TESTED: Factory Editions – Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory Old & New
June 22, 2022 Off

TESTED: Factory Editions – Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory Old & New

By MRWadmin

Words: Rob Portman | Pics: Beam Productions

A 217-horsepower Italian superbike around Kylami – yup, that’s the stuff dreams are made of, especially when that 217-hp Italian machine is the all-new Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory which has just arrived in SA.

Tagging along for the ride is the now old-gen version of the 1100 Factory, but still well worth a mention with its value-for-money tag. In this test, I aimed to see just how good, or bad, the new machine is well also highlighting why the old spec bike should not be forgotten about, and what makes it so special.

Aprilia has gone the “bigger is better” route with its new V4, starting from the 2019 model onwards. They have also gone with wings, big horsepower figures and an abundance of electronic aids. Going with a 1100cc V4, they can up the power figures without stressing a 1000cc powerplant – very much a case of more is more.

I sampled the first RSV4 1100 Factory model back in 2019, and again the updated version in 2020 and now finally got my hands on the all-new 2021 spec machine.

The new RSV4 1100 Factory

Aprilia’s top-spec production superbike has had a major revamp and in my eyes looks better than ever. That iconic old styling is still gorgeous, but the new 2021 Aprilia family facelift look is spectacular. The new styling makes the old version look, well, old, and brings the new bike right in line with its competitors and in my mind even a step ahead. It has to be one of the best-looking superbikes out there today, if not the best.

Helping with the overall styling, aerodynamics and downforce is the new integrated winglets. No more bolts on wings, the new ones are built into the double-wall fairing, offering a better overall look but with a purpose. Being integrated they offer much more stability at high speeds which simultaneously improves engine cooling. The Italians are the best at making functional style.

Apart from the new styling, the next big updates come in the electronics department. A much more refined package has been installed, one that is not as intrusive and offers the rider more options to customise.

Past RSV4 model electronics were very intrusive and hampered the bike in many ways, but the new aids are much better and assist perfectly without taking away too much control.

There is what seems like an endless list of aids on this machine – from traction and wheelie control to cruise and launch control as well as pre-set riding modes for not only engine maps but also the Ohlins electronically controlled suspension front and rear. The suite now also features a new multi-level engine brake control from the six-axis inertial ECU. All very high-tech I must say.

But wait. There’s more. The new RSV4 has 6 riding modes, two more than the previous, with the customisable track 1 and track 2 options being added. Riders can now choose between 3 road modes and 3 track, with options to customise their own track 1 and track 2. I must say it was all a bit complicated at the beginning when Sean from Aprilia SA was showing it all to me, but started making more sense the more I played around.

Other noteworthy changes come in ergonomics with a narrower tank and newly designed seat, offering the rider more room and a more “natural and relaxed” riding position – so say Aprilia. They also made the TFT bigger and easier to read and controls more functional and intuitive.

At the back sees another big change, inspired by the RS MotoGP bike, the swing arm is now lighter and underslung, so basically switched around with a lower mass offering more rigidity and stability in the corners at full lean angle and under hard acceleration.

The 65-degree V4 engine has had some work done. It’s grown from 1077cc to 1099cc and is now Euro 5 compliant. It still sounds fantastic and pushes out a class-leading 217 hp with 125Nm of torque.

“The fact that this thing is so powerful also kept me on my toes, literally. There is a great amount of power available from low down, not as punchy or fierce as the likes of Ducati’s 1100 V4 Panigale, but easier to use meaning getting on the gas earlier and harder did not take balls the size of Brad Binders.”

It looks great, sounds fantastic and can honestly tell you it all works and is a fantastic machine to ride. It’s fast, precise, demanding yet understanding and wants to go as fast as possible without the rider feeling overwhelmed. Aprilia has always had this knack for making powerful machines that are so easy to ride, and the new version RSV4 1100 factory is no different.

The riding position is still very comfortable, one of the most accommodating in the superbike category today, but I must say the new seat did offer a bit too much room. I found myself slipping and sliding all over the seat, having to use my legs on the pegs more often than not to keep myself in the prime riding position just over the front of the bike.

The fact that this thing is so powerful also kept me on my toes, literally. There is a great amount of power available from low down, not as punchy or fierce as the likes of Ducati’s 1100 V4 Panigale, but easier to use meaning getting on the gas earlier and harder did not take balls the size of Brad Binders. Once the bike reaches 7000rpm it’s like the turbo kicks in. It just bursts into life and carries the speed through to 13,000 rpm with no hesitation, belting out a euphoric symphony in the process. One thing that should be on every person on this planet’s bucket list should be hearing an RSV4 1100 at full tilt – it’s truly spectacular!

The V4 engine loved playing around the Kyalami playground. It loved the blend of fast-flowing and slow turns and so did the new spec Ohlins electronic suspension and apex eating chassis.

I had the bike set in track 1, which was custom setup by Sean from Aprilia. I did find it a bit too soft, especially under hard braking where the front would dive too fast getting the bike a bit out of shape heading into the turns. I did try a few changes in the track 1 mode as well as manually in the suspension setting but found the best setup in the pre-set race mode.

Like I said earlier there is a lot to play with and only having a day out on track was not enough time to explore it all, but riders who love tech will go crazy with this machine.

