Aprilia Improves An Already Impressive Bike

Ahead of MY2018, Aprilia gave the RSV4 RF a significant rebuild that included a new set of Öhlins stems and beefed-up electronics along with improved anchors, all of which are driven by a race-proven, 201-horsepower V4 engine. This is a bike built for the would-be racers and fiery-eyed stoplight burners out there, and it comes with all the street-legal goodies you need to enjoy it on the public roads. If you’re into actual track use, the factory would like you to know that this machine is a full second faster than the outgoing model; take that for what it’s worth. Additionally, the factory offers the RSV4 RF in a limited-edition build with its own special design and livery that sets it apart from the standard version.

  • 2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RF / RF LE
  • Year:
    2018- 2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V4
  • Displacement:
    1000 cc
  • Top Speed:
    185 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    24495
  • Price:

Aprilia RSV4 RF Design

2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RF / RF LE
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2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RF / RF LE
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2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RF / RF LE
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It's a full-on superbike that displays strong racebike DNA.

The racebike DNA is strong with the RSV4 RF, and it starts in earnest right out of the gate with a close-fit front fender that’s cut down to minimize unsprung weight while leaving foil-shaped uprights that steer the wind around the fork lowers and protect the inner fork tubes from grit. A full cowling runs with sides that are extended forward a tad to engulf the front wheel, and though it continues all the way down and mates up with the belly fairing, it very quickly opens up to reveal some of the engine with a series of vents to help eliminate waste heat. In short; it’s a full-on superbike that displays a tantalizing glimpse of ankle from under its skirt.

A trio of headlights lead the way from their recesses in the front fairing, but the real stars of the show here are the intake ports just below that shunt pressurized air from the entry directly into the intake tract for a relatively simple boost to the volumetric efficiency. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the power curve is fairly flat until you get up to around the 100-mph mark, so street riders won’t realistically see much benefit beyond the conversation value.

In typical racebike fashion, there’s a clear bubblescreen on top that punches a hole for your upper body, but you’ll have to tuck in all the way to find it. The front turn signals come integrated with the mirrors, which makes it easy to strike both to lighten up ahead of track days, and even if you aren’t a racer, you still have to appreciate the cleanliness of that setup and the overall speed to which it contributes.

That last detail is of particular importance as the engineers set out to make this the fastest superbike in its sector, and they spent considerable energies toward that goal. The LE version takes it even further with carbon-fiber winglets up front that generate a downward force under way to help spread out the front contact patch and keep the rubber firmly planted.

The 4.9-gallon fuel tank hump dominates the flyline with a deep swale for the pilot’s seat to pull you down into, and help you integrate with, the machine. A tail fairing conceals the p-pad for that racer look, but it’s given away by the flip-up footpegs that clearly mark this as a bike you can share with a friend. Out back, there’s the taillight that hides up under the tip of the tail, but the rest of the gear – tagholder, taglight and rear blinkers – mount on a skinny, mudguard-like structure for easy removal as a unit when you go to get set up for proper racing.

As for the actual fling- and air-control functions, they fall to the swingarm-mount hugger. Oh, and the icing on the cake with the LE is it’s only available in the North American market, so our Italian buddies are definitely throwing us a rare bone with this one, and it comes with a special race-color livery to boot.

Aprilia RSV4 RF Chassis

2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RF / RF LE
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2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RF / RF LE
- image 861791
2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RF / RF LE
- image 861785
Aprilia brings its not-inconsiderable racing experience to the drawing board for the RSV4 RF and RF LE, and it really shows in the bones of the beast.

Aprilia brings its not-inconsiderable racing experience to the drawing board for the RSV4 RF and RF LE, and it really shows in the bones of the beast. A full range of adjustments come with the stock package to include a movable steering head, swingarm pivot, and engine position with a tweakable rear-end height to let you get the thing dialed right in, just like a real race bike. Pretty snazzy, huh? Yeah, I thought so too, even if that level of adjustability will be lost on the majority of riders, myself included.

The aluminum twin-spar frame uses the engine as a stressed member to keep overall weight down with a beefy swingarm in the same material to keep the rear end stable under the tremendous stresses placed on it by the cornering forces and the powerful engine. Öhlins provides the upgraded suspension components that increase the handling performance over the previous version. A set of inverted, 43 mm NIX forks lead the way with a coil-over TTX piggyback shock to manage the rear end. Both ends rock the full trinity of adjustments with 4.72 inches of travel on tap which is typical for this sort of bike and sufficient for racing purposes.

This bike has a serious amount of go and it comes with an appropriate amount of stop in the form of dual 330 mm front discs and four-pot Brembo M50 calipers opposite a 220 mm disc and twin-pot Brembo anchor. Braided steel sleeves prevent the brake hoses from expanding, so every ounce of force at the levers will make it all the way to the calipers with no loss in pressure. A Bosch 9.1 MP C-ABS feature comes with a trio of braking maps from which to choose plus an “Off” setting if you want a raw ride. Additionally, the system delivers rear wheel lift-up mitigation to keep that rear end planted, even under the hardest braking efforts.

