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Endurance test final balance: Aprilia RSV4 R

The super sports car from Aprilia after 50000km

After the start of the superbike life for the RSV4 R with a number of broken connecting rods at the presentation in Mugello, it started collecting plenty of defects in MOTORCYCLE services.

What does the final balance look like?

D.he early damage frequency speaks volumes and made the numerous friends of Italian motorcycle construction in the editorial team wince early on. The white standard RSV4 (i.e. the one without Öhlins spring elements, traction control, light forged wheels, launch control and variable intake pipe lengths) had not yet reached 5000 kilometers when the first error message was received. The sensitive Mini Koch suspected a broken steering head bearing or a defective steering damper, and as so often he was right.

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Endurance test final balance: Aprilia RSV4 R
The super sports car from Aprilia after 50000km

Aprilia sucked the massive criticism from the mid-term review (MOTORRAD 21/2011) deep into its compact engine housing, suddenly the defects were over. Over and over. It reeled down the remaining 20,000 kilometers in a cross-minded manner, only noticed by worn tires or the sometimes mechanically clattering background noise. But even that has been the case since the end of 2010, according to Aprilia, because the spring force of the timing chain tensioner has been increased (replacement is also possible with older engines without any problems) and the oil circuit has been comprehensively revised. In addition, the spring rate of the shock absorbers in the clutch was increased, which also helped to reduce the mechanical noise level in the series.

The endurance test RSV4, on the other hand, had to (and could, because this background noise had no influence on the function), especially with a cold engine. And she (or rather the respective driver) still had to live with a more than laborious search for idle, because all service measures on the clutch (at around 18,000 kilometers the discs were replaced, at twice the distance the clutch basket) brought something temporarily at best Relief. The explanation of the two Aprilia technicians Mariano Fioravanzo (Project Manager Sport) and Giorgio Del Ton (Head of Engine Testing) who came to the final meeting from Noale for this mishap sounds plausible and arouses understanding for the worries and needs that a comparatively small motorcycle manufacturer like Aprilia with one of Reason for the newly constructed 1000cc Superbike V4. This is due to the fact that, due to a lack of experience in the first drafts, due to concerns about the stability of the clutch, a higher oil supply was decided, according to Giorgio Del Ton. Too much oil in the clutch area is not in the interests of smooth shiftability. "We played it safe back then," he explains. “In the meantime, we have reduced the oil supply at this point by reducing the size of the oil nozzle from 0.6 to 0.4 millimeters. This is completely sufficient to cool the clutch, the shiftability has improved significantly as a result. "


A face in the crowd: the RSV4 R not only impresses with its technical independence, but also with its exciting design.

That’s true, as experience with various test machines shows. But this explanation also sheds light on how things work beyond the Alps. First comes the performance, and then nothing comes for a long time. And only when everything is fine in this regard, mundane things like fuel consumption (in the long-term test with an average of 8.2 liters over the 50,000-kilometer distance, much too high) or the idle search come into focus. In fact, since the premiere of the RSV4 in the endurance test (spring 2010), MOTORRAD has also attested a noticeable improvement in everyday things on the test machines in various comparison tests. The most striking is undoubtedly the fuel consumption. It fell by well over a liter on the very cautious MOTORRAD consumption lap to almost class-standard values ​​of a good six liters. However, the attempt to transfer the new mapping to the "old" long-term test RSV4 failed because hardly anyone could put up with the hard and stuttering throttle response. "Then she should rather drink", was the unanimous comment, and just under 10,000 kilometers later the new mapping was replaced by the old one, while according to Aprilia press spokesman Ansgar Schauerte around 60 percent of German customers are quite satisfied with the new variant.

In addition to the reduced refueling frequency, this clientele probably enjoys peace with the neighbors, because one of the mapping modifications, in addition to the ignition timing that is clearly shifted towards "early", is the exhaust flap that only opens at 6000 rpm instead of when first gear is engaged. This only lets the bass of the V4 sound in its full beauty when it is in the wild and you have long left your home driveway behind. And when you are brisk and appropriate to the species, you can immediately tackle a second problem, explains Mariano Fioravanzo, who is always mischievous. Because, according to Aprilia experience, it would have helped to really hit the brakes every now and then. “In this case, the problem of rubbing brake discs would not have arisen in the first place,” he assures with a grin, because the contamination between the disc and the pad, as it gets stuck in the rain or when driving slowly, would have been “braked out” again. In his experience, however, this is not a typical Aprilia problem, but rather a Brembo problem. Indeed, Fioravanzo is right. With modern high-performance brake systems, a one-time replacement of the brake discs as part of the long-term test distance is almost customary. Even with the direct RSV4 competitor BMW S 1000 RR, a set of brake disks was due after 30,000 kilometers. The fact that there were two sets of the front windows on the Aprilia was just bad luck – but certainly not a structural defect.