For sure the new MotoGP-inspired underslung swingarm help with grip and stability at the rear. At full lean angle, the rear keeps its line much better and under hard acceleration, it doesn’t step out or weave at all. It grips hard and is very assured.

Braking has never been an issue on RSV4 models and it’s no different on this new one. Brembo Stylema’s get the job done from start to finish, not one sign of fade or hesitation – just sharp and responsive every time they were called upon.

The gearbox was silky smooth with the assistance of the standard fitted quickshifter and autoblip while all the electronics worked as promised, assisting when needed without being too intrusive and spoiling the ride.

The new RSV4 is a bike that will take you 2 or 3 track days to really understand how it all works, with so much tech and customising available from the now more refined electronics suite. But it’s also very much a plug-and-play system – just select a pre-set riding mode and go forth and enjoy what is one of the best riding experiences I have ever had around the Kyalami track.

All this goodness will cost you a pretty penny, with a price tag of R495,011 being set on the new RSV4 1100 Factory edition. That’s a lot of money and R55k more than the big red 1100cc V4 machine available from their Italian rival. Still, after you ride a bike like this one does not think about the money, but rather how you can get the money to buy one.

This model is the demo available from IMI out in Bryanston so I suggest you give them a call on 010 443 4596 and book a test ride.

The 2020 Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory

I brought this bike along on this test not only to see if the new one is that much better but also to highlight why it is still such a great value-for-money machine. A real collector’s item in many ways.

Yes, it’s not as pretty as the new bike but it’s still that iconic Aprilia superbike looks that we have loved for many years now and will always have a place in the ever-evolving world of superbikes. But what this model does have over the new bike is a bit more exclusivity. It’s dressed with a few more bling parts and a once-off factory-inspired livery making it more exclusive and a collector’s dream.

Don’t believe me, then read this from Aprilia themselves: “Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory boasts exceptional performance combined with a racing frame and suspension and a series of first-rate electronic controls, added to which is the semi-active suspension. The colour combinations emphasise the exclusive nature of prestigious materials such as carbon (utilised on the front mudguard, the side panels, the exhaust terminal guard, the aerodynamic appendages, and the new front tank cover), in contrast with the titanium finish of the street-legal Akrapovic exhaust tailpipe, the same colour as the forged aluminium wheels.”

So yes, the 2020 model was very exclusive and what makes it such value for money is the added extras which all add up to around R110k. There are still a few new ones available from Aprilia SA at R479,311, take in the over R100k worth of extras and the fact it’s an exclusive release then it’s well worth it.

“It doesn’t take much to get the best out of this bike. While some of its competitors can feel like they want to rip your arms off and get a bit overwhelming, the RSV4 offers thrilling serenity, if there is such a thing.”

Plus the fact that it’s an awesome machine to ride, that does help. It’s an Aprilia V4 superbike man, what’s not to love. Ok, the styling did look dated when we had it parked next to the new one, so that’s a bit of a bummer but riding it back-to-back against the new machine I found that this one more than holds its own against the newer model.

Even though it’s slightly less capacity than the new one, it still boasts the same 217 hp but with slightly less torque at 122Nm. I could feel that the new bike had more punch low down, but this was still no slouch. The electronics did hold it back more, a sentiment Aprilia SA rider Michael White agreed on. Michael started the year off racing on this model, winning every race he competed in on this bike before trading up to the new spec bike. Not the Factory version, but rather the RSV4 1100 model – so cheaper price tag of R385,011 and no electronic suspension. Having now spent some time on the new bike, and winning first time out in PE, road kit and all, Michael says the biggest difference he can tell between both models is in the electronics department. The new one is way less intrusive and responds better to adjustments, while the older model is hampered by over baring aids.

Still, it’s plenty fast and handles just as well as the new bike. The new underslung swingarm on the new model did offer a bit more grip and feel at full lean angle and corner exit, but that’s not saying the 2020 model was bad, but rather how good the new one is.

Just like the new RSV4 this one features top Ohlins electronic suspension that can be manually set or pre-set using one of the riding modes available, which automatically sets engine map and suspension setting, making it very accommodating for newby riders wanting and needing a softer, more plush and forgiving setup as well as experienced riders wanting harder more precise and dialled in settings.

The 2020 version, just like the new 2021 was so easy to ride. You don’t realise you are doing crazy speeds and fast lap times, because it doesn’t feel like you are. Calm and relaxed generally means fast lap times and this RSV keeps you calm and relaxed at all times, which means fast times.

It doesn’t take much to get the best out of this bike. While some of its competitors can feel like they want to rip your arms off and get a bit overwhelming, the RSV4 offers thrilling serenity, if there is such a thing.

It’s an oxymoron – it’s fast and furious, but calmly. It’s silky smooth Brad Pitt playing the role of Dominic Toretto in the Fast and Furious movies, rather than the brute, muscled up, intimidating Vin Diesel.

I’ve said it before, the RSV is a superbike for the masses. It will guide riders in the right direction to go fast, rather than trying to push them too hard. It goes with the flow and is enjoyable in every aspect.

This is also the demo unit available from Aprilia SA and like I said they still have a couple of new 2020 models on their showroom floor so if you like what you see and have read then call them now on 010 443 4596 and own a piece of history. For Aprilia nutters, this is a must-have machine for sure!