Best Sportbike of 2017: Aprilia RSV4
Well, after our recent two-part Superbike Shootout – road and track – there was little doubt who had to win this category. The Aprilia RSV4 RR cleaned up in both venues. We hate to be so predictable, but that 180-horsepower V-Four in a chassis of the gods is just too much for the competition to overcome, again. Not that Aprilia didn’t make it better for 2017.
The vanilla RSV4 RR that won our test(s) got an up-and-down quickshifter and Brembo M50 calipers gripping larger 330mm discs for ’17. The upscale RSV4 RF adds the latest generation Öhlins NIX fork and TTX shock to the parts manifest, along with lighter forged wheels – but sort of blows through most budgets by jacking the price tag from $16,999 to $23k. If you can swing it, go ahead and swing, but the RR was fine by us. Both bikes received a huge electronics upgrade, including a swell new TFT instrument panel, and wait for it – cruise control.
“It’s phenomenal that you can get a magical piece of Italian exotica like this for less than the price Honda charges for its CBR with the optional auto-blipping quickshifter,” said EiC Duke after ripping around Auto Club Speedway in our shootout. “Not only is the ’Priller far more exotic, it also boasts Cornering ABS, independent wheelie control and on-the-fly-adjustable traction control by dedicated finger/thumb toggles. Oh, and let’s not forget that mellifluous V-Four soundtrack that Honda probably wishes it could match like it could back in the glorious VFR days.”
These Italian V-Fours are bigly winning, and so is anybody fortunate enough to wrap their giblets around one. Bellissima!
Honorable Mention: Ducati Supersport
Former editor Troy Siahaan came back from the Supersport’s intro full of praise for Ducati’s new sportbike, and the rest of the MO staff is in favor of picking this one for what it represents as much as for how well it works: In a sportbike world gone full-race mode, with this one Ducati takes a step back, building a sportbike for people who like to ride on the road. That would be, of course, about 98% of us.
Ducati’s guiltier than most: The Panigales are magical on a race track, but you wouldn’t want to ride around on one much in a Miami summer. With the new Supersport, they say, they’re filling a niche between the Panigales and Multistradas – a regular old-fashioned sportbike you can actually ride out for a long weekend on the road. Heck, you can even get saddlebags.
Not that it’s not still a serious roadburner. They couldn’t call it Supersport if it wasn’t. Its 937 cc Testastretta 11º delivered 101 horsepower and 67 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheel of our 2017 Ducati Hypermotard, and Ducati says this one’s producing 80% of peak torque at just 3000 rpm. A new steel-trellis frame contains it, and if you want to go all Trump Tower, the upscale S model comes with an Öhlins shock, 48mm TiN-treated fork, and a quickshifter for both up and downshifts.
The big news, though, is more upright, more relaxed ergonomics. Clip-ons clip on above the top triple clamp, footpegs are less rearset, and the Supersport thankfully does not use its rider’s circulatory system as a radiator. Though it sports modern tech such as full ride-by-wire, ride modes, TC and ABS, the new SS is a throwback to the pre-sportbike-as-crackpipe era.
Trizzle summed it up thusly: “Whether you lean more towards sport or touring, the Supersport offers something to like for almost everyone. Touring riders looking for something smaller and lighter than a Multistrada will be pleased, as will sport riders looking for a less hardcore kind of middleweight. The beauty of the Supersport is the ability to modify and accessorize it to better accomplish either.
“As for me, I think I’ve found my new favorite Ducati. I’d even ride it to a trackday, burn laps, and ride home.”
Strong words! Yours for a mere $12,995, or $14,995 for the S model.