Aprilia RS 457 road test, review


Who ever thought an Italian performance machine would be more affordable than its Japanese rivals? What a world we live in and what is even more amusing is that this one is built in our very own country. Meanwhile, the Japanese that have been in India for way longer continue to import their products. Well, introductions aside, we’ve been spending the past few days with the Aprilia RS 457, and here’s how we think it fares in the urban jungle.

The RS 457 looks and feels like a higher-capacity motorcycle than it is and takes great inspiration from the RS 660. It captivates you from every angle and the only sore point is the exhaust that looks unfinished in comparison to the rest of the motorcycle. I won't go over everything that has already been reported but instead focus on whatever I noticed during my time. Though the switchgear and parts look high quality, the direction buttons don't feel tactile enough and feel especially numb to the touch with gloves on.
A rare few times the switchgear didn't respond to my input and I had to either wait or reboot the system to snap it out of its slumber. I can't yet confirm if this is a fault in the switchgear or if it's the TFT that doesn't respond to input accurately. On regular use, the buttons and TFT work perfectly fine. However, accessing the plethora of features hidden in the TFT will require a lot of memorization of buttons and sequences and it's only then that you notice the switchgear sometimes doesn’t respond as you’d expect. Additionally, the TFT though crisp and very well laid out occasionally shows a few pixels while displaying messages on the screen. This too happened on rare occasions and appears to be more of a software issue since turning it off and on sorts the issue.
Apart from these little issues there have been no problems over the five hundred odd kilometers we’ve ridden in the past week and the rest of the motorcycle feels well put together. 
The RS 457 has Bluetooth enabled call and music control functions enabled via the Aprilia App. The call alerts are neatly displayed on the screen and this is a helpful feature but once again the lack of feel in the direction buttons meant it was easier to use my helmet intercom to control the calls. 
The turn-by-turn navigation feature is powered by Here Maps and works well for the most part but it can be difficult to find some addresses on the map. The guidance arrows also occasionally go blank which did make me miss a turn or two along my journey. All things said, the system could be a bit more seamless, but the TFT is still much nicer than what the Japanese currently have to offer.
Aprilia is a master at designing its suspension and chassis, and the RS 457 is no exception. We already know it’s a superb handler on the track, but thankfully it’s not too hardcore on the street. Commuting with the Aprilia was decent and it'll go over most broken patches comfortably so long as you keep the speed low. Hit higher speeds over bad roads and the suspension, firm seat and leaned forward ergonomics will punish your backbone.
Though the riding position is a tad more aggressive than its rivals, it's still not nearly as uncomfortable as a Yamaha R15 would feel. I wish the RS 457 was this ultimate road machine but the truth is unlike its relaxed Japanese rivals, the RS 457 is a lot more committed to performance. Get used to its fiery nature and it's a gift that keeps giving. 
The seats aren't plush but not nearly as bad as a Gen 1 KTM RC 390. It seems the RS 457 was born and bred to carve corners, but it is also adequately comfortable to commute to and from your favorite weekend road.
Its ergonomics and sporty focus have a special sense of occasion. Compared to the Japanese, the Aprilia is definitely more aggressive in its intent. Have its rivals gone too soft or has the RS 457 gone too hard? Only time will tell. That being said, despite its sporty and agile nature, chassis composure is very good and the bike remains in phased even when hitting undulations at triple-digit speeds.
Riding around the streets of Mumbai the RS 457 is quite well-behaved. Despite riding for hours through heavy traffic and near 40-degree heat, the cooling system keeps everything under control. That's not to say there is no heat but it's rather well contained and while you will feel warmth around the motorcycle, there are no unpleasant blasts of hot air. 
Don't expect the best mileage in bumper-to-bumper traffic as our city test returned a surprisingly low figure of 17.03kmpl. However, increase the speeds and things get better with our highway test returning a much more reasonable 32.52kmpl. Interestingly even when ridden at a brisk pace, the efficiency is not bad and you can realistically get 220-240km on a tankful. 
There are three riding modes but they only change the throttle response not the power output. Sport mode is the default when the bike turns on and it can be quite sharp for some riders, and switching to Eco or Rain dulls the throttle nicely. Something else that’s very nice in the city is that the clutch is super light, but still has decent feel. 
Hit the highway and it climbs to triple-digit speeds with little to no effort.120 and even 130kph are very smooth and this engine will make for a great touring partner. Vibrations are very well controlled for the most part only with a mild tingle in the footpegs at high rpm. 
The gearbox is smooth enough and we never faced any false neturals, but it does sound a bit clunky, sort of like the KTM transmissions. And that brings us to one of our few mechanical issues with this bike - it really deserves a quick shifter! Aprilia will sell you one, but it will cost about Rs 28,000 which is a huge amount of money. Moreover, we haven’t yet experienced it, so we can’t tell you if it’s any good. 
But what’s far more exciting is that this is now the fastest accelerating bike in the class. In fact it comes very close to some 650cc ADV motorcycles with a 0-100kph time of just 4.99 seconds. Knowing that you have a machine capable of a sub 5s 0-100 time is a special thing. In fact, the RS does a great job of feeling like a special motorcycle and even though the exhaust isn't the best looking, it certainly knows how to make the right sounds. While the existing Japanese parallel twins scream as they rev to the top, the 270-degree firing order makes the Aprilia bark and growl on its way to the red line. Downshift and you'll be welcomed with some small and occasional pops and cracks as you come to a halt. 
Speaking of, after our brake fade issues on the track it remained to see how the system handled regular street riding. In most situations, it was actually quite impressive and the bike once again posted the best results of the segment thanks to the combination of a sharp front brake and excellent TVS Eurogrip Protorq Extreme tyres. However, it’s not all perfect and while regular or even brisk riding doesn’t phase the brakes, if you start really attacking them repeatedly (like at the track or on a fast downhill ghat) you will run into the same brake fade issues. We even got the pads heavily smoking at one point. 
Cooling them off does bring back most of the performance, but it appears that if you wish to ride your RS 457 hard and fast you’ll want to invest in better brake pads and higher performance fluid. That should fix the issue, but we’ll have to try it out to be sure. Aprilia also lists a set of accessory ‘racing pads’ but we’re waiting to hear if these are street-legal and how much they will cost.
We've often dreamed about a more accessible superbike that looks, sounds and rides like a big machine but for more affordable money. This is as close as it has come to that dream. It's got the exotic vibe, the snob value and the impressive heritage. Aprilia have knocked it out of the park and have managed to beat the Japanese at their own game. Only time will tell if this motorcycle will have the reliability and service network to match the snob value. It has a couple of shortcomings, but they’re either easy to fix or easy to look past and the Aprilia makes you feel special each time you fire it up. If that's not worth the money then I don't know what will be.

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