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Function over Form: 1999 Aprilia RSV1000 Mille SP for Sale

The first-generation Aprilia RSV Mille  is a pug-ugly bike. There, I said it. The styling is bulbous and overwrought, with weird, gimmicky details and bits that don’t really hang together.

Look, owners and fans can spare me the outraged comments: I really like these, and I’d take one over almost any Japanese sportbike you could name. I’d take “ugly but distinctive” over “pleasing but bland” all week long and twice on Sunday.

1999 Aprilia RSV Mille SP R Fairing

And the disjointed stealth-fighter design is certainly distinctive: there’s nothing else like it on the road and, in an era where the easiest way to tell bike brands apart is by what paint jobs they’re wearing, a defining corporate style is no small thing. But who cares what it looks like anyway? These things just flat work.

1999 Aprilia RSV Mille SP R Rear

At first glance, it looks very much like Aprilia simply stuffed a big v-twin into their pretty RS250’s frame. The bike was designed to compete directly on road and track against Ducati’s 916, but Aprilia definitely did its own thing: no perfect primary balance 90° twin here. They went with a very compact 998cc 60° motor from Rotax for packaging, fitted with twin balance shafts to smooth things out.

1999 Aprilia RSV Mille SP Engine Detail

Someday, the styling may be considered classic, but for now the dated looks just mean that prices for these very capable machines are relatively low, considering the performance on tap. This one, however, isn’t quite so affordable, and for good reason…

From the original eBay listing: 1999 Aprilia RSV Mille SP

This is a 1999 Aprilia RSV 1000 Mille SP (sport production) number 147 of 150. The Mille SP is one of the rarest Aprilias made, a 1000cc 60 degree V-twin Superbike. Just 150 were built, which was the minimum requirement for Aprilia to enter the Superbike World Championship.  Even fewer made it Stateside.

It’s a true homologation bike, not just a body work replica. Nearly every meaningful part is different from the standard Mille. The engine, built with input from Cosworth, has sand cast cases and a different bore and strike. The frame has adjustable engine position, steering head angle and swingarm pivot. Tuning by way of a race chip and not an ECU. The fairing is carbon-fibre. The exhaust is true duels with twin cans. The fuel tank is aluminum and the Öhlins suspension are fully adjustable.   Dry weight is 407lbs (about the same as a Ducati 996R and nearly 70lbs lighter than its sister Mille R.) Horsepower said to be near 150 with a reported top speed of 173.36 mph (versus 167.7 mph for the Mille R and 167.8 for the Ducati 996R).  As far as Aprilia goes, this is the one to have, the first year homologation entry. In 1999, Aprilia finished 6th. (Ducati was 1).

This Aprilia came out of a collection from California and has just 984 original miles. It comes with factory-correct DOT lightweight street wheels (magnesium wheels were not approved by DOT back then). The bike was just serviced by a certified race-proven tech at Eurosports in Coopersburg PA (an Aprilia dealer) and needs nothing.

I love that the SP actually has adjustable engine mounting points. Keep in mind that the SP is not simply a chip-tune and exhaust job. It is in fact a heavily revised, shorter-stroke version with significant input from Cosworth, as mentioned above.

1999 Aprilia RSV Mille SP Dash

Reliability for the RSV is generally better than equivalent Ducatis and service intervals less frequent. They’re also a bit roomier for larger riders, with a slightly more humane riding position. All-in-all, a funky alternative to folks not sold on Ducati hype, or those who believe that appearances are secondary to function.

Or for those who just love bikes with jagged, stealth fighter looks.


1999 Aprilia RSV Mille SP R Side Rear


  • Definitely rare and special, and worthy…”70lbs lighter than its sister Mille R” says a lot. But man, its odd styling sure hasn’t aged well at all. That dash display panel looks home made- why didn’t they do better?

    • Yeah I agree on all counts, and at least you don’t have to look at the bike while you’re actually riding it, but that dash is right in your face! Actually looks like the dash of an 80’s Dodge Daytona or something… But you could just swap in a cool gauge from MotoGadget! I actually think that these will one day be considered classics, but they’re at that point where they’re too new to be classic or retro and too old to be all that cool. So hopefully, they’ll get snapped up by folks who like to RIDE and will take good care of them!

  • still prefer the nera more

  • Are they the original muflers? I’m pretty sure they are not,as the originals were much larger from memory with beautifully etched Aprilia insignia on the outer skins of the can wrapping.With such low mileage,and coming from a collector,willl it be sold with the original mufflers?

  • They are the original exhaust for the SP model. I believe they were made by Arrow, they have that look but I can’t confirm. Also, I did a little research and interestingly, this #147 was on the market last year at $15,995:

  • I was never a fan of the early Aprilias but after looking at this bike I find it appealing in it’s quirky styling. The rear taillight is certainly unique. The exhaust is pretty neat too. The main problem as pointed out is the ludicrous dash. Looks like an 80’s sport tourer. Overall i would love to have this. Living in PA this is not far from me.

  • It’s in the blood… all 15 year old Italian girls are Belissiamo…beautiful!!

    • ok, thats kind of a creepy statement

  • Too many other great AND beautiful bikes out there. No reason for me to ever have one of these…

  • I have a low mile rsv-r 2000 for 5K, all stock and 6K miles, perfect condition

  • I would love one if these. I got a taste of the V-Twin world with the Superhawk that I had. Fun bike, but needed a commuter for a while. I have since really wanted a full on sports twin. The 999 was never really had a pull for me. But the RSV…. mmmm. Yes, looks are bulbous and more functional, but distinct, and I like them. Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder. Keep it up Tad.

  • If you guys are hesitating because of the dash, you are seriously misguided. The standard Aprilia dash displays all the information you need, in a legible fashion. Maybe another bike will have a fancier dash, but it won’t have a V60 990cc Rotax motor that, in my case, has not needed a valve adjustment in 60k miles. Like I said, get your priorities straight.

    • Our priorities ARE straight: some folks don’t care what the bike they’re riding looks like, they just want it to work. They don’t care for fashion or style. Others want to stare longingly at their bikes before they turn off the garage light after a long ride. Nothing wrong with either point of view.

      I’ve heard nothing but good things about the first-gen RSV, and a recent spate of “budget blaster” articles I’ve read featuring the bike confirm that. But even those articles are less than kind about the style of that dash, if not its function. I’m sure it works great, but it ain’t pretty. That wouldn’t put me off buying one: aftermarket dashes and gauges can solve that without too much trouble, or I’d just learn to live with it.

      I actually think Patrick’s comment sums it up best: the looks are functional and distinctive, but not pretty. They’re quirky and cool and different, but don’t require 6,000 mile valve adjustments.

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