toes at a stop. Just barely touching the ground on both sides. I have to put one foot down flat. I won't be able to back this bike up without getting off and pushing it or if the surface is flat or downhill. Not recommended for short guys(like me!) unless you have a lot experience riding tall bikes in the street. At the track, it doesn't matter.
This bikes comes with APRC. 8+off level traction control, 3+off levels of ABS, 3 level launch control, 3+off levels of anti-wheelie control, and 3 fuel maps. I don't see how anyone can tame this bike without all of this electronic tomfoolery. I had my TC level set to 6, which is 2 levels down from being the most intrusive. In one corner, I got on the throttle harder and sooner than I normally would. I saw the TC light flash and felt my line tighten up. The way it intervenes is so transparent, you can't even feel it.
I have yet to activate ABS on this bike, so I can't speak on it. I set my AWC to level 3, and did a full throttle 1st gear run. I felt the front lift a little, and gently settle back to the ground. It's nice. Launch control, I will probably never use.
The 3 maps include Road, Sport, and Track. Road limits power output to 140 hp and softens throttle response in the first 3 gears. Sport has full power, but also has softer throttle response in the first 3 gears. Track has full power, and immediate throttle response. I use Road mode for longer rides to and from my riding roads. Sport is a good way to learn the bike without biting off more than you can chew. And Track is just insane levels of response and power. I wouldn't use Track if you're hamfisted and can't modulate.
TC as adjustable on the fly via + and - buttons on the clutch side. And you can switch between the 3 maps on the fly via starter button on the throttle side.
It comes with Brembo monoblock front calipers and a Brembo master cylinder. The rear is also a Brembo set up. Steel braided lines are standard. It doesn't have the initial bite from the Nissins in the 09-12s, but it's much easier to modulate. Braking power is immense. I thought the 09-12s brake set up was the best I've ever had, but the brakes on the RSV4 trumps that. This bike will stop quickly. And stoppie quite easily if that's your thing. I always found it tricky to trailbrake with the 09-12 ZX6R due to the hard initial bite, but the setup on the RSV4 makes it crazy easy. I have yet to activate ABS so I can't speak on it.
Rear brakes? I don't use them unless I want to get the rust off of the rear rotor.
The bike is built solid. In a typical Italian fashion, they skimp on the little things like the footpegs, clip-ons, and levers. My 2012 ZX6R had nicer pegs, clip-ons, and levers. But everything else is put together quite well. Only time will tell how reliable this bike is, but from what I've read in the Aprilia forums, there are only a handful of bikes with issues. I hope mine isn't one of them. The paint is nice and of high quality. Almost BMW levels of thickness. I have a matte black bike(almost graphite in certain lighting conditions) so I never have to worry about spider webbing.
I've always been a a huge fan of the looks of the RSV4. The 3 headlamps, the half-fairing exposing the beautiful engine, the really, really short tail, the agile stance... It all comes together nicely. The Italians know how to make good looking bikes. And I'd take the looks of the RSV4 over a Panigale or an MV Agusta.
You will find none here. It comes with passenger pegs, but you have to buy a passenger seat, which doesn't look comfortable. It comes with a seat cowl. Under it has no room for anything besides your paperwork. And even that is a tight fit. The little tool kit is under the seat, which must be removed to gain access to it. Theres a little allen key under the seat cowl to remove the 2 bolts holding the seat. Under the seat has no room either. That's where the battery is located. I'm a little disappointed that I can't even find a place to put my tire pressure gauge on the bike, so I guess I'll need to carry it in my jacket from now on.
This bike is not designed for commuting. The gearing is tall. In traffic, you'll be in 1st gear most of the time. As far as MPGs go, I've averaged about 30 MPG with cruising to and from my riding location and aggressive sport riding. However, I have heard of people getting as low as 24 MPG(or lower), and as high as 35 MPG. It's not frugal. It's a thirsty beast. Luckily, the tank is 4.9 gallons. But I imagine my range will be a little over 100 miles a tank with a mix or riding hard and cruising. I found that between 5000 and 6000 RPMs is the the sweet spot for fuel efficiency. So I try to stay around there when I'm just transiting.
There's also the heat. This engine runs hot. At 60 MPH on a 80* day, engine temps hover around 180 to 190*. There's also the radiating heat. It's hot! At a stop, you'll feel your legs roast. My butt doesn't feel the heat, unlike a Panigale, but my legs are roasting.
It comes with Pirelli Diablo SuperCorsa SPs. The rears seem to have a dual compound just by looking at them and I'm not too sure about the fronts. I'll be lucky to touch 3000 miles with those tires. I would not suggest riding with them when its raining. For long distance riding, increase the pressure on the rear and lower them when you get to the fun roads. But you can't carry your tire pressure gauge on the bike. So that's a conundrum. It's not very practical.
It's a smooth, great handling bike. It turns with with a little more effort than a 600, yet it retains the stability of a superbike. It's one of those bikes you have to commit to while cornering. If you're not smooth, you'll know. But if you're smooth, have good lines, and COMMIT, the bike works with you to go even faster. Trust the tires. Trust the chassis. Commit to the corner. And your comfort level with rise along with your corner speeds. It's not a particularly forgiving bike, but the electronics and ABS can potentially save you and you'll shit your pants in the process. I do NOT recommend this bike for beginners. AT ALL. If you've been riding your first bike for 6 months and decided you need to upgrade, DO NOT choose this bike. To make the most out of this bike, you should have done track days and rider education. Otherwise, you'll never even get to 50% of what this bike is capable of. And you'll shit your pants more often than not. It's a very intense and tiring experience riding one of these. It's truly an overload of the senses. Even with my paltry 8 years riding experience and having owned 3 sportbikes in the past, and having done numerous track days, this bike can be a handful. I'll have to adjust my riding style and lines to get the most out of this bike.
I've read and watched videos stating that this bike is a race bike with lights. I've always been a little skeptical of that. As they say that for all sportbikes. But I found that it's the truth. This bike is made to win races. From the tall seat height, to the even taller gearing, to the immense heat generated, to the paltry MPGs, there were no compromises made on this bike. If you're looking at an RSV4 for commuting, you're looking at the wrong bike. For me, this bike is for weekends and days off, and track days(I ain't 'bout dat ride erryday life yo!). If you want a high performance machine that makes no concessions for practicality, this is the one.
I can honestly say that the RSV4 is in fact, closer to a race bike than a street bike. It's an amazing piece of machinery.