Used Bike

Used Test: Aprilia RSV-R

The original Ducati spoiler is more practical and arguably more exotic too. Plus the spec'd up 'R' version can be had on the used market for as little as £3,000. But beware, she has a few issues up her skirt.

Visordown Motorcycle News

Fancy a big capacity, track ready, exotic V-twin but think a Ducati's too impractical, unreliable or just too small? Check out Aprilia's original RSV-R. The firm was new to making big modern bikes when it released the Mille which the RSV-R's based on in 1999, but they got it right first time. The RSV-R appeared a year later. It was capable of giving anything a run for its money on a race track but it's comfy on the road and doesn't have any major reliability issues either. The 1,000cc RSV-R is the mid-model of three similar Aprilias on sale at the time. The base RSV-Mille has cheaper suspension, wheels and lacks the top-draw feel. The SP version was obscenely expensive when new (£22,000) and was really just a platform for Word Superbike homologation race bikes.

Getting on for a decade later, the RSV-R makes an excellent used buy. Many have led cosseted lives and for the price of a modest used 600 you get genuine fancy-pants exotica that works everywhere.

ENGINE
The 998cc V-twin has loads of poke from 2,500rpm upwards. Power doesn't tail off at higher revs like some big capacity twins. From the moment you let the clutch out you know this is a serious bike. The instant drive builds and builds into a banshee high rev rush but it also manages the V-twin trick of seeming more controlled and less hectic than four cylinder rivals. In town it can be a little awkward thanks to the tall-ish first gear, slightly unsympathetic clutch and heat produced by the engine.

HANDLING
The RSV-R home turf. It's a stunner on a race track or smooth road. Leaning to any angle is effortless and the steering - always an Aprilia strong point - is pinpoint without ever getting flappy. You might imagine it'd be a handful on bumpier roads but the …hlins forks and shock work their magic and let the bike float with amazing composure, while always keeping those extra light weight wheels in contact with the ground. If you wondered if it was worth the £2K-odd new list price over the base Mille model a test ride should convince you it was - and still is.

COMFORT
Much better than you'd think. Plenty of people owners see it as a fast, single seat sports tourer. The riding position's roomy, the fuel range acceptable, the seat's not too harsh and the screen effective. It's never going to be a Gold Wing rival but 500 mile days is very possible.

BLEEDIN' BRAKES
Stopping power and feel are plentiful if the system's A1. But it's a known problem area. The front is hard to bleed and requires a pressurising tool to do it properly. The rear's worse - the caliper is used for a number of models and on this one the bleed nipple's not in the best place - for best results remove the caliper before bleeding. Many people don't and the result's a bike with almost zero rear brake.

CLUTCH
Can be a drag. Literally. The slave cylinder is extremely awkward to bleed and it often gets ignored. It can be prone to letting air in too. The result is clutch drag which can become expensive if not nipped in the bud pretty quickly.

IS IT GENUINE?
We've seen plenty of the base Mille models being advertised as RSV-Rs. Some are clearly mistakes but in other cases we've seen people altering a Mille so it looks like an RSV-R. Ohlins suspension front and rear, lightweight OZ wheels (they're stamped with the OZ logo) and some genuine carbon fibre bodywork are signs of a genuine RSV-R. All were sold as single seat bikes until 2001 when a dual seat was an option but some earlier bikes have had a dual seat added.

ELECTRICS
The major components seem to be more robust than many Aprilias. Check everything works on the console unit. Some switches can fail, especially the headlight flasher / lap timer. It's an expensive part to replace. Be wary of batteries on their last legs too. Big V-twins take a lot of kick to turn over and it's only a medium sized battery. Check with a multimeter if possible. The side stand switch can gum up and cause the bike to cut out. Some 2002 bikes had dodgy regulator/rectifiers.

SERVICING
A minor service is due every 4,500 miles - budget about £200. Every 9,000 miles the bike needs a major service which includes valve clearance checks - this will cost more like £350-£400. Plenty of owners reckon after that first 9,000 mile check their valves haven't needed touching. The first service, due at 600 miles is far more comprehensive than most machines and should take five hours. Make sure it wasn't skipped or, if you're buying a very low mileage bike, budget to get it done.

EXHAUSTS
Aftermarket ones are common. Arrow systems are popular, excellent quality and work well giving good power gains. But make sure you get the standard one too for MoT time unless you have a friendly local.

