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2009 Aprilia RS125 First Ride

Friday, December 12, 2008
2009 Aprilia RS125
Lean angle is your friend aboard the sportbike 125 GP replica from Aprilia - the track-only RS125.
Year after year, we squint at the computer screen just to get a glimpse of some of the ultra-cool euro spec-only motorcycles seen at international bike shows the like Cologne and Milan. We slowly digest the words searching for that precious phrase: 'coming to the US.’ A few choice words after are then blurted out as we discover that yet again a cool new bike is being withheld from us.

But for 2009, it seems we’ve finally gotten our wish as one such bike is coming to America for the first time ever. And you can have one—just as long as you don’t plan on riding it on the street. That’s right, despite its road-going good looks, complete with a headlight and taillight, this bike is strictly for closed-course only thanks to EPA emission standards. Meet the 2009 Aprilia RS125.

Whether moving or at a standstill, the RS125 is a sharp-looking motorcycle and despite its petite size by no means is it a playbike. Everything from its glossy, sponsor emblazed bodywork to the race-replica magnesium painted triple clamp, polished frame and swingarm, multi-spoke wheels, and gold brakes look they’re straight off an Aprilia GP racer.
Powering this pint-sized replica racer is a liquid-cooled, 125cc 2-stroke manufactured by renowned Austrian engine builder, Rotax. Engine fueling is achieved via a 28mm Dell’Orto carburetor and a reed valve intake, while a sleek left-hand exhaust does away with spent fuel.

2009 Aprilia RS125
GP good looks for under six grand? It's the Aprilia RS125.
The engine is wedged inside a rigid GP-inspired slim twin-spar polished aluminum frame and is suspended via a 40mm inverted fork and a hydraulic rear shock. Up front, braking duties are handled by a single 320mm disc with a radial-mount, four-piston caliper, while a single 220mm, twin-piston caliper extends on the back of the polished and curvaceous swingarm.

With a claimed dry weight of just 280 pounds, there’s no question that the RS125 is a small bike. However, to our surprise, hopping aboard it isn’t as cramped as we anticipated and is nowhere near as tight as a full-on 125 GP racer. The handlebars include standard road-going fare such as turn signals, headlight switch and horn. Instrumentation consists of a swept analog tachometer that also houses a digital display providing speed, trip information and coolant temperature.

Firing the engine is as easy as pushing down on the handlebar mounted choke lever and thumbing the starter button. There’s no need to mix any special fuel concoction as the engine is oil-injected, so gas and oil are topped off separately. The engine comes alive quickly and greets its rider with the pungent aroma of burnt oil and gas. Once warmed up, it idles evenly around 1000 revs.

2009 Aprilia RS125
The radial-mount four-pot front brake has plenty of power to slow the RS125's claimed 280-lb mass.
Launching from a stop requires some clutch finesse as the little one dinger doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of torque as a 4-stroke engine. As you accelerate the Single seems to gain momentum in protest. But as the rpms progressively increase, the engine begins to spool up quicker. That glorious 2-stroke “braappp” matches engine speed and as soon as the crankshaft spins to that magic 10,000 rpm, the engine springs to life and finally rewards its riders with some decent acceleration. Remember to shift though, because if you keep the throttle pinned for just a few seconds longer, the fun is over just as quick as it started.

Out on Willows Springs International Raceway’s 1.8-mile Streets of Willow course, the six-speed transmission does an admirable job of keeping the little engine zinging for most of the track, although the final drive gearing is defiantly on the tall side considering the engines modest power output. Going up both the front straightaway into Turn 1 or onto the back straightaway, you’ll defiantly be wishing for more juice. Everywhere else you’ll be giggling inside your helmet, for what the RS lacks in the power department, it makes up for in handling.

Changing directions requires almost no muscle movement and is as simple as looking ahead at where you want to go. In fact, the little RS turns-in so sharply, that it takes a few laps for your brain to acclimate to just how immediate this replica-racer responds. Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself tackling every aspect of a corner—from entry to exit— faster than you probably ever have.

