ET phone home — Aprilia’s open class rocketship: just a phonecall away from the future

CAPTION: Aprilia's flagship RSV4 RF. The technology is out of this world.

New model preview: Aprilia RSV4RR and RSV4RF

IMAGINE this: We’re at Phillip Island, in the year 2029. It’s the final lap of the final race of the World Superbike titles, and 17-year-old Alessandra (“you can call me Sandy”) Stoner, daughter of Casey, is in the lead. If she wins this race, she’ll become the first woman in the world to win the World Superbike title. And the youngest.

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Sandy is exiting turn 10, a super-tight right-hander on her Aprilia RSV4RFT. Her sensor-laden dashboard tells her a bike is trying to come in underneath her. And it’s right, as sensor-laden dashboards usually are. And it’s not just any bike, or any rider.

It’s Ducati-mounted Valentino Rossi, running second in the race and first in the championship. He’s 50 years old now, and a grumpy old bugger; booted out of the Moto GP for unacceptable aggression at the age of 49, he’s made no secret of the fact that he never did forgive Casey for his “Obviously your ambition outweighed your talent” jibe in 2011 — and he’s decided that right here, right now, is his final chance for Stoner revenge. He and Sandy might share the same birthday, but friends they are not. He’s going to take her down.

CAPTION: Base model RSV4 RR is dripping with technology and a whole bunch of info on the dashboard. It even has cruise control which would be very handy down that really, really long back straight.

Then, suddenly, Valentino’s dash-mounted iPhone 19 lights up. Mid-corner, he glances down at the screen and sees the face of a furious Casey Stoner, giving Valentino a big thumbs-down sign! Casey has hacked Rossi’s phone and has remote-control of the Ducati 1499! Casey slams on Rossi’s front brake and, in an instant, the bike low-sides and goes down, sending the unfortunate old Italian onto the tarmac and across the track, cursing “Sei uno stronzo Aussie!” all the way.

Back in the grandstand, Casey smiles as he terminates the phone-call. “Gotcha, ya bastard,” he whispers.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, the day is coming when you’ll be able to phone your daughter’s superbike and tell it to slow down. Or speed up. Or engage traction control. Or disengage wheelie control. Or grab the front brake and take a dive.

In fact, not only is that day coming, it’s virtually here already.

CAPTION: Ground control to Major Tom. Ground Control to Major Tom. Take your protein pills and put your helmet on.

Allow me to introduce the 2017 Aprilia RSV4, the bike that redefines the term “phone a friend”. Your phone’s in-built GPS is able to tell your RSV4 precisely where you are — like 15 metres into turn number 10 at Phillip Island — and you are able to tell your phone that you would like a little more wheelie control here, but a little less traction control, thanks very much. And your phone will pass on that info to your bike.

Yep, motorcycle technology sure has come a long way since case-fed reed valves. And little wonder. With 201 horses hiding behind that fairing (you wouldn’t think they’d fit, hey?), there aren’t many people on the face of the earth — Valentino, Casey and Sandy included, I reckon — who wouldn’t be thankful for a little help to control the stampede.

CAPTION: Tail borrows styling cues from Starship Enterprise. Performance is similar.

Of course, any of us willing to stump up 25 or 30 grand for an RSV4 are unlikely to find ourselves dicing with Valentino in turn 10 on the island. Much more likely, we would ride this masterpiece out the back of Baskerville every Saturday afternoon, make our friends insanely jealous, polish it frequently, and maybe do a few laps of Barbagallo or Collie once or twice a year. Would we get our knees down at 100mph? Maybe you would. Not me.

But, hey. There’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. It’s one of the joys of modern life. All you need is a fat cheque book or a friendly bank manager and you too can plug you and your iPhone into 21st Century MotoGP technology.

CAPTION: Mirrors — to keep an eye on Valentino, presumably.

Aprilia has been an enthusiastic techno-phile for most of its relatively short history. The little (well, little-ish) Italian  company invented the ride-by-wire throttle, now considered business-as-usual at the performance end of motorcycle fuelling technology. It also pioneered Pneumatic Valve Actuation Systems.

I would explain the benefits of PVAS but, since I have absolutely no idea how it works or why you’d bother, I won’t.

CAPTION: RF model gets Ohlins.

The company certainly has been courageous in trying new ideas, and using whatever technology is available to make its products work. Most of us remember those wonderful RS250 two strokes from the late 1990s that ran Suzuki RG250 engines.

And, until the RSV4 came along, Aprilia’s open-class sports bikes were powered by Austrian-made Rotax engines. The company flirted with V-twins and in-line triples before settling on the now-common V4 format for its own in-house big-bores.

That engine was debuted on the world stage in 2009 by Roman Max Biaggi who took it to a WSB podium finish nine times, and the top step once. Not a bad debut. The following year Max and the RSV4 won the championship, and they did it again in 2012. Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli proved anyone could do it when he won in 2014. Well. Maybe not ANYone.

CAPTION: RR gets Sachs. Probably adequate, we reckon.

The RSV4 comes in two models this year — the RSV4RR and RSV4RF. They are identical machines, except the RF gets Ohlins suspension, lighter wheels, brighter paintwork, and a price tag about $5-and-a-bit-k heavier.  So they share that motor — all 999.6cc, 65-degree V-four of it, which reaches its 201hp at a heady 13,000 revs and maximum torque (115 Nm) at 10,500. Top speed is said to be 286kmh (not that anyone cares) and weight is 180kg. There are more detailed specifications down the bottom of the page.

