Well Aprilia certainly had a big week at EICMA, or should we say, a big fortnight. They debuted the RS 660 at the show this week, and I believe the show was also the first opportunity for anyone to see the RSV4 1100 live, in the flesh. They did however beat everyone else to the punch by releasing the press packet on this thing prior to EICMA…my guess would be in order to steal just a touch of the spotlight from their closest rival, Ducati, who were obviously planning to steal the show with the debut of their V4R.
This bike is the reverse of the Ducati V4R, it is not a homologation special, but rather a “cheater bike.” This bike, which will sit alongside the 999 cc RR in the RSV4 line up, is 1078 cc’s, good for a claimed 217 HP @ 13 200 RPM. A whopping number last week, but not quite as stout as the fully legal 998 CC Duc V4…I can now see why they wanted to be first. They knew they would not be on top for long.
The motor is controlled by Bosch electronics, probably not technically identical to those on the Duc, but pretty fucking close, so you can count on them being fantastic.
The changes to the bike are actually more extensive than just boring out the motor and slapping on some winglets, which they obviously have done, it’s 2019…if you don’t have 220 HP and some winglets you are a fucking peasant. Aprilia have actually made some fairly substantial changes to geometry. The crafty Italians have reduced offset and the angle of the triples by 2 mm each. Bringing the front wheel 4 mm closer to the COG. In theory this should make the bike turn in a little bit more aggressively. In order to offset, pun intended, the changes made upfront, trail has been increased by 2 mm. The swingarm has also received some updates, in order to increase stiffness…sure thing, we could all be a little stiffer.
Suspension is the usual high quality blue and gold stuff, NIX 43 mm forks up front, which now have .2 inches more travel, and a TTX shock in the rear. You can not go wrong with the Ohlins stuff, gold standard for a reason.
The Aprilia will be getting the same new Stylema calipers as found on the Ducati V4R, which means they will be the best on the market. The outgoing M50’s they replace are still the second best set of OEM calipers out there. Again mixing form with questionable amounts of real world function, the bike will also come equipped with carbon fibre cooling ducts, which are strangely not pictured in the catalogue shots, they are however pictured in the action shots taken at Imola. They certainly wont hurt anything, and I believe that much like the winglets they are simply there to please the posers and the police at WSBK.
Further bling, with function…forged Aluminium wheels, the Akrapovic exhaust system and data logging capabilities all come standard.
How much will this well equipped, track ready cheater bike cost…as of yet, we do not know. I can however tell you it likely wont be cheap, but I am also willing to tell you it will likely be cheaper than the V4R, so in that company, its the frugal option.
EICMA DEBUT -- DUCATI V4R
As I said in the earlier piece, EICMA…WTF is EICMA, Ducati rarely disappoints come November. This year was predictable, with last years move to the “cheater" 1103 CC V4, and plans to run the machine in WSBK, BSB and countless other series a 1000 CC homologation special had to be in the works. Emphasis on had to be.
The final product, its nothing if not beautiful. Nose on, it has a bit of resemblance to the bloated whale Honda markets as the CBR 1000 RR, from every other angle, it is near perfection. Even the fucking winglets look good, stretching the fairings in just the right places, to help over come what looks to be a bloated waistline. This is simply a trick of the eye however, as the fairings are in fact narrower than those on the V4S. The extra tall race screen also seems to stretch the bike out, giving it an instant race ready presence. The winglets, which we also see on the new Aprilia look to be a standard issue item for the 2019 and beyond street machines, at least in homologation trim. They are probably useless on a street bike, scratch that, they are useless on a street bike, but at 168 MPH Ducati claim they throw 66 pounds of down-force on the front wheel. Chaz Davies will enjoy that, you and I will likely never notice.
The heart of the Duc is obviously the key piece of the homologation puzzle, the 998 CC plant makes an awe inspiring 221 HP at 15250 rpm. With the optional Akrapovic system it is said to make a claimed 234 HP at 15 500 rpm, notice I did say claimed, the Italians do tend to err on the side of bluffing when it comes to HP numbers, so there is a chance that number is a tad unrealistic, but for 2019, big numbers like that seem to be quickly becoming reality. Titanium has been used to construct the connecting rods, as well as the inlet valves. Less weight + stronger being the result.
