Aprilia SXV and RXV New Model Introduction

A bargain for the off-road and competitive user


The odds are good you have never heard of Cuddesbackville, NY.

You might be uninterested to know about its namesake, War of 1812 Col. Cuddesback, or its quaint architecture and ye olde antique shoppes. However, Aprilia decided to use the nearby Oakland Valley Raceway to introduce their new V-Twin SXV Supermoto and RXV Enduro to the US motorcycle press.

Interested now?

We thought you might be, so Motorcycle.com sent both intrepid dirt-riding, web-mastering, photo-taking Executive Editor Alfonse "Fonzie" Palaima as well as grizzled Senior Editor Gabe Ets-Hokin to check it out.

Three hundred pound V-twin enduro, anybody?
But officer, they LOOK street legal!

The engine is quite a design feat. It uses a 77 degree V-angle to achieve smoothness as well as compact size; no balance shaft is required, according to Aprilia. To aid compact dimensions, cylinders are built into the engine case, with replaceable wet-sleeve liners. The crankshaft is a single piece to be light and small as well. Cylinder heads use just a single overhead cam to further save space, compressing mixture to a 12:1 ratio in the 5.5 engine and 12.5:1 in the 4.5. There are four titanium valves per head, which sits atop an 80 by 55mm bore in the 5.5 motor, 76 by 49.5mm in the 4.5. I'd call that extremely oversquare; those dimensions allow the SXV 4.5 rev to over 13,000 rpm. Zing!

Engine management is handled by an ECU, controlling 38 mm throttle bodies in the 4.5, 40mm jobbies on the 5.5. The motard version is designed to rev higher, while the RXV enduro makes less power, although it is supposed to be "torquier at low to medium rpm". With just a few different parts, Aprilia has developed four distinct motorcycles from the same power unit.

A 450-550cc V-twin designed to be light enough for off-road racing while making unheard-of levels of power is a wet dream for many motorcyclists, street or dirt.

The entire powerplant is designed to get the most rpm and power out of the smallest, lightest package. No expense seems to have been spared to accomplish this; expensive materials like aluminum silicon alloy, magnesium and titanium are used liberally, resulting in a motor that makes a claimed 70 HP with a racing exhaust (on the SXV 5.5; the SXV 4.5 makes 60, while the RXV 5.5 makes 58 and the RXV 4.5 makes 55) while weighing just 71.4 pounds. At this point in the presentation, we were ready to write checks for just the engines, which would actually be small enough to qualify as carry-on luggage. My Cuisinart weighs more (with the bread-making attachment).

However, there is an entire motorcycle attached to this jewel-like motor, so we pressed on with the technical presentation. The frame is a lovely steel trellis press-fitted into forged aluminum sideplates, stiffened by the use of the non-counterblanaced motor as a stressed member. The aluminum swingarm sets the SXV and RXV apart; the motard's unit is wide enough to allow up to a 6.5 inch rear wheel.

We're all out of "well-hung" jokes, but this motor is well hung.
We were told to save one for Ashley...

'The entire powerplant is designed to get the most rpm and power out of the smallest, lightest package.'

Suspension and brakes seem to have received as much thought. The front forks are jumbo 48mm upside-down units on the SXV, 45mm on the enduro, adjustable for preload as well as rebound and compression damping. The rear shock is a large, expensive-looking item as well, and is also adjustable for preload, compression and rebound, although it adds a separate high-speed damping circuit. Brakes are a radial-mounted four-piston caliper and single 320mm wave-pattern floating disc in front with a floating single-piston caliper and smaller wave disc in the back.

Stock tires are a little disappointing. Instead of exotic hand-cut rain slicks or the latest Euro-edgy street moto tires, we get garden-variety Dunlop D208s on the SXV, a 120/70-17 in front and a 180/55-17 in the back for the supermoto. The RXV gets standard-sized dirt tires, a 90/90-21 leading the way with a 140/80-18 following.

"I know nothing about riding in the dirt!" whined the Senior Editor over the phone. "You've got to come with me to this thing and tell the readers what the Enduro's like to ride!"