Would I like one? Hell yeah. Last week I tried to put my name down for a quick squirt, but was told the first shipment was sold-out before it even arrived in Australia. Another shipment is due around August. If I do get a ride, I’ll take my phone with me.

See you at Baskerville.

CAPTION: That’ll be me, taking the off-ramp at South Perth on the RF.

 

CAPTION: … and the Convention Centre exit, on the RR.

 

APRILIA RSV4 – RR & RF: Technical Specifications

[RF data in brackets]

Engine type Aprilia longitudinal 65° V-4 cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid cooling system, double overhead camshafts (DOHC), four valves per cylinder
Fuel Unleaded petrol
Bore and stroke 78 x 52.3 mm
Total engine capacity 999.6 cc
Compression ratio 13.6:1
Maximum power at crankshaft 201 HP (148 kW) at 13,000 rpm
Maximum torque at crankshaft 115 Nm at 10.500 rpm
Fuel system Airbox with front dynamic air intakes. 4 Marelli 48-mm throttle bodies with 8 injectors and latest generation Ride-By-Wire engine management.
Choice of three different engine maps selectable by the rider with bike in motion: T (Track), S (Sport), R (Race)
Ignition Magneti Marelli digital electronic ignition system integrated in engine control system, with one spark plug per cylinder and “stick-coil”-type coils
Starter Electric
Exhaust 4 into 2 into 1 layout, two oxygen sensors, lateral single silencer with ECU-controlled bypass valve and integrated trivalent catalytic converter (Euro 4)
Alternator Flywheel mounted 450 W alternator with rare earth magnets
Lubrication Wet sump lubrication system with oil radiator and two oil pumps (lubrication and cooling)
Gearbox 6-speed cassette type gearbox
1st: 39/15 (2.600)
2nd: 33/16 (2.063)
3rd: 34/20 (1.700)
4th: 31/21 (1.476)
5th: 31/23 (1.348)
6th: 34/27 (1.259)
Gear lever with Aprilia Quick Shift electronic system (AQS)
Clutch Multi-disc oil-bath, with mechanical slipper system
Primary drive Straight cut gears and integrated flexible coupling, drive ratio: 73/44 (1.659)
Secondary drive Chain: Drive ratio: 41/16 (2.562)
Traction management APRC System (Aprilia Performance Ride Control), which includes Traction Control (ATC), Wheelie Control (AWC), Launch Control (ALC), cruise control (ACC) and speed limiter (APL), all of which can be configured and deactivated independently
Frame Aluminium dual beam chassis with pressed and cast sheet elements
Available adjustments:

  • headstock position and rake
  • engine height
  • swingarm pin height

Non adjustable Sachs steering damper
[Adjustable Öhlins steering damper]

Front suspension Sachs fork Æ 43 mm stanchions; [Öhlins NIX fork with TIN surface treatment]. Forged billet aluminium radial calliper mountings. Adjustable spring preload and hydraulic compression and rebound damping. Wheel travel: 120 mm
Rear suspension Double braced aluminium swingarm; mixed low thickness and sheet casting technology.
Sachs monoshock, fully adjustable in: hydraulics in compression and rebound, spring preload [Öhlins TTX monoshock with piggy-back, fully adjustable in: spring preload, wheelbase and hydraulic compression and rebound damping]. New progressive linkage. Wheel travel 130 mm
Brakes Front: Dual 330-mm diameter floating stainless steel disc with lightweight stainless steel rotor and aluminium flange with 6 pins. Brembo M50 monobloc radial callipers with 4 Æ 30 mm opposing pistons. Sintered pads. Radial pump and metal braided brake hose
Rear: 220 mm diameter disc; Brembo calliper with two Æ 32 mm separate pistons. Sintered pads. Pump with integrated tank and metal braided hose

Bosch 9.1 MP ABS with cornering function, adjustable to 3 maps equipped with RLM (Rear wheel Lift-up Mitigation) (can be disabled).

Wheel rims Aprilia aluminium alloy rims with 3 split spokes, [forged aluminium alloy, completely machined, 5 split spokes].
Front: 3.5″X17″
Rear: 6″X17″
Tyres Radial tubeless.
Front: 120/70 ZR 17
Rear: 200/55 ZR 17 (alternative: 190/50 ZR 17; 190/55 ZR 17)
Fuel tank 18.5 litres (4-litre reserve included)
Price RSV4 RR – $24,990 (+ORC)
RSV4 Superpole – $30,790 (+ORC)

CAPTION: See those pieces of aluminium above the muffler and below the tail? They’re footpegs. For your passenger. Snigger snigger. Guffaw guffaw. Ba ha ha ha. Ah, funny buggers, those Italians.

 

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1 Comment on "ET phone home — Aprilia’s open class rocketship: just a phonecall away from the future"

  1. Dave Gaunt | June 21, 2017 at 5:53 pm |

    Excellent article Pete. Very funny story re what might be in 10 years time!!😄 It sounds like an absolute weapon so look forward to seeing it in the flesh.

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