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A Review of the Aprilia SXV 550: Unleashing Power and Precision

Unleashing Power and Precision: A Review of the Aprilia SXV 550

The Aprilia SXV 550 is a true beast on two wheels, combining power, agility, and precision in a single package. Built for off-road enthusiasts, this dual-sport motorcycle offers an exhilarating riding experience like no other. In this comprehensive review, we will delve into the key features, performance capabilities, and overall riding experience of the Aprilia SXV 550.

THE BIKE The first Aprilia RXV 550 to hit the market in 2006 was an animal. It was scary. It had a light switch for a throttle and more ponies than the Ponderosa. On a test day, while doing 140 kph on a flat dirt road, I listened to the rear wheel screaming for traction and wondered how you’d ever get the thing up a hill – and how I was going to pull up at the next corner. I wasn’t keen to get back on it any time soon, and yet here I am, all suited up and ready to roll on the 2007 model of the wicked Italian.


What I see before me is still the best-looking dirt bike ever crafted. Italians know style and when the quest for the balance between form and function is seriously chased, they often come through with the goods – they invented the Yo-Yo for heaven’s sake! And of course, Ducati, MV Augusta, and Cagiva, not to mention Aprilia’s own stunning gifts to the road bike world are all ‘messo in modo bello’ (beautifully crafted).

It’s hard to know where to start when describing the RXV. Its predominantly black and red color scheme is striking, as is the lion’s head on the radiator shrouds and the super-aggressive front and rear guards. Then there’s the frame – or lack thereof.

The forward part of the frame is non-existent and the job is instead done by making the engine a structural part of the bike. It looks great, but there’s nothing to stop the engine from taking a direct hit from a log or ledge, so a bash plate is a necessity. It’s packing a fairly healthy 396 mm of ground clearance, however, which compares well to the current king of the big-bores, the KTM 530 EXC-R, which has 380 mm.

The twin pipes slink their way up under the seat and peer out from under the rear guard. Heat can be felt as it builds up under the seat but it’s not unbearable, and anyway, we reckon those pipes look so sweet you can take some heat for the pleasure.

The speedo is a very compact and sturdy-looking LCD unit that tells you everything you’ll need to know, with a scroll button cleverly mounted on the left-hand switch block. The keyed ignition means you can stop for a pie and not be so worried that a scumbag will pinch your bike.

To access the paper air filter you have to get under the tank and it’s a fiddly job that doesn’t suit a dirt bike all too well. Overall, access to the engine isn’t easy given that the twin-cylinder donk takes up every available millimeter of space. It looks like something you’d see on a road bike but doesn’t lend well to on-the-trail, middle-of-nowhere maintenance.

The seat comes off easily enough through a single Dzus fastener, while undoing a hex bolt near the steering head allows the fuel tank to hinge upwards to reveal the airbox – underneath which is the engine – but not much room to do anything with it.

None of the RXV’s beauty is diminished – and even a few of its shortcomings are forgotten, however – when the engine fires to life. It revs in short, sharp explosions of power, testosterone, and deep guttural joy. If Harley owners are still under the impression that their bikes sound fantastic, they best not saddle up next to the RXV at a set of lights because it’ll destroy all their dreams and rattle their tassels to the core. Stop me if I’m gushing, but I went through half a tank of fuel just revving the bike in between gear changes.

So, after a look at some construction details, you’d have to say the RXV is a little more form than function at this stage. Let’s get it on the dirty gear and let the ponies run.


Starting the RXV was a problem. The battery was dead and didn’t build any charge even after several hours of riding. It was a push start for the whole day, and I don’t need to tell you how much that sucks in 34-degree heat and on flat ground with a 119-kilogram-plus (claimed dry weight) machine. Neither the 450 nor 550 have a kickstarter, and fuel-injected V-Twins take some voltage to get fired up. Function was losing to form again.

RAZZO ITALIANO (Italian Rocket)

Powering your way through gears for the first time, and you very quickly find that this bike is like nothing else on the market. If the RXV’s problems are sorted, Aprilia has something very special on their hands with this engine. The power is still monstrous but the delivery has been cooled. It’s much more controllable over the ‘06 model, thanks to a new oval design in place of the original round kit, and the way it feels when you open the throttle is near a religious experience.

