Mazlow Petosa got some seat time on two of Aprilia’s finest machines at their Racers Days program. Here are his thoughts after riding both on the same day on the same track.
Quick Comparison – 2018 Aprilia RSV4 RF vs. 2019 Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory
Story by Mazlow Petosa
Photos by CaliPhotography
At Buttonwillow Raceway during their Racers Day program, Aprilia USA brought out a fleet of demo bikes for owners and fans to rip around the track with. I had not previously ridden an Aprilia, and opportunities to ride brand new bikes on track are few and far between. Needless to say, I did not hesitate to secure myself a spot. The bike to ride this year was of course the 2019 RSV4 1100 Factory. The Tuono 1100, Shiver, and Dorsoduro were also available. Moto Club Santa Monica, a local Aprilia dealership, was also there with a 2018 RSV4 1000 RF. Victor and Guillem of Moto Club flew by me on track, exploiting the full grip of their Pirelli tires in an empty A group. It was a great day full of the V-4 song with gear displays from Dainese LA and Orange County. By sundown, I had logged one session on the 2019 RSV4 1100 Factory, three sessions on the 2018 RSV4 RF, and two sessions on my own 2007 Honda CBR600RR.
Unfortunately, that’s not enough time to do a full review on the RSV4 monsters, but it was enough to notice some differences between them. On paper, the improvements themselves could be described as pretty standard. More power, new brakes, and a bigger engine, though the figures are getting pretty outrageous for turn-key performance. The 1100 Factory makes 217 hp (+16) and 89 lb-ft (+5). The front brakes have been updated from the Brembo M50 to the Stylema caliper. The tire difference on that day is worth noting as well, with the 1100 Factory on Pirelli Rosso Corsa IIs and the 1000 RF on Pirelli Supercorsas. Both models had Aprilia Ride Control (TC, WC, ABS, Corner ABS) with three ride modes along with quickshifters and auto-blippers.
Acceleration on the 2018 1000 RF was savage. Wheelie control catches just as the front end gets light, and the bars wiggle back and forth as my brain struggles to keep up with the engine. That does mean it wasn’t fun. It felt like a race bike, requiring skills beyond mine to approach the boundaries of what it was capable of. It was incredible; exactly how I wanted the 1000 RF to feel. With just a flick of the wrist, the way it delivered more torque than I thought I could handle, leaving me speechless, smiling, and a little scared.
With 100 extra cubes, the 2019 1100 Factory is inherently going to be more powerful. However, it’s the ECU and traction control that are the stars of the show. Torque delivery feels more like a consistent wall of support, growing predictably over the rev range. I was much more confident coming out of corners, smoothly adding power at angle rather than standing the bike up and unleashing the beast. The chassis (and my brain) didn’t feel like it had to adjust to a huge jump in power, despite the actual numbers being higher. Refined is the word that comes to mind. You know you’re going fast, but feel completely comfortable doing so.
There was no lack of braking power on the 1000 RF, but I could sense an interface between my finger and the caliper. After loading the front end, it felt like something continued to add brake pressure when I felt like my finger was held still. I have not spent a lot of time braking hard on ABS bikes, so this could be a lack of experience. Whatever the reason, I struggled to adapt to it. Unpredictability under braking often led to staying on the binders too long, but once the Ohlins suspension settled I felt right at home. Tuning the top-spec components would lead to an even better experience. Fear was definitely a part of every session on the 1000 RF, but every corner entry and exit reminded me I was on an Aprilia. Getting even close to the apex and launching toward space on the way out was incredibly rewarding, even if I was just holding on for the ride.
The 1100 Factory brakes were an area of noticeable improvement. Strong bite and consistency led to quickly gaining confidence. In one session of eight laps, I was dragging knees more easily than on my own CBR600RR. Modulating brake pressure while tipping it in was a joy. The new Brembo Stylema calipers and ABS software worked beautifully in combination with the lever. Because braking required less mental effort, I was able to be more consistent with my lines and felt more in control overall. I was riding the 1100 Factory, rather than merely holding on to it.
Both completely lived up to the Aprilia name in my mind, and I will remember my first on track Aprilia experience forever. The 2018 1000 RF feels like a race bike always on the edge. Every twist of the throttle just isn’t enough for the engine, and the whole experience is a sensory overload. I loved every minute of riding, but I was silent in between sessions as I prepared my brain and body for what felt like the next Buttonwillow Stock 1000 race. After riding the 1100 Factory, I could not stop talking about how easy it was to ride. It felt like a really fast track day bike with a high performance threshold as opposed to always being on edge. Every bit as glorious as the 1000 RF was intense. I rode my CBR600RR for two sessions that day. Absolutely everything it had at 14,000RPM was less than either RSV4 delivered squirreling out of a corner with only the traction control between me and empty space. Both are exciting machines, but with shockingly different characters. Which experience would you choose: brutal race bike or capable track day monster?