New mini-sportsbike from Italian manufacturer
Its RSV4 1100 superbike is the connoisseur’s choice for hardcore trackday and sportsbike fans. And the RS660 middleweight parallel twin stands out in that class as a non-nonsense, committed racer for the road.
Away from the track, the Tuono 1100 and 660 nakeds and Tuareg 660 are all doing great work as premium, high-tech mildly-exotic options in some important road bike classes.
So what next? Well, it seems like Aprilia is now looking to take care of smaller bike fans, with this, the new RS457. It’s a mini-sportsbike, released just before the San Marino MotoGP, and we didn’t get many hints about its arrival. The firm’s released some technical details – but is keeping a fair bit of the story up its sleeves at the moment.
What we do know is that there’s an all-new 457cc parallel twin engine, bolted into a proper aluminium twin-spar frame, with a race-replica full fairing, that apes the bike’s bigger RSV and RS siblings.
The engine makes 47bhp, right on the limit for A2 licence holders, and uses ride-by-wire fuel injection, a DOHC head, four-valves per cylinder and water cooling to make that power.
We don’t know anything about the bore and stroke, balance shafts, or the like at the moment, nor do we know where the motor is made – in Italy or overseas.
The chassis is built around that slick aluminium frame (the only one in the class), with a steel gull-wing swingarm, monoshock rear suspension and 41mm USD front forks. There’s only preload adjustment on both ends, which is a little disappointing, but helps us work out the role of this bike.
That’s also assisted with the brakes setup: there’s a single four-piston radial caliper and 320mm disc up front, but the caliper is made by ByBre, which is Brembo’s subsidiary in India, that produces parts for the home market there and entry-level bikes elsewhere.
Finally, the RS457 has sporty tyre sizes: 110/70 17 front and 150/60 17 rear, with cast aluminium wheels. But the tyres in the promo pics are an Indian brand – Eurogrip, made by TVS.
So the brakes, tyres and basic suspension hint that the RS457 is being built outside Italy (the press release only says it has been developed in Noale), allowing it to be priced at the entry level to match competitors like the Yamaha R3, Honda CBR500R and Kawasaki Ninja 400 twin.
They also match up with the weight: the RS457 tips the scales at 159kg dry, or 175kg wet, which is again right on the power-to-weight limit for an A2 bike with 47bhp.
Aprilia’s clearly selling the mini-RS as an A2 bike then, with the limitations of that class built-in, rather than making a non-compliant machine which could also be detuned to suit the class.
Where the RS457 spec does stand out is in its electronic package: it comes with a Bosch engine management system that operates the ride-by-wire throttle, and also facilitates a three-way switchable traction control setup, three rider power modes and optional quickshifter.
There’s LED lighting all round plus backlit switchgear, which is nice, and the 457 also gets a proper five-inch full colour TFT LCD dashboard to access all the rider aids and information.
Michele Colaninno, the CEO at the Piaggio Group (Aprilia’s parent company) was fulsome in his praise of the new bike. “In recent years, the Aprilia brand has seen an intense burst of renewal, also supported by continued progress in the racing world. The recent introduction of the 660 family, with RS and Tuono first and Tuareg later, has expanded its target, creating a full and competitive range.
We are now ready to take another step towards the future with an astonishing bike developed entirely in Noale, capable of stimulating and thrilling young people and opening up huge potential in new markets, near and far.”
So – a very interesting new bike, though perhaps a diversion from the firm’s normal modus operandi – there are no heavy steel swingarms on the RS660 or RSV4 1100 (though the 660 can be detuned for an A2 licence).
Firms need to expand their remit though, and getting a chunk of both the European novice A2 sector, as well as bigger markets in Indian and SE Asia, makes a lot of sense. The RS457 will be economical to build, especially if its produced away from Noale, and once you add in the inevitable Tuono and Tuareg versions, it will mean the firm has a ready-made lightweight range.
Will we also get an Extrema version of the RS457 for full licence holders, with aluminium swingarm, adjustable suspension, and a tuned-up 60bhp motor to take on the Kawasaki ZX-4RR? Now that would be something to celebrate…