A full factory ride is the goal for any racer, and both Colin Edwards and Noriyuki Haga have achieved it at the highest possible level—riding in MotoGP for the Aprilia factory team. Their achievement is proudly announced by their monikers scribbled artistically on either side of the fuel tank of the all-new 2004 Aprilia Mille Factory.When Aprilia says all-new, Aprilia really means it. It would actually be easier to tell you what hasn’t changed from the 2003 model, but the pertinent and really impressive changes boil down to 15 pounds less weight, plus an extra 15 horsepower at the rear wheel of the 2004 Aprilia Mille Factory.
The slightly more angular styling and flattering, Tamburini-esque detailing cues worked into the tail section and fairing lowers are gorgeous. Exceptional build quality is evident, especially up close. Coupled with items like the exquisite rear LED light unit and dual blue-anodized mufflers, the 2004 Aprilia Mille Factory has a really tight, integrated look to it.At the Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch facility at Pahrump, Nevada, the new 2004 Aprilia Mille Factory behaved flawlessly all day. Coming into Turn One—a long, high-speed right-hand carousel—the Mille Factory changed direction seamlessly and then held its line perfectly. Incidentally, I was very impressed with the Pirelli Super Corsa tires, which didn’t squirm or slide. With the exemplary Öhlins suspension, the Mille gave me the confidence to really trust the front.Although on the street the story remained much the same, the real standout was the superlative all-new V-twin engine. With unending power delivered in a beautifully controllable relentless surge, it was possible to squirt effortlessly between corners and really enjoy the firm torque and wonderful exhaust note.The brakes are now fully radial Brembos and although they work– it’s how they work that’s so impressive. Braking is all about feel, and sensitivity-plus-power is a rare combination, especially in the first few millimeters of lever travel. In an uncertain world, these Brembos will clearly stop you at the edge of the abyss should you need them to.Aprilia superbikes have now clearly come of age. The beauty runs deep though, and with its flawless Öhlins derived handling, exemplary Brembo brakes, relatively comfortable ergonomics, and an engine I could run to three pages waxing lyrical about; this is engineering excellence that really does deliver.Edwards and Haga have inked their approval on the 2004 Aprilia Mille Factory gas tank and even though my signature carries considerably less weight, frankly, I concur.What rider doesn’t love a look back at the motorcycles that preceded today’s tech-savvy creations? Welcome to the Ultimate MotorCycling retro review archives; we’re revisiting some of our favorite reviews from year’s past, highlighting the machines that laid the rubber for what’s on the today’s showroom floors. Enjoy. – Ron Lieback, ed.
Hello everyone and welcome once again to the Ultimate Motorcycling podcast—Motos and Friends. My name is Arthur Coldwells.
Motos and Friends is brought to you by the Yamaha YZF-R7—Yamaha’s awesome supersport machine that is as capable on the racetrack as it is on the street. …and it’s comfortable too! Check it out at at your local Yamaha dealer, or of course at YamahaMotorsports.com.
In this week’s first segment, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the BMW K 1600 GT. This is the sporty bagger version of BMW’s K series of machines, those are the models with the awesome 6-cylinder engine. The GT has been given a little makeover for 2023, and Nic gives us his take.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my all time heroes—three-time World Champion racer ‘fast’ Freddie Spencer. I’ll do my best not to come off as too much of a fanboy here, but frankly it’ll be tough!
In my humble opinion, Spencer is a contender for the GOAT—greatest of all time. Sure, his career was a little shorter than some, and his number of championships falls behind the likes of Lawson, Doohan, Rossi, and of course Marquez. But at the time, Freddie literally changed the way motorcycles were ridden. 30 years before Marc Marquez, Freddie was able to push the front wheel into a slide, corner after corner, lap after lap in order to get the bike turned faster than anyone else. Freddie took completely different lines and was able to get on the throttle so early he could out accelerate anyone off a corner.
In the modern era, of course Freddie is the chairman of the FIM MotoGP Stewards panel. This is the panel of referees for all three classes of Grand prix racing. I talked to Freddie about his task there, and although for contractual reasons with Dorna and the FIM he cannot talk about specific riders, teams, or events, nevertheless his explanation of the job makes for interesting listening. It’s a tough job, and frankly I wouldn’t want to do it!
Actually—Ultimate Motorcycling is giving away five copies of the book—signed by Freddie himself—to the first five listeners who contact us with the correct answer to the question: How many national AMA championships did Freddie win, and which years were they?
Please email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact the winners and send you a signed copy of Feel. Those five winners will be announced on a future episode. Unfortunately for legal reasons this offer is ONLY open to US residents.
So, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!