Dashing designer Duncan Quinn – aka DRIVEN’s own 007 – takes a spin on the Aprilia RSV4 Factory SE:

My older sister always used to tell me that big motorcycles are like big horses – you can convince yourself you are in control, but you never really are.

You learn to respect these things fast if you hope to live to tell the tale

I’ve been testing her theory for over 20 years from cheeky 250cc rice rockets to litre Trumpets, Ducatis, Gixxers and beyond.

She had a point in one respect and perhaps this is what she meant – you learn to respect these things fast if you hope to live to tell the tale.

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They don’t call them donor cycles for nothing.

And tales aplenty there are of my little foray up and down Route 1 over Pebble Beach weekend a few weeks ago.

A simply breathtaking piece of machinery on a simply breathtaking piece of road

An impromptu visit to LA to take care of some DQ related business and meet with an Italian movie producer client in the hills, coupled with an invitation from Bentley to enjoy a view of the new Continental GTC with dinner in Monterey became an excuse to take a simply breathtaking piece of machinery up and down a simply breathtaking piece of road.

For some this is the holy grail of bike trips and certainly one they fly in from all over the world to experience.

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I can’t say it was an average Saturday afternoon for me either, but it’s a testament to its charms that following a rather excessive Thursday night in Manhattan I managed only 12 hours sleep by Sunday evening yet loved every minute of it.

I managed only 12 hours sleep by Sunday evening yet loved every minute of it

For a man who rarely struggles for words, to find it difficult to explain the phenomenon that is the RSV4 Factory SE perhaps speaks more than anything that precedes or follows.

It has a silly name, and is a little too pointy and generic Japanese racebike-looking for my liking, especially in view of its fine Italian pedigree, but this really is a case of everything else simply being so sublime that I had to give pause to my concerns.

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It’s a technical tour de force and a hooligan’s dream.

If anything it has way too many gizmos and like most modern supercars slightly dulls the edge of your fear and raises you to a self-perceived pedestal of greatness by giving you more superhuman powers than God originally intended.

It’s a technical tour de force and a hooligan’s dream

Ultimately you’ll probably run out of balls before it runs out of performance, but you’ll feel like a superstar all the way there.

It has launch control, traction control and wheelie control, its fly-by-wire and adjustable in so many ways you’ll either need to be a mechanical maestro or have one on hand to dial it in for you if you are to find the limits of your potential excess.

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It has specially formulated Pirelli tires made exclusively for it, with softer compound to the edge and harder to the middle to maximize performance as you lean in or blast straight, respectively.

It doesn’t ride itself, and it doesn’t do it all, but it damned well helps as much as it can

And the thing I loved most – change up with no clutch while above 5,000 rpm and it will lock in the next gear to nudge you smoothly and ever faster forward as you click up through the box, even with a handful of throttle and an eye for the ever closer horizon.

It doesn’t ride itself, and it doesn’t do it all, but it damned well helps as much as it can.

The exhaust barks, the gears fly by and you come closer to nirvana on two wheels than you have in many a long while.

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It’s a driving ban waiting to happen, if they can ever catch you, but it garners smiles from RVs and bikers alike as you dart past in the blink of an eye.

It’s a driving ban waiting to happen if they can ever catch you

With 85 mph apparently showing up on the tail end in first gear it really doesn’t make any sense at all.

But then I still want one.

Its the ultimate track bike for the road.  And in that task it grants no quarter.

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On the right road in the right conditions and on the right day it may just be one of the rides of your life.

And it may just have been that for me….

DQ