Controlling that 220 odd hp will not be for the faint at heart, but the full suite of Ducati electronics, all developed by Bosch, who also develop the electronics for BMW and Aprilia, will be there to help you. The full list of acronyms I am going to skip, but rest assured they are state of the art, should try their best to help the mortals out, and should offer full customisation for those who wish to fine tune.
The frame is the same as the the V4R, at least in geometry, there has been some machining done to further reduce the weight.
Suspension is also track ready. The electronic, variably dampened front forks have been ditched in favour of a more conventional Ohlins NPX 43 mm set. The rear shock is also a high quality Ohlins TTX, one of the most widely used shocks in the world, you will see it in every paddock on the planet, for good reason, it works.
The last new piece of kit on the bike would be the Brembo calipers. Replacing the M50’s, which have been the shit the last few years, are the all new Brembo Stylema calipers. Said to be both lighter and more compact than the M50’s I am sure they will be nothing short of sublime.
The bike will list for 40 K USD and should arrive sometime in March, just in time for race season.
EICMA DEBUT -- APRILIA RS 660
…First of all, it is a concept, so I recommend not falling in love just yet, this might very well be the closest any of us get to this bike.
Disclaimers now out of the way. FUCK ME!!! As an unabashed middleweight twin lifer I can not begin to put my excitement down in words. When this bike first popped up in my feed, I stopped whatever it was I was doing, probably watching motorbikes run around in circles on TV, to jump up, run out of the room and show this thing to my fiancee. I did not give a flying fuck that she could not care less about a concept motorcycle, I had to share it with someone, and she has taken that fall for society.
For years many of us have pined for a proper, from the factory, high-spec middleweight twin. It could finally be here.
I am confident a bike that ‘resembles’ this one will make it to production. But I really do hope that what they produce mirrors this concept. They have the components and ability, I am just not certain they have the balls for it.
The statement from Aprilia on the RS 660 reads as follows; “[a bike for] a new generation of riders” looking for a bike to use “on the road as well as on the occasional track day.” Sounds like a plan.
The heart of the bike is all new, yet old. It is, at least in theory, the front two cylinders off of the Tuonos 1100 V4. Ape did not spill any real details on the motor, other than vague conceptual statements. No specs, no details about architecture, just the piece on the pedestal and the one in the bike. But if a production version shares any genealogy with its big brother, it will produce a boat load of torque. I hope they stick to that 660 displacement, but I am fearful that for cost reasons we might actually see a less highly strung, albeit larger displacement motor.
The frame and swingarm also take a bunch of ques from the RSV4. Both are aluminium like on the bigger bikes, the engine is a partially stressed member, just like the RSV4 and the swingarm looks quite similar to the one on the RSV4, at first glance at least. Aprilia are proud to point out the offset design of the swingarm which allows more room for the exhaust, honestly…who the fuck cares about that…call me old fashioned, but I want a swinger that works, the exhaust can get routed wherever the fuck it needs to. The more striking part of the rear end design is the lack of linkage, the shock, which on the concept appears to be an Ohlins OEM shock, bolts straight to the swingarm. This is not cutting edge for the motorcycle industry, KTM pushed it really hard in the 2010’s, but it is out side the norm for sport bikes. I will say that I think this is actually a good sign that this bike will make it to production. Why R&D a swingarm you have no intention of producing when you could have just grabbed one off the V4 assembly line.
The front end appears to be wearing the same Ohlins forks we find on many of the RSV4 and Tuono models, as well as the fantastic Brembo M50 calipers. I would be shocked if both of these made it to the base model production machine, but even to have them as an option would be a huge win for the track day fiends, club racers, and cafe posers alike.
Aprilia, if you are reading this please, I am begging you, pleading with you, stick to that 660 CC displacement. I will buy three… wrecked ones, to build into race bikes.
