2010 RSV4 Factory
When I picked up the 2010 Aprilia RSV4 Factory motorcycle, my jaw literally dropped. Now, I’ve seen and ridden more than my share of high-end sport bikes from exotic sources, but the Aprilia RSV4 may top them all in breathtaking appearance. From the radial Brembos at the front to the twin-horn rear tail section, the 2010 RSV4 bristles with trick bits and provocative styling.However, unless you simply plan on driving around with the Aprilia RSV4 Factory in the bed of your truck-something that gained plenty of attention on its own-the performance of the motorcycle on the street is something to consider. Fortunately for all concerned, the 2010 RSV4 motorcycle is as spectacular to ride as it is to view.Taking it out this morning (the day before Thanksgiving) onto the empty roads of the Santa Monica Mountain-roads I’ve ridden hundreds of times-gave me a chance to assess its extraordinary abilities in a particularly familiar environment. Make no mistake about it; the 2010 Aprilia RSV4 Factory has far more business being on a track than it does a public road. With the ability to adjust the position of the engine in the frame-a feature aimed at the very top of the motorcycle-riding food chain-this is very clearly a racing motorcycle.But, as much of a race bike as the Aprilia RSV4 Factory clearly is-ask Max Biaggi for additional details-the bike is not too much of a handful for the street and canyons. Give most of the credit to the switchable power curve, which allows you to choose between power deliveries aimed at Rain, Sport and Track. This options positions the performance with great precision.For ultra-fast canyon strafing, the Sport mode offers astounding acceleration, while keeping in mind that you’re riding a bike with street tires on a public road. There is plenty of power down low, and great fun can be had without even bothering to reach the halfway point to the thin red line on the tach face. Power is brisk, even off idle, with a great head of steam developing at around 6000 rpm and lasting until the rev limiter gently does its job. Rest assured that if you’re hitting the rev limiter in any gear, you are risking a ticket.The handling is extraordinarily precise, without being fussy. I intentionally missed lines in turns, only to have the RSV4 Factory effortlessly return me to my proper position. This Aprilia is one of those motorcycles that seem to disappear under your body, making you feel as if you’re running down the roads, rather than riding. It’s a spooky feeling, but one that gives unequalled confidence.The 2010 Aprilia RSV4 constantly goaded me into taking turns harder and faster, and I never experienced a single moment of uncertainty. The Pirelli Diablo SuperCorsa tires deliver grip that is never relinquished, and the tightest or fastest corners are 100% drama-free. There’s surely a limit to the bike’s cornering abilities, but I wasn’t interested in finding them, given the speeds I was already enjoying. Entering the corners, the all-radial Brembo front end braking system is extraordinarily strong, yet perfectly smooth.Wicking the throttle exiting turns means a light front end, just skimming the road under hard acceleration. There’s no wobble, shake or shudder. The front of the Aprilia RSV4 simply glides just above the road, and eventually smoothly touches down.Now, if that is not enough excitement, take a walk on the wild side and click it into the Track mode. If you thought the motor was exciting in the Sport mode-and it unquestionably is-it becomes a monster in Track. Those corner exits mean that attention has to be paid to spinning the rear wheel, and the soft lifting of the front end becomes considerably more pronounced. The faster pulse that the Sport mode inspires becomes an adrenaline spike to the heart as the tach needle sweeps right.Wholly inappropriate for street riding, the Track setting is best saved for closed circuit riding, but I know that is not going to stop many riders. Ultimately, I felt like I was riding more smoothly and, therefore, faster in Sport, but the Track setting is addictive to the irresponsible gene lurking in our DNA.My ride today was necessarily brief. I didn’t want to wad the bike before the “real” testers had a chance to push its limits. I’m a good rider, but gifted motorcyclists such as Associate Editor Jess McKinley and UMC Publisher and President Arthur Coldwells will be working together on the test for the print magazine. They are the ones who will be able to tell where the real edges of the 2010 Aprilia RSV4’s performance envelope are. However, I can tell you that if you’re an experienced rider with a good sense of his limits, this is a bike you want to consider when going the liter-bike route.