The engine is smooth and the bike shows no vibration as you wind your way up the track, where the cue to change up a gear is given when the rear wheel is spinning faster than the earth’s rotation can match. With all that power to play with, it’s surprising how easy it is to keep it in check and pick your way through tight stuff.

And believe us, it’s obscenely fun. Sure, it’ll catch you out every now and again, and it’s not unusual to find yourself completely sideways with no notice, but it never seemed difficult to bring back in line, even when seemingly we were past the point of no return.

Up front, the fork does a great job over most everything, but the very quick steering can have the RXV pushing through turns, deflecting off sharp ledges, and off-camber corners are a bit nerve-racking. A bike this strong can afford to have slower steering because you can steer with the back wheel. The rear end has the dubious job of keeping as much of the bike’s power to the ground as possible and still soak up the hits. It does kick at times under braking, but a little tuning would probably help there. The brakes are, thankfully, excellent. They’re strong, predictable, and well-balanced on any surface.  

Although we had to push start it every time we stopped, the Mad Monkey test crew was still upbeat about the RXV until the unlikeliest problem arose. After 47 kilometers, the fuel light came on, and since the bike is fuel-injected, there is no reserve.

This is no good. A big bike should take you a long way. Hell, even a little bike should take you more than 50 kilometers. So, after pushing it all day in the heat and then – halfway through our usual ride distance – the bike starts running out of fuel! We got pissed off and called it a day. We were out of fuel at 50 kilometers and wow, what an amazing 50 kilometers – but a twin-cylinder enduro bike of this size needs more than a 7.8-liter tank.


All that power produces wheel spin that robs the bike of juice and destroys rear tires in a flash. Is it worth it? Kinda.

The bike is in its second year of production. If Aprilia engineers are on the ball and the fuel, battery, and front-end issues can be sorted, I’ll put my hand up for one in my garage. It’s simply the most exciting bike we’ve ever ridden – the most amazing big-bore engine on the planet – and there are some other clever ideas at work here. Give it some time and hopefully, it will come of age, but right now the ledger is more on the form than function side, and although the RXV is a blast to ride, I don’t think I’d want to live with it…yet.

Design and Appearance

The Aprilia SXV 550 boasts a sleek and aggressive design that immediately catches the eye. With its sharp lines, angular bodywork, and vibrant color schemes, this bike exudes a sense of raw power and athleticism. The compact and lightweight frame, combined with high-quality components, further enhances its overall appeal.

Engine and Performance

At the heart of the Aprilia SXV 550 lies a potent 549cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine. This powerhouse generates an impressive 60 horsepower, delivering blistering acceleration and top-notch performance. The engine is equipped with advanced fuel injection technology, ensuring smooth power delivery across the RPM range.

A Comprehensive Guide to the Engine of Aprilia SXV 550

In this blog post, we will delve into the intricate details of the engine that powers the Aprilia SXV 550. The Aprilia SXV 550 is a powerful and performance-oriented supermoto motorcycle that has gained a cult following among enthusiasts. We will explore the engine’s specifications, features, and performance characteristics that make it a standout in its class. So, let’s dive in and uncover the secrets behind the impressive performance of the Aprilia SXV 550’s engine.

Introduction to the Aprilia SXV 550

The Aprilia SXV 550 is a high-performance supermoto motorcycle that was first introduced in 2006. It is powered by a state-of-the-art engine that sets it apart from its competitors. This engine is a testament to Aprilia’s commitment to delivering thrilling and exhilarating riding experiences. Let’s take a closer look at the engine specifications and features.

Engine Specifications

The engine of the Aprilia SXV 550 is a liquid-cooled, 549.6cc, 77-degree V-twin powerhouse. It features fuel injection and a 12.5:1 compression ratio, ensuring optimal power delivery and efficiency. This high-revving engine is capable of generating an impressive output of 70 horsepower, making it one of the most powerful engines in its class.

Fuel Injection System

The fuel injection system plays a crucial role in the performance of the Aprilia SXV 550’s engine. It ensures precise and consistent fuel delivery, resulting in smooth power delivery and improved throttle response. The fuel injection system also helps in optimizing fuel efficiency, making the SXV 550 more environmentally friendly.

