Aprilia RSV4: The Making of a Champion

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Aprilia Superbike

The motorcycle that took Max Biaggi to the 2010 World Championship is the Aprilia RSV4, a highly-specialized machine that was conceived with both racing and road performance in mind.

From the very outset, parent company Piaggio Group got Aprilia Racing involved, so that the superbike would be focused on competition, and the result was a machine which is very advanced and multi-adjustable.

The 65-degree V4 engine in the RSV4 is small and dense but mainly incredibly narrow for a four cylinder, so right off Aprilia had an advantage in terms of ground clearance and aerodynamics.

In its first year of participation in World Superbike, 2009, all the complicated home-brewed tech and extreme adjustability made for a lot of work for the technical staff and riders, as this new entry had no usable data to go on, and all that adjustability just made it as easy to miss the optimum setting as it did to help find them.

This year the 2009 data was invaluable in getting a good set-up on the RSV4 at each Superbike round, allowing Biaggi to concentrate more on race set-up from the first session of practice.

The published claim of a top power figure around 215bhp at 15,000 rpm this year seemed conservative, as others claim more than 220bhp, and the Aprilia RSV4 Superbike was at least as fast as its rivals in 2010.

Aprilia designed and refined their own EFI system, and also used gyroscopes to provide inputs of the RSV4’s attitude in all planes of movement. Traction control and anti-wheelie were particular areas of interest in 2010.

Aprilia used Ohlins suspension, like most of the factory Superbike teams, 42mm TRVP25 front forks and RSP40 (TTX40) rear shocks, which were claimed to be a real advance.

There are a bundle of reasons why Max Biaggi won the title this year on his small and sharp Aprilia RSV4, but the fact that Biaggi could match his exact demands for any particular set-up change to suit changing circuits or track conditions was a real key to his overall success.