The arrival of GST in July 2000 actually
dropped the prices of both models initially, but the falling Aussie dollar soon
bumped things up again, with current pricing seeing the RSV at $23,929, the 996
at $25,995 and Honda's VTR1000 SP-1 at $21,690. And just to confuse things that
little bit more, you can also get Ducati's up-spec 996S for $28,995 and
Aprilia's up-spec RSV1000R for $29,990.
But back to the 2001 RSV in question, which
is not only cheaper than the 1998 version, but substantially better...
Why is it substantially better? Well, if I didn't know any better I'd say that
someone deep in the bowels of the Noale factory has been reading past AMCN tests
of the RSV, and taken note of our criticisms.
Late last year (Vol 50 No 10 to be precise)
we reported on the upgrades to the 2000 RSV over the '99 model. Then AMCN
staffer Martin Port waxed lyrical over the improved throttle response, courtesy
of the R's fuel-injection mapping which had been incorporated on the base model.
However, we wondered why the R's clutch revisions hadn't been included at the
same time. Wonder no more - they're there for 2001.
Last year's RSV upgrade also corrected a
problem AMCN had identified with the first Mille testbike we sampled back in
1998 - a rear shock that wasn't up to scratch in spirited use, primarily because
its damping went off due to heat from the rear exhaust header (refer Vol 50 No
Changed damping rates and a better quality
oil in last year's Sachs shock corrected the problem - providing the shock was
dialled in correctly via the clickers.
Our conclusion at the time: "A motorcycle
manufacturer that listens to criticism and then acts on it? Sounds like the
attitude that could take this marque to its first World Superbike Championship
Well, Aprilia didn't quite win the overall in the 2001 Superbike World
Championship, but it did take victory in the opening round of the series when
Troy Corser won both races, qualified on pole and set a new lap record at
Valencia on March 11.
And at the final round at Imola on September
30 Corser again qualified on pole and claimed the new lap record, while teammate
Regis Laconi won the final race of the 2001 series. Not too shabby for a factory
in only its third season of SBK competition.
And it's that involvement in SBK that has led
to many of the changes found in the 2001 RSV, and especially the repositioned
engine and swingarm pivot point. Who says racing doesn't improve the breed?
Admittedly Corser and Laconi are aboard the
$60,000 short-stroke RSV1000SP which didn't make its way Down Under, but the
2001 base RSV and RSV-R still have plenty in common with the factory racebikes.
Although hopefully not that stupid horn button...
MUST TRY HARDER...
Which brings me back to the bike in question. To be honest, some of the changes
would only be noticed by a Corser or a Laconi, and last time I looked at my
laptimes there was still a way to go.
So I'll take their word for it that a slight
change in engine location and swingarm pivot position are worthwhile. It's not
something that boy racers Masters Port and Maclachlan have commented on either,
so I'm not Robinson Crusoe there. Must try harder...
However, the narrower tank is a worthwhile
change, with the RSV now feeling more like the 996 - not quite as diminutive,
but an improvement nonetheless. The smaller tank dimensions allow for a greater
variety of seating positions - and therefore weight distribution for spirited
Another area that has improved is the weight
- or lack thereof. Our previous RSV1000 testbike tipped the scales at 223kg
fully fuelled, whereas the 2001 version came in at 215kg. As both bikes sported
titanium pipes when they straddled AMCN's electronic scales, the diet must be
due to the revised bodywork and componentry.
UP A NOTCH
The brakes too have stepped up a notch, not that the previous ones were lacking.
Plenty of feel and power in the latest items, whether they be cold or hot.
The same goes for the standard-fitment
rubber, excellent Dunlop D207RR radials. With D207GP race compound rubber on
D207 street construction, it's the best of both worlds, with some of AMCN's
fastest ever Phillip Island testbike laptimes set on the RRs. No need for a
change of rubber if you're taking the RSV to a trackday.
Speaking of trackdays, with a hill climb
beckoning and a fine weekend coinciding it seemed like an ideal opportunity to
give the RSV a gallop. Not up the hill itself (I'd forgotten to fit knobbies!),
but to the venue in question.
