Ergos and Controls
Head: If you’re six foot plus then you’ll probably find the bars just a little bit too low (especially when the plank of a seat is forcing you to stand up EVERYWHERE) and unless you like old skool high seat/low bars bikes you’ll want to source a set of risers.
The bodywork on most dirtbikes curves outwards to meet the edge of the rads, though on the Aprilia the panels suddenly jut out around the radiators and when cornering you notice that your leg’s pushed out that bit further than normal. (Incidentally, the bigger tank on our bike didn’t feel particularly incongruous and added some much needed gas mileage.)
But the strangest thing is the action of the twistgrip, which doesn’t turn progressively. Instead there’s a noticeable ‘step’ in the initial part of the turn, which is, we’re told, linked to the way the two throttle bodies open at different rates at low rpm.
Heart: If you’re under six foot then you probably won’t have much of a problem with the cockpit, and the hard seat will force you to adopt the style of greats such as Merriman and Everts and ride everywhere standing up. (Well, that’s what you tell your mates, rather than admitting that the seat’s as comfortable as being disembowelled!)
And the step in the throttle? Yep, that’s a bit weird… but you do get used to it!
Head: It does look gorgeous, there’s no doubt about that, even if the original design has been somewhat tainted by the need to have somewhere on the sides to stick race numbers. But replacement plastics aren’t as readily available as they would be for a more mainstream machine and if you’re the kind of person who’s swayed by what off-the-shelf graphics kits and aftermarket baubles you can slather your bike in then this simply isn’t the dirtbike for you.
Befitting such a fine-looking machine, the sidestand is a work of art. But it’s a lousy flip-up item which holds the bike perilously close to upright. And even if its wide foot does mean it doesn’t sink into the dirt your heart will certainly sink the first time you park the RXV to open a gate and turn to find a light breath of wind has sent it crashing to the floor!
Heart: The RXV’s styling? Be still my beating heart! Even with the twin pipes long since consigned to the spares bin, and those add-on sidepanels looking a little strange, the V-twin Aprilia remains one of the most sensational looking motorcycles ever. We mourned the passing of the ‘trellis’ swingarm last year, though the replacement is still a beautiful piece of ally-work, and, like a 916 Ducati, it’s one of those bikes you never tire of looking at. Though there’s no getting away from the fact that the phrase ‘form over function’ could’ve been invented for that sidestand..!