EICMA...WTF is EICMA
EICMA. Every November we here its name. It is the best time of year for those of us who spend hours scrolling through pictures of motorcycles. You are guaranteed at least one simply pornographic press packet from Ducati, who never disappoint, not to be outshone, BMW has been ratcheting up its press game in recent years as well. For 2018 Aprilia decided they would not be left in the cold, and in my opinion they have stolen the show from their European cohorts with two jaw dropping debuts. More on the specific debuts at EICMA 2018 in the coming days. The first step will be to explain what the fuck EICMA actually is. Short answer, a motorcycle show.
First off EICMA is an acronym, no, I have no fucking idea what it means. I am guessing the E is something exhibition related, and the M, motorcycle related. I am certain I could look this up, but in doing so I would be forced to read Italian, I already do enough of that any time I step into my shop.
How do you pronounce it? Simple IKE MA … ike as in Ikea, ma…well I really hope you do not struggle with that part.
How long has it been running? 76 years as of 2018. As far as I am aware it always takes place in early November.
Is it the Daddy of all motorcycle shows? Yes. Especially if you are partial to the sport bike genre.
Can you go? Yup. The first three days are reserved for the press and exhibitors themselves, after that is all said and done the masses storm the show for the next three days. Tickets are about 20 euros, flights to Italy not included.
Should you? Probably not. Pictures really do it justice.
Long Romantic Walks on the Track
Its 5 pm, you just finished your track day, if you didn’t toss your bike down the road you have a lot of time on your hands before getting back to it tomorrow. If you did wad up your bike, well you have zero time on your hands. Go recruit some friends and get that shit back together.
Our first instinct is usually to crack a beer, spark up a joint or go grab a meal in town. But those things can wait, this is prime time for reconnaissance… I would also say, if you are decently covert, you could probably combine a few of these activities and kill a few birds here.
It has been said so many times by so many riders, coaches, and assholes around the paddock that it has become a cliche, go slower to go faster. As horrifying as that sounds, it is simply fact. You can not have too strong a grasp on the fundamentals and there is no doubt track knowledge is invaluable.
No matter how many laps I have turned, or how much tape I have watched, there are always gaps in my track knowledge. I have found going for a nice walk to be a crucial part of my learning process. Even a casual stroll around the course with my fiancee will reveal something new.
As romantic as that is, I do think its more useful to take a slightly more analytic approach. First off, I always try and convince someone who is faster, wiser or smarter than I am to bounce ideas off, or straight up steal from. As my good friend Dustin Walbon says, you can’t have any shame in your game, most of us will never be fastest rider at every circuit in every corner, there are no shortcuts, but doing what the fast guys do is rarely a poor choice. Watch them, get a tow from them, ask them. If they are confident in their abilities, they will be happy to share.
Second, get a track map, you should already have one, but if not…for fuck sake, go grab one. Identify the corners you need to work on, if you have no idea where to start you can’t go wrong identifying the most important exit corners. Using Thunderhill in Northern California as our working example, 6, 9, 11, 15 are all crucial. Execute them correctly, your lap times will reward you. Fuck them up…your lap is write off.
Bring that map and a writing implement with you, pro tip, a surface to write on doesn’t hurt either. Now get walking. You will be amazed how huge these tracks are…getting to turn 1 can be a fucking grind, and god forbid you have a track with some elevation change. You will get a bit of exercise as an added supplement to your new found knowledge. Walk the line you think you should be on. If you really have no idea, look for the rubber, however as almost all tracks share the facility with cars this can be misleading, this is where having a superior really comes in handy. Its a lot easier to grab a tow at walking pace.
Things to focus on.
Reference points, anything you can use to orient yourself on the track, or potentially use as a brake marker should be noted. Literally, write that shit down, you brought your map for a reason. The great example at Thunderhill is in turn 9. Turn 9 is inherently difficult because it crests a blind hill and the track pushes out wider than you might expect. If you go as the crow flies, you are fucked. So you need something to keep you from turning in to early. I use the water tower off in the distance, as soon as I catch a glance of that, I am moving my eyes down and to the right, towards turn 10.
