New model preview: Aprilia RSV4RR and RSV4RF
IMAGINE this: We’re at Phillip Island, in the year 2029. It’s the final lap of the final race of the World Superbike titles, and 17-year-old Alessandra (“you can call me Sandy”) Stoner, daughter of Casey, is in the lead. If she wins this race, she’ll become the first woman in the world to win the World Superbike title. And the youngest.
Sandy is exiting turn 10, a super-tight right-hander on her Aprilia RSV4RFT. Her sensor-laden dashboard tells her a bike is trying to come in underneath her. And it’s right, as sensor-laden dashboards usually are. And it’s not just any bike, or any rider.
It’s Ducati-mounted Valentino Rossi, running second in the race and first in the championship. He’s 50 years old now, and a grumpy old bugger; booted out of the Moto GP for unacceptable aggression at the age of 49, he’s made no secret of the fact that he never did forgive Casey for his “Obviously your ambition outweighed your talent” jibe in 2011 — and he’s decided that right here, right now, is his final chance for Stoner revenge. He and Sandy might share the same birthday, but friends they are not. He’s going to take her down.
Then, suddenly, Valentino’s dash-mounted iPhone 19 lights up. Mid-corner, he glances down at the screen and sees the face of a furious Casey Stoner, giving Valentino a big thumbs-down sign! Casey has hacked Rossi’s phone and has remote-control of the Ducati 1499! Casey slams on Rossi’s front brake and, in an instant, the bike low-sides and goes down, sending the unfortunate old Italian onto the tarmac and across the track, cursing “Sei uno stronzo Aussie!” all the way.
Back in the grandstand, Casey smiles as he terminates the phone-call. “Gotcha, ya bastard,” he whispers.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, the day is coming when you’ll be able to phone your daughter’s superbike and tell it to slow down. Or speed up. Or engage traction control. Or disengage wheelie control. Or grab the front brake and take a dive.
In fact, not only is that day coming, it’s virtually here already.
Allow me to introduce the 2017 Aprilia RSV4, the bike that redefines the term “phone a friend”. Your phone’s in-built GPS is able to tell your RSV4 precisely where you are — like 15 metres into turn number 10 at Phillip Island — and you are able to tell your phone that you would like a little more wheelie control here, but a little less traction control, thanks very much. And your phone will pass on that info to your bike.
Yep, motorcycle technology sure has come a long way since case-fed reed valves. And little wonder. With 201 horses hiding behind that fairing (you wouldn’t think they’d fit, hey?), there aren’t many people on the face of the earth — Valentino, Casey and Sandy included, I reckon — who wouldn’t be thankful for a little help to control the stampede.
Of course, any of us willing to stump up 25 or 30 grand for an RSV4 are unlikely to find ourselves dicing with Valentino in turn 10 on the island. Much more likely, we would ride this masterpiece out the back of Baskerville every Saturday afternoon, make our friends insanely jealous, polish it frequently, and maybe do a few laps of Barbagallo or Collie once or twice a year. Would we get our knees down at 100mph? Maybe you would. Not me.
But, hey. There’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. It’s one of the joys of modern life. All you need is a fat cheque book or a friendly bank manager and you too can plug you and your iPhone into 21st Century MotoGP technology.
Aprilia has been an enthusiastic techno-phile for most of its relatively short history. The little (well, little-ish) Italian company invented the ride-by-wire throttle, now considered business-as-usual at the performance end of motorcycle fuelling technology. It also pioneered Pneumatic Valve Actuation Systems.
I would explain the benefits of PVAS but, since I have absolutely no idea how it works or why you’d bother, I won’t.
The company certainly has been courageous in trying new ideas, and using whatever technology is available to make its products work. Most of us remember those wonderful RS250 two strokes from the late 1990s that ran Suzuki RG250 engines.
And, until the RSV4 came along, Aprilia’s open-class sports bikes were powered by Austrian-made Rotax engines. The company flirted with V-twins and in-line triples before settling on the now-common V4 format for its own in-house big-bores.
That engine was debuted on the world stage in 2009 by Roman Max Biaggi who took it to a WSB podium finish nine times, and the top step once. Not a bad debut. The following year Max and the RSV4 won the championship, and they did it again in 2012. Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli proved anyone could do it when he won in 2014. Well. Maybe not ANYone.
The RSV4 comes in two models this year — the RSV4RR and RSV4RF. They are identical machines, except the RF gets Ohlins suspension, lighter wheels, brighter paintwork, and a price tag about $5-and-a-bit-k heavier. So they share that motor — all 999.6cc, 65-degree V-four of it, which reaches its 201hp at a heady 13,000 revs and maximum torque (115 Nm) at 10,500. Top speed is said to be 286kmh (not that anyone cares) and weight is 180kg. There are more detailed specifications down the bottom of the page.
Would I like one? Hell yeah. Last week I tried to put my name down for a quick squirt, but was told the first shipment was sold-out before it even arrived in Australia. Another shipment is due around August. If I do get a ride, I’ll take my phone with me.
See you at Baskerville.
|Price||RSV4 RR – $24,990 (+ORC)|
|RSV4 Superpole – $30,790 (+ORC)|