Talk about staying power. Ten years on and the Aprilia RSV4 platform is still the cream of the crop. With the RSV4 1100 Factory, however, the newest member of the RSV4 family is simply stunning. The way Aprilia has achieved this, though, is a little deceiving. Yes, the 1078cc V4 (sorta) shared with the Tuono 1100 sees some improvements the Tuono doesn’t get, but Aprilia found a way to integrate the increased power into the same magic chassis without upsetting its balance – a task which can’t be overstated. Riding the RSV4 1100, you can tell there’s more punch than before, but it doesn’t blow your socks off like the Ducati Panigale V4 S does. The senses have more time (although, not a lot more time) to process the incoming speed, and the chassis works its usual magic in placing you exactly where you want to be without any drama. The experience isn’t too far removed from the 1000cc RSV4, until you look down at the stopwatch and realize how much faster you were than before.
Beyond the speed and the tech, we still think the RSV4 1100 is a stunning looking motorcycle that has aged well; which shouldn’t be a surprise considering the great Miguel Galluzzi had a hand in penning the design. The MotoGP-inspired winglets don’t do much for some from an aesthetic POV, but if Aprilia insists they are functional and provide downforce (even if it is at high speeds), then we guess they can stay. It says something when other motorcycles have come and gone and yet the RSV4 1100 Factory wins our Sportbike of the Year award. It’s a damn good machine, fitting of the award. Kudos, Aprilia.
We know what you’re thinking. The Panigale V4 R is new this year and is supposed to be all the rage. Hell, you even rode one earlier this year and came away raving about it. Yep, sure did. However, four laps on the R model – a privately-owned R model, too – hardly constitutes a proper test of the machine. Had Ducati officially provided one to test properly, there’s a strong chance it could have bumped the Aprilia off the top spot. But they didn’t. Instead, last year’s winner, the Panigale V4 S, gets demoted one spot for 2019. To view this demotion as a slight to Ducati is entirely incorrect. The 1103cc V4 is a beast of an engine, and the electronics Ducati employ to harness all that power are next level. It’s just, in our minds, the Aprilia is a tiny bit better at combining big power with exceptional handling.
BMW fans are probably wondering about the S1000RR’s exclusion here. If you’ve read the First Ride Review of the BMW then the reason should be clear. The new S-Thou has the bones to make it a worthy contender, but its out-of-the-box tuning let it down severely. If and/or when those electronic niggles are addressed, this will be a different conversation.