Forged-aluminum rims round out the rolling chassis with ZR-rated hoops in a 120/70 up front opposite a 200/55 and contribute to the 450-pound curb weight.

Front Suspension: Öhlins NIX upside-down fork, 43 mm fork body, Adjustable spring preload, independently reboiund and compression, 4.7 inches (120 mm) wheel travel.
Rear Suspension: Öhlins TTX 36 single shock absorber with remote reservoir, adjustable spring preload, independently adjustable compression and rebound, progressive linkage, 4,7 inches (120 mm) wheel travel
Front Brake: Dual 330 mm floating discs with aluminum carrier, Brembo M50 4-piston mono-block radial calipers. Radial front master cylinder and steel braided lines
Rear Brake: 220 mm disc. Brembo 32 mm 2 isolated piston caliper. Rear brake pump with integrated reservoir and steel braided lines
ABS System: C-ABS Bosch 9.1MP, de-selectable, adjustable to 3 mappings, with RLM (Rear wheel Lift-up Mitigation) strategy
Front Wheel: 3.5” x 17” forged aluminum alloy wheel, fully machined with 5 double spokes
Rear Wheel: 6” x 17” forged aluminum alloy wheel, fully machined with 5 double spokes
Front Tire: 200/70 ZR 17
Rear Tire: 200/55 ZR 17

Aprilia RSV4 RF Drivetrain

2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RF / RF LE
- image 861770
2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RF / RF LE
- image 861781
2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RF / RF LE
- image 861782
When you twist that throttle, it gives you everything it's got and yet still has more to give.

As hot as the chassis is, the engine is still the star of the show with its 65-degree V-twin configuration and new updated exhaust system. Displacement is just a skosh under a liter at 999.6 cc, and every cube pulls its weight as the factory claims a total of 201 horsepower at a lofty 13,000 rpm. Torque maxes out at 10,500 turns with 84.8 pound-feet on tap. Dual over-head cams time a quartet of poppets per bore, and naturally, the lump relies on liquid cooling to deal with the waste heat. Power flows through a slipper-type clutch for another layer of protection for the rear contact patch with a six-speed, cassette-type transmixxer and chain final drive.

The electronic wizardry really comes to the forefront in the engine controls. It starts with a RbW throttle control system that sports a trio of engine maps in the new ECU that lets you dial in the delivery to suit. The Aprilia Performance Ride Control system bundles a host of ride-quality and safety-related features together to include traction-, wheelie-, cruise- and launch-control along with the aforementioned cornering ABS.

For the racers out there, a launch control feature and pit limiter gives you the track-specific tools you’ll need, and of course, all riders may benefit from the quick-shifter. Best of all, the above come switched so you can customize the systems or shut them off in their entirety for a raw ride. Also new are the dual Lambda probes and exhaust-control valve that help the mill meet U.S., California, and Canadian emission standards to wrap up the propulsion.

Engine: Aprilia V4 65°, 4-stroke, liquid cooled, double overhead camshaft (DOHC), four valves per cylinder, Ride-by-Wire with 3 engine mappings (Sport, Race, Track)
Displacement: 999.6 cc
Max Power at Crankshaft: 201 hp (148 kW) @ 13,000 rpm
Max Torque at Crankshaft: 84.8 lb-ft (115 Nm) @ 10,500 rpm

Aprilia RSV4 RF Pricing

2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RF / RF LE
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2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RF / RF LE
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2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RF / RF LE
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MSRP on the RSV4 RF is $24.5k and $25.5k for the Limited Edition model in the exclusive Misano livery.

The base model RSVR RF fetches a $24,495 U.S. MSRP in the “Superpole” livery. As for the Limited-Edition model, you can score one of the 125 available units for $5,495, and each comes with its unique number stamped into the steering plate and the “Misano” color package.

Electronic Management: APRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) system including traction control (ATC), wheelie control (AWC), launch control (ALC), quick shift (AQS), cruise control (ACC), pit limiter (APL), cornering ABS, all independently settable and de-selectable, V4-MP 2.0 equipped
Color: Superpole, RF FE: Misano
Price: $24,495, RF LE: $25,495

Aprilia RSV4 RF Competitors

2018 - 2019 Ducati Panigale V4
- image 773487
2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RF / RF LE
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Ducati hits your wallet harder, but you get more power in a lighter bike with the Panigale.

With such a magnificent machine as the RSV4 RF for which to find a competitor, I had trouble getting out of Europe’s boot. I wound up eyeballing Ducati’s Panigale V4 S for my head-to-head, so here we go.