Twist my arm, why don't you? The next thing I knew, I was transported to Oakland Valley raceway, ready to apply my Fonzie Sense to the slick new dirt bikes the Aprilia people had lined up for us to ride. The track was short but had uphill, downhill, roots, ruts and rocks, all covered in the rich, damp earth that was perfect for getting down n' dirty.

Approaching one of the bikes, the exotic appeal of the Italian brand name slowly fades into memory because it has to; fear of crashing a bike crashes bikes. Even if the name says "you can't afford me," you will soon find out that you can and will! Grab hold of the grips and tip the bike upright, while peering down to kick the stand up and the spring-loaded thing is gone. Sproing! Throughout the day I wondered if this spring-loaded side-stand was more harmful than helpful when each time I tried to steady the bike on uneven hilly dirt hills, it snapped back up--causing me to lower it by hand many times--but I think in the end it would grow to be a good thing.

'Push the button and twist the throttle; yes, it's got an electric starter for the lazier dual-purpose riders out there.'

If the bike doesn't quite fit you perfectly, it's not a problem; the tapered aluminum bars are adjustable forward or back several millimeters. However, the bar height was perfect for me, with no immediate adjustment needed. I would make a note that maybe due to the edgy fairing panels that the tank-to-seat transition was too minimal. Without a noticeable hump or bump or edge, I found myself sliding ever more and more forward, performing my own hernia exams with the gas cap while riding. Turn your head and cough!

The rear end of the saddle has a little diamond-shaped bump on it and I would add my own seat if I were to own one of these bikes. Overall though, rider geometry is spot on for my size; not once did I feel cramped or stretched too far.

Push the button and twist the throttle; yes, it's got an electric starter for the lazier dual-purpose riders out there. Thwapp potato-potato thwapp... I'm just a bit confused about what to expect versus what I hear, but there's a 449cc/549cc 77 degree V-twin motor stuffed underneath the seat and it's delicious. It's a little bit raspy, and a little bit thumpy; like rock 'n' roll or peanut butter and chocolate.

Fueling seemed pretty good, but I noticed that the bike was running a bit lean, bluing the header pipes with only 35 miles on the bike. But that could simply be the break-in and conditions we had for the test; surely it was the other testers, it's never us!

On hand to help the editors with technical questions about the bike or riding was S2 Champion Stefano Pessari. He was also there to make us look bad, I'm sure, but the subtleties get lost in translation. Tracking the 5'2" rider around the course was truly unique, to see the man rarely sit on the bike, despite his inseam hovering only 2 inches above the saddle. I was more successful however, watching the guy ride from the sidelines, as he would quickly leave me in the dust when I rode along behind him. He made quick work of the creek crossing that I would carefully ride into and through; he would glide across it in a standup wheelie at three times my pace! It was amazing to watch the guy ride.

Al cramming for his hernia exams...
Al made a pretty good showing for himself the first time out on the Supermoto track.
Like MO itself, this brake pedal won't fold. Also like MO, it's worth about $70.

While I did, even when seated far from the track, I could only then hear a faint whining noise buried beneath the quiet rumble of the "extremely civilized and silent running" V-twin powerplant, an engine that conforms to Euro 2 and CARB Green-sticker standards even without a catalytic converter, by the way. I do wonder what that whine is.

The 4.5 has a lighter feel and is easy to ride, but I found that the kitted 450 stalled more often when turning around and in the slow technical stuff, probably due to peakier power delivery and slightly lighter moving parts. When these bikes do stall, it's not a smooth operation, jamming the rider into the bars with the abrupt power loss. However, this just means an adjustment period, and one well worth enduring as the bike is basically fast as flaming poop and a total blast to ride.

The RXV rides on a fully adjustable set of suspenders front and rear, which can be dialed-in to suit just about any rider and terrain. Hovering three inches higher than the SVX, there's 9.5 inches of clearance and ample travel front and rear. Thru the warped and woody landscape of the eastern Tri-State area just an hour west of NYC, you'll find terrain just thick enough you'll want the championship-proven RXV to haul yer ass around to find the truffles or droids that you've "been looking for".