MODEL CHANGES
Updated for 2002 - with input from WSB rider Troy Corser. The new bike benefited from a subtle restyle, more power from bigger inlet and exhaust valves and injection mapping, and the engine's 5mm higher and the swing arm pivot 3mm higher too to improve the already excellent traction.

SECOND-HAND VALUES

APRILIA RSV1000R
COLOURS: Black, yellow, red

PRICE NEW: £10,775 (2000), £9,999 (2002), £10,199 (2003)

PRICE NOW: £3,000 - £5,250

COMMENTS: Minor updates for 2002. The following RSV-R model released late in 2003 actually replaced the base Mille version. The original RSV1000R was replaced by a bike called the RSV1000R Factory

APRILIA RSV1000R
COLOURS: Colin Edwards replica

PRICE NEW: £12,250 (2003),

PRICE NOW: £4,000 - £6,250

COMMENTS: This was an RSV-R with fancy decals (not paint) and racey twin pipes - and a little more power. Only 45 were brought into the UK. Worth a small premium over the standard RSV-R if in top condition.

APRILIA RSV1000R SP
COLOURS: Black,

PRICE NEW: £22,700

PRICE NOW: £11,500

COMMENTS: The mega pricey WSB homolgation special had a different bore and stroke and made an extra 5bhp over the R. Various bits of exotica meant it weighed 5kg less too. Wiith very few of them around it's impossible to peg a deffo price second-hand.

Fancy a big capacity, track ready, exotic V-twin but think a Ducati's too impractical, unreliable or just too small? Check out Aprilia's original RSV-R. The firm was new to making big modern bikes when it released the Mille which the RSV-R's based on in 1999, but they got it right first time. The RSV-R appeared a year later. It was capable of giving anything a run for its money on a race track but it's comfy on the road and doesn't have any major reliability issues either. The 1,000cc RSV-R is the mid-model of three similar Aprilias on sale at the time. The base RSV-Mille has cheaper suspension, wheels and lacks the top-draw feel. The SP version was obscenely expensive when new (£22,000) and was really just a platform for Word Superbike homologation race bikes.

Getting on for a decade later, the RSV-R makes an excellent used buy. Many have led cosseted lives and for the price of a modest used 600 you get genuine fancy-pants exotica that works everywhere.

Engine The 998cc V-twin has loads of poke from 2,500rpm upwards. Power doesn't tail off at higher revs like some big capacity twins. From the moment you let the clutch out you know this is a serious bike. The instant drive builds and builds into a banshee high rev rush but it also manages the V-twin trick of seeming more controlled and less hectic than four cylinder rivals. In town it can be a little awkward thanks to the tall-ish first gear, slightly unsympathetic clutch and heat produced by the engine.

Handling The RSV-R home turf. It's a stunner on a race track or smooth road. Leaning to any angle is effortless and the steering - always an Aprilia strong point - is pinpoint without ever getting flappy. You might imagine it'd be a handful on bumpier roads but the Öhlins forks and shock work their magic and let the bike float with amazing composure, while always keeping those extra light weight wheels in contact with the ground. If you wondered if it was worth the £2K-odd new list price over the base Mille model a test ride should convince you it was - and still is.

Comfort Much better than you'd think. Plenty of people owners see it as a fast, single seat sports tourer. The riding position's roomy, the fuel range acceptable, the seat's not too harsh and the screen effective. It's never going to be a Gold Wing rival but 500 mile days is very possible.

Brakes Stopping power and feel are plentiful if the system's A1. But it's a known problem area. The front is hard to bleed and requires a pressurising tool to do it properly. The rear's worse - the caliper is used for a number of models and on this one the bleed nipple's not in the best place - for best results remove the caliper before bleeding. Many people don't and the result's a bike with almost zero rear brake.

Clutch Can be a drag. Literally. The slave cylinder is extremely awkward to bleed and it often gets ignored. It can be prone to letting air in too. The result is clutch drag which can become expensive if not nipped in the bud pretty quickly.

Electrics The major components seem to be more robust than many Aprilias. Check everything works on the console unit. Some switches can fail, especially the headlight flasher / lap timer. It's an expensive part to replace.

Be wary of batteries on their last legs too. Big V-twins take a lot of kick to turn over and it's only a medium sized battery. Check with a multimeter if possible. The side stand switch can gum up and cause the bike to cut out. Some 2002 bikes had dodgy regulator/rectifiers.

Continue the Aprilia RSV-R used review