Aprilia introduced the slightly lower-spec street version of its V-4 RSV4 race bike, the RSV4 R, to the press at the Mugello Race Track in Italy. According to Hell For Leather:
The RSV4 R is not Japanese. It will not make a beginning rider feel like Superman. it will make them feel like a meek nerd who gets sand kicked in their face.
In other words, if you don’t know how to ride–and well–it’s not a “fun” bike. Hard to steer, stubborn handling, etc. If you push it to the limit, however, it’s apparently a blast. As long as you know what you’re doing.
Unfortunately, it seems that if you push it to the limit, other problems arise. The press launch of the new bike had to be cut short when “five of the bikes suffered terminal con rod failures” out of the 30 pre-production models present. This now gives Aprilia the number one spot in press launch fiascos, pushing ahead of Buell’s 2007 1125R press launch, where all the pre-production bikes had fuel mapping problems. At least the Buells didn’t have to be deadlined, causing the event to be shut down.
Aprilia says they’ve traced it to a manufacturing fault, and that the production bikes will be just spiffy.
Since Motorcycle-USA’s Ken Hutchison was already in Japan for the Tokyo Motor Show, he was conveniently available to go out to the Sugo racetrack and hop aboard the new VFR1200F at the press demo. In return, he’s provided us with a nice first ride review that’s pretty comprehensive.
I’m not going to steal his thunder by quoting extensively from his review, but I was interested to read this bit about the new Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT):
When riding the DCT bike it’s clear that the system is dialed in. There are two modes to can select from while on the fly, D-mode for regular or street riding and S-mode for sport riding. In D-mode the bike shifts well-before it starts making real power. Instead, it just chugs along, shifting gears and accelerating in a mellow manner in order to maximum fuel efficiency and minimize strain on the rider. Don’t be misled into thinking the auto clutch is a snoozer. In S-mode the motorcycle is as fun as the standard version. To my surprise the bike shifts in a very intuitive manner, making both up- and downshifts precisely and effectively on the track to the point where I was comfortable letting the bike do the work while I focused on enjoying myself on the winding, twisty Sugo race track. The VFR never initiated an unwanted shift, and yet if you don’t agree with the gear it chooses then simply select a different gear with the paddle shifter. The bike reverts to manual mode as soon as you intervene.
It’s interesting to see this, personally, because I ride a Yamaha FJR1300AE, the one with the YCC-S electric clutch system. It operates similarly to the Manual” mode of the Honda DCT, but I’ve really developed a love/hate relationship with it, and I’m ready to go back to a standard transmission bike.
The YCC-S has its positive points. Upshifts are generally speedy and so seamless you don’t even have to let up on the gas to shift. It’s also nice in city commuting traffic. But, it also has its problems. Downshifts are slow, and require attention, because kicking the shift lever, or flicking the handlebar shifter doesn’t necessarily result in an instant downshift. Or, sometimes, any downshift at all.
And the YCC-S really does want to try and kill you in parking lots. The clutch engages/disengages at around 2500 RPM. Or 2700. Or 2300. Whatever. So, you often find yourself at slow speed, maneuvering into a parking lot when the clutch engages, and you lose all power to the rear wheel–which is not something you’re keen to happen when you’re leaning over at 5 MPH.
So, I’m curious about Honda’s DCT system. It appears to work fine on the track, but I’m wondering how easy it is to live with when pulling into the local Albertson’s or Safeway. My experience with the YCC-S makes me wonder if it’s really all that great.