Brake markers, these are a little trickier to work out at walking pace. But if you already have one it is a lot easier to work off that starting point. Look around, see if you can spot one that is just a tad deeper…or a lot deeper if you are looking to make up 3 seconds in one corner. If you are as slow as me…its entirely possible. If you are already rapid…you must have a lot of time on your hands if you have read this far.
The surface, even on a brand new track the surface is rarely perfect. Look for bumps, seams, cracks, anything out of the ordinary. This can be a huge advantage, often in these cases inches count. Maybe not quite as much as they do down the front of your leathers, but pretty fucking close. One line might be littered with bumps or have you crossing seams, yet four inches to the right its smooth sailing. Obviously racing will make you go places you would rather not, but given the choice take the good line. Imperfections on the surface also make great reference points/brake markers.
The curbs, obviously these can really just be an extension of the surface. At some tracks they are literally just that, painted tarmac. At others, they might as well be a fucking sidewalk. At our example, Thunderhill, you have both. Most of the outside curbs you can, and should run on to, some of the inside ones, straight nasty. Exiting 14 I aim to run on the paint, as that is all it is, painted pavement. When the tires are hot, the difference in grip is negligible. Walk along them, pay attention to the gaps in between the curb and the pavement, if there is one at all, how wide is it? Are the curbs flat or cambered? Do they maintain the same camber? or fall away on the back side?
The run offs, this can be quite frankly frightening. Some of them are perfectly manicured, some tracks even have paved run offs, others…you do not even want to look. But you should. Knowing where you can’t get it wrong is important. Again, using our example of Thunderhill, turn 8 is the fastest corner on the track, a great place to make up time…but there is not a lot of room to run off the track safely. There is a bit of a trench/depression very close to the track, don’t end up there. The flip side, as of October 2018, the exit to turn 1 is graded perfectly, and wouldn’t mean much to run off on.
Changes, tracks change constantly. Incidents, time, temperature meteorites, poor decisions by track maintenance personnel any of these things can drastically change the track itself, or the environment around the track. Lines may change, and reference points often change. That tree you loved looking for in the distance, its an overpriced live edge table now. If its your first day back at a track after a long absence, get out there and make sure it still goes left and right in the same places.
Now go grab dinner and get ready to put your new knowledge to work in the morning. Trust me, you will go quicker.
Track map courtesy of Thunderhill Raceway Park.
Thunderhill turn 2.
Thunderhill turn 5, looking towards 3/4
Thunderhill. The pit exit is a natural place to start your romantic journey.
Thunderhill turn 3. A nasty off camber bitch. The run off is not at all bad though, I tested it out twice on my last trip.
Pavement, Curb, Astroturf, Stuff you do not want to ride on.
COTA. Paved run offs and fancy art work.
SV650 Over a Decade On
It has been seventeen years since the first curvy SV650 graced Suzuki showrooms, thirteen since the pointy bike made its debut. Two years later, in 2005 the bike had gone through a series of tweaks and been given a much sexier black frame. This bike is one of the all-time great motorcycles.
I truly do not believe there is a better machine for a rider to learn performance riding on. First off, its price point was, and still is nearly unbeatable, its downfall, the price point. Simply put, everything in front of the steering head was crap, as was the rear shock, which frankly had no business being fitted to a motorcycle. We will double back to these points later.
The positive attributes are much more plentiful. Firstly, the bike is a looker, the simple round headlight and minimal bikini fairing are perfect, the gauge cluster is a balanced blend of analog and digital. Everything you need save for possibly a gear position indicator, a non-issue for the seasoned rider, but for the inexperienced, it is a nice feature. The tail section is one of nicest units to ever come from an OEM. Throw on a fender eliminator, and a Suzuki seat cowl, simply gorgeous. The tank is another strong point, beautiful and slim, thanks to what is the obvious key to this simple bike.