Speaking of constructive flaws: How did it look like, the only V4 in the 1000 Superbike League? To put it briefly: not flawlessly, but all in all a lot better than many people expected. The biggest surprise: The pitting on an intake camshaft, which was already detected during the 20,000 inspection, has not worsened. At the time, the MOTORRAD technicians had serious doubts that this wave would make it over the distance, but in Noale an exchange was not considered necessary. “Of course we were nervous,” admitted Giorgio Del Ton today. "But we never had problems with pitting in any of the test phases and we simply risked it, because we are not aware of any other camshaft damage from countless test bench runs on conventional and dynamic test benches. "

A similar picture emerges in the periphery of the camshafts. Not flawless, but also not questionable: three leaky valves could be responsible for the measured loss of power of seven hp, the significant loss of compression on three cylinders is also possible. The bottom line is 171 to 164 hp. And again, in view of the loss of performance, comes the hidden strolling hint from Fioravanzo. He knew about the problem, because in Noale too, depending on the previous assignment, very different performance measurements were made. Whenever there had been a real fire in the combustion chambers beforehand, the test bench would have spewed out significantly better values ​​than after a rather restrained driving style. The difference would have been up to eight hp.

mps photo studio

This is what it looks like in its foundations, the V4, in which the cylinder and upper part of the crankcase form a unit.

Whatever the case: Despite the significant loss of performance, nobody, really nobody, complained about an acute lack of performance during the entire endurance test distance. So back to the dismantled engine: slightly widened valve seats, running marks on the camshaft bearings, pistons at the wear limit, piston rings within the operating tolerance, dimensionally accurate cylinders with small running marks, crankshaft bearing clearances within the tolerance, slight cavitation marks on the connecting rod bearings, wear marks on the gearshift forks – es is nothing that would be questionable or that would have to be exchanged. Since five exhaust valve guides are above the wear limit, the valves would be replaced, says technician Del Ton – because the engine is dismantled anyway and although it has not used any oil. All other parts would continue to do their job just like the well-preserved chassis, in which only the deflection levers of the rear suspension have a slightly increased radial play.

What does that mean the bottom line? In view of the vehicle type and the associated costs, it was clear that the Aprilia did not land in the top places in the MOTORRAD long-term test overview (the best female super athlete is the Yamaha YZF-R1 in eleventh place). And so the RSV4 R, which never got stuck (but briefly ended up in the emergency running program several times) but was often in the workshop, ranks 27th in the MOTORRAD ranking. Seven places behind the direct competition from BMW, but three places ahead of the Ducati 999, while the 1098 even ends up two places behind.

In terms of costs, too, the RSV4 R ranks among its peers. Of course, the workshop costs as well as the fuel costs have a huge impact. However, the loss of value has a higher impact than all operating costs, and in the case of the RSV4 R this seems more than benevolent. A 1000cc super sports car without ABS and without traction control will already have a hard time on the second-hand market – especially in the future. And if you then take into account all the improvements that have flowed into this series since 2010, some interested parties will justifiably rather flirt with a current APRC-RSV4, which is very, very cheap here and there.

“You’d have to do another long-term test with the current RS,” jokes Giorgio Del Ton. "In view of the many technical improvements it would be much more positive than this one." We like to believe that, dear Giorgio, we believe that. And we would have a lot of fun too.



Power on the crankshaft; Measurements on the Dynojet roller test stand 250, corrected according to 95/1 / EG, maximum possible deviation ± 5%.

Performance: The 50,000 kilometers did not go by without a trace. 8 HP are missing on the test bench, while driving performance is one to two tenths. The oil consumption is almost zero, the fuel consumption is too high.

