Insanely beautiful - but sold for nearly $20,000 when initially launched, without the benefit of electronic riding aides -- the "R" Version of the acclaimed RSV4 was headed straight for a wall. The 2013 version, for $4,500 less, is one of the best buys in its category, especially with the excellent APRC system and adjustable ABS.
APRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) is a complete suite of dynamic control systems including traction control, wheelie control, anti-squat, ride-by-wire multimap engine management, launch control, and quick shift system. A track-beast for diehard enthusiasts by day, it turns into a well-bred Italian beauty for your nights on the town.
In order to contain costs, the adjustable engine mounting points as well as the adjustable swingarm pivot, and steering angle adjustments were removed. You need not worry, as the 2013 RSV4 R
frame benefits from the latest technological improvements gained from the European Championship Series, thus delivering stellar road handling.
A beast that can be tamed
Cruising along on this slightly tamed racing thoroughbred (the suspension settings are more supple than the Factory model) does seem a little strange at first, as it quickly turns into a beast in second gear. All wildness aside, you soon realize that you can still enjoy yourself without the threat of losing your driver’s permit, thanks in large part to the generous torque band that gets serious at 4,000 rpm, while producing a V4 growl that enchants and amazes.
The RSV4 R is at its best on winding roads as well as hairpins, carving turn after turn with precision and stability. Rider beware; when entering a turn above 10,000 rpm, the engine inertia will complicate matters, as the RSV4 grows stubborn and becomes a handful to manoeuver.
The race-type riding position, legs well bent and high, with a "hunched over the handlebars" crouch, add to the overall "need for speed" attitude that exudes from the "R". The downside is that this riding position will have you muttering under your breath in heavy traffic, especially on hot days where the bike’s radiator seems to be blowing hot air on your legs, through the faring, and into your face. At high speed the stability impresses, nothing can upset the balance between machine and rider, besides the minimalist faring that provides partial protection.
|The race-type riding position, legs well bent and high, with a "hunched over the handlebars" crouch, add to the overall "need for speed" attitude that exudes from the "R". (Photo: France Ouellet)
Brakes up to the task
When a machine can climb to such speeds so effortlessly, we end up praying at the end of straightaways for brakes to match the engine's performance. Fortunately, the RSV4 R brakes are up to the task, with refined Brembo radial mounted monoblock callipers and the latest adjustable ABS brakes. Easy to modulate and extremely powerful, they can effortlessly make the transition from road to track.
|The RSV4 R brakes are up to the task, with refined Brembo radial mounted monoblock callipers and the latest adjustable ABS brakes. (Photo: France Ouellet)
The heart of the matter
Diabolically powerful, the friendly power band delivers an intoxicating controlled rage that's accompanied by a V8 racing howl. From mild daily commutes in "Road" mode, it transforms into a beast in "Sport" mode. Once in T, or Track mode, under full throttle, it gives the impression that it may push without ever relenting. Thankfully, the improved ride-by-wire throttle controls are close to perfect, much more precise than those found on the 2010 RSV4
Once on the track, gaining access to the available 180 hp without unhooking the rear end becomes a pleasure unto itself. Easy to modulate at moderate speeds, the concentration and effort required at higher levels is demanding. The rider needs to exploit the engine's capabilities, which are not the most powerful in this category, with the extraordinary capabilities of the chassis, which are among the best in its class. At these high levels, the suspension, which is less sophisticated, quickly reaches its limit, most notably the fork, which squats easily under hard braking. For beginners and intermediate riders, this is just fine, but experienced riders will certainly require firmer suspension cartridges.
In the end, swerving from turn to turn at the speed of thought while feathering the brakes, before exiting like a rocket while the V4 roars with delight, is a unique pleasure that only the RSV4 can provide. It is now sold at a competitive price and carries numerous electronic guardian angels that raise performance and safety to unimaginable summits.
|Gaining access to the available 180 hp without unhooking the rear end becomes a pleasure unto itself. (Photo: France Ouellet)
- Efficient engine and user-friendly power band
- Sophisticated frame that demands a high level of experience to exploit its full potential
- APRC electronic rider aides among the best in the world
- Standard adjustable ABS
- New pricing
- Fork and suspension calibrations that are quickly overwhelmed on the track