The Italians have always had a flair for building things that are meant to go fast, be it on four wheels or two. I have always had an affinity for the latter (as if that needs to be specified). The latest from Italian manufacturer Aprilia, the RS 457, is no exception, and we made our way to the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore to check it out. At first glance, we could immediately tell that the RS 457’s design was heavily inspired by its elder siblings, the RS 660 and the RSV4, and, considering this performance pedigree, expectations were set fairly high.
After a quick briefing on the motorcycle, we were introduced to Aprilia Racing MotoGP rider Lorenzo Savadori, who was to join us for a few laps around the track towards the end of our session. Surely, it’s not every day that we get to share the track with a rider of his calibre, so that was something we looked forward to. Back to the matter at hand, we promptly suited up and made our way to the motorcycles in the pits. All three shades of Prismatic Dark, Opalescent Light and the MotoGP-inspired Racing Stripes were parked in a line, sitting there looking pretty, and quite a sight to behold.
As I mounted the RS 457, I immediately noticed how comfortably I was positioned, sitting inside the motorcycle rather than on it. Another point to mention is that the cockpit looks neat and well laid out. The switchgear may not look too fancy but feels pretty solid in terms of component quality. Thumbing the starter button awakened the 457cc liquid-cooled parallel twin, resulting in a brutish and raspy tune emanating from the underbelly exhaust, courtesy of the 270-degree crank. It made quite a good first impression, I had to give it that. Build quality, as well as the fit and finish seemed pretty consistent all around, too.
Taking it out on the track, I took a rather laidback first lap to warm up the tyres, which also let me test the engine’s tractability. It strolled along comfortably at 40 kph in fourth gear, and as soon as I opened the throttle, surprisingly, there was instant power on tap. The powerband sustains all the way from the low 3000s to about 9500 rpm before starting to feel slightly winded. The gearbox felt pretty smooth, and although it doesn’t come with a quick-shifter as standard, Aprilia offers it as an add-on option. I did manage to hit a top speed of 158 kph in fifth gear down the straight before I had to slow down for the corner.
The riding ergonomics are on point, in terms of comfort, as well as being fairly aggressive in tackling high-speed track manoeuvres. It gets a pretty accommodating seat for the rider, but the pillion seat is another story entirely. The dual-beam aluminium frame coupled with the preload-adjustable suspension system is a thing of beauty in terms of handling. The clip-ons can be adjusted, along with a host of other components, just in case you want to keep the motorcycle exclusively for the racetrack (I know you’re thinking about it). With 47 bhp, 4.43 kgm of peak torque and a wet weight of 175 kg, there’s enough evidence of Aprilia’s racing DNA in the RS 457 to do just that.
There were moments when I felt the need to pucker up, like when I hit a kink on one of the chicanes, but the motorcycle self-corrected beautifully without missing a beat. The suspension feels taut enough to attack corners with decent ferocity, aided by multiple traction-control modes which can also be turned off completely. It tips into corners with finesse, encouraging the rider to push just a little bit more. The dual-channel ABS, on the other hand, feels especially intrusive but on the brighter side, the rear ABS can be switched off. The RS 457 runs organic brake pads as standard, and we did notice a significant amount of brake fade, which was unfortunately a bit of a letdown. The confidence to ride fast almost always stems from the ability to slow down proportionately and safely.
The Aprilia RS 457 comes with three riding modes, Eco, Rain and Sport, which do not mess around much with the engine mapping, but rather play with the fuelling to give a suitable output, as per the R&D team. In terms of connected tech, the 5-inch TFT display can be connected to your phone via the Aprilia app for notifications as well as music controls. The motorcycle runs Protorq Extreme HR tyres from TVS Eurogrip, and I can vouch for how well they perform on the track, as well as on public roadways.
Coming to the end of our session, Lorenzo joined us for a few laps around Kari, and right from the get-go, I could see that MotoGP racers like himself are a different breed entirely. We were on the same stock motorcycles, but he was on another level altogether, making it challenging to keep up. At the end of the day, the Aprilia RS 457 left me wondering whether I should actively try to spend more time at the track, and when a motorcycle gets you thinking along these lines, you can be sure that it has much more to offer as long as you are capable of unleashing its potential.
MOTODATAAprilia RS 457
457cc, liquid-cooled, parallel twin
47 bhp@9400 rpm
4.43 kgm@6700 rpm
Type: Aluminium dual beam
F/R: 320-mm floating disc / 220-mm disc
F/R: 110/70-17 / 150/60-17
₹ 4.10 lakh (ex-showroom)