After a half-decade of sitting second chair to BMW’s S1000RR (Honorable Mention 2010, and again in 2015) Aprilia’s RSV4 finally, deservedly, secured Motorcycle.com’s 2016 Sportbike of the year award. Subjectively, the RSV and its V-Four engine have been a staff favorite every year since its introduction, but where does one go after having ascended the throne? For the 2017 RSV4 RR and RF, the answer is improved electronics.
Last year brought a variety of much needed mechanical upgrades to the RSV resulting in a 16-horsepower bump to a claimed 201 hp at the crank (measured rear wheel output of 179.5 at 13,700 rpm), effectively equalling BMW’s claimed 199 hp (measured rear wheel output 182.9 at 13,100 rpm). Although we didn’t conduct a multi-superbike shootout last year, there was a cage match between the RSV4 RR and Kawasaki’s then new-to-the-scene ZX-10R (The $17,000 Superbike Faceoff) in which the RSV emerged the winner. Also like last year, the RSV returns looking much the way it has since its inception because, to paraphrase Piaggio’s chief designer Miguel Galluzzi, when you create a bike that looks this good, there’s no reason to change every year.
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