Aprilia, the Italian motorcycle and scooter maker, started out making small-displacement machines and has branched out considerably since then. It introduced the SXV, the first V-twin supermotard bike, in 2006, producing two models, the 4.5 and the 5.5 (also known as the 450 and 550). In 2008, the bike was substantially revised and competed very successfully on European tracks, though it was disallowed in U.S. competition that first year. These models were carried over in the United States for 2009.
Mounted at a 77-degree angle intended to reduce vibration, the 4.5’s compact engine is a 449cc, liquid-cooled, V-twin four-stroke; the 5.5 has the same engine, but with 549cc displacement. Both engines have electronic fuel injection with 38mm throttle bodies, which operates with a chain-driven single overhead cam with rocker exhaust valves and four valve heads. The valves themselves are titanium. Closely related to Aprilia’s RXV, the SXV features the same integrated electronic management system, which controls ignition and fuel injection; a rider can switch power modes to match riding conditions. The five-speed transmission works with a multi-plate wet clutch.
A well-balanced, lightweight steel perimeter frame with alloy vertical members keeps the bike’s weight down to 275 pounds dry. The front suspension is an inverted fork with adjustable preload and rebound damping; rear suspension is a Sachs twin-sided swing arm with a spring preload adjustable shock and rebound damping. A stainless-steel 12.6-inch disc brake with a floating caliper in front and a 9.5-inch disc brake, also with a floating caliper, in back stop the SXV. The seat is 36.1 inches high, typical of racing bikes.
It may not have been competition approved the year it was released in the United States, but riders gave it high marks for handling and for sheer fun on winding canyon roads. Because it is designed for the track, however, fuel economy is simply not a concern, and the fuel tank holds just over three gallons, so it’s not advisable to take it too far from the nearest gas station. Racing bikes are all about maintenance, and the SXV is no exception. One reviewer suggested making sure you had your own personal mechanic before purchasing this bike, but that might make it the perfect bike for an enthusiast who wants to do his own maintenance. It has, of course, dazzling Italian styling to go with its speed and handling.