03 Mille R

 

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2003 RSV 100 Mille R
Street Testing Aprilia's Track Ready Mille R
Specifications (below)| Desktop Image (large)

2003 Aprilia Mille R
Aprilia is still a relatively new brand in the US, but the company’s sales in this market are nothing short of impressive. Aprilia offers mostly high-end performance machines, all based around a 997cc, liquid-cooled, 60 degree V-twin with four valves per cylinder. The company's street legal, yet track ready, Mille and Mille R have been a big factor in their success.

Aprilia sells different versions of some models which can be confusing to Aprilia newcomers. In the case of the Mille, the company offers the standard Mille ($13,499) and the more expensive Mille R ($17,299). The R model adds Öhlins suspension front and rear, radial mounted front brake calipers, upgraded wheels and numerous carbon fiber body pieces. The chassis remains the same, as does the 997cc Rotax built engine, fuel injection, and exhaust system.

Throwing a leg over the Mille R with its huge single muffler feels like stepping onto a prepped race bike - it’s all business.  The bars are low and forward, the pegs high and rearset – everything is setup for the track. The seat provides plenty of room to move forward or back, allowing you to position your body to suit your riding style or relieve the numbness in your butt (on the street) induced by the rather thin firm padding. The attractive tank has deep knee cutouts to provide a place to hook your outside knee while hanging off at the track. From its top of the line Öhlins suspension to its radial mounted Brembo brakes with four individual pads - the Mille R begs to be taken to the track.

On the street the Mille left us with mixed impressions - depending on the type of roads and how hard we pushed. Click the 6-speed in gear and you’ll find an acceptable yet less refined feeling transmission - at least at street speeds.  Release the clutch and you’ll experience a V-twin with excellent low-end torque and seemingly more overall power then other muffled down, EPA legal, twins. The exhaust note is quiet, yet the bike is able to transmit some of its V-twin soul to the rider as the revs rise.

Power is strong and tractable from 4 - 5 grand, but then it levels off quickly. The power curve isn’t flat above 5 grand, it just doesn’t continue to pull as strong as we'd expect. One rider put it well when he said “Just as the going gets fun, the power falls off”. This is likely due to all the added paraphernalia, including an airbox restrictor, added for EPA and sound regulations. (We know first hand that an ’01 Mille R equipped with an Akrapovic dual exhaust, evolution air box kit, and factory chip suffers no such deficit.)  The power hits very strong again about 8,000 RPM and carries all the way to the engines 10,500 redline. Up top, the Mille gets down and dirty putting out exceptional power for a stock machine.

On fast roads, or ones with enough of a straight between bends to let the big twin run, the motor and transmission shine. Under these conditions, and at these speeds, shifting is quick and positive and the front brakes are among the most powerful of any bike we’ve encountered. They provide excellent feedback to the rider and never require more than one finger on the lever. The rear brake, however, is weak and provides little feedback.

On these same roads, we were literally taken by how hard the Mille continues to pull as the revs and speeds increased – nothing seems as if it can slow this bike from accelerating at high RPM. The tables turn somewhat when the roads are extremely tight or if the bike is ridden at a more sedate pace. The soft upper mid-range stands out as annoying in our minds as this is exactly where you would expect a big twin to be at it’s best, especially for street duty. The ability to launch out of corners with gobs of roll-on torque is typically one of the benefits of riding a V-twin, but with the Mille R's somewhat flat powerband, and overall tall gearing, you're left to choose between lugging the engine a bit to stay in the four to five grand sweet spot, or to rev the engine aggressively.

When ridden easy, the transmission and brakes suffer as well. The transmission exhibits clunkiness at slower (normal) street speeds and it was always difficult to find neutral on our bike. The exceptionally strong radial brakes work wonders at track speeds, and for most street situations, but have too much initial hit for the tightest of street going. This had us opt out of even applying them in some tight first gear situations.

