Welcome to the forum.
+1 to everything stated above by Extrapolator.
Hi everyone. I've been riding for some 20 plus year but have never had an RC51. From the first time I saw one, and more to the point heard one, I have wanted one. I'm really considering selling my current bike and trying to locate a deal on an RC51 so I figured where better to learn about them then from the enthusiasts (you).
Want to know:
? Best year to get one and why?
? Issues that need to be addressed?
? How are they on the track?
? Any other nuances?
My current bike is an '02 Aprillia Mille R with all the updates and bells and whistles. Primary use is for for the track.
SP2 would be my choice, better parts availability, especially exhaust. If you can find one with modded forks and shock, a PC, and good exhaust - that would be a great foundation.
SP1's are a good choice too, only thing about them is a leaky hinge weld on the rear of fuel tank. Mine had it, so did a few others here on the forum. All the early FI Honda's are notorious also for leaky fpr's, and stator or reg/rec charging issues. There's quite a few threads about those issues.
Haven't ridden track enough to comment, but 6 years and 35K miles on the street.
How much track time vs street will you use the bike?
One thing for sure, even with a decent amount of mods, the bike feels heavy. But once up to speed, feels very planted and loves to rail thru turns - just get your input right or she might bite back.
One thing that helped me a lot with that on the lovely canyon roads in my area, is using 15/42 (-1+2) sprockets and a 200/55 rear tire. Many here run a 190/55 and are very happy with that too.
Oh yeah, did I mention suspension?
Seriously, upgrading takes these bikes to the next level.
All that said, try to ride one before deciding.