2009 Aprilia RS125
Although it's a small-displacement machine, our six-foot tester was not crarmped behind the controls.
Ground clearance is plentiful as the racetrack-inspired rearsets are high and even with the OE Dunlop street rubber, the little RS is capable of obtaining some astonishing levels of lean. Body position is far more essential as compared to a big 4-stroker and fortunately there is enough room within the cockpit for even a tall rider to maneuver their weight where it needs to be. And when you put it all together through fast sweepers like the Streets 20-degree bowl turn, you’ll be going fast enough to feel the laws of gravity making it a sensory experience like nothing most have ever felt aboard any motorcycle, myself included.

Near maximum lean, the machines rigid frame, swingarm and soft suspension make for an interesting ride. Paired together with its modest power output, quick handling, and absurd levels of lean, you won’t find yourself using the front brakes much, which in effect makes it so the bike’s fork never needs to use all of its travel.

Suspension adjustability is limited to only rear spring preload adjustment; nonetheless, given its small size and the fact that it’s so light; you won’t miss the lack of adjustment. For the rare time you might need to slow down, the brakes are more than capable of stopping the bike in a hurry.

Within our market, where 4-strokes rule, the eighth-liter RS is a refreshing alternative despite its less than everyday practicality. While the $5499 RS125 certainly isn’t for everybody, pound for pound, it’s a blast to ride on the track. Not only is it fun and responsive, it’s a motorcycle that just begs to be ridden on the pipe and at maximum lean. And when you ride it just right, it rewards the rider with a Zen-like experience that has to be experienced to truly be understood.

Aprilia RS125 Highs & Lows
  • Razor-sharp handling
  • Looks cool
  • GP race replica at affordable price
  • 125 needs more power
  • Not street legal
  • Limited suspension adjustment

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2009 Aprilia RS125 Spec Sheet
2009 Aprilia RS125
Engine: 124cc liquid-cooled 2-Stroke Rotax Single
Bore x Stroke: 54 x 54.5mm
Compression Ratio: 12.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Dell’Orto 28mm carburetor
Transmission: 6-speed
Clutch: Wet, w/ cable actuation
Front Suspension: 40mm inverted fork, non-adjustable; 4.72 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Hydraulic mono shock with adjustable spring preload; 4.72 in. travel
Front Brake: Single 320mm disc, radial-mount 4-piston caliper
Rear Brake: Single 220mm disc, twin-piston caliper
Tires: Dunlop 110/70R17, 150/60R17
Wheels: Aluminum alloy 3x17, 4x17
Dry Weight: 280 lbs (claimed)
Overall Length: 76.9 in.
Overall Width:(at handlebars): 28.3 in.
Wheelbase: 52.9 in.
Seat Height: 31.7 in.
Fuel Tank Size: 3.7 gal.
MSRP: $5,499