A circuitous route via the back roads and
mountains gave the RSV a solid workout over real Aussie roads (as opposed to
billiard smooth racetracks), as I was keen to see just how the removal of the
steering damper of the 2000 model would affect what is after all a scalpel-sharp
No problems. The impressive stability of past RSVs remain, although the
additional half a degree of rake has probably helped here - 24.5° to 25°. No
slappers without the damper either.
The steering itself is especially light,
unbelievably so around town, so the removal of the damper has been a good move.
Truth be known, it was hard to fault the new
RSV as a weekend scratcher. The improved seating position (the 2lt smaller tank
helps here), fade-free suspension and smoother engine delivery made for a very
enjoyable fang, complemented by the booming note from the 'Race Use Only'
The note isn't too obtrusive for street use,
but just fruity enough to tickle the aural glands nicely. And loud enough to
mask the horn whenever I tried to signal my intention to turn a corner!
Our 2001 RSV pumped out 5ps more at the rear wheel than our previous RSV
testbike, so the claims about the hotter state of tune hold true, but without
any obvious detriment to feel or throttle response.
Our dyno runs showed quite an alarming dip at
5400rpm, more so in the torque curve than in horsepower, but this wasn't
noticeable in the real world as it was a range that you tend to accelerate hard
Legal cruising speeds tend to be 1000 revs
below this, spirited canyon scratching will see the revs higher up, and hard
acceleration (such as overtaking cars) sees you quickly through this 'dip' zone.
No blips, no glitches and no obvious flat spots.
Nevertheless, if the optional pipe is
supposed to be chipped to suit the uprated engine management system and new
powerplant, then the factory has some more work to do.
There was no hesitation when spinning the
V-twin through to its 10,000rpm limit, although you're really wasting your time
with that sort of carry on - it's best to keep things percolating between 6500
and 9000 for best results.
As an aside, when I first headed off on the RSV the shift light on the dash
would flicker every time the revs hit 6000rpm. Either the onboard computer
automatically encourages wooselike short-shifting, or else the computer needed a
quick reprogramming job. Thankfully it was the latter - a quick fix.
The onboard computer is a neat feature, and
allows for hours of fiddling, especially at a racetrack where the onboard
laptimer can be brought into play. Just don't let Mr Plod get at the
highest-speed recall button if he stops you for a chat.
It may pay to reset it at regular intervals,
unless of course you want to boast to your mates and have the proof to back up
your claims! After all, Aprilia reckons the RSV is the fastest of the V-twin
brigade with a top speed in excess of 280km/h.
Sadly, there was little point in trying to
utilise the computer (or the RSV's top speed!) at the racetrack I ended up at -
unless I was going to fit a paddle rear tyre and slip into some motocross
clobber for an assault on the 18.53sec hill climb record held by a KX500. The
latest RSV may be good, but not that good...
So what is there not to like about Mille? Capable chassis, top-notch running
gear, hotter state of engine tune, improved looks, higher-quality finish - the
list goes on.
I'm undecided on the matte black paint work.
Sure it looks horn when it's new (and clean), and the ducktail under-cowl looks
good in bright orange too. But I'm not so sure that the matte black will be so
classy when it gets a few scuff marks. How do you do a quick cut and polish on
When we last had an RSV at Phillip Island it was the R version, complete with
Öhlins suspension, carbon-fibre aplenty and lightweight Oz wheels. Last year's R
was 2kg lighter than the 2001 RSV, but had 5ps less at the rear wheel and didn't
have the 2001 base RSV's chassis mods.
The $30K RSV-R lapped 0.43sec faster than
Honda's SP-1, but 1.57sec slower than Ducati's $37K 996SPS. I for one can't wait
to get back to that 4.45km test track and see just how much improvement Messrs
Corser and Laconi have wrought on the base-model 2001 RSV.
It's a better roadbike, and I'm damn sure
it's a better track bike as well. Who says racing doesn't improve the breed -
must be time for a comparo...
MORE THAN A MAKEOVER...
Much more than a simple restyling exercise,
the 2001 Aprilia RSV Mille has undergone a major upgrade, both technically and
aesthetically, with over 200 modified parts.
