Aprilia RS 457 review: The new benchmark?
Published on Jan 17, 2024 10:00:00 AM
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We’ve already seen it, we already know the specs that matter and we even know the price. In fact, interest in the Aprilia RS 457 skyrocketed after Aprilia announced the price at IBW 2023 that it was going to cost Rs 4.10 lakh (ex-showroom, Maharashtra). It also helped Aprilia’s cause that Yamaha revealed the tremendously disappointing price for the R3 just a week later, but I digress… Either way, there are a lot of people who are excited about this bike, and having ridden it at the race track, I can confirm that there’s a lot to be excited about.
Aprilia RS 457 engine, exhaust note
We’ll start with the part you’re most eager to hear about - the engine. From the moment you thumb the starter button, you’ll know that this motor feels different to anything else in the sub-500cc space. A sizable part of that comes down to the 270 degree firing order that gives the underbelly exhaust a deeper, more grizzly tone. You’ll find this on many bigger parallel twins, including Aprilia’s own 660s and it gives the motor more character.
In the RS 457’s case, you’re not only greeted by a nice sound, but also a mild tremor created by the engine that you’ll feel through the motorcycle at low speeds. It's a small thing, but something you’d usually expect in a bigger bike and it settles into your subconscious as a special feeling.
Gently exiting the Kari Motor Speedway pit lane for the first time reveals that the engine is pleasantly tractable too. 40kph in 4th gear is no problem and further twisting the accelerator open reveals the next thing to smile about - the torque. There’s a strong pull that begins at around 4,000rpm and the midrange was meaty enough that I could comfortably lap the whole circuit without needing to go lower than third gear. Both the tractability and the torque should make for great companions on the street.
On track though, the engine was happy to rev much higher than that and it builds power quite energetically till about 9,500rpm, before tailing off slightly just short of the 10,500rpm redline. With 47.6hp and 43.5Nm there’s plenty of performance and I saw just over 165kph down the main straight. Give the bike a long enough road, I’m sure you’ll see over 180kph on the display. There’s a strong possibility that this could be the fastest Indian-made motorcycle to date, something we’ll verify as soon as we get the bike to test on the street.
Performance wise, the only thing I missed was a quickshifter. The gearbox itself was smooth and precise enough, and Aprilia will sell you a quickshifter as an accessory, but it would be nice to have this as standard at the price.
Aprilia RS 457 handling, seating comfort
So the RS 457 makes all the right noises and it feels properly quick as well, but the news gets better because it has riding dynamics to match. The very first thing you’ll appreciate is how you sit on the bike and how it feels when you do. The RS 457 feels bigger than any of its rivals, particularly in the height and width of the fuel tank, which creates the impression of this being a large machine. Then there are the very well judged ergonomics.
Seat height is just 800mm which is quite friendly, but the seat is also spacious enough for tall riders to slide back and crouch down at the race track. Even more impressive is that the footpeg placement feels sporty, but not cramped - and yet somehow there are no issues with the pegs scraping the tarmac at high lean. The clip-on handlebars are set relatively high up and while you are certainly in a sporty riding position, it's more sport tourer than outright sportbike.
Aprilia RS 457 cycle parts
With a segment-first aluminium perimeter frame, the RS 457 packs a pedigree that draws back to the bigger bikes in the Italian company’s line up. The stylish swingarm also looks like it is constructed in aluminium, but it's actually a steel unit. Suspension at both ends is preload adjustable, but you don’t get any damping adjustability. The bike weighs in at 175kg, which is the highest in the segment, but only by a small margin. For example, the single cylinder KTM RC 390 weighs 172kg.
On track, the bike feels neither ultra light and agile, nor heavy or cumbersome. With the same tyre sizes as you’ll on most of its rivals, it has that familiar light handling and agile feel, despite the big bodywork between your legs. Speaking of, this is the first bike to be factory-fitted with TVS Eurogrip Protorq Extreme tyres and they were very nice for the pace we were riding at. There was only one issue we encountered with the bike all day and it was brake fade.
Aprilia RS 457 issues on track
After a few laps of hard braking the lever started to get softer and softer. In my case, it never got to the point where I was worried that the bike wouldn’t stop, but it was disappointing on a machine that was otherwise enjoyably well suited to the race track. The RS 457 already has steel braided hoses and I suspect this is an issue that can be sorted with better brake pads, different brake fluid and perhaps an aftermarket brake master cylinder. I also doubt this will be a concern on the street, but it was a bit disappointing nevertheless.
Thankfully, in pretty much every other way, the 457 was a blast to ride at Kari. The handling felt quite sporty with a plush but controlled feel from the suspension. In general, the bike comes across as both capable, but also friendly and there is good front end feel, especially when you’re braking deep into a corner. We only had one session of riding, although I did manage to get a handful of laps in after that and I was enjoying the bike to the point that I’d love to do a full track day weekend on this machine someday - after sorting out the brakes.
Aprilia RS 457 design
It’s certainly good fun on track, but a big reason why folks will want to buy this bike is for its fresh, sporty and exciting looks in a segment that is full of either old designs or somewhat quirky ones. I think this is a great looking machine, with a proper Aprilia superbike face, a very stylish tail section and MotoGP-inspired aero themes you’ll see in the front spoiler, layered fairing and even in the winglet style grab handles.
The only thing I’d change was to give this bike a bigger windscreen, both from an aesthetic standpoint and for better wind protection at the track. But Aprilia will have an accessory taller windscreen and I’m sure there will be plenty of aftermarket options available soon as well. All said, this is a large, imposing looking motorcycle and it has a clear sense of belonging in Aprilia’s big bike family.
On the other hand there are some aspects that give away the fact that it was built to a budget. The side stand is a simple steel unit, the hand levers are non-adjustable and there is a lot of plastic, some of which could be nicer quality and/or better finished. The bike comes in three colour options, including an unusual matt iridescent hue that changes colour depending on your angle of viewing.
Aprilia RS 457 electronics
On the upside, the 5-inch TFT display is very informative and the layout is similar to what you’ll find in Aprilia’s big bikes. This bike has the best electronics setup in the segment at the moment with four levels of traction control (including off) and two levels of ABS. The standard ABS setting was too intrusive on track, but Level 2 deactivated the rear and worked really well on track. As for the traction control, I left it on Level 1 (least intrusive) and didn’t find it getting in the way at any point.
You also get three riding modes, although these only change the throttle sensitivity and ABS setting, but don’t have any effect on the power level. Aprilia has also given the bike Bluetooth connectivity and a lap timer.
Aprilia RS 457 verdict
That sums up what we were able to learn in this environment. Bookings are now open and deliveries should begin by March. As for the price, I think it is a bit on the high end for a bike that is fully manufactured in India and a sub-4 lakh figure would have been great. But the bike also has a lot to offer and while the price is a little steep, it’s not unreasonable.
Of course, there are still plenty of questions that remain about how it will perform in the real world and we will answer them when we get the bike for full road test review sometime in the next month or two. But for now, the Aprilia RS 457 comes across as a scaled down big bike, rather than a scaled up small motorcycle. And that’s a very nice thing indeed.
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