Aprilia Performance Ride Control explained

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Aprilia-RSV4-APRC

For the first time in two-wheeled history, motorcycle performance is no longer being measured merely in power and weight, but also in how closely a rider can come to exploiting the bike’s full potential. New technology is enabling riders to approach or even exceed the limits of motorcycles that are faster than ever before. That’s a reflection of what’s happening on race tracks. Max Biaggi didn’t win the SBK World Championship simply because his Aprilia RSV4 was the fastest bike on the track, but also because things like wheelie control, launch control and traction control enable him to ride it faster. Now, Aprilia Performance Ride Control is bringing those benefits to the road, for the first time increasing rider control at the very limits of adhesion.

This video will walk you through how APRC works and what it could do for you.

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Aprilia USA commissioned Hell For Leather and Tangent Vector to produce this video.

  • Aienan

    See, now this is why I have a subscription. That was a brilliant piece that explains how technology is applicable.

    I did not understand 3 minutes ago. Now it makes sense.

  • Thom

    F1/SuperCar technology trickling down to Motorcycles .

    On the plus side , it’ll make performance riding and track days a bit safer.

    On the minus side it’ll encourage idiots to ride beyond their skill level due to Electronic Safety Over Confidence Syndrome
    ( yes thats real )
    Eventually finding out the hard way that the Laws of Physics can and do overcome even the most complex of TC etc systems .

    But on the totally Plus Side .

    Yeah try getting info and videos like this from the competition .

    • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

      Umm, actually this is high-performance motorcycling technology trickling down to street bikes. Does Aprilia have an F1 team I don’t know about?

      You can get information on TC systems from every manufacturer. It’s not like this stuff is some closely held secret.

      Here’s a video for the zx-10R TC that was posted on a website you may have heard of: http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2010/10/sport-kawasaki-traction-control-explained/#more-10911

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        Never heard of it, but I’m not going to visit it because work’s IP Admin frowns on my leather fetish.

        • HammSammich

          Bwahahaha!

          • Devin

            I got asked around Christmas if I was shopping for some leather for my girlfriend.

            • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

              Were you?

      • Thom

        F1 has had this technology ( excepting the Wheelie Control ) since the nineties .

        So no Sunshine ( Case ) this comes from F1 to Street cars to Race Bikes to the Street . M/C’s being at least 20 years behind the eight ball on adapting this stuff . Believe me !

        This IS a case ( uh oh… a bit punny there ) of Two Wheels benefitting from Four .

        And anyway WTH is wrong with that ? Y’all got a 4 Wheelaphobia or something ?

        Maybe you need a lesson on F1 car vs MotoGP bike on track ? A warning . It aint pretty mate . For the M/C rider that is .

        • Sean Smith

          Actually, Case is right. The traction control used in cars works completely differently from the traction control used in motorcycles. The vehicle dynamics are so ridiculously different that almost nothing crosses over. Even the basic operation principles are different.

          Automotive traction control, in general, is extremely crude and basically just cuts power. Things like chassis stability, lean angle, changing tire diameters, weight distribution that can go from 100%/0% to 0%/100% inside of a few seconds, the way motorcycle tires lose traction and slide, and of course, wheelie control that is a large part of it are all completely different from what is around in the automotive world.

          It’s not as simple as comparing wheel speeds and cutting power. Lean angle, crankshaft acceleration, tire size and profile, gear position and overall grip need to be taken into account to produce a useful traction control system for a motorcycle. Even in Formula 1 racing, they don’t have this level of sophistication.

          Formula 1 may have had useful traction control first, but it certainly didn’t trickle down to MotoGP. Read up on the work Amar Bazazz did for Yoshimura Suzuki way back when. It’ll blow your mind.

          • Thom

            Sean Smith

            Brother are you ever unaware of what TC does (and has done ) in an F1 car , as well as the more complex systems found in Mercedes , Ferrari etc street cars . ( have a good look at the multitude of calculations and functions that are performed in a Ferrari 458 Scuderia . Makes this Aprilla system look like a child’s toy in comparison . Hell , really knock yourself senseless and have a look at the systems in the new McLaren MP4 -12C road car )

            I realize this is an M/C site , so its in your best interest to try and place M/C technology to the forefront , but like many other things in life , reality will prove you wrong on this .

            M/C Tech until recently has been far behind Automotive TC etc and in fact still is .

            Good stuff mind you , but still in catch up mode .

            Believe me . This I know ! Perhaps some inside information having to do with a certain Italian M/C’s MotpGP ( and street ) tech and its Italian Automotive ( F1 ) roots .

            Nope Sean . With all due respect . Reading the above , you really do not have a clear understanding of just how complex and involved TC in F1 and some of the premium cars really is . You’re talking about the simplistic Tech found in a Hyundai or some other Economy Car .

            As well as ( hmmph ) how much of it is trickling down to the M/C world . Racing and Street .

