One of the best-known names in motorcycle racing today, Aprilia had inauspicious beginnings. Once the company hit its stride, it started making history on the track and beyond. Discover the past, present and future of this legendary brand and find out how you can improve your bike with Aprilia racing parts.
History of the Aprilia Company and Vintage Aprilia Motorcycles
At the end of the Second World War, Aprilia founder, Alberto Beggio, founded a modest bicycle company. Until 1968, this business continued to produce basic bicycles. At the end of the 1960s, however, Aprilia switched to manufacturing motorcycles.
The change to motorized vehicle production occurred when Alberto's son Ivan joined the company in 1968. First, the company produced a blue and gold 50cc motorbike. After the success of this model, Aprilia made a pair of mopeds.
In 1970, the company would seal its fate with its first motorcycle, the 50cc Scarabeo motocross bike. This model, in formats varying from 50cc to 125cc, set the stage for later racing motorcycles Aprilia would produce. Even in 1970, Beggio dreamed of taking the company's bikes to the competitive racing circuit.
That dream became a reality when Aprilia manufactured the RC 125 in 1974. Maurizio Sgarzani rode this model in cadet class the same year. In 1975, the company's competitive nature became apparent with the introduction of its first motocross racing bikes. Just two years later, in 1977, success arrived with Italian Motocross Championship titles for both the 125 and 250 classes.
On the production side, Aprilia filled the void in the motorcycle market of the early 1980s with models such as the TS320 trials bike in 1981 and the ST 125 road bike in 1983. Starting in 1985, the company no longer made its own engines for all models. It instead contracted personal vehicle engine maker, Rotax, to build the engines in some Aprilia motorcycles.
In 1988 the United States began importing this brand of motorcycles. The first bikes to come to America in 1988 and 1989 were the TRX312M and The Climber, which brought liquid cooling to the production market. The well-known Pegaso 600 brought an off-road feel to street legal bikes with its introduction in 1990.
In its continued legacy of making strides in urban mobility, Aprilia introduced the first all-plastic motorized scooter, the Amico, to the market in the 1990s. The company did not turn from its roots, though. In 1998, Aprilia produced one of its most well-known models, the RSV Mille. This superbike featured a 1000 cc V2 engine. The similarly powerful sport touring bike, the Falco was also released the same year.
In 2004, the fourth largest motorcycle manufacturer, Piaggio Group, brought Aprilia under its wing to become one of the seven brands owned by the company. Today, Aprilia continues to turn heads on the road and track with its production and racing models.
Aprilia Racing History and Significant Victories
Throughout its racing history, Aprilia racing bikes have stood out among the competition as some of the best models on the track. The history of this manufacturer's racing wins starts quietly, but the Aprilia team riders earned the company its reputation of success in the 1990s as they overtook motorsports.
1. The Early Years – 1970s Through 1980s
The dream of Aprilia becoming competitive on the track started in the 1970s. In 1974, Aprilia had Maurizio Sgarzani test its first motocross bike, which evolved into the street version of the racing bike, the RC 125. In 1977, the company earned a pair of titles through the Italian Motocross Championship for 125cc and 250cc bikes ridden by Ivan Alborghetti.
Starting in 1985, Aprilia took to the international stage with its premier showing in a race in Kyalami, South Africa. Aprilia rider Loris Reggiani finished that race in twelfth place. In later races that year at Imola and Rijeka, Reggiani took third place. The following year, 1986, Aprilia developed a hefty bike for African road rallies, the Tuareg. Aprilia got its first Grand Prix race win on August 30, 1987, when Loris Reggiani rode an Aprilia AF1 250. The following year, the company began racing in the French GP in the 125 class and reached into the top three in the eight-liter category.
2. Racing Fame Earned – the 1990s
By the 1990s, Aprilia became known as a brand that bred real racers and the powerful bikes they rode. In 1992, Alessandro Gramigni clinched the title for the World 125 Road Racing Championship. That same year, the Aprilia Climber model ridden by Tommy Ahvala won the World Trial Championship for off-road and Aprilia earned the title of Manufacturer Champion in off-road.
Despite a lackluster 1993 in which Aprilia riders barely missed the title, 1994 proved historic for the manufacturer. If the world had not known about the Aprilia name before, it would find out in 1994. During that year, Max Biaggi rode an Aprilia to earn the 250 class World Champion. In the 125 class, Kazuto Sakata received World Champion riding an Aprilia 125. In an attempt to round out its class participation, Aprilia debuted in the 500 class on a two-cylinder bike ridden by Loris Reggiani.
In 1995, despite riding hard, Sakata missed out on a repeat championship and earned second place in the 125 class. Max Biaggi won another World Championship title for the 250 class, a feat he repeated in 1996. Reggiani, still racing the Aprilia two-cylinder engine, edged out several riders on four-cylinder motorcycles to achieve a tenth place for the season.
