2010 Aprilia RSV4R | Doin' Time


Aprilia RSV4R

Wrist: Ari Henning
MSRP (2010): $15,999
Miles: 3402
MPG: 27
Mods: Brake Tech rotors, Ferodo brake pads, Pazzo levers, Cycle Mall fork mods

The last time we checked in on my long-term Aprilia RSV4R, I was lamenting its atrocious gas mileage. Over the past couple hundred miles I've tuned the V4's "economy" fuel map using the Bazzaz software installed previously (see MC Tested, page 72), and I'm happy to report that I'm now averaging 27 mpg instead of 25. That's not much of an improvement, and sadly I don't think it's going to get any better. Even with the stock exhaust and a gentle wrist, the Aprilia maxes out at around 30 mpg. It's just a thirsty animal.

Switching the fuel map to ultra-high-consumption mode for track days is as easy as flipping the accessory Bazzaz switch. And now that I have a set of brake discs for my spare Aprilia forged track hoops, swapping wheels takes a lot less time. Aftermarket rotor options abound, but the superior design of the carrier/disc interface on Brake Tech's Axis rotors ($349.99 apiece from _www.braketech.com_) made them an obvious choice. The ductile iron blades have a higher frictional coefficient than stainless steel, and combined with fresh Ferodo XRAC racing pads ($104.95 per caliper; also from Brake Tech) these deliver a lot more stopping power. While the bike was in the shop, I bled the brake system and installed a set of Pazzo levers ($199.99; _www.motocontrols.com_). These short levers are one of my favorite accessories, adding style, six-position adjustability and great feel.

With the bike braking better, the Showa fork became a real hindrance. Spring rate is in the ballpark but compression damping is weak, so I took the bike to Tige Daane at Cycle Mall (_www.cyclemall.net_) in Tustin, California. Daane rebuilt the fork with stiffer valving and fresh oil, and $280 later I'm braking later and harder with much more confidence in the front end. The shock feels fine, but the reservoir sits too close to the rear header pipes, so the oil takes some serious abuse. The shock is likewise due for an overhaul, but it's too late for that now since the Aprilia folks are asking for their bike back.

Ours was one of the early 2010 RSV4Rs that underwent an engine replacement due to a connecting-rod recall, and there have been a few issues that hint at that. The swingarm pivot nut was found to be under-tightened, as was a radiator hose clamp, which allowed coolant to leak. At one point a fluke intake-pressure error code sent the bike into Level II “limp mode” halfway home from work, limiting speed to about 40 mph. The only other problem was a progressive one: Over the past 1000 miles it became increasingly difficult to find neutral. Ace Aprilia technician Alex Franz diagnosed the problem as a loose shift-shaft centering pin, which is a rare issue that has only occurred on a few hard-ridden bikes. If your RSV4 is less than two years old and develops this problem, the repair should be covered under warranty.

Beyond that, the Aprilia just needed regular oil changes and a couple hundred gallons of premium gasoline. I never logged enough street miles to wear out the stock Metzelers, but I burned through a head-high stack of race tires. The RSV4 preferred pointier tires like Michelin’s Power One Races and Dunlop Sportmax D211 GP-As best, but worked well on Bridgestone’s new R10 DOT race tires once we raised the front ride height.

From the beginning, the goal of this long-term project was to see if we could make the base RSV4R perform as well as the better-equipped Factory APRC bike. I’d say we succeeded. We got the bike well below the Factory’s fighting weight and boosted horsepower to within a breath. The forged wheels and Bazzaz electronics played the biggest role, but everything we bolted to the bike served the purpose of making it lighter and faster.

The Aprilia isn’t as powerful as the BMW S1000RR or as exotic as a Ducati Desmosedici, but its sinister look and hair-raising exhaust note drew a crowd wherever it went. I rode the RSV4 to work on a daily basis, but lived for the racetrack, where the bike’s tire-smearing power and nimble handling made it one of the most fun and capable bikes I’ve ridden. It will be missed!

Raw aluminum levers with red adjusters match the Aprilia’s colors nicely. Pazzo controls are available with either long or short levers like that shown here.
Axis rotors undergo cryogenic treatment to improve wear resistance. Unlike our prototype rotors, production versions receive an anti-corrosion treatment.