            And like I said to Case . Just what in the hell is wrong with that ?

          • Thom

            Sean Smith

            PS : Lean Angles ? You want to talk about Lean Angles ?

            Lets have a peak at the 1990 M-B 500SL Hard Top Convertible , that could determine the exact moment two wheels on the same side were leaving the ground at a trajectory rate that would cause an impending roll over , then deploying the emergency roll over hoops , protecting the driver/passenger , and not a moment too soon

            In 1990 mind you .

            • Sean Smith

              I um, well.. er…. That’s not really traction control, nor is it even traction control related. Sure, it could understand the acceleration necessary to flip the car, but it was a simple yes/no thing. Not only did they not have computers with high enough sample rates, but the sensors weren’t even half as good as the accelerometer you’d find inside of an iPhone.

              I’m not trying to discount traction control in the car world, just to point out that it didn’t “trickle down” to motorcycles. It couldn’t. Honda tried to use that stuff on the ST1300 way back when and it flat out didn’t work. The traction control systems in place on today’s MotoGP and WSBK bikes or even the lowly Aprilia RSV4 APRC are very much motorcycle specific.

        • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

          @ Thom: I stand by my original comments. It’s possible that Magnetti Marelli (or whomever Aprilia sourced their TC system from) used F1 TC systems as a starting point but, based on the 4-wheel-based TC template currently getting its ass kicked in WSBk (hi BMW!), I hope not. That the F1 system existed before the MotoGP system does not necessarily imply that it ‘trickled down’.

  • Trev

    How many videos are they going to release on explaining this system?

  • Mike

    Wes, how does having Aprilia “commission” HFL to make this video affect your ability to report? Just curious, and very much appreciate the website. Is this something like an advertorial? Just curious how this works in with the “we report we don’t just publicize” ethos HFL espouses.

    Maybe there have been other features like this, and I just missed it.

    All that aside, that’s a great video. Nice work.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Yeah, it’s advertorial. Aprilia’s a professional enough company that they understand giving us a budget to produce stuff like this in no way influences the integrity of our editorial. On my phone, but if you search for our aprilia shiver review, you’ll see an example of that.

      • Sean Smith

        I think this is what you’re referring to?

      • Mike

        Thanks Wes and Sean, looked at the Aprilia review- HFL: not corporate shills, not going to become corporate shills!

        Appreciate the quick reply also, and enjoying the mag/site.

        • Sean Smith

          Try that with a print mag ;)

  • Rick

    During World Superbike weekend in Utah Aprilia boss Gigi Dall’Igna promised me a new RST Futura powered by a bigger-cube RSV4 motor.

    A hundred pounds lighter than Shamu, too.

    Okay fine, he didn’t!

    • Sean Smith

      Man! Killing a perfectly good rumor even before it starts…

  • Kevin

    While this stuff is very cool and I’m sure I’ll have to go out and try out the gadgetry at some time, it’s also a little sad that the era of non-traction control bikes is coming to an end. I’m all for tech that makes bikes go faster but traction control\ABS actually override inputs from the rider and in doing so I think it becomes a little less pure. It’s less about rider skill and more about how much you can spend on the latest toy. Sure, they do it better but less risk=less reward.

    I remember not 10 years ago you could take a miata\WRX\similar-cheap-sports-car and, in the right hands, run away from most (insert BMW, Porsche, Ferrari here) on a winding mountain road. Now, you can take that 500hp BMW and floor it in the middle of a turn. You’ll get a perfect 5 degree powerslide as long as you can at least point it in the right direction; there’s no chance of the back end coming around on you. It’s going to be very depressing when I’m up on my local mountain and I get passed out of a turn by some squid in a t-shirt with a computer under his right hand.

    Beyond my fragile ego, it also robs people of a fundamental understanding of what they’re doing and while decreasing individual risk, it is creating systematic risk. Yes, you will be able to accomplish significantly more in a very short period of time but when a situation arises that you need that fundamental understanding from the experience it should have taken to get there, you’re going to be out of luck. Look at Mac computers and the incompetency that is being bred by their ‘magic.’ Look at the Toyota pedal misapplication stories; pedals used to stick all the time and people had the experience to turn off the car or put it in neutral. People are now able to accomplish feats that used to be reserved for those with the experience to handle the risk associated with any given high level of performance and in doing so, they’re all becoming systematically and concentrically dependent on something that was ultimately made by someone. I design systems and I can guarantee you that someone isn’t perfect and there is no possible way to account for the idiocy that develops from the atrophy of skill and experience.

    • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

      I hear what you’re saying about it becoming less pure, but the purity of your experience is not diminished in your miata. Yeah the guy in the Ferrari won’t spin his car into the gravel but when you get to the finish line you know who the better driver is, and so do the other drivers.

