Used Bike

Buyer Guide: Aprilia RSV

Aside from a few charging system problems, owner/riders rate Aprilia’s big 1000cc V-twin very highly. A strong engine, planted chassis and tough finish make this a top value Italian

Click to read: Aprilia RSV owners reviews, Aprilia RSV specs and to see the Aprilia RSV image gallery.

Aprilia succeeded where the Japanese ‘big four’ had failed and that alone shows what a special bike the RSV is. Ducati were kicking arse and taking heads in the showroom and on the racetrack with their twin cylinder 916 and its derivatives. Nothing could rival the iconic Italian. Honda’s VTR1000F Firestorm was too soft and slow, Suzuki’s TL1000s flawed. Then in 1998 Aprilia, a firm which mainly produced scooters plus a handful of oddball machines, released the RSV1000. It was physically larger, slightly less focussed, but a much better road bike than the tiny, track orientated 916. It was an instant hit and soon a cult machine.

The bike had been developed over just four years. The engine was a narrow (60 degree) V-twin which was compact and powerful. Vibrations were dealt with by twin balance shafts. To reduce size further they used a dry sump. It had a slipper clutch (of sorts) and used a large volume exhaust rather than a catalytic converter to meet emissions without restricting power. The rest of the bike was pretty much established technology and par for the course at the time. It was served up with a major portion of styling flair. OK, it lacked the museum piece looks of the 916 but the RSV’s flowing frame and swingarm were things of beauty and the insect like triple front headlight made it stand out in an increasingly homogenous sector.

The bike was a success because it rode so well. A decade on it’s been refined and improved but the basic design’s not changed hugely. Unlike many modern new models it didn’t have any major teething problems. It’s not without some vices, but Aprilia got all the key stuff right from day one. Overall an impressive effort and an even better bike.

A staggering 145 owners filled in our online survey, telling us all about life with their exotic Italian bikes. They’ve done one and a half million miles on these bikes among them so you can believe what you read here.

The bike had a significant make-over for 2004. We’ve called up machines up to and including 2003 MK I and later.

Continue the Aprilia RSV lowdown

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