Aprilia took advantage of the third round of MotoGP, making its sole appearance on North American soil to introduce a very exclusive machine. At the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, key members of Aprilia’s MotoGP staff, including Aprilia Racing team manager Romano Albesiano and team riders Aleix Espargaro and Scott Redding, took the covers off the latest evolution of the company’s flagship production sportbike, the RSV4.
This latest version, named the RSV4 RF LE, combines elements of old and new for the nearly decade old RSV4 platform. Ten years is definitely an eternity in motorcycle design, but as anyone who knows MO can tell you, the RSV4 is still one of our favorite sportbikes available today. Here, then, is Motorcycle.com’s quick take on the RSV4 RF LE.
As you might have guessed, the LE in the name stands for Limited Edition, and Aprilia isn’t kidding when it says this; the bike will only be sold in North America, and further still only 125 units will be made – 100 going to the U.S. while the rest head for Canada.
It was bound to happen sooner or later. Winglets are all the rage in MotoGP, and now the RSV4 RF LE becomes the first production sportbike to come so equipped. Derived from the winglets developed for the RS-GP MotoGP machine, the carbon fiber winglets on the LE are also removable, just like they are on the race bike. Whether or not they add any significant downforce was a question not fielded by the Aprilia reps at the time, but I’ll go ahead and make the obvious statement: Sure, in theory, the wings may have a beneficial impact in the right conditions; but let’s be honest, it’s all about appearances here.
Aprilia racing geeks and historians might be familiar with the livery on the LE, but for the rest of you, the grey, red, and green graphics on the LE are a tribute to Aprilia’s first world championship win. The year was 1987 and it was Aprilia’s first year in the 250cc category. At the twelfth round of the championship – the San Marino Grand Prix – Loris Reggiani was first across the finish line on an AF1 250 with graphics awfully similar to what you see here. Even the big “A” is a throwback to that first GP victory.
Owners of limited edition collectibles like to show others they own something rare, and what better way to do that than with a number plate? The RSV4 RF LE’s number plate is laser etched on the top triple clamp, so the owner knows exactly which of the 125 models is in their collection.
A missed opportunity if ever there was one, Aprilia claims the performance of the LE hasn’t changed. Not that we’re complaining about the 1000cc V4’s awesome capabilities, or its excellent Öhlins suspension, powerful Brembo brakes, and impressive electronics, but if you’re going to build an ultra exclusive machine, shouldn’t it encompass more than winglets and a paint job?
Aprilia is seemingly aware the LE isn’t a massive departure from the standard RF version and has priced it accordingly at $24,499US (or $25,495 CAD) – only a grand more than the standard RF. So, if you’ve been hankering for a rare bike but don’t have six figures to afford the ultra-collectible hardware, this could be your ticket. Assuming you live in North America, of course.