First Impressions: Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory vs. Ducati Panigale V4S Comparisons

Took the 1100 Factory to Catalyst Reaction today for a suspension set-up just as I do with all my bikes almost immediately upon delivery. As I suspected the front end was too soft and the back end was too stiff. So appropriate adjustments were made to damping and preload. End result is a very nice riding bike with decent compliance over normal roads/highways. Also did the first oil change (150 miles) as I do with all my bikes. I do this because most of the break-in particles are shed in the first 50-100 miles. The next oil change will be done at just under 1000 miles. Both bikes will be run on a dyno in a couple of days (just want to accumulate another couple hundred miles on it). Those results should be very interesting because their engines, while both explosively powerful, couldn’t feel any more different on the road.

After I came back from my ride, I hopped on to the Ducati V4S and took it for a 20 min ride while my riding impressions of the Ape were still fresh in my head. While I’ll have a far more exhaustive and detailed review posted up in a few days (after the dyno test) and then again in a couple of weeks (after the track test), here are some take away thoughts after using both bikes in the real world where 95% of the time you are just cruising around with only 5% of the time when you are actually attacking a corner. All while doing so surfaces that are not always as smooth as that of a racetrack:

1) The 1100 Factory exhibits more mid-corner stability It is less upset by rough inputs. This partly has to do with how much input it requires from the rider. Counter-steering to initiate a corner takes maybe 50% more force than it does in the V4S. The Duc feels like a lighter bike. Almost like a 600 but with the power output of a nuclear reactor.

2) The 1100 Factory’s engine is a masterpiece. It makes all the right sounds and has a power curve that feels as flat as Nevada. It builds speeds at an absurd rate without much drama. The Duc, on the other hand, really lights your hair on fire when you open it up. Especially in the first few gears were the longer swing arm and reverse spinning crank make it more wheelie resistant and able to put more power to the ground before wheel/traction control intervenes by cutting the throttle. The taller 60 profile tire on the Duc also gives it a bigger contact patch which helps. But the taller tire also gives a subtle “balloon-y” effect where the rear of the bike doesn’t feel quite as connected to the ground as it does on the Ape. I’ll be curious how they feel in a couple of weeks at Thunderhill Raceway when they are both shod with the same Pirelli slicks. The Duc’s engine is definitely adopts more of a Jekyll and Hyde personally. At lower engine speeds, it feels and sounds like any other Ducati v-twin in the way it lopes smoothly and pleasantly. No harshness. Just a lot of character. But when it spins up it adopts an almost manic presence devoid of harness but full of fury. It’s certainly the more dramatic feeling engine of the two. Where it takes a distant second to the Ape is in sound quality. But then again, the Ape is probably the best sounding bike I’ve every heard. It revs like the 1000cc RSV4 but with the snap, crackle and pop of the 1100 Tuono which, quite frankly, is the perfect combination.

3) Aprilia’s focus on racetrack prowess has ever more clear by how out-of-its-element it feels riding over rough back roads. Even after setting up the suspension, you can tell that it wants to live on nothing short of a smooth and polished race track. The dynamically adjustable Öhlins on the Duc really shine in this environment. While no super bike is meant to perform in these conditions, the Duc still gets the job done while the Aprilia needs to be ridden 10-15mph slower in order for the rider to feel as confident. But when a nice smooth corner arrives, you can almost hear the Ape “hold my beer” and attack the corner in a way that few other bikes can. Utter confidence and predictability.

Ran out of time! A lot more info to come as time permits 🙂

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