Dual Overhead Camshafts (DOHC)

The Aprilia SXV 550’s engine is equipped with a dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) configuration. This design allows for better valve control and more precise timing, resulting in improved power delivery and overall performance. The DOHC setup also contributes to the engine’s high-revving nature, enabling it to each its maximum power output at higher RPMs.

Liquid Cooling System

To ensure optimal engine performance and prevent overheating, the Aprilia SXV 550 is equipped with a liquid cooling system. This system efficiently regulates the engine’s temperature, allowing it to operate at its peak performance levels for longer durations. The liquid cooling system also contributes to the engine’s durability and longevity.

Six-Speed Transmission

The Aprilia SXV 550 features a six-speed transmission that allows riders to make seamless gear changes and harness the engine’s power across a wide range of speeds. The close-ratio gearing ensures that the engine is always in the optimal power band, providing exhilarating acceleration and top-end performance. The six-speed transmission also enhances the bike’s versatility, making it suitable for various riding conditions.

Performance Characteristics

The engine of the Aprilia SXV 550 is known for its impressive performance characteristics. The V-twin configuration provides a broad torque curve, ensuring ample low-end grunt and thrilling mid-range power. The engine’s high-revving nature allows it to deliver exhilarating acceleration and reach impressive top speeds. With its powerful engine, the SXV 550 excels in both on-road and off-road environments, making it a versatile and exciting motorcycle to ride.

Maintenance and Care

To keep the engine of the Aprilia SXV 550 in top condition, regular maintenance and care are essential. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals for oil changes, filter replacements, and valve adjustments. Additionally, keeping the cooling system clean and ensuring proper chain tension will contribute to the engine’s longevity and optimal performance. Regular inspections and maintenance will help riders enjoy the full potential of the SXV 550’s engine for years to come.

The engine of the Aprilia SXV 550 is a true powerhouse that delivers exhilarating performance and thrilling riding experiences. With its advanced features, such as fuel injection, DOHC, and a liquid cooling system, this engine sets new standards in its class. Whether you’re a supermoto enthusiast or simply seeking an adrenaline-packed ride, the Aprilia SXV 550’s engine will not disappoint. So, gear up and get ready to experience the unmatched power and performance of this remarkable machine.

Handling and Suspension Of Aprilia SXV 550

One of the standout features of the Aprilia SXV 550 is its exceptional handling capabilities. Thanks to its lightweight chassis and well-tuned suspension system, this bike offers unparalleled agility and maneuverability. Whether you’re navigating tight corners or tackling rough terrains, the SXV 550 provides precise and responsive handling, giving riders the confidence to push their limits.

Braking System

Safety is a top priority, and the Aprilia SXV 550 doesn’t disappoint in this regard. It is equipped with high-performance Brembo brakes, known for their exceptional stopping power and reliability. The front and rear disc brakes offer excellent modulation, allowing riders to confidently control their speed in any situation.

Ergonomics and Comfort

Long hours in the saddle are made comfortable by the thoughtfully designed ergonomics of the Aprilia SXV 550. The seat is well-padded and positioned to provide a comfortable riding posture, reducing fatigue during extended rides. The handlebars and footpegs are ergonomically placed, offering a natural and relaxed riding position.

Off-Road Capabilities

The Aprilia SXV 550 is purpose-built for off-road adventures. Its high ground clearance, long-travel suspension, and aggressive tires make it a formidable machine on unpaved terrains. Whether you’re conquering dirt trails or tackling rocky surfaces, the SXV 550 delivers exceptional off-road performance, ensuring riders can explore new horizons without compromise.

Electronics and Technology

Aprilia has equipped the Aprilia SXV 550 with a range of advanced electronics and technology to enhance the riding experience. The bike features a digital instrument cluster that provides essential information at a glance, including speed, RPM, fuel level, and more. Additionally, the SXV 550 comes with a programmable engine management system, allowing riders to customize power delivery to suit their preferences.

Maintenance and Reliability

Maintaining the Aprilia SXV 550 is relatively straightforward, thanks to its high-quality components and reliable engineering. Routine maintenance tasks such as oil changes, filter replacements, and chain adjustments can be easily performed by owners, ensuring the bike remains in top condition for years to come. However, it’s important to note that the high-performance nature of the SXV 550 may require more frequent servicing compared to standard motorcycles.