By 1997, Biaggi had earned yet another World Championship for 250cc. Despite riding a 250cc, Biaggi's times compared favorably to those of 500cc motorcycles. When Doriano Romboni raced a modified 250cc in the 500 class races, he did not succeed as expected, and the experiment ended. The 125 class had a new rider,Valentino Rossi, who also raced to the championship and brought Aprilia along with it as a repeat manufacturing champion.
In 1998, Sakata won the 125 Rider Championship while Loris Capirossi took the 250 title. In many races that year, Aprilia riders took first, second and third places, filling the award podium with Aprilia team members. The following year, Rossi returned to the ranks of Aprilia champion riders with a title in the 250 class, and Aprilia debuted in the Superbike series.
As the 1990s ended, Aprilia's success as a manufacturer seemed unstoppable. Though the next decade would see an upheaval in the company's structure, it still made significant showings in MotoGP.
3. Continued Success on the Track – 2000s
The new century started with Aprilia's official foray into Superbike, with Troy Corser winning five races but barely missing the titles. Aprilia would not go without a championship this year, though. When Robert Locatelli earned the 125-class title, it marked Aprilia's fifteenth championship.
The company experienced a quiet year during 2001, but Aprilia came back with a vengeance in 2002, winning a pair of world manufacturer titles and a matching set of titles for its 250 and 125 riders, Marco Melandri and Arnaud Vincent, respectively. This year also marked the time Aprilia entered MotoGP. The company created a new, monstrously powerful bike for the occasion, the three-cylinder RS3 Cube Compared to other freshman year MotoGP bikes, the RS3 Cube featured more power and advancements, including F-1-inspired design.
During 2003, Aprilia riders only earned one title by Manuel Poggiali who in his first year got the 125 World Championship, though Aprilia got another pair of championships for manufacturers, 125 and 250. The RS3 Cube experiment in MotoGP did not succeed, and the company scrapped the idea at the end of the season.
Most people know 2004 as the year the Piaggio Group bought Aprilia, but this purchase did not affect the Aprilia team on the track. This year, and the following, allowed the company to refocus its efforts after the transition. By 2006, the racing team would return to glory.
With a better-organized team, Aprilia rose to the top in 2006, which saw a record six world titles for the company and its riders. In S2 World Supermoto, Van Den Bosch, won the title, while in Grand Prix, Jorge Lorenzo and Alvaro Bautista earned the 250 and 125 championships.
In 2007, the championship number reached five with Lorenzo repeating his 250 victory and Gabor Talmasci winning the 125 Grand Prix title. As it did with other racing circuits, Aprilia carefully planned its return to Superbike by bringing Max Biaggi back. The following year, he grabbed the World Superbike championship while riding an Aprilia Alitalia RSV4. He repeated the achievement in 2012 on another RSV4.
In 2016, Aprilia premiered is RS-GP. This bike, which the Gresini Racing Team still uses today, was unlike any other motorcycle it produced at the time. The RS-GP implemented a narrow V4 engine. That year, Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista showed continued improvements with each successive race on the new bike, resulting in the team's seventh-place finish at the end of 2016.
The RS-GP continues to make an impression on the track. Some changes in design, to improve the relatively new bike, helped boost this racing bike to its current state. The 2019 model of Aprilia's RS-GP continues to use this signature engine form, which many equate with the Aprilia brand.
Aprilia continues its racing legacy today, placing high in numerous races and earning championships on a nearly annual schedule. Few companies can match the prowess of Aprilia on the track.
Aprilia on the Track Today
Through the second decade of the 2000s, Aprilia continued to dominate on the track. With ten wins on its RSV bike by 2013, Aprilia proved the model's success. Just two years later, the RS-GP debuted. This Aprilia MotoGP bike became the first exclusively designed by the Italian Racing Department. A modified version of this bike still appears in MotoGP races and will again for the 2019 racing season.
2019 Aprilia Racing Team
For the 2019 racing season, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini introduces new riders and other staffing changes. For this season, Aprilia brought on a new rider, Andrea Iannone to take the track with veteran Aprilia rider, Aleix Espargaro.
The two new teams also have a pair of new crew chiefs. Heading up Espargaro's team is Antonio Jimenez while Iannone's pit crew will have Fabrizio Cecchini at the helm.
A third temporary team, with rider Bradley Smith, will test out new concepts on the track with the other Aprilia riders. While Smith doesn't hope to compete, his team's contributions will further Aprilia's racing designs for the future. Pietro Caprara will act as technical coordinator for the test team.
Off the track, Aprilia Racing has a new CEO, Massimo Rivola. Romano Albesiano takes charge of the technical aspects of the racing team in his new title as official Technical Director.
