Aprilia isn’t as well-known as some of the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers despite being part of the fourth largest motorcycle group in the world. The brand is a presence in motorsport and on the road, and so it’s worth taking a look at Aprilia’s rich history.
Aprilia was founded in Noale, Italy, in 1945. The brand has won a total of 54 world titles in motorcycle racing, making it statistically the best performing European racing bike manufacturer in history. Aprilia was acquired by Piaggio in 1984, which benefitted both companies greatly.
From its humble beginnings at the end of World War II to its current position as one of the best motorcycle brands in the world, Aprilia has stamped its mark on the archives of racing. Keep reading as we chronicle the events that took this brand to the pinnacle of motorcycle racing.
History Of The Aprilia Brand
At the end of the Second World War, Alberto Beggio started a bicycle factory in Noale, a province of Venice, Italy. It was after his son Ivano Beggio took over the company in 1968 that the company ventured into motorcycles by building its first motorcycle, a blue and gold 50cc bike. It was only in 1970 when they started making the Scarabeo motocross 50cc bike that the brand became fairly popular.
The Scarabeo was later launched in another version with a 125cc engine in what was to become their characteristic color: metallic gold. At the Italian motocross Championship in 1977, Aprilia won their first title. By this time, the popularity of Aprilia bikes had grown and crossed the European shores to America where their mopeds and motocross bikes were in demand.
From 1984, when Aprilia became a subsidiary of Piaggio, they started focusing on racing, and in 1985 they started racing in MotoGP (which was a 500cc motorcycle racing championship at that point). The very same year Aprilia started outsourcing its engines to Rotax, a manufacturer of engines for snowmobiles, watercraft, aircraft, scooters, and motorcycles.
In 1987, Aprilia had their first Grand Prix racing victory. For a company that started racing 8 years prior, winning the title was no small achievement and was a sign of what was to come.
The Piaggio Group
It’s worth noting that the owners of Aprilia, the Piaggio Group, have a number of other brands. Currently, Piaggio also owns Vespa, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Gilera, Derbi, and Scarabeo, along with their own Piaggio scooters. As a subsidiary of Piaggio, Aprilia has more than fulfilled the high standards set by its parent company.
What To Expect From Aprilia Bikes
The bikes that Aprilia was manufacturing when they started are vastly different from what they are today. In the motorcycle market where the four Japanese giants are ruling, no manufacturer can survive for long without manufacturing motorcycles that are as good, if not better.
Aprilia has held its place purely on the basis of quality, and has competed with the best to bring the latest technology to production bikes at affordable prices, which has helped to endear the brand.
The Most Popular Aprilia Motorcycle
The most popular Aprilia motorcycle is the RSV4. Launched in 2009, this 1000cc bike was ridden by Max Biaggi to win two SBK World Championships. Several variations of the RSV4 have been launched by Aprilia through the years until 2016, when a new version named the RS-GP was introduced.
The 7 Most Popular Aprilia Motorcycles
1. Aprilia RSV4
The consumer version of the Aprilia RSV4 is very different from the bike that first hit the track back in 1998. The RSV4 Factory and the RSV4 limited edition have 1099cc engines that are more powerful than the original, and maybe overkill for the consumer who doesn’t need that much power. The suspension on the consumer version is also completely different.
The RSV4 factory version has an Ohlins semi-active suspension with an upside-down fork and an electronic steering damper. Priced at about $19,000 for the RSV4 1100 version and $26,000 for the RSV4 factory 1100, these are expensive bikes. Common to both bikes is the 1099cc engine that churns out 217 HP and torque of 125 Nm, which drives the bike to its top speed of 189 mph (305 kph).
This bike gained a reputation for itself by winning two World Championships in the skilled hands of Max Biaggi.
2. Aprilia Tuono V4 1100
The Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 is marketed as a sports and adventure bike even though it falls in the Superbike category. Priced at about $16,000 for the basic version and at $19,500 for the Tuono V4 1100 Factory version, these bikes are most likely priced out of reach for the majority of enthusiasts. All the Aprilia bikes are extremely stylish, and this is no exception.
The Tuono series has always featured powerful bikes, and this 1077cc bike delivers 175 HP of power, making it one of the preferred bikes for speed maniacs. Alloy wheels with colored rims and a low windshield are part of its impressive looks. Powered by a unique four cylinder narrow 65° V engine, it churns out 121 Nm of torque.
3. Aprilia RS125
Supposedly the best bike that Aprilia ever created, the RS125 has an abundance of victories in Grand Prix racing with its 125cc engine. Weighing in at only 264 lbs (120 kg), this is an ideal beginner bike that isn’t too light or too heavy, with enough power to make the ride enjoyable. All the Aprilia bikes have outstanding looks and this one fits in perfectly.
It can be used as a commuter bike or for the weekend rider, although a rather small pillion seat offers the option of taking along a pillion passenger as well. This bike is sought after by collectors and racing enthusiasts for its all-around appeal and racing reputation. The bike is available from Aprilia in Sintesi Blue and Aprilia Black.
Even though Aprilia calls it a super sports bike, there is no denying its racing origins that are visible in the bike’s design and construction. A diecast aluminum frame with reinforced ribs keeps its weight low, while its front upside-down fork suspension with a rear monoshock allows the rider ease of handling with stability.
Aprilia RS125 & Aprilia RS125 GP Replica
The RS 125 comes in two variants: the RS 125 and the RS 125 GP replica. There are some differences in their looks with the RS 125 GP Replica sporting more decals and a “GP look,” although there doesn’t seem to be much difference in the engine.
