It's hard to find a sexier bike than the Aprilia RSV4, even five years removed from its last major revision. It remains one of the most attractive motorcycles in the entire industry, and arguably the raciest superbike out there. Performance isn't too shabby either, as evidenced by repeated top three finishes in annual superbike comparison tests around the world.
Maintaining the lead is no easy task, mind you, especially in this highly competitive segment. The launch of the completely redesigned 2015 BMW S1000RR (which builds on the success of the HP4), 205-hp Ducati 1299 Panigale, and revised Yamaha YZF-R1 (with technologies directly derived from MotoGP) forced Aprilia designers and engineers to up the ante. Less weight, more style, more power, more premium components, and more electronic aids: behold the new 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR and RSV4 RF! (Available in Canada later this year as a 2016 model)
Modelled after a world champion
|Aprilia RSV4 RF (Photo: Aprilia)
Aprilia's latest RSV4 evolves significantly with a number of racing solutions developed by its WSBK team. As you probably know, Sylvain Guintoli rode an RSV4 all the way to the 2014 world championship title. While the overall shape and proportions are the same (a great thing), the new front fairing offers increased protection, and the rearview mirrors are more effective -- exactly what the outgoing model lacked.
There are much bigger changes where the engine is concerned, though. For starters, output is up from 185 hp to 201 hp. The 65-degree V4 also sheds 1.5kg thanks to lighter connecting rods, valves, camshafts, and crankshaft. Given the extra power and higher-revving operation, Aprilia engineers improved the lubrication system to ensure proper oil levels at all times. Furthermore, they revised the gear ratios accordingly.
Nearly infinite adjustments
The frame of the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR and RSV4 RF received more subtle updates. The engine now sits closer to the ground for a lower centre of gravity, while the 15mm longer swingarm sends power to the pavement more effectively and also prevents the front wheel from lifting off. The seemingly infinite adjustments of the RSV4 Factory model remain (engine position, swingarm pivot point, rake angle, etc.).
Electronics were upgraded for more progressiveness and transparency. Traction control can now be adjusted on the fly, and wheelie control offers three levels of adjustment. Of course, launch control, gear shift assist, and ABS are still part of the game. A new smartphone app will allow riders to record and later assess their performance.
|Aprilia RSV4 RR (Photo: Aprilia)
Options and packages
The 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR features standard Sachs forks and shock, with Öhlins components available at a premium. The RSV4 RF rolls out of the factory with an Öhlins suspension, forged alloy wheels, and unique graphics; you can then add a race package including an Akrapovic exhaust, Öhlins TTX and NIX suspension, carbon fairing, and all the accessories and protections for track use.
At the end of the day, the new and improved 2015 Aprilia RSV4 breaks the barrier that separates road bikes from those built to win races. This year's superbike comparisons will no doubt be the tightest in history.