Euro Exotica - BMW S1000RR, Ducati 1098 Bayliss, Aprilia RSV4 Factory and MV Agusta F4

A warm, dry Mallory Park Focused Events track day, James Whitham, the four best bikes produced in Europe and a data logger. Let’s get busy…

The mighty James Whitham takes four of the most exotic bikes to come out of Europe for a spin around the Mallory Park circuit.

The beautiful and lusted after Aprilia RSV4 Factory, the technically superior and mega-fast BMW S1000RR, the Bayliss replica Ducati 1098 and the elegantly packaged MV Agusta F4 all being thrashed around the Mallory Park.

For proof the bikes were given a thrashing watch the onboard laps around the Mallory Park circuit courtesy of Mark Forsyth on board the BMW S1000RR and the Aprilia RSV4 Factory.

Read the links above if you want to find out about each individual bike. But if you want to cut straight to the lap times and our verdict on the one to own, read below.

Whitham’s thoughts

Here is the order Whitham thought the bikes came out in terms of lap times (real figures in brackets)

  1. BMW S1000RR (1st 56.33)
  2. MV Agusta F4 (4th 57.59)
  3. Aprilia RSV4 (2nd 57.04)
  4. Ducati 1098 (3rd 57.20)


Normally this page would be graced with a heading like ‘Conclusion’ or ‘Verdict’ but not by the nature of these four exotic animals.

Anyone could jump on the MV and have fun, well, except George perhaps. The F4’s largely sports focused in terms of its riding position, stiff suspension and rabid engine but it’s forgiving, user-friendly and massively controllable in almost every situation you can throw at it.In terms of handling balance it just strikes a really delicate compromise between flickability and stability which is the number one aim of any chassis engineer worth his salt. MV Agusta has made a bike to suit many people, most of the time.

The BMW S1000RR is simply awesome. It is possibly the most rider-flattering bike any of us have ever ridden and that includes everything in this corner and the Japanese corner, too. Its traction control is amazing, the power incredible and its ability to lap a racetrack at race pace complete with indicators and number plate is astonishing. On paper and in action it is the hands down, no questions winner.

At the opposite end of this spectrum, however, lies the Ducati 1098R Bayliss and the Aprilia RSV4 Factory. The unwary bike fan (with a squeaky clean credit rating and a large amount of disposable income) might be tempted by either of these exotic offerings. Just browsing the spec, the engine data and performance figures might be enough. But clock either of them in the flesh and your heart might just rule your head. The Aprilia and the Ducati are just gorgeous to behold and the closer you peek the more achingly beautiful they both become. And if that isn’t enough, just listening to either of these race-homologated beauties warm up is more than likely to tip a wavering punter over the purchasing edge.

But this is the warning. Unless you’re the sort of rider who finds most of the riders in a fast track day group a bit pedestrian, you’re not going to like them. They’re rock-hard, viciously fast with riding positions focused for one thing and one thing only. The Ducati is the most extreme of the two. I have to hold my hands up and admit that it was way too much for me in my race-rusty, six-month desk-bound physical state. I wanted to love it and ended up really not liking it very much. Shocking but true.

The Aprilia is a barely disguised MotoGP refugee and a very difficult bike to get the best of on track. Against the MV, Ducati and BMW the gorgeous looking ’Priller has an obvious Achilles heel. No Traction Control. TC may have ruined modern racing but for an enthusiastic nobber like myself, with 180bhp on tap it’s just such a massive safety blanket. It’s a glaring omission in this company.

I liked the Aprilia the best of the bunch on the road but it’s not an easy ride, demanding 100% concentration 100% of the time. That might not be for you, but it makes the Aprilia my choice. It’s just a full-on, focused, road-legal MotoGP bike. It’s a bit of a bargain, too. I’d be prepared to ignore the lack of TC and effective slipper clutch for the joy of watching it tick and ping cooling down in my garage after a supersonic mid-summer thrash.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you, though…