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Aprilia RXV 450 Enduro

If Angelina Jolie were a dirt bike, she'd be an RXV.

by Martin Hackworth 

Photos: Dan Colvin, Martin Hackworth

Aprilia RXV 450 Enduro

rxv wheelie

     The Aprilia RXV 450 is a revolutionary off-road motorcycle that oozes power, sophistication and, inasmuch as it is possible for any inanimate object to do so, sex appeal. Offroad innovations abound. For starters there's the 449 cc fuel injected 77 degree twin that sends about 55 hp to the Michelin Enduro Comp III out back. Bore and Stroke are 76 x 41.9 mm and the compression ratio is 12:5.1. The 450 twin produces oodles of smooth, tractable power allowing the lithe Aprilia to pull hard right off idle well into overrev territory. Power is spread over a very broad range, more so than with a single, but there is less engine-braking. It's smoother than any single of our acquaintance even without a counterbalancer. Titanium valves and magnesium covers help to keep the weight of the engine down. Claimed dry weight is about 262 lbs but the muscular little Aprilia actually feels lighter.  
     To us the most intriguing feature of the RXV is fuel injection. Here in Idaho enduro style rides can encompass elevation changes of 8000 feet and temperatures from below freezing to over 100 degrees F. We here at MoJazz really like the idea of well-sorted electronic fuel injection keeping the engine properly aspirated.  
    The perimeter frame features a steel trellis structure, that uses the engine as a stressed member, with beautiful aluminum plates fitted to the outside. Seat height is a relatively tall 39.2 inches. The wheelbase is 58.9 inches and the ground clearance is 15.6 inches. The kickstand has a spring strong enough to pogo stick the bike over the moon and does not have a particularly intuitive or reassuring full down position. Based on our similar experiences with various Ducati's we'd have to conclude that this is an Italian thing.

     After throwing a leg over the RXV one is immediately impressed by how narrow the twin engine layout allows the chassis to be. The cockpit is equipped with an electronic dash and the outboard controls are relatively intuitive. There's an innovative cold start button next to the electric start on the right side of the handlebars. Thumb the RXV to life and all of the outback is rewarded with a wonderful mechanical cacophony - one that'd do Aaron Copland proud - erupting in a series of muscular blats from the beautiful twin underseat exhausts. 
rxv slim
rxv frame and swingarm      The wet clutch engages the engine smoothly which is a very good thing because the little Aprilia accelerates like a rocket. The RXV is without a doubt the easiest dirt bike on the planet to loop. Any ham-fisted treatment of the throttle immediately results in the front wheel arcing high into the sky.

     We think that lurid wheelies are the best thing since sliced whole-wheat bread but only when we command them. The RXV quickly develops a mind of it's own with any twitch of the right hand. I see few steep single-track trails anywhere in the RXV's future without remapping via the com port on the bike. That said it's pretty close to fabulous for it's intended use and we're sure that a few hours with a laptop and perhaps a Power Commander would cure the unwanted abruptness that ails it.

     The 270/240 mm floating caliper brakes work just fine and the wave style rotors are tres cool. Gearing is insanely tall and we wouldn't even bother to leave the showroom without a set of replacement sprockets.
    Handling is exceptional courtesy of the first rate suspension, near perfect fore aft weight balance and stiletto like width of the chassis. The suspension at both ends is fully adjustable and surprisingly good for stock. The 45mm inverted front fork works well for it's intended use (no double jumps). The rear Sachs shock sits in a rigid swingarm cum modern art sculpture that is without a doubt the most sumptuous unit ever to appear on a dirt bike.

     We found the static sag settings to be adequate for riders of average weight but we didn't have enough time to determine if the excessive dive in the front (we could easily compress the fork to nearly full stroke) could be dialed out or would require a beefier spring (our guess is the latter). The rear spring is definitely on the soft side and the Aprilia squats noticeably on it's haunches under hard acceleration. That aside the stock suspension is more than adequate for light enduro riding with normal weight riders and imparts to the bike remarkably reassuring handling.
rxv 450
Dan explores the function of the mysterious JATO switch.
rxv 450
    Like every Italian twin we've ever ridden the engine produces prodigious quantities of heat. To prevent a Chernobyl style meltdown the RXV is equipped with a beefy cooling fan to assist in removing said heat that produces enough prop induced yaw to ground-loop a DC-3. Years of bitter experience with race engines make us wary of such grenades but Aprilia has a fine overall track record for engine reliability. 

     We had the opportunity for an extended demo ride on the RXV 450 courtesy of our friend Keith Walker and the crew of Roy and Mike at Spinners in Idaho Falls. Based on our 90 minute evaluation we'd say that the RXV is absolutely spot on for it's intended purpose. It's no motocrosser, nor is it a technical trail bike, but for enduro riding it's the cat's meow.

     We give the Aprilia RXV 450 Enduro four thumbs up and the MoJazz seal of approval.
Aprilia RXV 450 Enduro

Engine Type: 770 V twin four-stroke, liquid cooled. Single overhead cam with rocker operated exhaust valves, chain timing drive, 4 valve heads, titanium valves, replaceable wet sleeves
Fuel System: Integrated engine management system controlling ignition and fuel injection
Ignition: Electronic
Alternator: 340 W
Lubrication: Dry sump with external oil tank; separate gear box lubrication
Clutch: Multiple discs in oil bath, cable operated
Length: 87.5 inches
Dry Weight: 262.3 lbs
Tank Capacity: 2.1 gallons
Available Colors: Black
MSRP: $8,199
Cool Factor: Tres!
rxv 450
See and hear the Aprilia RXV 450 Enduro in action

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Many thanks to our friends at Spinners of Idaho in Idaho Falls. 

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