The motor is hung from the gorgeous pressure-cast aluminum truss frame. The first gen bikes tended to look a bit like a bloated take on the simple trellis frames coming out of Bologna, with the second generation bike that is not the case, it looks great and is immediately recognizable. The motor itself is a fucking marvel, sure it makes just 75 hp, but it is immediate and very user-friendly. Fuelling is quite good from the factory but like almost any bike, an ignition module and pipe go a long long way to liven it up. Another dead simple and cheap mod is a Timing Retard Eliminator (TRE). They can be sourced from svrider.com user 92westshady for a mere $27, worth every penny.
From the factory, the bike is really really good, but it fell short of being spectacular. There is really no excuse for this as Suzuki had every part required to make it so, even in 2005. There is an explanation, price, which lucky for SV Owners has only gone down. You can fix the suspension and brakes for under a grand with simple hand tools and a jack to place under the engine. To get my feet wet and my hands dirty I started at the back with the rear shock. This is a dead simple modification, the toughest part is getting the rear into and un-sprung position. This could be accomplished any number of ways, jacking the bike up from the motor, or lifting the rear sub-frame from above. I chose the later. From here its a matter of unbolting the old shock and replacing it with a model of your choosing. There are a number of popular options, from CBR600's, as well as most the Kawi and Suzuki sport-bike ranges. There is a great thread outlining compatible models and there spring rates on svrider.com I went for a ZX14 model, this decision was based simply on spring rate. It came fitted with a spring suitable for the 200# + crowd. I found mine on eBay for about 65 USD. I reused the original hardware, job done.
Now to the front, this job seems slightly more complex, but really it is not. What does the SV need? Better suspension and better brakes, well the fix can be accomplished one of two ways, a bunch of calls to Race-Tech and Brembo could do the job, but you would still be left with a dated set of axial mount brakes.
Or you could go with the easier, cheaper, and simply put, best option, a GSXR front end.
You can source these on eBay all day long for under 1000 USD and if you really put the time in, much less. I paid less than 600 for my last front end, everything save for a tire. Almost any GSXR front end, dating all the way back to the SRAD, will fit on the SV without any modification, however, the 2004-2005 600/750 is the best option. This comes down to a rather simple reason, the ignition mount on the top triple is in the same location on both bikes. Make sure to get the master cylinder recalled if it has not already been taken care of. This swap truly transforms the bike, the fork is not even comparable, but for me, the real selling point is the braking power. I went for a bit of a mash-up myself, using a Brembo 19X8 master cylinder pushing R6 calipers. The Brembo clearly brings more stopping power over OEM, the calipers, however, were simply a cosmetic choice. I also sourced some spacers allowing to run 320mm rotors.
The end result is some great looking jewelry if nothing else. I also chose to put on some 1.5 inch riser clip ons, but the stock units would work just fine. Everything needed to mount your bikini fairing, headlight and gauge cluster is available from various vendors on svrider.com
But I went a different route. You know that beautiful bikini fairing i talked about? Ya...fuck that thing, garbage. The headlight was the toughest part of this project for me, and all that hard work was for nothing. The lights I spent hours trying to build just wouldn't fit the bike in the way I wanted. So I settled if you can call it settling when you end up with something so beautiful, for an MT03 headlight. It looks great.
The rest of the modifications are simple every day, every bike mods. An OEM gel seat, svracingparts.com rearsets, Renthal grips, Pazzo clutch lever, a 520 chain conversion with more aggressive gearing and lastly Tech Spec tank grips.
I settled on a more aggressive, but still everyday friendly 15/45 combination.
At the end of the day, I feel I have built the perfect street bike, it is a shame Suzuki didn't feel the same way.
SV Racing Parts Rearsets, 530 Chain, ZX14 Shock.
September 1, 2016
My first bike, a 2005 SV650N
Ari Henning, of Motor Cyclist's, now famous SV650N
A 2008 GSXR front end. Purchased complete with parts not pictured for 550 USD.
R6 Calipers clamping 320mm rotors.
I settled on a more agressive, but still everyday friendly 15/45 combination.
A Vapor gauge fit perfectly and kept things as minimal as possible.