It bounds over fallen trees and rock walls with ease, careens through rutted and rooted earthen trails, and tracks beautifully when combined with skill and a big bag of luck. Nimbly hopping from root to rock and over hill and dale - Hi Dale! - the suspension "rocks" as contributor Martin Hackworth would put it (over and over again). We didn't jump, by the way, so I never bottomed out the suspension having nothing to jump but nooks and crannies. Aprilia set up an enduro-type course instead of a motocross track, thank God! However, the suspension seemed to work as well as I needed it to for exploring the outdoors. Similarly, the brakes were stellar; smooth and powerful, although the foot brake lever wasn't articulated and bent upward on my one and only fall, a low-side slide on the wet grass. A new rear brake lever will run you about $70, according to Apriliasupermoto.com.

The testing day planned for us scheduled the editors switching bikes after the lunch break of champions - pizza and chicken wings - power food! Trading in the RXV for the SVX makes you wish life could always be this simple and fun. I tested the asphalt waters, learned to swim, and promptly went back to the trail for the lesser structured right-of-ways. Gabe fears the dirt and so I needed to stuff away my supermoto dreams and get the RXV report. I'm happier when I have no rules anyway. ("Golly gee, officer... I thought that was the road," Fonzie was overheard telling the police when stopped for riding though the water fountain in the center of town. "I thought it was the water crossing on the map...")

It was now time to ride, so I suited up and walked out to the track entrance, where four SXV supermoto bikes were lined up, ready to ride. The other journalists got on track before me, so all that was left to ride was a race-kitted 550; poor me.

'The centerpiece of this bike is the motor, and it really works.'

This is how you ride a Supermoto when you do it for a living...
...and here's how you ride one when you don't.
It's stable enough to play Ricky Roadracer for those uncomfortable with sliding into turns.

The bike started up with a sharp "pow" and a growling, metallic roar that sounded like a cross between a single and a twin, yet was much quieter than a derestricted single might be. The clutch pull was light, and the gearshift clicked into place easily as I gave it a bit of gas and headed onto the track.

The bike has tall gearing, more like a streetbike or roadracer than your typical supermoto machine, but I was still surprised by a front wheel that wanted to come up off the ground. Fueling was a little soggy off the bottom, but the bike pulled hard to redline, lofting the front wheel with just a slight tug on the bars.

The centerpiece of this bike is the motor, and it really works. It delivers a strong dose of power from such a lightweight, compact package, rivaling a stock SV650 with much less displacement and bulk. At low RPM, the motor has the immediate grunt and visceral feel of a single-cylinder motard racer, but without the thumping vibration. As the numbers climb on the ridiculous tachometer, your eyes want to bulge against your goggles in disbelief as five digits appear. Power keeps coming on, although vibration gets intense over 10,000 RPM.

We tested the bikes in both 450 and 550 cc displacements, with and without the factory exhausts and injection re-mapping, and I was amazed at how different the four configurations felt. The 450 motor has a lighter, faster-revving feel to it that makes similar power to a highly-strung single-cylinder motor, without the heavy vibration. In stock trim, it was remarkably quiet, but suffered from imperfect carburetion off-idle. The new mapping and race exhaust cured both conditions; the sound, torque and near-perfect fueling made the race kit-equipped 450 my favorite bike.

Favorite until I had more seat time on the 550 with the race exhaust. The 550 motor is an incredible thing; it's a single when you want it to be and a manic, grunting middleweight twin when you want that, snarfing straights like Flipper eating herring. At high RPM, the motor is buzzier than you would want a street motor to be, highlighting the powerplant's racing origins and intentions.

The SXV's brakes help convert the bike into a rolling physics laboratory. The four-pot front caliper and single 320mm front disc is incredibly strong, strong enough to fling a ham-fisted rider over the bars or to perform rolling stoppies from just about any speed. I noticed some fading during the morning session, with the lever trapping my finger under hard deceleration, but the Aprilia techs must have taken note of this and given the bikes a good brake-bleeding, as I noticed no fade in the afternoon. The rear brake is strong and sensitive as well, allowing the rider to choose the precise moment to lock n' slide his rear tire.

Suspension and chassis seem well-suited to this bike, if not perfect. The stout forks worked well, although they seemed to have soft springs that required smooth riding on the pavement and would bottom out on the jumps and whoops of the dirt portion of the Motard course. Heavy application of brakes -- engine or disc -- caused a front-end chatter. Both of these issues would be quickly tuned away by an owner, and the multiple adjustability and high-quality appearance of the components make me think such modifications would be simple and inexpensive.

