Bike-scooters/ Road-test/ Living with the Aprilia RS 457 | The Indo-Italian Job

Living with the Aprilia RS 457 | The Indo-Italian Job

It doesn’t lose its purpose in the wake of being pretty.

For

Lovely engine, Gorgeous looks, Compact chassis

Against

Brakes, clunky gearbox

Overview

(A note to self) You have to tread on a very thin line, Anant. Don’t put up a masquerade given how much you love Aprilia as a manufacturer. Grab your cynical lenses and a wider perspective because you aren’t just a mere motorcyclist anymore, you’re supposed to be an automotive journalist. You’re supposed to report, not rave.

Although I missed out on the racetrack rendezvous with the Aprilia RS 457 and Lorenzo Savadori, I was keen to put the RS through its paces in the real world. The ‘self-assigned’ task at hand was to live with the RS in different scenarios to gauge whether it is just an angry track scorcher or is it capable of delivering on multiple fronts. I knew it was not a swiss knife. What I didn’t know is that it is an Italian stiletto but with a slight twist. Stabbing people with its pointy end? It was particularly developed for that but that doesn’t mean you cannot chop veggies with it, right?

Even before you’re enchanted with other elements of the RS, its irresistible Italian silhouette would charm you into writing a love sonnet about it. Become a little Shakespearean in the process. A shrunken down RSV4, that’s exactly how the RS 457 looks. It doesn’t lose its purpose in the wake of being pretty. It is not a social media influencer, it is an Italian supermodel with wits to go by too. For instance, take the bulky front half of the motorcycle, imparting the RS with big bike looks and feels but as you pan your eyes towards the rear, it just ends too soon. The RS 457 is a compact motorcycle but it doesn’t feel like one once you look at it from up front. I loved being on the RS because wherever I went, I could feel drool all around. Not just in my helmet. The RS has a striking road presence and I would go as far as saying that it is the most gorgeous motorcycle that you can get under INR 5 Lakh. Fight me on that and you will get buried with so many gorgeous angles of the RS that I’m going to throw right in your face. Despite being Indianized like the pizzas that we eat, this Italian recipe hasn’t lost its flavor. A thought that popped in my head several times when I was dancing with the RS.

Its compact dimensions get even more pronounced once you sit on the motorcycle. However, as it turned out, one can actually think of going for a long roadtrip astride the RS. It is just a matter of getting accustomed to the aggressive riding stance. You have to adapt to the supersport lifestyle and once you do that, it is a barrage of low-hanging fruits. Treat yourself. Sure, your wrists would start paining after some time but the sense of involvement with the motorcycle is something that is perennial to the RS. Guess what? I went touring on it with a pillion. It is indeed a stiletto that can also chop veggies, remember? I was expecting myself to be drowned in expletives coming out of the pretty face of my pillion princess but that wasn’t the case. The pillion seat is actually usable for weekend runs and short city bursts.

The powertrain is the star of the show. Despite hailing from an Indian stable, all the 47 ponies tied are thoroughbred Italians. The powertrain is a masterpiece. Developed in Noale, this recipe is being cooked at Aprilia’s Baramati plant. You would expect a lot of dilution in terms of approach and feel of the motorcycle but boy, the RS is a true-blue Italian in that regard. It sticks true to what Aprilia has stood for - exhilarating performance. The RS is an angry child, ready to pounce ahead with each blip of the throttle. This engaging behavior is imparted by the huge torque waves that it produces lower down in the rev range. You would expect the RS to behave like a supersport, rewarding the rider only higher up in the rev range but that isn’t the case here. The torque on offer is downright addictive and it has spoiled other motorcycles for me which require you to pin the throttle if you wish to gain some grins. It doesn’t mean that it lacks drama in the top end because it might hit its rev ceiling of 10,500rpm too soon but the progression till there is wild. Italians used to love their theatrical performances and the RS is no different. What adds to the show is the orchestra. The RS has a 270-degree firing order which has blessed it with a V-Twin like roar and rideability. It looks gorgeous but it sings even better.

It was fated to be a racetrack weapon but the engine’s character has bestowed the RS with good commuting behavior as well. Since it has spades of low end grunt, it doesn’t mind puttering around in town at all. It won’t smack you in the face for riding slow and when the time arrives to go fast, the engine is more than willing to set the tarmac on fire. It is not an entirely refined unit though but the vibrations are muted enough to pass off as character of the motorcycle. The only gripe that I have with the RS in this aspect is the transmission. The 6-speed unit is a botchy one. I would have loved a bit more slickness and smoothness.

Being an Aprilia, the RS 457 had to tick a few important boxes including handling prowess. If someone isn’t completely sold on the RS for the powertrain and looks, the dynamics will be the final stamp of approval. Not that it was asking for any! The RS is built around an aluminium frame ( first of its kind in its class ) with the engine acting as the stressed member. The frame and the tuning of the suspension has lent the RS godly capabilities according to the segment it competes in. It is always on the hunt for apexes and when twisty roads arrive, it just goes on a frantic prowl. It is an absolute predator. A blood-thirsty invader looking to ravage the kingdoms once previously helmed by other manufacturers. The urgency with which it tips into a corner is intoxicating with the RS sending you in a mode of trance. The suspension supports the chassis really well.

The level of precision doesn’t come at the cost of ride quality. The stock suspension setup is pliant enough to soak in bumps and undulations that our Indian roads have in abundance. The setup is so beautiful that on one fine evening, I didn’t shy away from taking the RS for a mild offroad section to witness a gorgeous sunset. The RS did it, with a pillion on board. What more can I say about the capabilities of the RS? Apart from the 6-speed transmission, the spongy front brake also left me wanting for more. More of everything including bite, feedback and consistency.

Minds at Noale and the hands of Baramati have cooked up the perfect Indo-Italian recipe. Imagine a tandoori paneer pizza, which is also more affordable than its competition while bursting with flavour. The RS is a wild child that can also be tamed if the need arises. If I had to buy just one motorcycle under INR 5 Lakh to fulfill my one horse stable dream, the RS 457 would deserve a serious consideration. I was sold on ADVs given the practicality that they bring to the fold but oh boy, a gorgeous Italian woman who’s willing to dance with you, showing you some tricks along the course, can make you rethink things. If I had the moolah, I would have made this supersport dream a reality. The RS strays far away from the rational notions because of the things it can make you feel.

(Note to self) Save up, you stupid *****!



TopGear Magazine June 2024