Aprilia is often overlooked in favour of its more fashionable Italian competitor – Ducati. But that’s a mistake riders make at their peril – because Aprilia’s V-twin superbike range can offer similar performance, at a lower price. Best known for smaller-capacity machines before the RSV Mille was launched in 1998, Aprilia then roared straight into the big bike class with a vengeance – and has stayed there ever since.
The RSV’s 60° V-twin engine allowed a more compact package than Ducati’s 90° engine, while an aluminum beam frame gave a solid foundation to the chassis, made all the sharper by sophisticated sports suspension and top-spec Brembo brakes. Later models of RSV added even more power and better handling, while special ‘R’ and ‘Factory’ versions offered world-class Ohlins suspension packages and lightweight racing wheels as well as higher engine outputs.
The current RSV is an incredibly well-developed machine, although it lags behind the Ducati 1098 in outright performance. But it’s not the perfect machine for every rider. The layout of the engine and frame makes the RSV’s seat rather tall, which can dissuade shorter riders. This also gives a rather top-heavy feeling to the handling, which can be disconcerting for new riders, although many more experienced riders rave about the RSV’s handling, especially on track.