It’s taken our country by storm and thrown all our financial calculations to the wind. Not to mention, every news channel worth its salt has been trying to explain it for the benefit of the common man. And if you’ve actually got what it is, then I dare you to explain GST to me. On Twitter. Gotcha, didn’t I? Well, guess what? I’m faced with the exact same predicament. I have to list down all the extra equipment that the limited-to-500- only edition Aprilia RSV4 RF comes loaded with and expand all those mental acronyms that make up the Aprilia’s electronics package. And I only have the 1,200 words that Aslam, our art director, has been able to spare for me. I suppose life was never going to be easy. Not if one was faced with the daunting challenge of putting down on paper the Thrill of Riding the exotic, sultry, tech-laden... and superfast, Aprilia RSV4 RF.

Having ridden the previous generation RSV4 for a considerable length of time, I must say that the latest iteration is a huge improvement. The boffins at the Noale factory have really worked their magic on major aspects of the motorcycle to make it a serious contender in the litre-class fight. Add to that the WSB ‘Superpole’ graphics on the RF and I’ll bet you anything that you won’t find a better-looking racereplica out there. In keeping with its calling, the bike is lean with all its mass packed towards the centre, as it should be. Instrumentation is simple. An old fashioned and easy-to-read-at-supersonicspeeds analogue tacho and a digital read out for everything else. You would assume it’ll look dated but it doesn’t. It actually looks quite good.

Swing a leg over her and the aggressive riding posture and the hard seat instantly remind you of the marque’s racing heritage and the RSV4’s success stories at World Superbike Championship. With all your weight on your wrists and the body almost tucked in behind the fairing, you know that this is an out and out track tool. Muttering darkly about the lack of racetracks, I thumb the starter button and soothe myself down with that wonderful howl.

The new 65-degree 999.6cc V4 (liquidcooled of course) engine gets some serious updates and has been put through a thorough weight loss programme. It features lighter components including new forged (instead of cast) camshafts, pistons, connecting rod and a lighter upper crankcase. The airbox has been redesigned and relocated for the motor to breathe easier. Not to mention the ride-by-wire throttle that makes it possible for this Aprilia to accept a lot more electrogimmickry than it would otherwise. These and then some more revisions to the motor including a redesigned engine oil flow circuit modulated with check valves for optimum use of oil where necessary (read at higher revs), help the V4 lump to put out a whopping 198bhp at 13,000rpm and 115Nm of peak twist force at 10,500rpm. Despite the outright shove from the engine, the unit’s character has lost that aggressive uncontrollable power delivery its predecessor was known for. It now feels a lot more approachable and forgiving when you work the right wrist. Transmission is via a six-speeder, obviously. Of all the litre-class machines that I have ridden recently, the gearbox on the Aprilia has to be one of the finest, and it is generously helped by the electronic Aprilia Quick Shifter (AQS) that allows seamless upshifts without having to work the clutch. Of course, the AQS doesn’t matter as much on the road as it would on a track, but out on a stretch of open highway it nonetheless does provide quite a kick as I go through the ’box with the throttle wide open.

But we are only scratching the surface here for the RSV4 RF features far, far more electronic sorcery than the almost pedestrian quick shifter. Learnings from Aprilia’s racing division, which has won three out of the last five World Superbike Championships Manufacturer’s titles, make their presence felt on the RSV4 RF. Which is a great thing too, because with all this high-tech magic at your disposal, the 201 horses are definitely easier to deal with. Instead of the previous model’s Road mode, a new Race mode appears on this bike, sandwiched between Sport and Track modes. The Race mode smoothens out the power delivery making the on/off throttle feel and experience, precise and seamless. Engine braking above 6000 revs too becomes a lot less intrusive and refined in Race mode. Unlike other motorcycles, the peak power is never restricted. No matter what mode you select. Trust the Italians to not think about aftershocks of looney power. Common sense would suggest Sport would be perfect for road riding but strangely enough, it is Race mode that seems to suit road riding better.

Of course it is not only the riding modes that are to be thanked for keeping the rubber side down on the RSV4 RF, as there is the 8-step adjustable Aprilia Traction Control (ATC) that can be controlled on-the-fly with buttons on the left handlebar. It’s actually quite fun to go from getting scary slides on setting 1 (least intrusion from the electronic system) to getting the power cut even at the slightest shudder of the rear wheel on the most intrusive setting 8. And all of that between two corners! Silly, but fun!

And then there is the ‘Bore mode’ - Aprilia Wheelie Control (AWC) with 3-stage moderation. We never managed to get it working though, mainly on purpose because it’s such a killjoy. But what we got working while we had the test going was the supremely able and adept chassis of the RSV4 RF. It’s not as if the previous RSV4 was not up to racing antics, it’s just that this one raises the bar quite a bit. Using an innovative adjustable mount mechanism, the engine has been lowered by 5mm. As a result, the centre of gravity is lower. The swingarm length has been increased by 13mm for added high-speed stability and to avoid unintentional wheelies. Ahem, as if there is such a thing as an “unintentional” wheelie. But to keep the quick steering ability intact from corner to corner, the front triple clamp offset has been revised from 30mm to 32mm, resulting in reduced trail and improved mid-corner agility.

The limited edition RF gets fully adjustable Ohlins suspensions on both ends, Ohlins steering damper and ultra-light forged aluminium wheels finished in a gorgeous shade of maroon/ red. But the talking point here has to be the 43mm upside down forks upfront that had me going all moony-eyed about front-end feel and how precise the feedback was.

Cranked over the first few set of corners, demolishing the knee-sliders, the RSV4 RF felt more like a mid-sized 600 than a full-blown litre class. The bike displays an almost supernatural ability to connect with the rider and the road. Light, agile and rock steady, the harder I pushed her around the corners, the more comfortable and forgiving she felt. Together we danced from corner to corner, humming to the howl of an RSV4 RF on song.

Benefits of its reworked chassis geometry and severe weight loss are further felt when it comes to stopping power. Taking charge of braking duties are twin 320mm Brembo discs and radially mounted four-piston M430 Monobloc callipers with sintered pads up front and a 220mm disc with Brembo dual-piston callipers at the rear. Even with the ABS switched off (we do like living on the edge) the brakes feel sublime in both bite and progression. But the Bosch 9MP Race ABS adds a whole new dimension to peace of mind.

The experience of riding the RSV4 RF is something beyond the simple ridermachine-terrain union that everyone harps about. Its smooth and energetic 198bhp motor aided by an adept electronics package, reworked chassis (resulting in much improved dynamics) and top-class suspension and braking kit gives this bike a genuine race-ready demeanour. That’s not something you’ll get in any average litre-class bike.

Type 999.6cc, liquid-cooled, V4
Bore X Stroke 78.0 x 52.3mm
Compression 13.6:1
Fuelling Marelli EFI, 48mm throttle bodies
Claimed Power 198bhp @ 13,000rpm
Claimed Torque 115Nm @ 10,500rpm
RBW/Riding Modes Yes, Three
Traction Control Yes, Eight
ABS Yes, Bosch 9MP
Quickshifter Yes, with blipper
Wheelie Control Yes, Three
Launch Control Yes, with Pit Limiter
Frame Aluminium dual beam
Front Suspension 43mm Ohlins, fully adjustable
Rear Suspension Ohlins TTX shock, fully adjustable
Front Brakes Brembo M50 calipers, 320mm discs
Rear Brakes 2-piston calipers, 220mm disc
Wheelbase 1,420mm
Seat Height 845mm
Dry weight 180kg
Fuel Capacity 18.5 litres