Page 1


28

Wednesday 30 march 2011 www.motorcyclenews.com

News BMW S1000RR track battle

ApriliA rSV4 FActory Aprc continued to suit your needs and then... simply open that throttle... And repeat; as soon as the apex pings into view, open the throttle. Hard. The Aprilia’s traction control system is so refined it’s almost unnoticeable. There’s no sign of it coughing, stuttering or dropping off speed. There’s also no sign of the Aprilia getting out of shape from wheel spin or slip. Power is metered rather than neutered as on the BMW. Therefore it’s possible to ask for everything in the horsepower and torque department at any angle. What you get is controlled performance that allows the Aprilia to be effective but safe for the rider. It is a total mind-melt trying to dismiss all your previously-gained knowledge about throttle control. Where you should usually be feathering the throttle, searching out drive and grip, on the Aprilia you nail it, wide open. The result is seamless drive without a twitch and the man behind wondering how. That 65° V4 is as smooth as the first Guinness of an evening. There’s no step in delivery, just strong drive. Because the engine is giving most of its guts on the way out of the turn at the point everyone else is thinking about picking their bike upright, the Aprilia likes to wheelie, especially off bumps. Its suspension is stiff, but then it is a race bike and feel is everything when chasing down fractions of a second. Hurrah, then, for adjustable wheelie control. The Aprilia lacks the outright 185+bhp

it’s possible to ask for everything in the horsepower and torque department at any angle

electronic rider aids controlled via left-hand switch

mcn’s trevor franklin clout of the BMW, giving every indication of about 175bhp to the rear wheel. But when you are able to exploit this power to its full, the Aprilia is untouchable on a twisting circuit. Not just through engine performance, mind – the Italian’s chassis performance is just as illuminating, or smile-inducing in our case. Those race bike dimensions and seating position come to the fore; the Aprilia is the most agile bike here. Pick a point into a corner and it will stick to it and retain a clean line all the way through. Tightening corner? Not a problem. Simply roll off, touch the front and rear brake and lean further if needs be. Got to change line to avoid totalling someone else’s tailpiece? Guaranteed it will never happen with the RSV4, because the bike is in tune to every twitch and muscle spasm. If there’s one problem with an Aprilia RSV4 APRC, it’s that it has to be ridden at ten-tenths to get the best from it. Anything less nets only a half smile…

Aprilia quickshifter deemed to be the best of the bunch

Aprilia lacks outright power but performance is so exploitable (antiwheelie is switched off!)

Brembo four-piston radial calipers par for the course here

ducAti 1198Sp £17,795 FASteSt lAp time: 1m07.26sec Getting the ducati to turn quickly proves hard work

Slither of silver reminds you of aluminium construction

Quickshifter proved troublesome so was disconnected for test

oil-cooled clutch does away with trademark dry clutch rattle

3rd

With so much WSB heritage coursing through it, you’d expect the 1198 to be a demonic thing capable of track glory. As such, it is mad… but track glory? Not today, I’m afraid. Booming airbox, bright red paint – interrupted on the larger 18-litre tank by a length-long strip of its aluminium construction – and two massive slugs delivering a claimed 170bhp and 97ftlb of torque is something to behold, unlike the vibes through the seat at 8000rpm. It’s even better when pulling the pin to feel and hear the Ducati lunge out of corners. And boy, does it drive without interference from its traction control. To help lay down drive is Ducati’s own quickshift system. As a rule, quickshifters are foolproof aids to help reduce the time cogs take to mesh, using the clutch and closed throttle to reduce the engine load on the gearbox. Except our test bike suffered a misfire that was traced to the quickshift unit. Two minutes later and with the shifter disconnected the Ducati was up and running. Even if it was working correctly, the Ducati would have struggled to better its position. Aside from the engine, the 1198SP’s strongest point is the front brake set up. Wow, they’re strong, highlighted by such a stable front end. Last-inch braking is a reality. But then getting the bike to turn quick enough is hard work. It stems from the forks springing back fast when releasing those stupendous brakes. The geometry of the bike goes back into straight-line stability and

requires a lot of physical input to drag it over and into the corner. Except it still runs wide. In keeping with allowed but minimal suspension changes, fork rebound and compression was attacked. The Ducati was much better, but still felt long and low and making it an effort to turn. Shifting more rider weight off the seat to help turn-in was a necessity. This caused problems getting the bike upright quickly enough to fire it out of the turns. Race teams spend a lot of time testing bikes for the perfect set up. But with road bikes, manufacturers have to think of ride comfort and stability – and the 1198SP is a perfect example of this. 75% of SP owners will be perfectly happy with its road and occasional track day set up. Anyone who wants Ducati’s legendary handling and quick lap times will have to work at chassis set up.

Booming airbox, bright red paint and two massive slugs delivering 170bhp is something to behold mcn’s trevor franklin


test  

180bhp in a bike the size of a 600 plus advanced rider aids make the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC unbeatable.