ITALIAN MOTORCYCLE MARQUE APRILIA RELEASES SERIOUS V4 SUPER MODELS
There is no better place to get to know a litre-bike than the racetrack, and with the Aprilia RSV4 becoming something of a legend with multiple championship titles in the World Superbike class under its belt, we just had to give it a go on track.
This year, the Italian marque introduces two new models, both powered by its gobsmaking V4 engine. The new Aprilia RSV4RR and Tuono 1100 superbikes also add even more technology to the already well-established and respected APRC systems on the original RSV4 bikes.
Swinging a leg over the RSV4 at Hampton Downs, you can tell it is a serious superbike.
With both a standard bike and one fitted with the optional Track spec kit, the track ride was a chance to see what difference an extra $4100 makes, on top of the $28,400 base RSV4 bike.
The Aprilia RSV4 RR
The track pack has lightweight wheels and a full set of Ohlins suspension that, once set up correctly, gives you that handling edge on the competition that makes all the difference on the track.
Now I haven’t spent much time on the Hampton Downs track on two wheels, and certainly haven’t had the opportunity to do so on a legit superbike.
Yet somehow that is where I found myself, gingerly riding down the pit lane on to the track on a 1000cc, 148kW (201HP)/ 115 Nm monster of a bike.
Surprisingly, for a bike that essentially started off the trend of putting the biggest engine possible into a small package, the RSV4 has a pretty roomy cockpit.
However, being a superbike, you’re riding curled up in the cannonball position, which isn’t deeply uncomfortable in the case of the RSV4, at least not on the racetrack.
Aprilia RSV4 with Track Package
A V-twin on full song is incredible, the V4 in the RSV4 is on an even higher level.
Exiting Hampton Downs’ turn four with the throttle on full, the sound is like a deep love song from the gods of speed.
Equipped with a quick-shifter, changing up gears is easy. Unlike other new bikes in the class, the RSV4 can’t shift down with the quickshifter, forcing you to grab the non span-adjustable clutch lever often.
That clutch lever was my only real gripe for the entire session; after a few laps in scorching heat my left hand began to cramp up. With a redesigned fairing for 2016, hitting the front straight made for some incredible speeds which, apart from the blur of the surrounding track, felt as comfortable as sitting on 100km/h instead of nearly 250km/h while tucked in behind the screen.
After a few laps feeling like I had the track all to myself the cannonball was starting to take a toll on my hips. So in I came, and swapped the RSV4 for the upright riding position of the new Tuono 1100.
Aprilia Tuono 1100 at Hampton Downs.
The Tuono looks similar to the RSV4 because they are essentially the same bike.
There are the obvious differences such as the lack of full fairing and a stubby bar on risers, but the variations go deeper than that.
The V4 engine of the Tuono has a larger bore of 81mm versus the 78 of the RSV4, bringing capacity up to 1077cc.
Ignition mapping, and cam timing are also different on the Tuono, making for a peak power output of 129kW, but more torque than the RSV4 at 121 Nm.
With a top speed reading of 265km/h on the front straight of Hampton Downs, according to the speedo, it loses only 34km/h to the RSV4s top recorded speed of 299km/h.
On track the differences in riding position were immediately apparent and it felt as though the bike was on stilts compared to the RSV4 RR. That was mostly down to the riding position, but the lack of fine tuning for my overweight self also impacted on the feel of the handling.
Thankfully on my next session on the Tuono, one of the Aprilia NZ technicians had the suspension dialled in — and man-oh-man did it make a difference.
Approaching turn five, Hampton Downs’ one-storey drop hairpin, I hit the apex perfectly, with my left knee slider just touching down as I passed the rumble strip.
With the traction/wheelie control backed off via the easy to reach buttons on the left, switch block powering out of the hairpin resulted in a wheelie as the V4 reached its peak torque figure of 121 Nm as I passed 130km/h.
Both bikes come with Aprilia’s wide range of electronic aids to ensure you make the most of the bike while remaining safe. Included on both is Aprilia’s anti-wheelie control, traction control, ABS, Aprilia Launch Control and of course the quick shifter.
Though they clearly have more oomph than you’re ever going to need on the road, hitting the track opens up more than just the throttle to full.
You really can explore all the features that these amazing Aprilias have to offer.