Max Biaggi Comments.
Every once in a while, we wait with anticipation for the arrival of a new motorcycle that exceeds our performance and design expectations. Something exotic that blankets you with intoxicating looks; something new that fills the air with a slightly different reverberating sound. So we wait patiently for information on the new Aprilia RSV4 Factory that is poised to enter World Superbike in 2009, and apparently also released to the public in the near future (2010?).
Notable features include the new 65-degree V4 engine displacing 998.9cc-a departure from Aprilia’s emblematic V-twin-and the new ride-by-wire engine management system that will hopefully far surpass the unpredictable response from the prototype system found on Aprilia’s 2002 MotoGP entry, the RS3 Cube. The claimed 177 hp at 12,500 rpm, 85 lb/ft of torque at 10,000 rpm and the new engine management will hopefully put the new RSV4 near the top of the class.
Recently, Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano have been busy testing the new bike at Kyalami in South African and we have subsequently received an update on their riding impressions and ongoing development of the RSV4.
Below is the December 2008 update from Aprilia:
Aprilia has always been famous for its refined handling, knowing no equal. Does this new RSV4 follow suite? How does it behave when entering into and coming out of curves, during directional changes, and with its weight balance? Could you also give us your thoughts about the improvements made in respect to the already solid RSV 1000?
BIAGGI: "It’s not an easy question to answer since I’ve only taken the RSV4 out twice and am still working hard to find the perfect feeling. It is certainly more manageable and very precise upon entering into curves. Nonetheless, we still have a lot of work to do in order to bring it to the top level. We are trying to do the most to optimize the handling in respect to the electronics and the engine. It does well coming out of curves (even if the movement is a bit skittish) and I am amazed at how it changes direction. I am also happy about its extreme reactivity".
NAKANO: "Up until this point of my career, I’ve always competed with prototypes so I initially thought I would have difficulty during this experience with Aprilia. Yet the RSV4 is really a "racing" motorcycle and I immediately found a great feeling. It has an optimal limber that we worked on a lot during the first test since I think it is of utmost importance; I immediately achieved the sensation I had been seeking. It is still a bit skittish when coming out of curves although that doesn’t depend on the mechanics but instead the power supplying and engine mapping."
RIDE BY WIRE
The RSV4 uses Ride-by-Wire technology (a solution also used in a few of Aprilia’s road models) for the electronic management of the engine throttle: how does this power allocation system impact the riding?
BIAGGI: "Ride-by-Wire was adopted from the MotoGP and brought to the Superbike last year by Yamaha. It allows for a much improved management of the motorcycle (especially at an electronic level) and can be a great help to the rider since it is well calibrated to make the most of its potential".
NAKANO: "The functioning of this system didn’t alter my riding style but instead gives more advantages. The most important thing is to find the right connection between the handle control and the rear wheel reaction. Finding the right setting can be tough but that wasn’t the case with the RSV4; we’ve already established a great feeling".
PERFORMANCE COMPARED TO ITS RIVALS
It is certainly too early to make any judgments, but do you mind summarizing the differences between riding the RSV4 and other motorcycles with which you’ve previously competed, particularly the twin and 4-cylinder Japanese bikes? What is the approximate maximum speed of the RSV4?
BIAGGI: "The differences are substantial. The 4-cylinders are much more agile and on paper, they should be more powerful while the twins have a flatter allocation, are "softer" to the touch, more powerful in rev ranges, and push harder out of the curves".
SBK VS MOTOGP
Regulations, performance, riding style, and development of the motorcycle: how much changes between the Superbike and MotoGP championships?
BIAGGI: "They are two separate worlds that are hard to compare. In MotoGP, you race with different tires, prototype motorcycles, and their performances are incomparable. There are so many extra electronics and the regulations allow you to indefinitely modify the motorcycle. The Superbikes are much heavier and I had to alter my riding style since the bikes are much more similar to those that are produced. But it has to be like that since that is exactly what makes this category so fascinating."
NAKANO: "There are so many differences since there are two completely different sets of regulations. The weight is much different and you notice it when you ride a Superbike, but the power and acceleration are also incomparable. The MotoGP, for example, skids back a lot more when you hit the gas. They are completely different even when braking since carbon discs aren’t allowed in the Superbike class. Yet regarding the starting velocity they are quite similar, something that really surprised me initially".