Aprilia WSBK tech hits the street
As Max Biaggi marched relentlessly towards his and Aprilia's first World Superbike championship, the race-shop engineers helped justify the enormous cost of racing at this level by adapting the race-winning technology on the Roman Emperor's Sunday bike to the RSV4's the rest of us ride during the week.
And the result will be seen in February 2011 with the arrival of the Special Edition RSV4 F (APRC) - the closest you and I are ever likely to get to riding a World Superbike championship-winning machine.
It all comes together in the Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC) package, starting with a state-of-the-art traction control system with eight manual settings that also automatically adjusts itself to suit the characteristics of the tyres on the bike.
It uses an automotive inertial sensor platform with two gyros and two accelerometers to feed the ECU information about dynamic conditions, which is then used to fine-tune the engine management parameters accordingly, while still allowing the rider to adjust any of its routines individually.
Unlike most other motorcycle electronic rider aids, the Aprilia systems give the rider plenty of choices rather than arbitrarily cutting engine power at the faintest hint of trouble. The traction control “learns” the tyre radius and final gear ratio when the rider asks it to and then does its job accordingly, where most other systems are optimised for a single size and type of tyre.
The three-setting wheelie control system monitors where a wheelie starts and where it is likely to end and kicks in to make for a softer landing, and the launch control system allows the rider to simply open the throttle and dump the clutch when the flag drops or the light changes if he (or she!) chooses, or launch the bike from the line in the conventional fashion. This system also provides three settings for the rider to choose from.
Also standard is an electronic quick-shifter for ultra-fast gear changes without the rider closing the throttle or using the clutch.
Not all the upgrades are electronic: the Special Edition RSV4 F APRC motorcycle has improved engine lubrication for prolonged track use, closer internal gear ratios, and a new, lighter exhaust system with an improved butterfly valve management system to suit the ride-by-wire mapping and allow improved breathing and efficiency throughout the rev range.
Output is the same as the Factory model with 135kW at 12 250rpm and 115Nm at 10 000.
The SE also runs on new ultra-light forged-aluminium rims shod with dual-blend 200/55 tyres specially developed for the bike by Pirelli. Pricing will be finalised when the first bikes arrive.
Just as hard-core but much more street-orientated is the new Dorsoduro 1200, a performance-focused evolution of the Dorsoduro 750 V-twin supermotard that wears its cred on the outside with very little bling and an absolute minimum of body panels.
Its highly oversquare 90-degree, V-twin, liquid-cooled engine uses four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts and twin-spark ignition to produce a claimed 96kW at 8700rpm and 115Nm at 7200.
The four camshafts are driven by a combination of gears and chains and it has triple-map, ride-by-wire technology with Sport, Touring and Rain maps. Fully adjustable 43mm upside-down front forks and an offset, piggyback Sachs rear shock are standard, as are Brembo brakes with radial callipers.
The bike is also available with a two-channel ABS system and traction control with three different selectable levels of performance.
We've seen the Dorsoduro at Eurobike in Cape Town and it looks even better than in the picture but a test ride will have to wait a while; the first batch of seven is already sold and Aprilia SA is taking orders for the second batch (due in March), still at the introductory price of R119 995, including traction control.