Since Gresini Racing has brought him onto the team, Andrea Iannone has actively participated in improving the RS-GP he races. He provides vital feedback to Aprilia, which the crews have heeded, resulting in upgrades and needed changes to the bike to get the most from it. While having an Italian among the Aprilia MotoGP riders puts some pressure on Iannone to prove his heritage on an Italian motorcycle, he hopes to propel the team to another victory for the brand.
Based on early trials, Espargaro reports feeling extremely comfortable on the upgraded 2019 RS-GP. He "feels fast" but also acknowledges room for growth in the team and through changes to the motorcycle. As others with Gresini Racing, he feels positive for the 2019 year and the new additions to the Aprilia Racing brand.
2019 Aprilia MotoGP Bike
Aprilia acknowledged that its relatively new RS-GP needed work after a lackluster 2018 racing season. The bike performed so poorly that Aleix Espargaro had to ride the last races of the season on a bike that combined elements from the RS-GP models from 2017 through 2019.
Though the 2018 model had significantly improved braking, which cut Espargaro's crashes in half, the balance and rear tire grip became severe problems during races. Unfortunately, the bike's redesign also forced Espargaro into an uncomfortable riding position, from which he found controlling the rear tire difficult.
The Aprilia MotoGP 2019 model needed to overcome these flaws to perform on the track. Technicians turned their focus to improving the grip of the rear tire and increasing horsepower. A new frame distinguishes the 2019 version from the 2018 design on the outside. Inside, the bikes ridden by Iannone and Espargaro have similar specs except Espargaro's bike includes Barracuda accessories.
Both bikes feature aluminum swingarms on a twin-tube frame made of the same metal. To adhere to FIM regulations, Aprilia built both motorcycles to have dry weights of 160 kg and 22-liter gas tanks. For 2019, the Aprilia MotoGP engine has a 1000cc displacement, a maximum power of 255 CV and a top speed of 350 km per hour. Structurally, the engine is a DOHC four-cylinder design with a six-speed gearbox.
Visually, the bike's styling has evolved from its previous iterations. Now, it includes a dominant black color with accents in the colors of the Italian flag. The Gresini Racing bikes will be hard to miss on the tracks during the 2019 MotoGP season.
Aprilia MotoGP 2019 Standings
As of June 2019, Aprilia is a distant fifth place in the manufacturer's standings with 22 points. It will take a lot for Aprilia to come from behind this season, though similar comebacks have happened before.
Rankings for the two Aprilia Racing Team riders do not meet the high expectations for the season. Veteran team member, Espargaro stands twelfth in the standings, while Iannone is behind in nineteenth. These standings can still change, with twelve more races in the season. With each run, Aprilia Racing has the chance to improve its RS-GP bikes to help Espargaro and Iannone improve their standings and the team standings.
Placing higher in the rankings, Espargaro has started in more races and finished better than his teammate. Of the first seven races in the 2019 season, Espargaro started in all of them. At Rio Hondo, he finished in ninth place, his best showing at an event this year.
While changes to the bike remain unknown factors in how the riders will finish the season, their health stands as another real factor. Both Iannone and Espargaro have experienced crashes that resulted in injuries. Neither racer had long-term damage from the incidences, but another similar incident could ruin the season for either rider.
New to Aprilia Racing, Iannone has yet to show an outstanding performance on the track. Out of the last seven races, Iannone started in six of them. His best finish was at the most recent event in Barcelona where he placed eleventh. Iannone's inability to start at Jerez in Spain occurred after an accident during practice left him unfit for racing. Thankfully, he did not break his leg, as feared, and he started at the next race of the season.
Leading up to the Assen race at the end of June, Espargaro experienced an accident that left him with leg injuries, including a microfracture in his femur and undisclosed damage to the tibia. Fortunately, the ligaments did not suffer severe harm from the incident, which will hasten his recovery. Whether he can race at Assen remains unclear as his recovery continues, though medical reports seem optimistic about him getting back on the track.
The next race of the season occurs on June 30 at Assen in The Netherlands. Keep track of Iannone and Espargaro the rest of this season to see how the changes to the RS-GP affect their racing. Only time will tell if Aprilia will experience another crushing defeat as in 2018, or make the necessary adjustments to see another surge of success for its riders as it did in the late 1990s and 2000s.
Explore Aprilia Parts for Sale
Today, Aprilia strives to further its racing reputation while manufacturing quality, powerful bikes for both recreational and sport riders.
If you own an Aprilia motorcycle, you're always looking for ways to improve its performance and customize its look. To do so, you will needhigh-quality aftermarket Aprilia parts. With aftermarket parts, you can customize your ride to the way that fits your style and performance needs.
You already trust Aprilia motorcycles to carry you down the track or the road, but you can improve on even the best bikes with customization options byadding aftermarket parts to your ride. You will find these Aprilia parts and much more here at Design Corse. Shop online now or contact us with any questions!
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