Aprilia RSV1000 Mille 2003 – Forte e fiero!

There is something special about an Italian V twin motorcycle: Ducati and Moto Guzzi have for decades been exponents of the layout, if taking totally different approaches. They have produced a string of bikes that have become legends. Well this cosy double act was muscled in on back in the late 1990’s when Aprilia decided that they wanted a piece of the action too. The result was the Mille: A 1000cc Rotax supplied V twin nestled in the beefy frame, up to minute styling. Here is a bike to take the fight to all comers. Less delicate than the rapier like Ducati, more overtly sporting than the cool Guzzi, the Mille has a no nonsense air to it somehow.

More Bruno than Alfonso

Delighted to Finally Get my Hands on a RSV

I have always been very keen to try one and when an old friend offered to let me loose on his 2003 example I was grinning in whatever way the Italian equivalent of a Cheshire cat would be! The Mille is a tall bike, and I was slightly teetering on my tip-toes at standstill, but as soon as I pulled away I felt at home. The classic racing crouch was surprisingly roomy and despite being 14 years old this stunning example felt as tight as a drum. The mighty V twin was breathing through a full Akrapovic exhaust system and sounded fantastic as we roared along the leafy lanes of Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. What a beast!

Such a Potent Machine

Performance is immense and the response to any throttle input is pretty much immediate in any gear and at any revs. This bike is no rapier and reminds me of my MV Agusta 1090RR Brutale: It has that same aggressive edge, The RSV more of a broadsword! The bike just wants to get on with it. It is very much a bike that eggs you on and begs to be opened up, if only to hear that spine tingling exhaust note!

That howling Akrapovic and the delicious swinging arm…the RSV has a quality, substantial feel

All you need is right here…simple effective. Like the whole bike

Performance might be slightly south of the latest generation of litre sports bikes, but it would only be an issue at speeds that would mean time in the clink! This is a seriously quick bike. Luckily the suspension and brakes are more than up to the job of backing up that mighty engine. The suspension, whilst perhaps a little firm for my personal tastes, has calm, taut and controlled feel. I sliced confidently around bends on bike that I had only just climbed on to. You can’t say fairer than that. The brakes too were confidence inspiring, with a good feel and the lever and hauling the bike down from speeds with aplomb. The Mille is a substantial bike, a proper machine. I like that

Well it put a smile on my face!

Overall I came away highly impressed, the Mille is a superb machine and my friend seems to have landed himself a particularly good example of the breed. So twenty years from when the RSV first hit the road; does it deserve to rub shoulders with its illustrious Italian brothers? Oh lord yes!

Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly