2007 Aprilia RXV450

Double Barreled

Words & pics: Chris

Aprilia came onto the dirt bike scene with a double-barrelled bang – then quickly went away again not too long after. But what it left behind was a beautifully crafted piece of machinery that will forever be remembered – for better or worse.

The RXV 4.5 four-stroke is a V-Twin off road motorcycle, produced by Aprilia in 2006, stretching to at least 2013, before it seems to have been shelved in the same fashion of the BMW G450X (don’t quote us on the exact end date though). But by all accounts, our research seems to point to 2013 as the last time the Aprilia was updated, scoring a single exhaust, slightly different plastics and tweaks to the frame, swing arm and suspension. From then on, information is scarce, leaning us towards the fact the RXV range finished up pretty soon after.

Whatever happened to it, we are now missing a dirt bike that was more outside the box than anything else on the market today. Take the engine for example – you don’t see V-Twin dirt bikes anymore, which to be fair, we are still undecided on. Good or bad in your eyes, it was one fricken cool-looking bike.

The mechanics of it all

The V-twin RXV was possibly the first modern off-road bike to feature fuel injection when the bike was released in 2006/2007. The 4.5 as it’s known, has a 449cc power-plant, with each cylinder running a single-overhead-cam and four-valve operation. The 77-degree cylinder angle is said to minimise vibration, and is matched to a dry sump, with a separate oil tank for the gearbox and engine.

The frame is made from a combination of aluminium and tube steel, with the pretty compact (for a V-Twin) engine slotting into the frame in a way that allows the air filter to be placed on top of the engine in the ‘V’ below the gas tank. A configuration Yamaha has since utilised in its four-stroke line up. This is different to the traditional placement of behind the engine under the seat.

There are also no frame rails that go underneath the engine for either protection or cradling. The V-Twin unit technically just hangs there, with a skid plate attached to the crank case.

The 4.5 produces a claimed 60 horsepower going by internet numbers, which is much more powerful than any other 450 out there. But it’s where the power is produced that makes the RXV very, very different.

Hands down, this bike is a torque master. The low-down grunt and pull from the V-Twin is unparalleled. The first third of the rev range – which goes up to 12,000rpm – will out-pull, out-grunt and outshine anything else in the 450cc category. The second third of the engine range is where the bike starts to top out and lose its drive, beginning the flattening stage of its curve. The final third of the engine is just terrible – there is nothing there. You can keep turning the throttle if you want, and it seems to get a little louder while gaining absolutely zero extra momentum or drive in the forward direction. Arguably, you could say it starts to decelerate.

So, you obviously short shift the thing and utilise that low-end grunt, which turns this bike into a freakin’ fun old girl to ride. Wheel stands are easy, power slides are a breeze and the sound from the two exhausts and double-cylinder engine is very, very sexy.

The transmission is set up well through the first four gears – evenly spaced to tackle just about any off-road application. Fifth gear is super-tall, rendering it useless in the bush, but ideal for your local State Highway.

The ride is somewhat comfy too, with a sitting-on-top feeling from the stiff, thin seat and tall bars. The frame feels comfortable and not wide, even though it looks large as hell, and the suspension is as you would expect – plush and a little doughy after nearly 10 years of suspension development passed by.

Understanding this is not performance motorcycle (anymore) allows you to enjoy the RXV for what it really is. A very interesting and rare bike that would be a cool bike to have in the shed for some trail riding or adventuring.

We asked a pro rider who actually raced the Aprilia on the international circuit to give us his take on what was an eye-catching motorcycle during its time on the production line. Ever heard of a fella by the name of Josh Coppins?

2007 Aprilia SXV 4.5

Engine Type: 449 cc twin-cylinder 77° v-twin dry sump

Compression Ratio: 12.5:1

Transmission   5-speed manual with separate gearbox lubrication

Fueling: Fuel injected – 38mm Throttle body

Chassis

Suspension Front:       48 mm upside down

Suspension Rear:        Hydraulic monoshock

Wheelbase:      1495 mm

Seat height:     918 mm

Dry Weight:    122kg

Fuel capacity   7.8 litres

Josh Coppins

I first signed my Aprilia contract in mid 2009 to race for them in 2010. Straight away everyone thought I did it for the money and sure, it did pay well, but I was also looking forward to a more relaxed approach to racing after being expected to win championships all the time. I was now expected to get top 10’s and take on a more development role. I also couldn’t come home to race for Yamaha NZ and CDR Yamaha in Australia until 2011, as the CDR riders were on two-year deals, so it fitted well.

My first impression of the Aprilia was pretty good. It had heaps of top end power, but not so much torque. It turned amazingly, but was unstable in the rear and heavy in the front, especially in the sand. It was a temperamental bike, as on some tracks it was nice to ride and on some, very hard to ride – the window of sweetness was small compared to previous bikes I had ridden.

My favourite country in Europe is Italy. I was relaxed and happy and I quickly gelled with the team, but after my first race, Aprilia scrapped the project, so there was no more development. What we had was what we had. Due to the bike now being old and them not having sold enough and it was now time to develop a new one, it just wasn’t viable. Aprilia  was the first MX bike to have fuel injection, but getting it right was slow and other brands had caught and passed them, and this was the case on many areas of the bike.

From here it was just my mechanic and I, but I didn’t mind. I never signed the contract expecting plain sailing. I was open minded and optimistic from day one and we set small goals and soon started achieving them. From the engine point of view, I never broke one or had any problems there – it was always small issues like the chain de-railing or electrical problems, due to the main wiring loom cracking. My best result was 6th in the Brazilian GP, however I had potential for the podium at Lommel, Belgium – but crashed in the start. Overall in the championship I was 12th, with five DNFs due to – like I said – small issues. A 6th was like a GP win to Aprilia and it was a great company to work for.

I was fortunate to work with a passionate group of guys that were real mechanics for whom bikes were their life. I absolutely have no regrets and it was a fun year.