4. Aprilia RS250
The RS250 was designed to mirror Aprilia’s GP250 bike to celebrate their racing success. This bike has one of the few two-stroke engines still being used in production motorcycles. Its 249cc engine outputs 60 HP.
Its top speed of 135 mph (222 kph) with max torque of 37 Nm makes it an ideal bike for weekend racers and commuters as well, although its kerb weight of 368 lbs (167 kg) is high for the engine capacity.
5. Aprilia Dorsoduro
The Aprilia Dorsoduro is another V-twin engine that was launched in 2007 at the Milan motorcycle show. Its supermoto design also included features found in standard and touring bikes. The early models were 750cc, which later changed to 1200cc and then down to 900cc. The 750cc model included front and rear disc brakes with ABS, and adjustable throttle mapping.
The Dorsoduro 750cc version produced 92 HP of power, but was very heavy at its kerb weight of 454 lbs (206 kg). The Dorsoduro 1200cc version was launched in 2011, and its engine was designed by Federico Martini of Piaggio. The 900cc version was launched in 2017 and it is slightly more powerful than the 750cc bike.
6. Aprilia Mana 850
This is one of the few bikes of high engine capacity that uses an automatic transmission. Launched in 2007, and continued until 2016, it was marketed as a sports bike, but very heavy at 516 lb (234 kg).
The continuously variable transmission (CVT) gives the rider the freedom to ride without shifting gears. It could be switched to manual mode though, so that the rider can change gears with the foot pedal. Another version of the Mana 850 is sold as the Mana 850 GT, which comes with a partial fairing.
7. Aprilia RSV1000 Mille
The Aprilia RSV1000 Mille was launched in 2004 and continued to be sold until 2010, after which the name was changed to RSV 1000 R. As is usual with all the Aprilia models, the RSV 1000 R is made in more than one version. The RSV 1000 R is the basic version, the next higher version is the RSV 1000 R Factory with higher specs, and there was a limited edition version called RSV 1000 R Nera.
Aprilia RSV 1000 R Factory
The Factory version has a liquid-cooled, V-twin, 997.6cc engine that delivers 90 Nm of torque and 139 HP. The frame is finished in black or gold with aluminum wheels and carbon fiber parts.
Aprilia RSV 1000 R Nera
Only 200 RSV 1000 R Nera limited edition bikes were made. Despite using a lot of magnesium and titanium, the bike’s kerb weight is 472 lb (214 kg), which is still pretty heavy.
Aprilia Motorsport History
Aprilia has won an astounding 294 motorcycle World Championship titles in various classes, which speaks volumes about the brand’s perseverance and commitment to the sport. This has been reflected in their sales as customers buy their motorcycles in the faith that the brand is selling quality bikes that are going to last.
There are too many victories to list individually, but a few of Aprilia’s most notable wins include:
- 1975 – Aprilia debuts in the World Championship to challenge the unrivaled Japanese in the 250cc class.
- 1985 – Loris Reggiani finishes 12th in the World Championship 250cc class in South Africa. Later the same year, he finishes 3rd in Rijeka, Croatia.
- 1988 – Aprilia enters the 125cc class for the first time and finish 3rd in the French Grand Prix.
- 1991 – This year proves to be exceptional as Max Biaggi rides the Aprilia 250 to win the European 250 and Alessandro Gramigni wins the 125cc class in Czechoslovakia.
- 1992 – Aprilia win their first motorcycle racing World Championship title and numerous other wins in the 125cc class.
- 1996 – Max Biaggi of Aprilia wins the World Championship for the third time and Aprilia wins the manufacturer title as well.
- 1997 – Aprilia gets 11 wins out of 15 races with Valentino Rossi and two more World Championships in the 125cc class.
- 1998 – If 1997 was impressive, then 1998 is even more so as Aprilia win 13 of 14 Grand Prix in the 250cc class. The podium is filled with all three Aprilia riders four times.
- 1999 – Valentino Rossi wins the 250cc title and wins another nine races on the Aprilia RSW.
- 2002 – Aprilia wins the World Championship with four titles in total, two coming from World manufacturer titles and two rider titles in the 125cc and 250cc classes. They completely dominate the 250cc class, winning 14 out of 16 races, a major achievement that has still never been equaled.
- 2006 – Jorge Lorenzo wins the 250cc class, and Alvaro Bautista wins the 125cc rider title taking Aprilia to a record season by winning six World Championships with the biggest title being the Manufacturers’ Championship.
- 2007 – This turns out to be almost the same as 2006 as Aprilia won five more World Championships.
- 2009 – Aprilia launches the RSV4, a superbike with a four-cylinder, 1000cc engine, and the very next year in 2010 Max Biaggi rides the RSV4 to victory in the World Superbike Championship.
- 2012 – Max Biaggi wins the first race of the Superbike season in Australia, continues to lead throughout the Championship, and becomes the World Champion for the second time in the Superbike class. It is also his sixth world title, five of which were won on Aprilia bikes.
- 2013 – Aprilia wins the World Superbike Manufacturers’ Championship.
- 2014 – Aprilia wins the World Superbike Championship with Sylvain Guintoli winning the rider championship, and Aprilia winning the manufacturers’ title.
- 2015 – Aprilia wins the World Superbike Championship, and the RSV4 wins three races.
- 2016 – Kevin Calia ends the season in third place in the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup.
Aprilia is at the top of the motorcycle racing world because of the brand’s commitment to making better bikes. With their outstanding record on the race track that inspires confidence in buying their products, they are one of the few European motorcycle manufacturers that have continued to make quality bikes through the years, and seen racing success too.