Ringleader: Ari Henning
MSRP (2010): $15,999
Miles: Goose eggs
MPG: None yet
Mods: There will be many!
Not too long ago, I was downright fearful of liter-bikes. I’d heard all the admonitions from the uninitiated: "Those things wheelie and spin the tire like crazy, and will put you on the ground before you know it!" Over the course of the past 2.5 years’ testing, I’ve had the opportunity to pilot a number of 150-horsepower machines, and it’s been an eye-opening experience. Turns out they are fire-breathing monsters that wheelie and spin the tire like crazy. They’re also a helluva lotta fun!
Don’t get me wrong: I still hold a healthy respect for 1000s and handle the throttle like it’s a live rattlesnake, but once you’ve ridden a liter-bike, everything else just feels slow. And of all the superbikes I’ve ridden, the RSV4 has left the most lasting impression. Everything about it is awesome, from its sharp shape and compact size to its razor’s-edge handling and the raucous roar of its V4 engine under power. I get goose bumps just thinking about it!
My agenda for the Aprilia is clear. My initial query to Editor Catterson requesting an up-spec RSV4 Factory was met with an instant "neh-eh." But aiming high is a tested negotiating tactic, and by the end of our conversation he’d agreed to let me get the less expensive R-model and try to make it perform like the lighter, more powerful and better-handling Factory. Based on the figures we’ve gathered in previous tests, that means the R will need to lose 14 lbs. and gain about 7 bhp. Sounds like a plan...