'I wish I could say Aprilia pulled out a stack of license plates and sent us out to terrorize the local Amish and antique-shoppers, but they didn't. However, there's enough evidence here to make the case for the SXV being a superlative streetbike...'

Handling is about what it should be for a factory supermotard. Honestly, it's hard to build a bad-handling one. Any bike with sticky road tires and expensive suspension that weighs in around 300 pounds is going to give the rider plenty of confidence, filling her with a sense of control most street bikes can only hint at. Oakland Valley is one of the bumpier supermoto tracks I've ridden on, but the suspension and frame handled it well, with quick, precise steering and an ability to hold any line through a corner, no matter how crazy.

The Aprilia was happy to accommodate either a motocrosser's slide-and-drive cornering style or a roadracer's knee-dragging, smooth arc with its wide bars and stable chassis. I expected to hate the Dunlop D208s, but they stuck well when cornering and didn't feel very heavy, although they are basically slicks in even hard-packed dirt.

I wish I could say Aprilia pulled out a stack of license plates and sent us out to terrorize the local Amish and antique-shoppers, but they didn't. However, there's enough evidence here to make the case for the SXV being a superlative streetbike...

It's not quite perfect, though. The bike's forward-biased weight distribution -- 54 percent front and 46 percent rear--allows Supermoto racers to easily slide the rear wheel, but could be unfamiliar-feeling to non-motarding street riders. Holding the front brake while downshifting and stamping on the rear binder will result in a chirping, smoking rear tire and a chattering front end. This looks impressive but will probably get a street rider arrested.

Also, the fat 180-section rear tire looks great and allows a wide range of rubber choices, but takes away nimbleness that may or may not be missed by street riders. Finally, at 300 pounds or so wet it's heavier than other supermotos I've ridden, which requires that much more skill and caution to get around a racetrack quickly.

I wish I could say Aprilia pulled out a stack of license plates and sent us out to terrorize the local Amish farmers and antique-shoppers, but they didn't. However, there's enough evidence to make the case for the SXV being a superlative streetbike, despite a seat that will probably punish a street rider and a fuel tank that will mercifully require a fuel stop in less than 80 miles. Wind protection is non-existent and there's no passenger seat or luggage rack, either.

Here's a couple of MOrons MOtarding.

Despite being a little Spartan, supermotos are great on the street because of their nimble character, incredible brakes, grippy tires, suspension that is tuned for every imaginable surface, light weight and torquey motors. They also can be a pain on the street because of high vibration, pesky maintenance requirements, kick-starting, and unciviliy loud exhausts. The SXV addresses much of this, with a quiet, reliable motor that makes power even the most high-strung thumper can only dream of, smooth operation at most RPM, electric start and a relatively quiet exhaust note. There are Supermoto-like machines that may be better for the street, but none that can out-perform factory racers on a Supermoto course as well as commute to work five times a week. It's the 'motarder's version of a GSXR1000.

Aprilia will probably bring in about 400 SXVs for 2007, but unfortunately these are for off-road and competition use only. Those of you in less-regulated states could probably get plates for these bikes and should do it. At $8,699 for the 550 and $8,399 for the 450, the SXV is a real bargain for those seeking a turn-key Supermoto, with power, handling and components that would usually be found on machines costing far more. It could give pause to the horsepower wars being waged by larger manufacturers, spurring the introduction of lighter, better-handling bikes that benefit a rider even if he chooses not to ride at triple-digit speeds on a racetrack or a smooth, winding road. Heavy demand and excitement for the SXV will doubtless spur Aprilia to overcome the issues they have with the DOT and EPA (they said the DOT and EPA require a three-year warranty for emissions components, something I've never heard of) and sell them as streetbikes.

Despite Aprilia claiming the bike and chassis were co-developed for the Supermoto and enduro racing applications, I think the racing program is a way to cleverly showpiece a marvel of a powerplant, a motor that could propel a whole line of vehicles, from an RS250-chassis sportbike to a basic SV650-like standard. Would such bikes conquer the sportbike and cruiser-dominated US market? No. But they could steer it into a new direction, even if it steers on a howling back tire and leaves a long black stripe in its wake.

