Aprilia Motorcycle History

Aprilia is Europe's second largest producer of motorcycles and scooters and the only non-Japanese manufacturer with a complete range of two-wheeled vehicles. Aprilia is not just market leader; the company has also become a leading name on the world’s racing circuits, establishing itself as one of the most prestigious and successful marques around. It was purchased in the early 2000s by the Piaggio Group.
  • 1968 The first Aprilia ‘motobike’ is completed, a gold and blue 50cc model.
     
  • 1970 The first Scarabeo is introduced and is produced until the middle of the decade in 50cc and 125cc variations.
     
  • 1974 Aprilia introduces the RC 125.
     
  • 1975 The first racing Aprilias are produced.
     
  • 1981 Aprilia introduces the TS320 Trials bike.
     
  • 1983 ST 125 road bike is released.
     
  • 1985 Aprilia begins outsourcing engines to Rotax. The 125 SX and 350 STX were released that same year.
     
  • 1986 The AF1, a smaller sports model, is released. That same year, the Tuareg is introduced as a large-tanked bike for African rallies.
     
  • 1987 Loris Reggiani scores Aprilia’s first Grand Prix roadracing victory.
     
  • 1988 Aprilias are imported to the United States for the first time, beginning with the TRX312M trials bike
     
  • 1989 The Climber is introduced, the first mass-produced liquid-cooled trials bike.
     
  • 1990 Aprilia releases the Pegaso 600, a street-legal road bike with off-road roots.
     
  • 1992 Alessandro Gramigni earns Aprilia its first roadracing World Championship, in the 125cc class. Tommy Ahvala wins the Trials world title.
     
  • 1993 The 2-stroke RS125 is released.
     
  • 1994 The RS250, also a 2-stroke, is released. Although it’s brought to the U.S. in limited quantities, in a track-only configuration, the rest of the world falls in love with this 250 Grand Prix bike for the street.

    World Champions: Biaggi (250cc) Sakata (125cc)

     
  • 1995 World Champion: Biaggi (250cc)
     
  • 1996 World Champion: Biaggi (250cc)
     
  • 1997 World Champion: Biaggi (250cc) During Biaggi’s run of championships, the Aprilia 250 frequently proved almost as fast in qualifying as the fastest bikes in the 500 class. Aprilia’s race director Jan Witteveen supervised the development of a “bored-out” 250 that displaced around  400cc. It was raced in the 500cc class without much success by Doriano Romboni.
     
  • 1998 Aprilia launches its flagship RSV Mile, a 1000cc V-Twin Superbike. Also introduced that year is the Falco, a 1000cc sports bike with minimal bodywork.

    World Champions: Capirossi (250cc) Sakata (125cc)

     
  • 1999 World Champion: Rossi (250cc)
     
  • 2000 Aprilia acquires Moto Guzzi and Laverda.

    World Champion: Locatelli (125cc)

     
  • 2001 The RST1000 Futura sport-tourer and ETV1000 Caponord adventure-tourer are released.
     
  • 2002 World Champions: Melandri (250cc) Vincent (125cc)

    With the beginning of the MotoGP era, Aprilia creates the RS3 Cube. The three-cylinder racer is ridden without much success by the likes of Colin Edwards and Nori Haga. It is the most powerful and in many ways the most advanced of the first-generation MotoGP machines, developed by Cosworth and based on F-1 car technology with pneumatic valves and fly-by-wire throttle. Aprilia learned (as did Kenny Roberts) that those F-1 guys can’t seem to understand motorcycle rideability. The Cube wheelied all the time, even in top gear. Edwards said, “It was just born bad.”

     
  • 2003 The much-loved Tuono is released, which is basically an RSV Mille with motocross-style high handlebars and a small headlight fairing.

    World Champion: Poggiali (125cc). At the end of the season, Aprilia abandons the expensive and unproductive MotoGP project to re-focus on the smaller classes.

     
  • 2004 Aprilia is acquired by Piaggio.
     
  • 2006 World Champions: Lorenzo (250cc) Bautista (125cc)
     
  • 2007 The RXV/SXV line of 450cc and 550cc enduro and supermoto bikes raise the standard of performance in those categories. Twist the throttle at your peril – especially in the low gears!

    World Champions: Lorenzo (250cc) Talmacsi (125cc)

     
  • 2008 The 750cc Shiver naked roadster and 850cc clutchless Mana are introduced.
     
  • 2009 The RSV4 superbike hits the road with a 1000cc V-Four engine.
     
  • 2010 In a fairytale story, Max Biaggi wins his first world superbike championship with Aprilia and the factory-backed RSV4. The championship comes for the same manufacturer Biaggi won three 250cc world championships with in 1994, 1995, and 1996.
     
Prepared with historical input by Mark Gardiner and other sources.
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