RIDING DIFFERENT BIKES. RACING SOME
They are two true super bikes. The Yamaha R1 2010 and the aprilia RSV4 2010. The first is a true Japanese beauty, the second an Italian thoroughbred. The Yamaha feels big and intimidating, while the aprilia feels small and aggressive. How much do the two differ from one another? And how are they alike? We’ll tell you all about it.
Both provide you with a very decent amount of power and torque. More than decent, actually. It seems to be the only thing they have in common. When you put the two next to each other, they couldn’t look more different. The Yamaha R1 is a true show of force and looks like it means serious business. It stares at you with its round headlights like it’s trying to intimidate you on the spot.
The aprilia RSV4 looks element and nimble. The headlights give a different feeling. They almost look like puppy eyes, trying to seduce you. It’s a completely different sight. It’s cute. A bit mischievous even. But don’t get fooled. There’s a 180 hp engine hiding inside this cutie, just like there is in the R1.
Two heavy motorcycles. At least, when it comes to power. ‘ Cause they aren’t that heavy in weight. Maybe for today’s standards, but not for 2010-standards. Both end up weighing approximately 200 kg with fluids. And both seem to beg for some sporty riding. They ask you – of better said ‘demand’ – for speed. So they don’t differ that much on that aspect. But the looks alone already give you the feeling that they each have a different riding experience to give. So it’s time to go for a ride!
We start with the Yamaha R1. You notice it is a big bike the moment you get on it. Are you a tall rider? Then the R1 provides you with plenty of space for those long legs. At least, for a sport bike. The front feels wide and the distance from seat to handle bars feels spacious. Definitely not a bad choice for taller motorcyclists.
Does this mean you can’t ride the Yamaha R1 as a tiny rider? Sure you can! I didn’t have any problem with the bike, and I only stand 1.68 m tall. Honestly, I find the R1 to be quite comfortable, taking in account that this bike is actually a race bike in every aspect. It handles very well, shifting gears goes effortlessly and it brakes really well with its stock brakes.
Next up is the aprilia RSV4. It’s a totally different feeling when you get on this Italian bike. In contrary to the R1, the RSV4 feels small and nimble. The seat height is higher, but the bike feels narrow and compact. The foot pegs are high and the distance from seat to handle bars feels short.
The RSV4 feels more natural to me, with my limited length. My body position makes more sense on the V4. Whereas the R1 feels big and spacious and I have to reach a bit for the handle bars, it all feels within reach on the aprilia. Only one minor detail; the ground does feel far out of reach. That’s a thing on both bikes. Both are quite high in seat height, so lots of tippy toe action. No big deal, but something to take into account for shorter riders.
But we don’t buy a bike to stand still with. Like I said, riding was no problem at all on both the R1 and the RSV4. Are you blessed with length in both your upper body as well as in your legs? Then it might cost you some extra effort to tuck in behind the windscreen on the V4. But also the RSV4 handles well, the gear box is smooth as butter and the brakes.. well Brembo did it again.
It won’t come as a surprise that these bikes were made for speed. But to my own surprise, the Yamaha R1 handles lower speeds very well too. Even commuting was a pleasure. I rode to work five times a week on this monster. It didn’t give me a reason to complain. Not once. A big advantage of this heavy machine? You don’t have to chance gears that much. Everything up to 100 km/h rides just fine in second gear. Want to save some fuel? Then just tap it to third.
Riding on a lower speed on the RSV4 demands a bit more energy. Roundabouts in second gear are a no go, while it’s no problem at all on the R1. You ride with a slightly slipping clutch all the time on the V4, especially in 30 km/h areas. This is a bit exhausting on longer rides. Have you passed the 30 and 50 km/h roads? And are you about to hit roads on which you can pick up the speed? Then you’re good to go!
The Yamaha R1 feels like a steam train on high speed, so to speak. The Big Bang engine growls and grunts. What a sound. You fall in love, instantly. Whereas Japanese bikes are known for their smooth engines and an almost screaming sound, the Yamaha R1 is the odd one out. And I love it. It doesn’t just look brilliant, it also feels and sounds brilliant. The Big Bang engine – also known as a cross plane engine, while this technically is a bit different – is a class act and provides a one of a kind riding experience. You’re all smiles as soon as you open the throttle.
Whereas the R1 spurts away intimidatingly but also very smoothly, the aprilia feels way more aggressive. It feels like a rocket, from 3.000 rpm up. And again, ear porn. The V4 engine growls as well. It sounds raw, wild and untamable. Again, all smiles.
If you ask me who takes first place on this aspect, I can’t provide you with an answer. Both bikes run so well and sound so good. The Yamaha R1 feels a bit more trustworthy, but that could also be just inside my head. Italian brands just have that reputation, of not being that trustworthy. That said, the aprilia didn’t give me any reason to worry. It ran super smooth and worked fine. It will be the preference for sound and feeling that will take the plunge on this part. Both sound and feel amazing, if you ask me.
After twisting the throttle for a bit, we’re off to ride some twisty roads. This is where you have to work on the Yamaha R1. It feels long and heavy on small twisties. It isn’t really, but in my experience you really have to work it through a turn. It’s a world apart from the aprilia RSV4.
While it feels like wrestling on the Yamaha R1, it feels very natural on the aprilia RSV4. The V4 feels way shorter and very nimble on the narrow twisty roads. It almost surprises me now and then. It falls into turns that easy, that I hit the inside of a turn way too early at first. It takes a bit of time to get used to, but once adapted it’s just so much fun. Both bikes feel very well balanced, though.
The overall riding experience feels quicker and more nimble on the RSV4. But it’s also tiring at lower speed. The R1 provides you with a steadier and almost ‘more relaxed’ overall riding experience. You just have to work it on the narrow twisty roads.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to test both bikes on track yet. My guts tell me, that the aprilia is more of an ‘everyone’s friend’. The whole ‘ working together’ part of the Yamaha R1 is something you have to like. Personally, I didn’t mind it. I even liked it on the roads. You really work together, while the aprilia gives you the feeling it will work for you. Still, both require you to ride with full focus of course.
What I want to say is; the aprilia RSV4 feels like a very race oriented road bike, while the Yamaha R1 feels more like an all round sporty road bike with roots in the racing world.
At the moment, I ride an aprilia RSV4 from 2017 on the roads. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love it that much. But I don’t enjoy riding it to work. Commuting on this bike is just not that fun. Also cruising with the girls who don’t ride that sporty is quite a hassle on the V4. I know, that’s not what it’s build for. But still, it was way more comfortable on the R1. And the R1 wasn’t build for that either.
So I find the Yamaha R1 to be a way more all round race bike. It handles sporty riding like champ (dûh), but handles cruising very well too. And everything in between. The aprilia RSV4 feels itself way more at home during sporty and racy riding.
Which bike suits you best can only be determined after some proper test riding. Are you in doubt whether to get yourself a Yamaha R1 or an aprilia RSV4? My advice would be; test them. Properly. Ride through city traffic, get onto the high way and ride some great twisties.
Of course I understand that’s a bit much to ask. But both bikes have their strong points and their weaknesses.
The Yamaha R1 and the aprilia RSV4 are two true super bikes. And they differ quite a bit from one another. What they have in common? A stunning design, a very interesting engine that runs extremely well and a growling sound that gives you goosebumps. Not just once. But every time you start it or twist the throttle.
That said, have you read our blog about the most luxurious Aprilia RSV4 ever yet?