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2009 Aprilia RSV4MSE Ratings

2009 Aprilia RSV4Firstly, I am a very lucky and privileged guy. Getting a chance to ride something this new so soon after the official launch doesn’t happen to menials like me, so to get a test ride on this bike, which for most people meant putting down a £2000 d

AddedDate Added: 30th September 2009
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Editor Contributor's Review

thanks to RBP’s insurance and Mark Bowen of BowenMoto in Chatham, Kent, I got my rear on the seat and the key in my hand. So special thanks to both of them.

Secondly, in my personal opinion I think some of the magazines are wrong to have a direct comparison with respect to the R1 which has had 10 years plus of development. This bike is brand new from the floor up so to compare it to anything else doesn’t seem right somehow.

So where do I start? I spent about an hour a couple of days prior to taking it out just looking around it from every angle just to get all the little things that are sometimes missed. The bike looks gorgeous and compact, the lines flow from front to back and with the chopped tail end looks every piece a race bike in Aprilias traditional black and red paintwork.

I find it hard to get excited about a chassis, it’s generally 1 or 2 pieces of aluminium with an engine inside and plastic out, but because this bike is the FACTORY version it has a few adjustments you can make combined with other parts. You can change the height the engine sits at, change the swingarm pivot point, change the headstock pivot and rake by a concentric adjuster-anyone with a single sider will know what one of those is, and there’s an Ohlins steering damper.

Suspension both front and rear is by Ohlins Racing. You have 43mm upside down tin surface treated forks at the front (they’d look daft at the back), they’re completely adjustable for preload, and hydraulic compression and rebound damping with 120mm of travel. At the back there is a monoshock with piggy back, again completely adjustable for preload and hydraulic compression and rebound damping with 130 mm of travel.

On top of this there are APS progressive linkages which means you can adjust the wheelbase, as far as I know a first on a road bike?

Stopping this thing is done by the best Brembo brakes I’ve ever used, there are 4 pot twins at the front and 2 pots on the rear, all fed by metal braided hoses. These grip onto 320mm floating discs up front and 220mm at the rear.

Now do they work? Do they ever! Even riding at some slightly over the speed limit speeds you can haul this bike up quickly with one finger, I used my normal 2 fingers and had to be careful not to send myself diving over the bars at first, but I soon got used to them and I’d love them on my bike (all donations welcome).

New forged aluminium rims save around 1kg on the original RSV 1000 Milli ones which helps keep weight down and improves handling, braking etc.

The seating position is full on racing with no compromise in respect of the angle of your head to the ground, you have to physically lift your head to what seems an extreme angle to see where your going. At first it hurts between your shoulder blades but after a few miles it eases and you have full movement back and boy do you need it because the corners seem to come at you fast on this machine.

I thought the ride was going to be quiet hard as there is little give when you are sitting at a stand still but once up and moving it becomes quite compliant, some bumps that I would have felt on my blackbird were taken with ease and had little if any detrimental effect on the ride.

For all the info you could possibly want there is a comprehensive analogue/digital display which is basically an onboard computer. With a dot matrix display inserted in a minimal compact design that gives the rider all the information relating to the use of the bike, including: shift light, engaged gear indication, indication of the engine map being used and chronometer with time storing memory.

Now for the heart of the beast as they say, the engine. This one is built, as is the complete Factory models in the Aprilia racing division at their base in Noale, nth west of Venice, alongside the WSB race bikes being ridden by Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano.

It is a very narrow 65 degree V4 with ride by wire controls and cutting edge electronics, on top of which there are 3 maps available at the press of a button. For the geeks amongst you who understand all the talk here are the basics:

  • Engine capacity: 999.6 cc
  • Power: 180 HP (132.4 kW) at 12,500 rpm
  • Crankcase: monobloc with integrated cylinder liners
  • Timing system: 4 valves per cylinder (Titanium and Nymonic) operated directly by a camshaft driven by a mixed chain/gear system (lateral timing chain, central gear train)
  • Fuel system: Magneti Marelli electronic injection with 2 injectors per cylinder and integrated independent Ride by Wire system for each bank. Three mappings selectable from the handlebar.
  • Electronically controlled variable length intake ducts
  • Antivibration countershaft
  • Maximum rpm: 14,100 rpm
  • Compression ratio: 13:1
  • Transmission: 6-speed direct-control cassette gearbox
  • Clutch: multiplate wet clutch with mechanical slipper system
  • Exhaust system: 4 into 2 into 1 header’s with oxygen sensor and single silencer with integrated catalytic converter and butterfly valve.

The easiest way to test anything is to use it for what it was intended, so to the ride.

When you start her up she doesn’t sound very loud or have that v-twin rumble but put her in gear and all that changes, a butterfly valve in the exhaust opens and she roars. Because of the noise levels it has to pass the valve gets around it, simples!

I decided to leave my ear plugs out to take in the sound while I just rode for 10 minutes to the petrol station, wrong decision, when you get on the power this bike is LOUD! It’s a gorgeous roar but one thing I found against it because for me it was uncomfortably loud so the ears plugs had to go in, I await the letters of complaint.

The first part on motorway came as no great surprise, entering from the slip in 3rd gear and accelerating away soon had me in 3 figure speeds and the bike just wanted to go. The force of the wind taking my weight was lovely for my wrists and back, and although it’s the most boring riding there is it passed favourably.

The fly by wire makes the controls very light and responsive, the gear change is slick and with a mechanical slipper clutch changing down at speed becomes easy. The light weight and feel you get from the suspension and tyres makes cornering sublime, I repeated a few of the corners on my route and found I was getting faster each time, to the point where I realised the bike could out corner me.

You soon realise your entry speed is getting faster as you use the gearbox instead of the breaks on entry, and sitting the bike up as you exit and roll on the power is smooth and controlled. On the occasions you do need to use the brakes they have more than enough power for the majority of situations.

Town riding is not too bad, for a bike of this genre, it has a good turning circle and if you keep her in a low gear and around 2000rpm she will tootle along nicely, you will get stared at when people hear you coming but I don’t mind that as long as the other person isn’t wearing a hi-vis jacket with chequered motif.

There are 3 engine modes to play with, R for Road which limits the power to 140bhp (is that all?), S for Sport for the road, and T for Track which gives you the full 180bhp. I didn’t change them while I had the bike as there was enough to try in R without the extra power available.

Despite all the aids if you try to push it too far for your ability this bike will bite back, and that will be an expensive nibble.

If you can afford to buy one of these bikes I’d advice getting it set up properly, tinkering yourself and getting it wrong can cause all kinds of handling problems. A track day will introduce you to the side of the bike you’ll just not use on the road, the extra power, lean angles and body positioning will give you the ride of your life.

Let’s face facts now, this is Max Biaggi’s WSB bike with lights and at £15,120 it’s not cheap but you get a LOT of bike for your money. If you consider that when the Benelli Tornado special edition came out about 5-6 years ago it was £22,000 and had little of what you get on the RSV4, so it begins to look more of a bargain. The ‘non factory’ road version is expected to be here in September and will sell for around £12,000.

For more info, pictures and video of this machine go to and if you ever get offered the chance to ride it take it, you’ll be speaking about it with great gusto for weeks afterwards, I am.

Dave Muckle - BMF


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