First up, the bike has undergone an almost complete restyling.
- new, lower tank, shortened to better accommodate the rider
and allow movement on the saddle.
- more comfortable rider and passenger saddle.
- front fairing and windshield improved aerodynamically, and
now also more aggressive in looks.
- new side fairing and side air ducts.
- new undersaddle side panels with air outlets.
- new rear fairing, taillight support, saddle cover base and
- new headlight.
- new turn indicators.
- new colour combinations and new graphics.
The engine has seen major modifications, with the aim of increasing torque and
power (from 128ps to 130ps at the crankshaft), while maintaining smooth and
progressive delivery, and reducing noise and vibration. The modifications made
to the engine include:
- changes to the cylinder-head and piston.
- camshaft lift raised by 0.8mm.
- the diameter of the intake valves has been increased by
- new intake pipes to complement the new cams and valves.
- the pistons have been redesigned in profile, to accommodate
the new intake valves.
- higher flowing air filter housing.
- new intake hose, now made from rigid material, housing a
resonator designed to reduce intake noise.
- the diameter of the intake manifold for the air filter
housing has been increased from 38mm to 58mm.
- new injection mapping, with improved operation at low
The clutch now has a new spring drive with an activation curve which is no
longer linear, but progressive, according to the engine torque applied. Aprilia
claims this is to improve smoothness and noise levels at low engine revs.
The shape of the support surfaces of the
clutch plates and the lubrication of the entire clutch assembly have also been
modified, in order to improve activation and life-span, and to reduce the force
required on the lever.
Despite being aesthetically similar to the previous version, a number of
modifications have been made.
- 5mm higher engine mounting position (the result of World
Superbike feedback), which Aprilia claims improves concentration of weight
around the bike's centre of gravity, as well as providing better handling and
speed of entry into turns.
- swingarm pivot raised by 3mm in order to optimise chain
tension and improve traction.
- completely redesigned frame plate to allow the higher
position of the engine in the frame.
- change of rake from 24.5 degrees to 25 degrees.
- new sidestand attachment position (higher), to improve
- elimination of the steering damper.
The 2001 Aprilia RSV Mille features fully-adjustable Showa upside-down front
suspension with 43mm-diameter sliders.
Compared to the previous version of the RSV
Mille, the end stop has been changed (designed for track use, it is
progressively activated during very hard braking) and features new adjustments
The rear suspension features a new
full-adjustable Sachs integrated aluminium piggyback shock absorber.
The rear suspension linkages are also new
(both single and double conrods), again the result of World Superbike racing
experience, with the aim of improving the progressiveness and effectiveness of
the shock absorber, both on the road and on the track.
The exhaust system has been completely modified, with the aim of reducing its
weight (by around 1.5kg), increasing performance and reducing noise.
- each manifold has a new layout, with the intersection
between them having been modified (both in shape and position) in order to get
as near as possible to a perfect constant conical cross-section.
- the silencer has a new internal layout, a new support and a
guard on the inlet pipe, in order to prevent accidental contact between the
pipe itself and the rider's boot.
The front brakes are completely new, Brembo Gold Series.
The rotors are 320mm diameter stainless-steel
double floating discs with exclusive Aprilia-designed six-spoke centring.
Also new are the four-pot calipers, 34mm in
diameter with four separate pads (as used for racing) made from sintered
material. The calipers themselves are claimed to be extremely rigid thanks to
the central connection above the pads.
The rear brakes are also Brembo Gold Series,
with a 220mm-diameter stainless-steel disc and two-pot caliper, 32mm in
Braided steel brake lines are used for both
the front and rear brakes.
- the new fuel tank is made from a special resin that has
allowed a significant weight reduction. Plus it is more resistant than sheet
metal to small bumps, scratches, etc.
- the fuel tank filler cap is also new, with a flat
chrome-finish machined ring nut.
- new, lighter battery.
- new aluminium rider and passenger footrests.
- the 'basic' version uses the steering-stem block of the R
- the headlight has been modified aesthetically and seen the
addition of an internal parabola frame and new H7 bulbs.