2011 Aprilia RSV4 APRC SE | First Ride

2011 Aprilia Superbike

Wow is my first impression. This high tech wonder, the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC SE, has got it all: traction control, launch control, wheelie control, quick shifter and 3 different riding modes.

And it all works! I realized this quickly after testing the Aprilia APRC superbike at the Jerez circuit in Spain, the same circuit on the MotoGP calender.

The traction control is proper racing-derived TC, and like Ducati’s (DTC), Aprilia’s is adjustable in eight levels, plus the rider can turn it off. Where it differs from Ducati’s system is that Aprilia’s traction control feels smoother; several journalists said that they couldn’t feel when the traction control was in action.

I started off my first session aboard the Aprilia APRC Special Edition superbike using level 8, and just to test I pinned it in all the tightest corners using first gear. It was very obvious that the traction control was working indeed otherwise I would have ended up in the gravel trap! The traction control switchgear comes from the Mana and is very easy to use while on the move aboard the RSV4.

Jerez is a perfect circuit to test motorcycles. The long sweeping corners are super fast and with the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC SE superbike you can lay down rubber like the professional racers without risking your limbs.

There are also plenty of hard braking areas, low-gear corners and technical areas which all suit the RSV4 APRC perfectly. It’s still the mighty little nimble superbike it was from the beginning and is one of the easiest liter bikes to change direction quickly from hard left to hard right or visa versa.

The new Pirelli 200 section rear tire oozes of superbike grip even at standstill and when it does go (which happens often enough now that us mortals can slide everywhere courtesy of traction control) it happens in a smooth undramatic way. Fun is what it really is.

The wheelie control on the RSV4 superbike is adjustable in three levels and off, and like the launch control it’s about limiting torque to a preset level. Again, it really works and all I had to think about was to let go off that full throttle opening in time to break before the corners.

Launch control is a very special feature to add to a street bike, and really reflects Aprilia’s wishes to make this a true racebike for the road because there’s really not much use for the RSV4 superbike on the road.

Drag racing from lights to light is all well. However, you can’t cancel the launch mode automatic at speeds lower than 160km/h (100mph), which isn’t handy in town…

Due to the complexity and the necessity to cool the clutch down properly after each launch it’s purely a racing feature really. I did my three launches and after double checking the setting is correct all I had to do was to keep the throttle wide open and let go of the clutch under modulation. You can’t just drop it because then it could all go wrong either way. Either a big unsalvageable wheelie or you lose all torque on the RSV4 APRC superbike. It’s heaven or hell.

The Quick shifter works like a treat, and makes going faster a whole lot easier. All in all this is going to be a very positive review which Aprilia thoroughly deserve. Stay tuned to UltimateMotorCycling.com for a full review of the Factory RSV4 APRC SE.