Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1100
By Shannon Johnson
We often base our thoughts on visual first impressions and the details behind the facade are secondary, however it’s those small details that normally tell a different story, as I was about to find out….
The visual appearance of this tasty new Italian V4 from Aprilia was equally backed up by the specs of what’s hidden under the beautifully finished and dressed Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1100. If it were not for the lights, mirrors, and oversized titanium Akrapovic exhaust hanging out the back, I could have been fooled into thinking I was walking up to the launch of the Aprilia RS-GP MotoGP bike, rather than the all-new RSV4 Factory 1100.
The bike really is a work of art, with carbon-fibre fairing components along with the now almost obligatory carbon winglets seen in MotoGP, making the the RSV4 Factory a bike you can stare at for some time. There’s also a track day accessory kit that includes a carbon air duct for the front brake system, race shift linkage kit, carbon rear guard, and a lever set with more adjustment and a nicer feel under the hand.
The media briefing information from Aprilia’s staff certainly kept me interested in what I was about to swing my leg over the following day on Australia’s most iconic race circuit – Phillip Island.
The specs and technology that make up the RSV4 Factory’s DNA are impressive, I mean super impressive! Lets start with the heart of the machine, a 1078 cc engine that produces a claimed 217 hp at 13,200rpm with 122 Nm of torque at 11,000 rpm.
That’s 16 hp and 7 Nm up on the previous RSV4, and while yes it has grown some larger pistons to achieve that claimed figure – that’s not all that has helped produce that whopping number. The new pistons and cylinder heads are finished in the CNC machine, meaning a precise and perfect finish on every motor.
New cam profiles, join new gear box components and a revised oil lubrication system that is designed for efficiency and less friction. The gearbox is a perfect marriage to the power character of the motor, with the slightly higher fifth and sixth gear helping through the higher speed turns to keep the engine driving forward.
The big question was also asked, as to why Aprilia would build an 1100 V4 that can’t be raced in WSBK or even national championships around the globe? The answer, “This is a special exclusive model that represents what the passionate Aprilia owners want in their bike, unrivaled performance and technology.”
They certainly ticked that box. If you want a legal race bike there is the 999.6cc RSV4 RR with 201hp and 115Nm, which is plenty good enough numbers to work with to win races. That’s if your skill set is up to the task?
The brains driving the system (no not the rider), is as impressive as the motor details. The fourth generation Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC) system features eight levels of Traction Control (ATC), Wheelie Control (AWC), Launch Control (ALC) which we weren’t able to try, Cruise Control (ACC), Speed Limiter (APT), and the ultra smooth Quick Shifter (AQS) for clutchless shifts up and down through the box with a sweet auto blipper.
All of the above works perfectly with the Bosch 9.1 ABS system with three ABS settings and RLM or rear lift mitigation. What does that mean? The system has the ability to be set to allow the rear wheel to lift off the ground and not interfere with front brake pressure, this also allows you to back the bike into turns such as Turn 4 and MG. It really is a neat feature that works very well.
Navigation on the APRC system is really simple too, you can use one of the preset modes or create your own personal settings. Adjusting ATC is very easily done on the fly with simple +/- buttons on the left bar which is necessary with 217hp around The Island on street tyres.
A neat feature for track use is the high beam flasher doubling as a lap timer button for when you’re solo at a track day and want to know what lap times you’re doing. Another impressive feature with the data collected is you can go back and view it all after a ride with the APRC dash – not just lap times either but max speeds, lean angle, G-force, and brake pressure are recorded.
As you would expect on a bike of this level the gold suspension can only mean one thing, Ohlins and it’s of the highest level. The front end is taken care of by Ohlins NIX forks with 125mm of travel. They are fully adjustable for spring preload, compression via the left leg, and rebound via the right leg and the separation of the damping control means less interference of each system effecting the other.
The amount of fork coming through the triple clamps was a bit too much for track use and sub 1.40 laps around The Island, making the bike quite ‘loose’ and a few times giving me a ripping case of the ‘Marco Melandri’s’ at well over 280km/h heading into Turn 1 even with the claimed 8kg of downforce at 300kmh provided by the carbon-fibre winglets.
The action and feel of the forks is very confidence building for the rider on corner entry though and at no point did I have a moment where I was wondering what the front end was doing, it was sliding a few times but thanks to great feedback from the fork it was controllable, almost fun…
A grippier front tyre wouldn’t have been a bad option on the press bikes though, but as I was told it’s how the bike rolls off the showroom floor and in that guise its pretty impressive around a circuit. There’s a new swing arm which has the same geometry as the previous model, but to deal with the extra power it’s built with stronger reinforced alloy.
The wheelbase/axle position offers excellent mechanical drive grip, but also offers maximum squat force. Speaking with Byron Draper from Ohlins he said the bike in race settings operated better with a longer wheelbase, which I can concur would have felt better around the Island.
For the first time the RSV4 is now fitted with an Ohlins TTX rear shock offering 120mm of rear axle travel – the staple on race bikes for well over a decade now. If you were wanting that better track performance out of your personal RSV4 Factory I’d strongly suggest going up in rear spring rate to help finish off the faster longer turns easier. Completing the Ohlins ensemble is the multi-adjustable steering damper which I’m glad the bike had – otherwise I may have been testing it as a dirt bike after Turn 1.
The complete brake system is from Italian marque Brembo. The Brembo Stylema monobloc four-piston radial calipers bite, and bite hard, onto the huge 330mm rotors. The feel through the radial master brake lever is amazing. I pretty much only required a single finger to brake from the ridiculous speeds this bike gets too. The rear braking is taken care of by a two-piston Brembo caliper, however the rear brake is almost obsolete with the ATC, ABS, and AWC, but did help step the rear end out into the tighter turns.
Rider ergos are very spacious, for a smaller rider maybe a little too spacious. Especially when you twist the fly by wire throttle and the rear Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa hooks up sinking you into the back of the seat, stretching your arms a little. This RSV4 Factory is 5kg lighter than the previous edition and changes direction at high speed with little fuss.
The colour APRC dash is very easy to see and note when you’ve made an adjustment to the settings, while shift lights are nice and bright so you can’t hurt the motor by forgetting to shift. But there’s not much you can do about them mid-Stoner Turn when its asking you to shift up a gear.
So what does all this power and performance feel like on the race track? Summed up in one word: amazing. I have ridden a lot of high performance sports bikes over many years of racing and most recently testing street bikes. This Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory is hands down the fastest thing I’ve ever swung my leg over and shifted into sixth gear on the stops.
Does it feel like it has 217hp? You bet it does and going back through the APRC data after one session showed the max speed at 300km/h along with a few other laps above 290km/h. It really is that fast.
Theres a few things that left me wanting more out of the bike, but to be fair that was the dormant racer left in me, not a rider that’s going to spend $36,190 on their dream bike and spend more time admiring it, than taking it to the track to try turn back the clock by racing it.
Is bigger better? That extra 3mm in bore size certainly would suggest so and I’m sure the Aprilia customers will agree once they have a new RSV4 Factory of their own.