 Measurement according to:  5,101 km  49723
0-100 km / h dry 3.2 3.3
0-140 km / h dry 5.0 5.1
0-200 km / h dry 8.3 8.5
60-100 km / h dry 3.5 3.5
100-140 km / h dry 3.6 3.6
140-180 km / h dry 3.6 3.8
Average consumption over 50,000 km
Fuel (super) l / 100 km 8.2
Engine oil l / 1000 km

Balance after 50,000 km

mps photo studio

The valve seats are slightly wider and show signs of fire on the exhaust side.

Cylinder head: Two outlet valves and one inlet valve are leaking, five outlet valve guides are strongly flared. The valve seats are slightly wider and show signs of fire on the outlet side. Two inlet valve guides are concave. The camshaft bearings have clear tracks. The pre-existing pitting on the intake cams has not worsened.

Cylinder / piston: The compression has decreased somewhat overall, the piston rings are within the operating tolerance. The running pattern of the pistons is without any abnormalities, but the piston diameter is just before the wear limit. The cylinders are dimensionally and dimensionally accurate with only minor traces of wear.

Crank drive: All the bearing clearances are still within the tolerance, the crankshaft bearings have an uneven contact pattern. Slight signs of cavitation can be found on three connecting rod bearings.

Power transmission: The clutch shows few signs of wear, as does the gear wheels. Two shift forks show clear signs of wear. The roller bearings of the secondary shaft turned in their seats.

Frame / chassis: The reversing levers of the rear suspension have a slightly increased radial play. The paintwork, frame and add-on parts hardly show any signs of corrosion.

Costs and maintenance


The RSV4 R went through a lot: on the Alpine tour with advertising man Sven Damson.

Operating costs over 50,000 kilometers

20 liters of oil at 13.84 euros: 276.80 euros
5 oil filters at 17.95 euros: 89.75 euros
2 air filters at 13.05 euros: 26.10 euros
8 spark plugs at 9.15 euros each: 73.20 euros
2 sets of front brake pads at 91.70 euros: 183.40 euros
1 set of rear brake pads at 45.10 euros: 45.10 euros
2 chain sets of 191.90 euros each: 383.80 euros
Fork oil: 53.06 euros
Small parts, lubricants: 13.28 euros
Seals: 43.17 euros
Inspections and repairs: 1753.20 euros
Tires (including assembly, balancing and disposal): 3,486.07 euros
Fuel: 6410.93 euros
Total cost: 12,837.86 euros
Acquisition cost: 15,500.00 euros
Loss of value: 7150.00 euros
Estimated price (dealer selling price): 8350.00 euros
Cost per kilometer (without depreciation): 25.70 cents
Costs per kilometer (with depreciation): 40.00 cents

Warutung and repair costs (according to the indicated mileage)

Rear tires renewed, Pirelli Supercorsa: 2,125 km
Front and rear tires renewed, Metzeler Sportek K3: 4,721 km
Steering damper renewed (guarantee): 4.922 km
Front and rear tires renewed, Conti Road Attack2: 7,694 km
Exhaust muffler, front brake discs and pads renewed (guarantee): 9807 km
Front and rear tires renewed, Conti Sport Attack 2: 11,954 km
Rear tires renewed, Conti Sport Attack 2: 16,923 km
Clutch (without clutch basket) and clutch cable renewed (guarantee): 18.458 km
Pitting on inlet camshaft, front fairing, steering head bearings and oil cooler (guarantee) and chain set renewed: 19,655 km
New mapping, speed sensor rear wheel and exhaust flap motor renewed (guarantee): 20,964 km
Front and rear tires renewed, Dunlop Sportsmart: 21,954 km
All hose clamps renewed (guarantee): 25,000 km
Front and rear tires renewed, Metzeler Sportek M5: 27,606 km
Old mapping is uploaded, clutch basket, cooling water hoses, brake disks (guarantee) and front brake pads and rear brake pads renewed: 29,753 km
Front and rear tires renewed, Metzeler K3 Interact: 33,000 km
Front and rear tires renewed, Michelin Power Pure: 37,763 km
Chain set renewed: 39,984 km
Front tires renewed, Michelin Power Pure: 41,528 km
Front and rear tires renewed, Dunlop Sportsmart: 44,045 km

Aprilia takes a position


Large train station (from left): Georg Jelicic (MOTORCYCLE), Michael Pfeiffer (MOTORCYCLE), Ansgar Schauerte (Aprilia), Rainer Froberg (MOTORRAD), Harald Geppert (Aprilia), Mariano Fioravanzo (Aprilia), Giorgio Del Ton (Aprilia) , Stefan Kaschel (MOTORCYCLE).