As a racer-based streetbike, the Panigale V4 S naturally follows a similar design convention with all the usual superbike high points to include near-complete body paneling and the unmistakable influence of the windtunnel. Ducati also made it easy to strike the street-legal stuff for race days by combining the front turn signals with the mirrors, and the rearward gear with the mudguard, just like Aprilia has done with the RSV4 RF.

The Panigale rides on Showa Big Piston Forks that deliver the same ride-quality adjustments to more or less break even with the RSV4 RF, and the rims are forged aluminum with ZR-rated hoops. If this is sounding awful familiar, you’ll have that with such machines, since they all pull from the top shelf for their various goodies.

Duc pushes the displacement past the liter mark with a total of 1,103 cc packed into a V4 configuration, and it uses its signature Desmodromic valvetrain to actuate four valves per cylinder. The fancy valvetrain doesn’t buy it an advantage in the revs though, ’cause the Panigale tops out at 13,000 rpm with 214 horsepower on tap for a slim lead over the Aprilia.

The electronics are similar enough to not warrant scrutiny. However nice that little power boost may feel, Duc gives up its advantage at the checkout with its $27,895 sticker that’s three grand-plus higher than even the Limited-Edition.

He Said

“Woo-wee sports fans, Aprilia certainly doesn’t disappoint with this race-tastic duo. It’s got everything a would-be racer would want, and goes further than most manufacturers do for street-legal machines with the adjustability of the frame. Also unusual is the switchable nature of its systems that usually come as an always-on feature that forces you to use them whether you want to, or not. Nice to have a choice, yeah?”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The RSV4 RF is what you’d expect it to be. It’s super nimble, fast, and quick. The V4 sound is awesome and puts me in mind of track day every time I hear it. If you’ve never ridden either of the V4 competitors – the RSV4 RF or the Panigale V4 S – I’m gonna guess what your reaction will be the first time. “HolyShitHolyShitHolyShit” and then you shift. “HolyShitHolyShitHolyShit” and then you shift again. When you twist that throttle, it gives you everything it’s got and yet still has more to give. The RSV4 RF LE is very exclusive as it is a 125 production run, only available in North America, and only a grand more than the RSV4 RF.”

Aprilia RSV4 RF Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Aprilia V4 65°, 4-stroke, liquid cooled, double overhead camshaft (DOHC), four valves per cylinder, Ride-by-Wire with 3 engine mappings (Sport, Race, Track)
Displacement: 999.6 cc
Max Power at Crankshaft: 201 hp (148 kW) @ 13,000 rpm
Max Torque at Crankshaft: 84.8 lb-ft (115 Nm) @ 10,500 rpm
Chassis:
Front Suspension: Öhlins NIX upside-down fork, 43 mm fork body, Adjustable spring preload, independently reboiund and compression, 4.7 inches (120 mm) wheel travel.
Rear Suspension: Öhlins TTX 36 single shock absorber with remote reservoir, adjustable spring preload, independently adjustable compression and rebound, progressive linkage, 4,7 inches (120 mm) wheel travel
Front Brake: Dual 330 mm floating discs with aluminum carrier, Brembo M50 4-piston mono-block radial calipers. Radial front master cylinder and steel braided lines
Rear Brake: 220 mm disc. Brembo 32 mm 2 isolated piston caliper. Rear brake pump with integrated reservoir and steel braided lines
ABS System: C-ABS Bosch 9.1MP, de-selectable, adjustable to 3 mappings, with RLM (Rear wheel Lift-up Mitigation) strategy
Front Wheel: 3.5” x 17” forged aluminum alloy wheel, fully machined with 5 double spokes
Rear Wheel: 6” x 17” forged aluminum alloy wheel, fully machined with 5 double spokes
Front Tire: 200/70 ZR 17
Rear Tire: 200/55 ZR 17
Dimensions & Capacities:
Saddle Height: 33 inches (840 mm)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.9 gallon – 1 gallon reserve (18.5 l – 4 l reserve)
Dry Weight: 397 lbs (180 kg)
Wet Weight: 450 lbs (204 kg)
Top Speed: 185 mph (est)
Details:
Electronic Management: APRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) system including traction control (ATC), wheelie control (AWC), launch control (ALC), quick shift (AQS), cruise control (ACC), pit limiter (APL), cornering ABS, all independently settable and de-selectable, V4-MP 2.0 equipped
Color: Superpole, RF FE: Misano
Price: $24,495, RF LE: $25,495

Further Reading

Ducati Panigale V4 / V4 S / V4 Speciale

2018 - 2019 Ducati Panigale V4
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See our review of the Ducati Panigale V4 / V4 S / V4 Speciale.

Aprilia

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Read more Aprilia news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: egpowersports.com, aprilia.com, ducati.com

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