2003 Aprilia RSV Mille Super Streetbike

14 Jun 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2003 Aprilia RSV Mille Super Streetbike


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Back in the late 1990s, twin-cylinder sportbikes were in their ascendancy. World Superbike rider Carl Fogarty had won multiple championships on his Ducati 916 twin, causing nearly every manufacturer on the planet to hit the drawing boards for a twin of its own. While Suzuki and Honda weighed in, a little-known maker of two-stroke scooters and small-displacement racebikes produced what is arguably the best twin sportbike of all.

Aprilia’s RSV Mille (mille is Italian for one thousand) took four years to develop and proved to be worth the wait. Fast, well designed and, unlike many other Italian sportbikes, flawlessly reliable, the Mille proved an instant success for Aprilia. But will this exotic thoroughbred suit your fancy?

From the outset, Aprilia built the Mille with the best available components.Available in two varieties-a standard or RSV model with the same 43mm Showa forks gracing Ducati’s 916-998 line and an upgraded RSV-R model that rolls on top-shelf forks from Swedish suspension kings hlins-the two bikes are separated by only a few hundred dollars on the used market. The R model also benefits from lightweight OZ wheels in an odd blue color, an hlins rear shock and a steering damper. The standard RSV Mille is no second-tier bike and has enough heehaws to keep the average techno geek happy.

Those amenities include a dash that looks like something from Deep Space Nine; inside the rather complex console you’ll find a 40-lap timer and a computer that records the top speed and average speeds from your ride-both of which are nifty for impressing folks at the post-ride gathering. Both the rear shock and front forks are fully adjustable, and with such precise handling, the Mille is one sportbike where adjustments can make a significant difference in handing.

Considered tall in stature by some testers, the Mille’s polished aluminum perimeter frame and GP-inspired banana-shaped swingarm provide more detailed feedback than your boss on employee evaluation day. Even though it cranks out a modest 113 rear-wheel horsepower on the dyno, the engineers at Aprilia designed the Mille’s sleek bodywork in a wind tunnel. This means the 998cc, 60-degree V-twin can reach speeds close to 170 mph (that’s as fast as many Japanese four-cylinder literbikes of the same period).

While the Ducati 916 family was known for its tiny dimensions, the Mille looks beefy and almost oversized in comparison. The two motorcycles, however, share a similar 55.5-inch wheelbase and weight of around 460 pounds fully fueled. The major difference lies in their respective ergonomics; the Mille’s more generous proportions and slightly taller handlebars make for a ride that’s downright comfy by sportbike standards.

Aprilia Blue Marlin

In addition to all-day comfort, there’s enough storage space beneath the passenger seat hump for lunch or a spare T-shirt and maps. Make no mistake, the Mille may be comfortable for day trips but this is no sport-touring motorcycle. Take a Mille to a track day and an experienced rider can show those odd-looking, Buck Rogers taillights (everybody compares this bike’s appearance to that of a spaceship) to any number of Japanese four-cylinder hyperbikes.

And with plentiful torque surging from around 4000 rpm to the buzzy 10,500-rpm redline, you won’t need to work the gearbox much at all on a nice set of corners.

With its vibrant, race-inspired design, there’s really no reason to go overboard when it comes to customizing a Mille. The frame seems to maintain its polish nicely, so leave the chrome at home. Wise Mille owners will invest a few bucks in upgraded running gear as the stock Showa suspension can fade a bit over time.

Rumors about poor spare parts availability surround Italian bikes, but what few parts are needed can be easily tracked down through Internet suppliers. This is a sportbike that unexpectedly entered the twins race and came to dominate-albeit in owners’ hearts rather than on the track.

Aprilia Blue Marlin

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