Top 10s

Top 10 V4 dream bikes

V4 power has never been more desirible than this

DUCATI IS soon to unleash a V4 superbike that will aim to supersede its legendary V-twins and draw upon the mystique of the Desmosedici GP weapon.

And while it’s got a mountain to climb to overcome the attachment that Ducati fans feel to the firm’s two-cylinder heritage, the bike is without doubt going to be one of the most desirable new models we’ve seen in years.

But the V4 configuration has a history of desirability. Here’s a countdown of the 10 most wanted V4 machines (according to us), starting with.

10. Yamaha RZV500R

Yes, V4 layout has long been connected to two-strokes and the Yamaha RZV500R is arguably the holy grail of the 1980s GP-replica fad. Based around the engine from the RD500, the Japan-only RZV500R bolted it to an aluminium frame rather than the steel one we got over here, and added improved suspension to the mix, too. The engine was under-par at 64hp, but there was much more waiting to be unleashed with some judicious tweaking.

IT'S ANOTHER Yamaha, but you couldn’t get much further from the lightweight, under-powered RZV500R here. The 1700cc, second-generation VMAX is overweight, overpriced and overpowered. Production is ending this year and its long been overshadowed by superior power cruisers like the Ducati Diavel, but the near-200bhp V4 engine is still a masterpiece.

PERHAPS THE last bastion of the superbike era before the GSX-R750 proved that fast bikes could also be light and compact, the VF1000R is something of a lorry. But its brutal looks and race-developed engine with gear-driven cams mean that the VF1000R is the genesis for a line of V4 race-reps that would later encompass the legendary RC30 and RC45. In that light, they’re still a bargain today, although prices are on the up.

IT'S PRETTY hard to justify the immense price tag of the Suter MMX. At around £80k it costs as much as a genuine two-stroke-era GP bike, and it’s a hell of a lot to pay for a track day toy. But if you just won the lottery, it might make sense. Unlike a pukka GP bike, there’s no heritage to worry about – throw it down the road and you just fix it, you’re not wrecking a museum piece – and its performance is actually higher than most real 2-stroke GP machines. With 197hp from a 576cc V4 and a weight of only 127kg, it’s gloriously insane.

AN APRILIA RSV4 is one of today’s most underrated superbikes. With multiple WSB titles under its belt, it deserves a lot more appreciation than it gets. But we’re not talking about the normal version here, but the FW-GP. Another track-only machine, this to-order-only version has more than 250bhp – yes, you read that right – from an engine that’s basically Aprilia’s old 2015 MotoGP motor. It even has pneumatic valves, for when you simply have to out-do your Honda RC213V-S-owning mates on track days.

OK, SO IT'S a big step down in power and prices are getting ridiculous, but the RC45 is a genuinely legendary bike. With WSB titles in the bag, to-die-for styling and that Honda V4 engine it’s simply glorious. It’s even pretty easy to ride, once you’ve overcome the insanely tall first gear and some snatchy fuelling at low revs – the result of a somewhat primitive fuel injection set-up. Most of them sit in collections these days, which is a shame as they’re among the most useable bikes on this list.

THE RC45 might have been the ultimate development of the RC30 theme, but the earlier bike is the one that really set the ball rolling. It’s hard to believe that it came out just a couple of years after the hefty VF1000R. One of the most desirable bikes of the 80s, the days of picking up a cheap, club-raced one for peanuts are now long gone.

WHILE THE NR disappoints on the power front, its 750cc, 32-valve, oval-pistoned engine is still among the most exotic pieces of engineering ever to reach a production bike. Terrifyingly expensive when new, sales were miniscule and most disappeared straight into collections. The result is that near-zero-mile examples still regularly crop up for sale now. And now that there are plenty of bikes in the £50,000-plus price bracket, an NR doesn’t seem as unattainable as they once did. Somewhere around £60k should be enough to bag one.

AROUND THE £40k mark when new, the GP-replica Desmosedici RR seemed incredibly expensive back in 2008. But in its wake have come so many other crazy-priced machines that the cost now seems eminently reasonable. With 1500 made, there are usually a few on sale and prices still seem to hover around the £40,000 mark. Yes, there are cheaper bikes today that will outperform it, but not with the same exotic feeling.

HERE'S THE machine that really makes the old Desmosecidi RR seem cheap. The £137,000 RC213V-S isn’t even as powerful as the Ducati – it only makes 159bhp, at least until you splash out another £10k on the Sports Kit that boosts power to 215bhp. It’s nothing more than a pipe dream for most of us, though, which is one of the things that make it so desirable. Along with the proper MotoGP chassis, GP-derived engine and all-the-toys electronics, that is. Fingers crossed that Honda’s much-rumoured V4-powered, mass-produced superbike becomes a reality and gives more mortals a taste of the same.

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