RXV 4.5 & 5.5
Technical Specifications Provided by Apilia
(550 cc engine specifications in brackets)
Engine 77° V twin four stroke. Liquid cooled. Single overhead cam with rocker operated exhaust valves, chain timing drive, 4 valve heads, titanium valves.
Fuel Lead-free petrol.
Bore x stroke 76 x 49.5 mm (80 x 55 mm)
Total displacement 449 cc (549 cc).
Compression ratio 12.5:1 (12:1).
Fuel system Integrated engine management system controlling ignition and fuel injection.
Throttle body 38 mm. (40 mm)
Ignition Electronic.
Starting Electric starting.
Alternator 340 W.
Lubrication Dry sump with external oil tank. Separate gearbox lubrication.
Gearbox 5 speed. Enduro gear ratios:
1st 12/31
2nd 13/25
3rd 15/23
4th 19/24
5th 21/22
Clutch Multiple discs in oil bath, cable operated.
Primary drive Spur gears. Transmission ratio: 22/56.
Final drive Chain. Transmission ratio: 15/48.
Frame Steel perimeter frame with alloy vertical members.
Front suspension Ø 45 mm upside down fork, double adjustment.
Rear suspension Box section aluminium swingarm with cast body.
Hydraulic monoshock with compression and rebound adjustment.
Brakes Front: Ø 270 mm stainless steel disc with floating caliper.
Rear: Ø 240 mm stainless steel disc with floating caliper.
Wheels Light alloy.
Front: 1.60 x 21"
Rear: 2.15 x 18"
Tyres Front: 90/90 x 21"
Rear: 140/80 x 18"
Dimensions Overall length: 2,222 mm
Overall width: 800 mm
Ground clearance: 396 mm
Seat height: 996 mm
Wheelbase: 1,495 mm
Fuel tank Capacity 7.8 litres
Colours Aprilia Black / Fluo Red

SXV 4.5 & 5.5
Technical Specifications Provided by Apilia
(550 cc engine specifications in brackets)
Engine 77° V twin four stroke. Liquid cooled. Single overhead cam with rocker operated exhaust valves, chain timing drive, 4 valve heads, titanium valves.
Fuel Lead-free petrol.
Bore x stroke 76 x 49.5 mm (80 x 55 mm)
Total displacement 449 cc (549 cc).
Compression ratio 12.5:1 (12:1).
Fuel system Integrated engine management system controlling ignition and fuel injection.
Throttle body 38 mm. (40 mm)
Ignition Electronic.
Starting Electric starting.
Alternator 340 W.
Lubrication Dry sump with external oil tank. Separate gearbox lubrication.
Gearbox 5 speed. Supermotard gear ratios:
1st 13/30
2nd 15/27
3rd 16/23
4th 20/23
5th 21/21
Clutch Multiple discs in oil bath, cable operated.
Primary drive Spur gears. Transmission ratio: 22/56.
Final drive Chain. Transmission ratio: 15/46 (16/46).
Frame Steel perimeter frame with alloy vertical members.
Front suspension Ø 48 mm upside down fork, double adjustment.
Rear suspension Box section aluminium swingarm with cast body.
Hydraulic monoshock with compression and rebound adjustment.
Brakes Front: Ø 320 mm stainless steel disc with radial caliper.
Rear: Ø 240 mm stainless steel disc with floating caliper.
Wheels Light alloy.
Front: 3.50 x 17"
Rear: 5.50 x 17"
Tyres Front: 120/70 x 17"
Rear: 180/55 x 17"
Dimensions Overall length: 2,220 mm
Overall width: 800 mm
Ground clearance: 318 mm
Seat height: 918 mm
Wheelbase: 1,495 mm
Fuel tank Capacity 7.8 litres
Colours Aprilia Black / Fluo Red

Provided by Aprilia

Photographs, technical data, specifications and colours refer to the italian market version and may be subject to change without prior notice. For detailed information on the technical characteristics of the vehicle sold in your country, contact an Aprilia dealer.

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