Best remembered for bursting into flames under Colin Edwards at the 2003 German Grand Prix, Aprilia's RS3 Cube racer wasn't a complete waste of time: It directly informed the design of Aprilia's new superbike, the RSV4. Exceptionally compact and ferociously fast, this V4-powered rocketship feels more like a MotoGP prototype than any production bike. But unlike the cursed Cube, the RSV4 was immediately successful in competition. Max Biaggi scored nine podiums and one win during the RSV4's debut World Superbike season, and the streetbike's arrival has been equally impressive. The uprated Factory edition owned our "Class of 2010" sportbike comparison, besting both the overdog BMW S1000RR and Ducati's long-dominant 1098S, and the base RSV4R bested our 2009 MOTY winner, the Yamaha YZF-R1. Aprilia's fortunes have lately bobbed up and down, but this most recent effort-the year's most unique, aggressive and effective sportbike-is an undeniable success.
From Japan, with soul
One year later, our 2009 MOTY winner hasn't lost any luster. The odd-firing, crossplane-crank R1 still offers a singularly soulful liter-bike experience, and thanks to telepathic traction and uncommonly easy-to-manage power output, it hauls ass with less effort than anything else currently available from Japan.