      As for removing that fundamental understanding, well, people are lazy and don’t want to make the effort to learn. Electronic aids can mask their laziness only so much. Ever been to a Porsche track day in the wet? Driving high powered rear-engined cars in the rain is HARD. Spinning those cars is predictably easy.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      What you’re missing is that this isn’t a Miata, it’s a Ferrari Enzo or Koenegsigg or whatever. It’s also a race bike built for the sole purpose of achieving faster lap times. APRC delivers faster lap times. It’s not as if the bike rides itself for you, the electronics work to enhance rider control. Making 180bhp and weighing 395lbs, that’s a good thing. A very good thing.

      • Kevin

        It’s not the cost of it that really matters. Perhaps a more adept example is Williams-Renault in F1 during the 92-93 seasons when they figured out active suspension\traction control. The technological advantage decimated the entire field and led less competent drivers to the podium. When you’re driving a car or riding a motorcycle there is a certain ratio of man to machine. What I’m saying is traction control shifts that balance tremendously and in a direction that the purist in me decries.

        One of the things I’ve always loved about motorcycling is that the balance has always been tremendously favorable to the rider. I love the fact that I’ve witnessed a 60 year old guy with a Super Sherpa on Shinkos teach a thing or two to kids on modern sport bikes.

        And yes, I realize this is not a self-piloting motorcycle and it does still, and will continue to, take a certain amount of skill and balls to go fast. Beyond that, I’m sure it’s pretty damn fun to ride a motorcycle like a video game. I’ve taken out traction-control equipped AWD BMWs in the snow and it is amazing what you can do with a safety net, if not anything more than a psychological one. The technology geek in me loves this. It’s amazing and I can’t wait to try it out. I’m sure as it moves down range, it will make motorcycling more accessible to a greater number of people, which can only be good for motorcycling in the long term. With that said, the purist in me, the one who tells me what motorcycling should be about, does not think this is such a great inflection point.

        • Myles

          Motorcycling will always be more about man than machine, it’s the nature of the beast. Even if you compare traction control equipped bikes versus bare bones not-even-ABS-equipped cars – the bikes will always be more about the rider. Motorcycling (unlike driving four wheeled vehicles) is fucking hard, plain and simple.

          Example of how easy it is to drive a car, dude in the linked article had never been in a race car before but played a shitload of iracing. He put up decent times. I dont’ care how much traction control you put in a bike and how great you make a motoGP game, this would NEVER happen on two wheels.

          http://kotaku.com/5700609/can-a-video-game-make-you-into-an-elite-race-driver

        • Peter88

          I believe this is why some of the top drivers have moved to NASCAR. It’s a totally pure driving experience. Watching Montoya and Ambrose drive those cars around a road course is impressive. On the street, I’ll take the electronic safety net. On the track? I’d like to see those guys without the technology. And if you’ll allow me to ride my favorite hobby horse once more: a nice 100HP v-twin would be just fine on the street.

    • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

      I hear what you’re saying… I used to think the same thing. In fact if I was to own a sportscar it would be something from the TVR factory – what I’d call a ‘purist’ sportscar.

      But motorcycles are so much different to cars – consider that in a car the driver is just a passenger. One a motorcycle the rider is more than that – they form part of the entire package and have a significant contribution towards the motorcycle dynamics.

      Rider skill plays a large role, I’ve got to think it always will. Sure a novice on a bike like the RSV4 with all these electronic aids will most likely be able to ride it faster than a GSX-R1000, but if you put a highly skilled rider on the RSV4 they will go even faster.

      And honestly if you’re looking at a sportsbike you’re main interest is in going fast and being able to do that more safely…. well the thought is enough to excite me!

  • HammSammich

    Well done! For a guy who rides a bike that touts such “advanced technologies” as electrically heated carbs and a throttle position sensor, it is very helpful to actually see how this techno-wizardry affects the performance. That it is presented in a clean, stylish package is just a bonus.

    As a side note, I will add that it does occasionally feel a bit strange when you guys do work such as this for manufacturers. However, I appreciate that this work helps fund your journalism, and you have always been quick with disclosure. Finally, since I’ve been reading HFL, your editorial integrity has been impeccable, and I feel that I can trust that your editorial opinions are not for sale…Just don’t screw that up, please. ;)

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Thanks. Yeah, we figure that so long as we aren’t asked to compromise our editorial, we have no trouble working with a company.

      It’s actually night and day how mature and professional Piaggio is compared to the rest of the bike industry. We can do stuff like this:

      http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2011/03/why-paolo-timoni%E2%80%99s-departure-is-good-for-piaggio/

      And it doesn’t impact their willingness to benefit from our creative expertise.

  • Rick

    Whenever I see the RSV4s in action it’s hard not to think of the late John-Mark Arechiga, one of Aprilia’s NorCal reps from a few years back and an all-around Cool Guy. Wanna talk Moto? You’d look for J-M, a true enthusiast under that black and red Aprilia canopy at Laguna Seca.

    He sure would’ve dug that V-4, a shame he’s no longer with us to enjoy it!