RSV Mille R
Exclusive First USA Track Test!
incredible new Superbike from Aprilia bordering on perfection."
When Aprilia's Public relations Manager Robert Pandya told us the press introduction was to take place at some unheard of track in the middle of the Nevada desert simmering in the 115F degree summer heat of August I actually considered not going. But knowing FastDates.com would once again be beating all the American streetbike magazines to the punch with a first ever ride test, and the fact Aprilia was bringing both the new RSVR base and upgraded Factory models to ride, together with the current 2003 model Aprila Mille R and Tuono was the swing vote to convince me (together with a kick in the butt from publisher Jim Gianatsis) to make the trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
We spent the night at the Luxor hotel, then at 6am the next morning we’d be up and on our way to the spme unknown roadrace track at Pahrump, NV, some 45 miles east of Vegas, so we could get an early start while the day was still cool around 90 degree(!). Our BMW M3 made the 45 mile drive to the track in about 25 minutes as we topped 165 miles an hour in some sections of the open desert. Gotta love Nevada for open back roads!
The day before I had made the 284.43 mile trip (Thanks MapQuest.com!) from our San Fernando Valley digs in about 3 hours, usually cruising the Bimmer at 110-120mph on the I-15 to Vegas unless dickheads in their big SUVs would jam up the fast lane. That evening after checking into the Luxor, we hiked down the street to the MGM Grand to watch our favorite caberate show called LaFemme, an affiliate of the world famous Crazy Horse saloon in Paris. Picture 12 of the most beautiful girls in the world all with perfectly match bodies, ballet and modern danced trained, performing nearly nude perfectly coreographed skits to music and light. It is the most incredibly beautiful and erotic stage show in the world and one worth seeing again and again every time i return to Paris or Vegas. The girls who perform in the Shows actually rotate every few months between Paris and Las Vegas and it is the premier show in the world for the world’s prettiest, most skilled dancers.
The track at Pahrump is the home of the Bragg-Smith Advanced Driving School which uses factory O46 Corvettes to train wannabe sportscar roadracers how to turn left and right, brake and shift. It’s really tight and twisty like a big gocart track, but more than long enough at about 1.25 miles in length with lots of elevation changes, nice 270 degree sweeping corners, tricky 90 degree corners, and just a pure blast to ride on a bike. Speeds are relatively slow at 2nd -4th gear from 30-120 mph.
first bike I took out to learn the track was an Aprilia Tuono, which
is based on the current
Returning to the pits for a brief cool down, I then made the switch to the all new 2004 RSV100R base model bike. You immediately notice this is the first of the new generation 1000cc Superbikes that is really downsized and feels just like a smaller Japanese 600cc Sportbike, and a 406 pounds dry is nearly as lightweight. Everything on the bike fits perfectly to my 5’8” frame and as I accelerated into the turn one sweeper I felt immediately at home. The R did everything perfectly: braking, shifting and accelerating, and drifting it though corners. Right away I didn’t have to think about what the bike was doing and i could concentrate on running at higher speeds, adjusting my lines as needed to pick up my lap times from the previous learning session.
I haven’t felt this comfortable on a new bike since the first time I rode a Ducati 916 which went on to prove itself as the benchmark bike of the 90’s. The Aprilia does everything perfect. The base suspension comprised of fully adjustable Showa 43mm upside-down forks with adjustable compression, rebound and preload were perfect right out of the box with the stock factory settings. Out back, there’s an aluminum alloy double banana swing arm with APS progressive system linkage hooked up to a Sachs hydraulic shock-absorber with adjustable rebound, compression, preload and length.
The suspension and handling proved to befaultless. I could place the bike anywhere on the track that I wanted, or flick it side to side with ease while fully laid over and dragging my boot toe, giving myself more spare change to concentrate on braking and acceleration traction. I've never ridden a bike that felt this neutral and well balanced, able to tighten up my cornering line whenever I needed at the front end, or by dialing-in more throttle at the rear. The base R model is shod with Michelin 120/70 Front and 190/55 ZR 17 Pilot Sports which are my favorite rubber. The Factory model gets Pirelli Dragons of the same size.
Dry weight on the new '04 R/F models is actually some 15 pouinds heavier at 185 / 189 F kilos, 407 / 416 lbs.than the outgoing the old '03 model Mille/R at178/183 kilos, 392/403 lbs. Which is really suprising as the new '04 bikes are so much physically smaller and feel so much ligher when riding them. I'd blame most of the weight increase on changing to the new dual silencer exhaust system which now helps to make more power, from the old model's lighter single exhaust silencer system. It's no big deal as it's still 20-30 lbs lighter than a Ducati 999.
was also pretty incredible on the base R which comes equipped up front
with Brembo double 320 mm diameter floating stainless steel disc spinning
between Brembo "Triple Bridge" calipers with four 34 mm
diameter pistons and 4 sintered pads all controlled through braided
metal brake line. The
bike would instantly haul down from the 120 mph straights into the
turns with the back wheel in the pawing the air if needed, with just
easy 1-2 finger pressure, corner after corner. Luckily the race spec
Michelins were up to the task of biting hard into the asphalt.
Power wise, the new Aprilia will certainly beat the base 123 hp Ducati 999, but it doesn't pull as strong as the 999S rated at 136hp, or my own 999S with the Ducati Performance Race Exhaust Kit. The optional Aprilia Race Silencer Kit with its 12 hp mid-range increase would be a welcome addition to the new RSVR, particularly with all the money you'll be saving in comparison up front on the purchase price.
After my first 30-minute track session on the base R ‘04 model which emerged as flawless, I came back to the pits and grabbed a now old ‘03 model Mille R for comparison. Immediately on board you notice that it is a bigger, heavier and bulkier bike, and out on the race track that initial impression carries over into its track performance. The previous generation Mille, once the leading Superbike contender, now feels like a truck. It takes incredibly more effort to change direction and to place it on a line -it just is not as nimble and quick, and it has noticeably less power to get it to move its big ass. More than one moto journalist came back with the same response, “It feels like a truck.” Yesterday’s cutting edge sportbike is a definite victim to its new generation brother. If you own the current model Mille there is no way you will be happy with it one you ride the new model. The only way to save it from a fate worse than death is to get the high handlebar parts necessary to turn it into a Tuono.
I purposely left the best for last to have a better feel for what had evolved in the Mille line. My next 30 minute track session was devoted to the new R Factory model which upgrades the base model R with the hi-zoot Öhlins titanium nitride coated 43 mm diameter upside-down forks also featuring external hydraulic adjustment system for rebound, compression and preload. Along with those sexy lower legs for radial caliper mounted Brembo calipers with four 34 mm diameter pistons and 4 sintered pads clinching double Ø 320 mm floating stainless steel discs. And out back the great working sachs resevioir shock is replaced by a multi adjustable as well, up market Ohlins.
Other changes on the Factory model from base R include forged and slightly lighter, as opposed to cast, aluminum anodized wheels, the newest Pirelli Dragon Supercosa tires, and a few carbon fibre tidbits. Dry weight is listed at 185 kilos / 407 lbs. The Factory's overall weight savings over the base R is just about 10 lbs, most of it important reciprocating weight in the wheels which offers an important performance gain in handling, braking and acceleration.
Once riding the R Factory bike out on the track, though, the spec differences became almost negligible. I actually found myself liking the base model R a little better, probably because it came set up better out of the box (or perhaps the way our Aprilia technicians had set up the F compared to the R for our test). The radial brakes on the F model didn’t seem any better than the already incredible Brembo stoppers on the base R, which seemed to have better feel.
Go to Aprilia RSV1000R Test Page 2