One aspect of this thoroughbred from Noale that remains beyond reproach, no matter how the bike is ridden, is the chassis. The top notch suspenders, race inspired frame, beautifully crafted swingarm and lightweight OZ wheels result in handling as rock solid and stable as you’ll find. The superb and easily adjustable Öhlins forks and shock provide a compliant and controlled ride no matter what you throw at it. The steering, though a bit heavy handed, is precise and allows mid corner corrections without protest or surprise.

We rode our test unit over to and up the incredible California coast to attend the Superbike races at Laguna Seca – an excellent journey for displaying a bikes strengths as well as its weaknesses. Over long straight sections, the Mille’s seat proved uncomfortable, though not terribly so. We had thick Gericke leathers on which makes a big difference. Like with most current sportbikes, if we had been traveling wearing only thin jeans, the ride may have ended prematurely. The Mille's bars are uncomfortable for street use which is made worse by their narrow nature. This led to our forearms tiring and beginning to hurt as well.

The Mille's street controls are poorly designed. The high beam switch isn’t a switch, but a push button and it's mounted too high. The horn button is mounted where the turn signal switch should be leaving riders, even Aprilia owners, to ask "How many times you hit the horn?" when trading bikes.

We rode our 2003 Mille R alongside a 2001 model and found a few interesting improvements with the newer model. First, air ducting under the full bodywork appears to have been altered, as the new bike doesn't fry your right leg as the 2001 model does. The 01 also generates airflow around your helmet that is loud and eventually bothersome. The 03 model, with a slightly altered windscreen, provides a good airflow over your helmet.

It’s hard to argue with Aprilia’s formula for success as this is a wonderful sportbike. The suspension, when set appropriately, provides a taught but smooth ride while it soaks up everything. The chassis is rock solid and as stable as you’ll find. In fact, we have never had a bike wear its tires down as evenly as the Mille, except for Aprilia's own Tuono which utilizes the same chassis. 

We don't think the negatives we found for street use will detour many potential buyers, as everything else about the Mille R is so darn good. At 403 pounds (the standard model weighs 412 lbs.), the Mille R is certainly lightweight. Combine this with a world-class chassis and brakes to match, and you have one competent track-ready production motorcycle you can pick up at your local dealer. The Mille R isn't cheap, but either are the components used to craft the machine. If you want a no-compromise track capable sportbike, you need look no further than the Mille R.

Aprilia: 2003 RSV 1000 Mille R
Quick Specs: Ratings:  Poor Fair Good V/Good Excellent
Displacement: 997cc, liquid-cooled, 60 degree, V-twin with four valves per cylinder Acceleration               8.5    
Drive:   6-speed, chain Brakes                 9+  
Fuel Capacity:  4.8 Gal. Carburetion               8.5    
Fuel Mileage:  30 - 36 mpg Comfort (overall)           6.5        
Fuel Range:   150 miles Comfort (touring)         5          
Susp. Front: 43mm Öhlins titanium nitride coated upside-down fork, fully adjustable. Finish (quality)               8    
Susp. Rear: Aprilia Progressive System (APS) linkages. Öhlins Racing monoshock with piggy-back reservoir. Handling (overall)                 9.5  
Tire Front: 120/70 - ZR Stability (handling)                 9.5  
Tire Rear: 190/50 - ZR Suspension (overall)                 9.5  
Weight:   Dry (claimed) - 403 lbs.

Fun Factor

                9  
Retail (US): $17,299

Overall Rating

                9  

*** Ratings above are for this type or class of motorcycle. Ratings are not intended to compare against all motorcycles ***

Test Note: Our test unit was found to have a worn clutch after our test.

Ups Downs
Incredibly powerful brakes with excellent feedback at track speeds. Front brake hits too hard for extremely tight street situations.
Exceptional and precise sportbike  handling. Fuel cap doesn't snap down and lock, you must push it down, hold, and turn the key.
Öhlins suspension, works great. Grabby clutch engagement.
Excellent tires, wear extremely well. Narrow bars wear you out riding on the street.
Shifting is sweet at speed. Shifting can be clunky at street speeds.
Quality components abound. Oil-level site tube is not straight forward for checking the oil level.
Good storage under rear seat. Needs better placed street switches, high beam etc.
Seat is flat and level, so you can sit where you like. You need a manual taped to the tank to understand and use the full-featured instrument panel. Photo
Very nice rubberized piece on back of tank to protect it. Photo Slight delay when turn signals are activated.

