Huh uh, Ken: didn’t know you wanted a Mille!
I bought the '03 ZX636B to rebuild skills I’d let slide (pun intended). Since the ZX is a trackbike-only for me, and fairly unintimidating in terms of weight and power, I personally need a 150 rwhp Gixxer like I need colon cancer.
But the Gixxer obviously works. Matt Mladin’s living proof-of-concept. The ZX works, too, in a different way.
Milles are another story. I’ll give my $.02.
Last week I sold a Y2K Mille standard with 8K miles, with some reluctance. I owned it from new, May 2000. Mods included pipe, chip, sprockets, Penske shock, Helibars, and clutch slave cylinder. Power was 111 rwhp (DynoJet), wet weight about 475 lbs, cost about $12K plus tax.
They’ve changed somewhat 2000-2003, but not radically: evolution vs. revolution. The ‘03s have radial calipers and a few other goodies. I think my Y2K is a reasonable comparison. (The U.S. Y2K bikes equal 1999 models in other countries; don’t ask. It’s titled Y2K.)
I could not ride the bike fast on the track. The Mille isn’t “slow” but suffers on the top end compared to inlines, even 600s: tracks where I’d hit 137 mph on the front straight, 600s, 750s, and 1000s hit 150-175mph. The Aprilia drove out of corners much better, however, due to excellent torque. Given sufficient room, the Mille might catch up, but twins often run out of steam at the top end (when most inlines come on the horsepower).
My real issue was bike weight distribution: Milles are top-heavy and the riding position’s such that hanging off can be a chore. I could feel the bike’s weight pushing into turns. My front brake rotors were suspect at 8K miles and might have been already warped, adding to the fun.
To be fair, there are tons of guys who can ride Milles fast. For whatever reason, I could not. (Being something of a fatass probably does not help my cause, though I can ride the ZX and my Blackbird fairly fast). Anyway, after attempting to solve the Aprilia problem by writing checks, I gave up. A complete solution (to a Mille standard) includes an Ohlins or Penske shock, OZ wheels, Traxxion Dynamics forks, and a Stage II engine job from Blackman’s Cycle (or whoever). Throw another three to ten grand at it, everything’s great. Mille R's make better starting platforms for serious performance.
Or, buy an '03 ZX636B for $7-8K, which works better on the track right out of the box. Hmm: nineteen grand (for a Mille R, out the door) vs. eight, hmm.
On the plus side, a properly-setup (mostly stock) Mille makes a great street sport or hooligan bike. In that capacity, it served me well two years (’00 and ’01). They put power to ground exceptionally well. The street generally favors liter bikes, IMO, and there are plenty of opportunities for big twins to torque around. Personally, I think the Rotax liter twin is best suited to the Tuano R, buy YMMV.
To do it again, I’d have bought a Mille R. The price delta buys Ohlins and OZ wheels, plus slick graphics. The wheels and suspension are a huge improvement and worth the money. I spent a lot on upgrades and still didn’t have an ‘R’ equivalent.
Resale on Aprilias in the U.S. currently totally sucks. Under no circumstances would I buy a new Mille or Mille R, unless I had money to burn. Cost for a new R, including tax and setup, equals a wallet-busting nineteen or twenty grand in WA State, e.g. I’ve seen ’01 and ’02 Rs in excellent condition used for ten to twelve grand, .2000.5’s for nine. In fact ApriliaForum has a couple listed right now.
There exist used Haga reps for a good price, too. That sure is a pretty bike. The Edwards rep is even nicer, and almost worth what they ask for it with the Akrapovic pipe and other bits.
If you want a pretty, somewhat exotic, definitely exclusive, reliable sportbike, by all means buy a Mille. For pure functionality, spend far less and buy a JPN sportbike (e.g. 636, Gixxer 750 or 1000, etc.).