Aprilia Mille RSV1000 Road Test

Filed under: Aprilia,Bike Reviews,Mille |

Yellow peril

As an alternative to the typical Japanese universal sports bike the big Aprilia does take some beating, its fast and nimble while still staying firmly on the side of the rider, it wants to be your friend so why should we argue?

Aprilia are unique in the world of motorcycle manufacturing, placing so much emphasis on racing as part of their image, the bulk of their success has been in the smaller capacity classes. As a result the sports bikes they produce for the road all have attributes akin to a lightweight 250cc GP racer, the mille being the ultimate development of this approach. The bodywork may suggests a big bike but this is all show and once sat upon the Mille is an abrupt wheelbase, hard charger. The closely coupled V-Twin has little of the feeling exuded by other sporty V’s, the Aprilia engine being revvy and as keen to play fetch as any high horsepower, inline four, it will happily plod around low down in the rev range but allows this power plant to have a whiff of throttle and away its goes time after time. The exhaust hardening as the revs rise and the front wheel occasionally making contact with terra firma in between gear shifts.

As previously mentioned Aprilia make the most of what race experience they have and this surfaces in the chassis department, weight aside the Mille is like a big 250 machine, it will drop into corners with little provocation hold a ridiculously tight line before stomping off leaving the rider wondering exactly how big a part they have just played in the game. There is a need to muscle the Mille around the mid corner area when the engine is brought to life, a slight hint of understeer is felt as the V-Twin begins to take over the rear wheel and make the front light, but this is only when pushing hard . The large alloy beam frame and swing arm keep the wild engine well tamed and returns a stunning ride, this really is a racer on the road, heavier by around 25kgs than a comparative Japanese sports machine but in the real world this simply aids stability on the open road, and as the weight is pretty much centralised, it is hardly noticeable in use. At speed the bulbous fairings come into effect, keeping much of the windblast off the torso and leg area while a slight racing crouch does the same for the riders head and helmet.

Brembo take care of the stopping department and there can be few names better at this task. Two, huge, dinner plate sized discs are grabbed by GP spec 4-piston calipers to great affect, when used lightly the bike stops with a controlled efficiently, when squeezed hard the bike will try to stoppie, even at high speed. Much of what the Mille has to offer will be wasted on the public roads, its stiff unyielding suspensions most likely proving to be down right uncomfortable away form the smoother A roads, where the RSV will come into its own is on a track day. The combination of racer like chassis and usable engine power making for a great amount of fun once away from oncoming traffic and speed cameras.
The Aprilia line up, like many other Italian brands, usually has a higher specification model on offer and in the case of the Mille, the R version offering higher spec Ohlins forks and slightly more power. The prices of used are within easy reach of each other so at the end of the day it is down to individual machines condition and mileage when choosing, there is a difference in premium when it comes to insurance with the R generally one group higher so do check before committing as some areas in the UK the top spec bike would be all but uninsurable. Keep a look out for signs of corrosion around the Aprilia, the Italians apparently never visit the UK between August and April so have no idea of the crap we throw onto the roads in order to keep them relatively safe and free from ice. Because of this where the Japanese fit nicely chromed bolts and fittings, Aprilia use cheaper nickel cadmium, these last about as long as a packet of crisps in a school kids lunch box so do have a good look around before buying. That, and crash damage apart, there is little to fault with this booming Latin lovely, don’t buy one for two-up trips away loaded with luggage, keep one in the garage for those selfish days when all you want to do is play racer.

Check out Mille used prices on Exchange and Mart.

2001 Aprilia RSV 1000 Mille Specifications

Engine 998cc 4-stroke liquid-cooled V-twin
Bore & stroke mm x mm
Power 128 bhp @ 9500rpm
Torque 73 ft-lb @ 7500rpm
Transmission 6-speed chain final drive
Frame alloy twin spar
Brakes 320mm discs Brembo 4-piston calipers
220mm disc Brembo 2-piston caliper
Wheels 120/70 x 17 190/50 x 17
Fuel capacity 19 litres
Dry weight 187kgs