… to the high fuel consumption.

When developing the engine, we initially focused on pure performance. We have now taken a lot of measures to significantly reduce gasoline consumption. We have been using a modified mapping since 2010. The oil cycle has also been revised. Lower centrifugal oil quantities, optimized combustion chambers and new pistons also had a positive effect on fuel consumption. Successful measures that were also confirmed in later tests.

… to the peeling exhaust paint. The silencer of the endurance test RSV4 R had to be replaced twice.

An annoying chapter. In June 2010, our exhaust manufacturer changed the manufacturer of the color. Since then there have been no more complaints. Unfortunately we supplied a replacement silencer from the first production for the endurance test motorcycle at 9800 kilometers. Due to this error, a repeated complaint was inevitable.

… the steering damper that was replaced early.

An individual case that we cannot explain. The cause of the defect was the incorrectly mounted damper bracket.

… to the defective steering head bearing.

The steering head bearing is a high quality product from the Japanese supplier NTN. During assembly, we first check the correct fit. At the end of the production process, the specified breakaway torque of the steering is checked during a further check and adjusted if necessary. As far as we know, water is almost always the cause of damage to the steering head bearing, which can be triggered when cleaning with a steam jet.

… to the repeated leaks in the cooling water circuit.

We are aware of the problem and have already been fixed. Instead of clamps, screw clamps are now used for the cooling water hoses, as the problems were often caused by improper installation of the clamps. With the new, further overlapping screw clamps, this problem no longer occurs.

… to the defective speed sensor.

That is untypical damage. Perhaps the sensor was damaged when changing a wheel. This component has proven itself a thousand times over. The sensor has already been installed in the RSV Mille and is a standard component at Aprilia.

… to the problems with the poorly separating clutch and the hard-to-find idle.

That was less of a problem with the clutch than with the amount of oil. At the end of 2010 we revised the oil cycle. Since then the oil pump has been running with a different gear ratio. In addition, the bore of the nozzle that supplies the clutch with oil has been reduced from 0.6 to 0.4 millimeters. The smoothness of the gearshift has been significantly improved. The smaller amount of oil has no negative consequences for the stability of the coupling. From our point of view, it was not necessary to replace the clutch discs and clutch basket. During the first repair, a loosened screw on the clutch basket was the cause of the problem.


Mariano Fioravanzo (left) is Project Manager V4, Giorgio Del Ton is Head of Engine Development.

… to the loud mechanical noises that occurred especially when the engine was cold.

We were able to switch off the loud mechanical noises by changing the oil circuit at the end of 2010. Not only did we translate the oil pump differently, we also installed a timing chain tensioner with more spring preload. We have also changed the spring rate of the shock absorbers in the clutch.

… to the grooves on the oil pump.

We attribute the grooves to possible dirt particles in the oil. Basically, the quality standards in the motor housing production process have been optimized. The existing grooves do not odd the function of the oil pump.

… to the numerous technical changes from the beginning of series production until today.

As with all manufacturers, high-performance engines, which are also used in racing, are constantly being further developed. Aprilia is constantly busy optimizing the RSV4. Over time, we have reduced the tolerances of the bearings, the piston clearance and the amount of centrifugal oil to achieve more performance and at the same time lower fuel consumption. With additional openings in the crankcase we were able to improve the pressure equalization; that brought about 3 to 4 hp. The balancer shaft is now on ball bearings instead of sliding bearings. Softer springs were chosen for the clutch. With new pistons and a modified first piston ring, we have slightly increased the compression. The surface treatment of the RSV4 crankshaft has been further optimized. A reinforced timing chain and new valve springs are installed for even higher speeds and even more racetrack performance. A slightly heavier alternator rotor had a positive effect on the grip on the rear wheel.

Aprilia RSV4 R offers in Germany

1000PS marketplace app

The selection of used Aprilia RSV4 R is very small.

The Aprilia RSV4 R had a bumpy start in its life and the R version has not had an easy life on the used market either. The selection is very limited, which makes finding the perfect bike difficult. That’s why we’ve summarized special versions of the Aprilia RSV4 R here: used Aprilia RSV4 R in Germany.

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