The Aprilia RSV4 could have gone disastrously wrong

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This is the Aprilia RSV4 that could have been. Could have been if the original third-party prototype had continued through to production unaltered that is. When Aprilia first gave the RSV4 project the go ahead in 2005, they turned to Robbiano Design to turn their ideas into something physical. Robbiano conceived a two-part magnesium/aluminum frame with a matching swingarm and horrendously awful styling. That last thing’s been lost — the RSV4 embodies sex on wheels – but a lot of this original design has been retained.
Robbiano’s design used aluminum for the front section of the spars and
the headstock, integrating the air intakes into the frame, bonding that
material to magnesium for the rear half. A similar process was used to
create the swingarm. That’s been dropped on the production bike, but the
heavy mix of magnesium into typically aluminum components has been
retained; the Factory uses that material for its engine covers.

A clear carry over are the huge triangle engine hangers, which remain
one of the most definitive visual elements of the production bike.

Also present is the visual genesis of the RSV4′s whacky triple
headlight, here taking the form of a heinous dual headlight/ugly intake

There’s some other carry overs in some general shapes on the tank, seat
and fairings, but the RSV4 came a long way from this design, adapting an
RC212V-style super short tail, finned fuel tank cover, a minimal
fairing and, of course, the triple headlights. Thank god it did.

Robbiano Design

  • Duncan Domingue

    I hate to say this, since I know both Grant and Wes have a keen eye for design, but this bike looks pretty much like all the other current sportbikes out there. I mean no offence to anyone with a sense of aesthetics, I ride a naked V-Strom!

  • Jimboz

    Ye gads! Those are some Trans-Am-like nostrils. The thing looks like an angry Pumbaa from the front. It’s pretty bad, but only barely worse than the S1000RR. That thing looks cobbled together out of Transformer parts.

  • Peter

    how does the clay stay strong enough for a rider to sit on?

  • Pamberjack

    Horrendous? That’s maybe a touch drastic.

    It does look a little “skeletor”, but over all it just looks like another 1000cc sports bike to me…

  • Sean Smith

    Motorcycles can have a cleft palate? The smile train could use these shots to compare with the bike that actually got built for a less creepy ad in the motorcycle magazines.

  • Michele

    Robbiano is not the newest (916/F4), I think your title is wrong. For me it’s just different, more balanced and less violent. However, it is a beautiful bike and it is only a prototype, unfortunately .. maybe tomorrow a supersport 599 V4 like this?



  • Maarten

    Sweet clay model, I agree with ‘Pamberjack’ that horrendous is a bit too much.. I do not really appreciate the boxy air intake between the headlights, but the overall styling is looking good to me.
    I like the casted frame (the brown part), nice and coherent with the body panels.

  • sburns2421

    I don’t know if it is any better or worse than the production bike, they both are interesting. This prototype Aprilia isn’t ugly compared to abortions like the S1000RR or ZX-14.

  • Nick

    I’ll still have a 1992 900rr (or was it ’94), an SRAD 750, and I’ll even throw a 2005 GSXR 1000 in there to show I’m not a total grandpa.

  • DaFoxx

    The front end kind of reminds me of a tarantula trying to bite something. Ick.

  • brettvegas

    Coulda, woulda, shoulda.
    Aprilia didn’t go to production with the clay and balsa wood.
    They built the rsv4 like it ought to be built.

    I looked at a dusodoro last week, but I think I might get the guzzi.
    90hp/400lbs is too fast for me, I’d crash it. The motard is sure tempting though! The guzzi is classic tractor.


  • deckard

    The RSV4 is a very good looking bike. Aprilia definitely used the 2007 Honda RC212V MotoGP bike as the template for the RSV4. Side by side they are incredibly similar in design and proportion.

    But I am very disappointed with the frame on the RSV4. Aprilias have always had beautiful frames, see the 1st and 2nd generation Mille/RSV as well as the Falco. There is nothing remotely interesting about the RSV4 frame

    And that 3rd headlight was a very big mistake.

  • telekom

    It’s not that bad… it definitely is nowhere near as fugly as the new Ducati Multistrada 1200.

  • Sasha Pave

    I don’t know, there’s some nice elements in there. Superbikes are so cookie-cutter in design that it’s commendable to try and break free, like KTM did with the RC8.

    The production model is gorgeous, but it’s not necessarily a statement or overly distinguished.

    There must be a designer in Noale who has a fetish for the gold magnesium look. Very evident in the Tuono Factory R:

  • Swagger

    Ya know….I kinda like it.

    But like it or not, we’re neck deep in this kind of angular design ethos right now and will be for a while to someone brings something…..squishier….the market.

  • Nick

    clay model reminds me a lot of the S1000RR

  • Marshall Haas

    I’ll take one in model clay brown please. Yuck

  • Hugo

    It looks small, compact and interesting. The seat looks too “normal” (the “inverse” seat of the Aprilia looks much more interesting)The front though looks too different compared to the rest of the design language. The material-mix of magnesium and aluminum is very interesting and a shame they didn’t put that into production.
    The finished clay model looks a lot better regarding the proportions then the tape drawing and the fueltank looks like a typical Robbiano design in that it is similar to the Bimotas he designed

  • Howard Worton

    The face of a modern bike does much to opinionate the viewer – and this face is memorable to say the least. Other than that the bike, as others have said, only really differs from the production RSV4 in detail. Modern production bike design is so conservative, how could we expect anything other than what we got(Same as everything else, detail apart) ?

  • Zac

    Outside of the ugly ‘face’ and intake, I don’t see how this is a horrendous design. I rather like a lot of the surface transitions and proportional relationships. It’s nothing jaw dropping or exceptionally fresh, but there’s enough details to keep my eyes intrigued. The swingarm is overkill however.

    Jimboz, a lot of today’s modern bikes and vehicles look “cobbled together out of Transformer parts”, especially conceptual vehicles (which equate to inspiration for production). I don’t personally see that as a problem. In fact, I actually dig it. Is the problem that the forms and shapes come off as frivolous, or are they just subjectively ugly?

  • Max Cruise

    Sorry, all I see is another generic sport bike. Just another purpose built road racing motorcycle that happens to be street legal with a nut buster gas tank. My back gets sore just looking at the no compromise seating position. As far as styling, really no different than any of the dozens of sport bikes on the market. I will never buy one.

  • Ape Factory

    That’s good Max as it’s a prototype and you can’t buy it anyway.

  • Ray

    Stealth-goth. Skeletor is dead-on, Pamberjack. Skull frontal. You’d think they were trying to appeal to the pirate crowd…Hoist the Jolly Roger, Adam Ant. But it’s not that bad either, just a bit heavy-handed. Got to compensate for the Aprilia name with the requisite nihilism, what do you expect, daisies?

  • Brett Vegas

    I looked at the dusodoro, too fast. Picked up the guzzi, great bike. If h-d built something like the v7classic, I would have bought it. I cannot say much about sportbikes, not ready to go that fast yet(perhaps ever!). Got a great deal on the guzzi, very happy with it, going riding now;/…


  • Bob

    Cross between a BMW S1000 and a Bimota. See the new VFR1200 yet? Now thass U G L Y!