2010 Piaggio Models

Text: Ken Freund • Photography: Piaggio, Ken Freund

Once again this year, RoadRUNNER experienced the Italian hospitality of the folks at Piaggio group, who hosted a motorcycle press open house at their US headquarters in Costa Mesa, CA. All day we had an opportunity to ride Piaggio's lineup, including Aprilias and Moto Guzzis. Later in the afternoon, Mr. Paulo Timoni, Piaggio USA's CEO, met with the press for a state-of-the-company address and candid discussion of the industry and market conditions.

RSV4 Factory

Following victories in Salt Lake City, Monza, and Portimão, and with Aprilia leading the World Superbike Championship, there was lots of excitement and optimism among the staff. We took Aprilia's hot new RSV Factory model out for a ride, and, in a word, Wow! It feels like a wild stallion. The compact 999cc 65-degree V-4 engine in this new Italian superbike is rated 180 crankshaft horsepower at 12,500 revs and redlines at 14,100 rpm. It employs electronically controlled variable-length intake ducts, so that at low rpm, the duct extends to boost torque. As more revs are called for, the upper portion of the intake ducts raise, shortening them for better high-rpm breathing. A butterfly valve in the exhaust is also used to vary backpressure.

The RSV4 Factory has three rider-selectable power modes that are chosen with the starter button five seconds after the engine is started: Track (T), Sport (S), and Road (R). Engine sound is sultry, with a deep bass and a staccato note that sounds more like a MotoGP bike than a street machine. The throttle-by-wire is very responsive and full power is incredible, yet transitions are smooth. "Factory" models also get premium Öhlins fully adjustable 43mm forks, rear shocks with ride height adjustment, and adjustable steering dampers. This model is a serious sportbike for riders with advanced skills. We also rode a regular RSV4R - a leading model for the brand that's considerably less expensive than the factory version. It shares the same basic engine, aggressive riding position, great brakes and chassis, and if money is tight, the RSV4R may be the way to go.

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For the complete article of the riding impression(s) and technical specifications, please purchase the September/October 2010 back issue.