 

APRILIA 2003 RSV 1000 / R Specifications
Model differences highlighted with
***

Model

2003 Mille 2003 Mille R

Displacement

997.62 cc 997.62 cc

Engine

Longitudinal 60° V twin, 4-stroke. Liquid cooling with three-way pressurized circuit. Double overhead cams, mixed gear/chain timing drive, four valves per cylinder. Patented AVDC anti-vibration double countershaft Longitudinal 60° V twin, 4-stroke. Liquid cooling with three-way pressurized circuit. Double overhead cams, mixed gear/chain timing drive, four valves per cylinder. Patented AVDC anti-vibration double countershaft

Bore and stroke

97 x 67.5 mm 97 x 67.5 mm

Compression Ratio

11.4: 1 11.4: 1

Carburetion

Integrated electronic engine management system. Indirect multi-point electronic injection. 51 mm diameter throttle bodies. Integrated electronic engine management system. Indirect multi-point electronic injection. 51 mm diameter throttle bodies.

Ignition

Digital electronic ignition with TSI (Twin Spark Ignition) with two spark plugs per cylinder. Ignition timing integrated in the injection control system. Digital electronic ignition with TSI (Twin Spark Ignition) with two spark plugs per cylinder. Ignition timing integrated in the injection control system.
Starter Electric Electric

Gearbox

six speed
1st 34/15 (2.27)
2nd 31/19 (1.63)
3rd 26/20 (1.3)
4th 24/22 (1.091)
5th 24/25 (0.96)
6th 23/26 (0.88)
six speed
1st 34/15 (2.27)
2nd 31/19 (1.63)
3rd 26/20 (1.3)
4th 24/22 (1.091)
5th 24/25 (0.96)
6th 23/26 (0.88)

Final drive

Chain: 42/17 Chain: 42/17

Front Tire

120/70 –ZR17 120/70 –ZR17

Rear Tire

190/50 ZR17

190/50 ZR17

Front suspension

***Showa 43 mm upside-down fork with adjustment for compression, preload and rebound dampening. 4.72 in wheel travel. ***43 mm Öhlins titanium nitride coated upside-down fork. 4.72 in wheel travel. External adjustment for compression, preload and rebound dampening. Shorter inner legs with a radial caliper.

Rear suspension

***Aluminum alloy swing-arm with differential section members. APS (Aprilia Progressive System) linkage. Sachs hydraulic monoshock with adjustment for compression, preload and rebound dampening. Wheel travel 5.3in. ***Aluminum alloy swing-arm with differential section members; Aprilia Progressive System (APS) linkages. Öhlins Racing monoshock with piggy-back cylinder, adjustable in rebound, compression, preload and length. Wheel travel 5.3in

Brakes Front

***Front: Brembo double floating disk in stainless steel, Ø 320 mm. Triple bridge caliper with four 34 mm pistons and four sintered pads. Metal braided brake line. ***Front: Brembo double stainless steel floating disk, Æ 320 mm. Radial calipers with four 34 mm pistons and four sintered pads. Metal braided brake line

Brakes Rear

Brembo 220 mm stainless steel disk. Twin piston caliper, 32 mm diameter pistons. Metal braided brake line, sintered pads Brembo 220 mm stainless steel disk. Twin piston caliper, 32 mm diameter pistons. Metal braided brake line, sintered pads

Wheelbase

55.7 in. 55.7 in.

Rake/Trail

25/99mm 25/99mm
Seat Height 32 in. (fully extended) 32 in. (fully extended)

Dry weight

***412 lbs. ***403 lbs.

Fuel Tank

4.8 gal. 4.8 gal.
Available Colors: Mille: Hot Red, Aprilia Black, Lead Grey, Mille R: Aprilia Black
MSRP USA: Mille $ 13,499.00, Mille R $ 17,299.00

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