Engine: 77° V twin four stroke. Liquid cooled. Single overhead cam with rocker operated exhaust valves, chain timing drive, 4 valve heads, titanium valves
Fuel: Lead-free petrol
Bore x stroke: 80 x 55 mm
Total displacement: 549 cc
Compression ratio: 12:1
Fuel system: Integrated engine management system controlling ignition and fuel injection
Throttle body: 40 mm
Ignition: Electronic
Starting: Electric starting
Alternator: 340 W
Lubrication: Dry sump with external oil tank. Separate gearbox lubrication
Gearbox 5 speed. Enduro gear ratios:
1st 12/31, 2nd 13/25, 3rd 15/23, 4th 19/24, 5th 21/22
Clutch: Multiple discs in oil bath, cable operated
Primary drive: Spur gears. Transmission ratio: 22/56
Final drive: Chain. Transmission ratio: 15/48
Frame: Steel perimeter frame with alloy vertical members
Front suspension: Ø 45 mm upside down fork, double adjustment
Rear suspension: Box section aluminium swingarm with cast body
Hydraulic monoshock with compression and rebound adjustment
Brakes Front: Ø 270 mm stainless steel disc with floating caliper
Brakes Rear: 240 mm stainless steel disc with floating caliper
Wheels: Light alloy
Front: 1.60 x 21″, Rear: 2.15 x 18″
Tyres Front: 90/90 x 21″
Tyres Rear: 140/80 x 18″
Dimensions: Overall length: 2,222 mm, Overall width: 800 mm
Ground clearance: 396 mm, Seat height: 996 mm
Wheelbase: 1,495 mm
Fuel tank: Capacity 7.8 litres
Colours: Aprilia Black / Fluro Red
Price: $13,990 plus ORC

Price and Value for Money

The Aprilia SXV 550 sits in the upper price range of dual-sport motorcycles, reflecting its premium build quality and performance capabilities. While it may not be the most budget-friendly option, its exceptional performance, reliability, and off-road capabilities make it a worthwhile investment for enthusiasts who demand the best riding experience.


EVAN ROSE – Expert


Responsive engine with plenty of usable power throughout the rev range Overall, the bike feels a lot smaller and lighter than expected You’ll ride with a smile on your face!


The upper part of the seat is uncomfortable and makes it difficult to lean forward on the bike in tight conditions The front suspension is aggressive and often deflects in rocky conditions On a hot day and after a few hours of riding, the seat becomes uncomfortably hot Fuel consumption is too high

Would you have one in your garage? With 550cc of V-twin power, it’s awesome. The bike has so much power that many of its negative aspects are forgotten after the first twist of the throttle. It’s great!



The engine is an absolute colossus It has more power than any mere mortal could ever ask for The throttle response is razor sharp, and combined with the impressive torque, it allows the engine to be run in a higher gear (or even two gears higher in my case) while still being able to accelerate seamlessly to warp-speed. The rear end easily absorbs most trail debris and has a remarkable ability to return straight after sliding sideways under acceleration – which happens quite often.


The front end tends to deflect and tuck under when leaned into corners, making it somewhat unpredictable Due to the unusual shape of the fuel tank, the shrouds initially felt uncomfortable and stuck into my legs as I tried to lean forward in the saddle, but this feeling subsided as I rode the bike for a while.

Would you have one in your garage? Hell yeah! Who wouldn’t want a bike that looks this good and gives you a tingling sensation in the loins every time you twist the throttle? If I were riding in tight, hilly terrain for a day, I’d leave the big girl at home, but as soon as the riding involved open fire trails or grass tracks, it would be the first bike I’d fire up.


In conclusion, the Aprilia SXV 550 is a remarkable dual-sport motorcycle that combines power, precision, and off-road prowess. With its aggressive design, powerful engine, and exceptional handling, this bike provides an adrenaline-fueled experience for riders who crave adventure. While it may come with a higher price tag, the SXV 550 delivers unparalleled performance and reliability, making it a top choice for off-road enthusiasts seeking the ultimate riding experience.





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