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Monday, 8 August 2011

Aprilia Rsv 2010

The Aprilia RSV4 Factory is not Aprilia's first motorcycle entry when it comes to World Superbike racing, having contested the series for a number of years with the RSV Mille. Scoring eight wins, twenty-six podiums, and finishing third in the championship on two occasions, the Aprilia program was finally cancelled in 2003 for Aprilia to focus on 250 Grand Prix racing.

During this time, Aprilia had raced with the Rotax built 60 degree V-twin, and one big item of news for the Noale based company is this time they go racing with their own engine.

As the first V-four to be seen in World Superbike since Honda's RC45s in the ‘90s, Aprilia has chosen a unique platform to hang their racing reputation. A longitudinal 65-degree V-4 to be technically precise, the new engine uses double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder. The cylinder heads themselves are extremely compact, and the inlet valves are driven by a lateral timing chain, while gears drive the exhaust valves.

Aprilia Rsv 2010
Aprilia Rsv 2010
Aprilia Rsv 2010Aprilia decided on the V-four configuration as it is narrower than a traditional inline four, and has less vibration than a twin. It is also more compact then the RSV 1000R engine. Using a wide 78mm bore and short 52.3mm stroke the over square power plant's maximum power is being quoted as 180 horsepower at 12,500 rpm. Peak torque arrives at 10,000 rpm and the rev limiter shuts everything down just passed 14,000rpm. This is a two-stage affair where you get a few seconds of stuttering before the ignition is killed completely.

Aprilia is raving about the "Full Ride by Wire Technology" but Yamaha beat them to the punch with this system when they introduced their new R6 in 2006. Magnet Marelli provide the electronics and the feeling at the throttle is perfectly normal though. The new Aprilia RSV4 Factory uses three different map settings, in a similar fashion to Suzuki on its GSXR series, and for the first time in my career I was glad to have them.

With the track soaked and covered in puddles, and the rain coming down intermittently all day, heading onto the track with the full 180 horse power available wasn't something I felt ready to do. Even before I took my first ride on the Aprilia RSV4 Factory, two very experienced journalists in the session ahead of me hit the floor, so I made sure the mode selector was in "R" for road before I took to the track. Limiting me to a nice safe 140 horsepower, it was time to go play in some puddles.
Aprilia Rsv 2010
Aprilia Rsv 2010
Aprilia Rsv 2010
Aprilia Rsv 2010With full World Superbike wet tires in place, at least we could get some feeling for the Aprilia RSV4 Factory, and it was possible to run the engine up to red line on the straights. In street mode it certainly is somewhat strangled, and I'm not sure it was the best solution for me in the wet. It felt as if the throttle was too far open for the forward progress it was giving and kept me thinking of spectacular high sides if the wheel broke loose with the throttle in this position. Switching to "S" mode, which limits power in the first three gears, felt much better. Exiting corners there was more control with the throttle, and when I heard the engine give its telltale rise in pitch as the rear broke loose, it was easier to modulate. It also felt a good bit faster, and topping it out in fourth gear gave me the chance to experience full power, which was mildly exciting on a soaking wet track. Talking with my mechanic he advised me against trying "T" mode until I get onto a dry track. With at least eight motorcycles hitting the floor in one day, there was no need to argue with him.

Fitting a big displacement engine into a frame that looks like it came from a 250cc Grand Prix racer isn't a new concept for Aprilia. Back in 1995, they put Loris Reggiani in the premier 500cc class on an Aprilia 250cc with the engine enlarged to 380cc. Loris often qualified better than his final race positions, but the Aprilia still managed a credible tenth place in the world championship. They went on to field 500cc versions with Tetsuya Harada and Jeremy McWilliams in later years, but never quite found the success they have had in the 250cc class.

With the new aluminum twin spar Aprilia RSV4 Factory frame looking like a racing prototype, it is no surprise to learn it weighs just 22 pounds and features adjustable engine mounts. Structurally more rigid than Aprilia's benchmark RSV 1000 twin frame, it houses a similarly constructed swing arm that weighs a mere 12 pounds and is adjustable for ride height. Rake and trail figures are listed as 24.5 degrees and 105mm respectively as delivered, with these also being fully adjustable; a first for a modern production motorcycle.

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