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brad -rs125 1999  May 21, 2010 06:19 PM
Hi does anyone know the standard thickness of the original clutch plates for the aprilia 125 rs 1999
stylez 1000 -want to tr/buy RS125 or 250  April 27, 2010 08:40 PM
I rode the rs125 an love it hi have a cbr600 f4i hi give it up for a rs125 or250cc call me at 9177477608 ask for stylez oh the f4i is a o6
chef -electric  November 5, 2009 11:53 AM
All the torque-happy 2-stroke lovers need to check out electric motorcycles. Talk about fun factor! Instantaneous torque from a standstill, ya can't beat an electric motor there. Electric Motorsport (google them) is producing & selling bikes now. There are other makes that have more advertising but none are shipping in qty.
James -RS125 vs RSW125  September 20, 2009 10:59 PM
Mark, it's nothing like a 125 gp bike lol. The bike which rossi rode was the aprilia RSW125. It is the GP version and is in a whole different league. For example it makes approximately 55 bhp and can go over 140 mph. The RS125 street bike is a watered down version of it and can be used reliably and without a lot of maintainance costs. Watch out for electrical problems though, they can hit and when they do, they hit hard
Odie -RS125 available throughout the country  September 10, 2009 10:49 AM
I know AF1 Racing in Texas has 3-4 left. Look on eBay. You shouldn't have to pay more than $5400 or so.
Joey -Euro 3 Emissions Laws  August 8, 2009 12:09 AM
I pick up my brand new rs 125 (09) in a matter of hours, it's restricted to 15hp but can be de-restricted to a full nigh on 33hp. One of the best mods for power is an Arrow exhaust, but from the 1999 bike as it's a free breathing pipe (the new one is partially restricted due to euro 3 emissions laws) the standard exhaust has a catalytic converter, but a dealer may remove this for you (sssshhhh!)
These are an awesome bike and according to a lot of testers, one of the best handling bikes you can buy, it may not have the sheer grunt of a sports bike but it'll certainly keep up with some supersports machines, guaranteed smiles after riding :D
Rt -aprilia rs125  August 6, 2009 09:25 PM
where can i purchase this bike from
Mark -race bike  July 27, 2009 10:59 PM
just wanted to reply to wabba's comment. Im from England and m possibly moving to America and i ride this bike. By no means whatsoever is it a typical streetbike. This is a 125cc race bike through and through. The only reason we can ride it to learn on is because the power from the engine is restricted to 11kw or 15bhp, once you pass it can be de-restricted to the full 21kw or 33bhp bike it really is. It handles incredibly and responds to everything you do. Ive got 80mph out of mine with half the potential power. It is among the best if not the best of 125cc motogp race bikes and it was the bike Valentino Rossi really started to dominate on.
apple jack -seen 2 with California plates  July 16, 2009 11:13 PM
I have already seen 2 with California plates... where CARB has every manufacturer by the nuts.
RUSSELL ETRIS -APRILLA RS 125/500  July 6, 2009 08:04 AM
Tom -street legal  June 29, 2009 02:36 PM
I may be misinformed but I've been told that if you reconnect the wiring harness and tag it as a moped it will be street legal.
Wabba -Just to clarify...  June 17, 2009 06:05 PM
I just wanted to clarify this for you all, this bike is not a race bike, it is the typical street bike any european kid gets 16yo, while waiting to turn 18 and being able to get a license for a bigger bike. Honda Rs 125 and such race bikes are a different story. But anyway, when you're 16 and have 30+ hp under you, it's kinda fun.
Slobodan -1  April 15, 2009 04:15 AM
It is street legal in Europe?why isnt it in USA?
Slobodan -1  April 15, 2009 04:15 AM
It is street legal in Europe?why isnt it in USA?
Dodo -one last bit of information  March 4, 2009 07:15 PM
There is nothing like street-illegal in Greece. If you are riding a motorcycle with equal or less cc's than your drivers licence allows then it's ok to drive it :) And there are 3 driver's licences around here, 50cc, 125cc and free, which means you can drive anything you want :D
Dodo -Greece rules after all!  March 4, 2009 07:11 PM
Well, have in mind that in greece you can find one of the '08 models lightly used for 2.000 euro easily! Said that, imagine a place where you are free to modify a motorcycle as long as you dont mess with the displacement. Given that information you can have a really good rs125 with less than 3.000 euro and be able to beat an xt660x on the street for fun! i may not be visiting this webpage again so if you wanna say something to me feel free to mail me at darnia.l2@hotmail.com :) Oh, did i mention the 2002 model has more hp? And did i mention you can get the '02 model (used) for less than 1.500 euro?
AKA -Wet Dream  February 3, 2009 02:58 PM
Lightest bike around...cheapest 2009 sportbike...WERA Demon...need I say more....OK well I also ride it on the street, somebody has to break the rules here in bikerdom.
vtwinpower -about time  December 29, 2008 07:28 PM
being from Europe I've been waiting for the 125 supersport bikes to come but unfortunetly it's not street legal!!Go look for the 125s that are sold overseas and you'll be an=mazed why they are not here.oh thats right the 16 yo can just get a 1000 w/160hp,how stupid of me.
Mike Barone -125 Aprilia  December 23, 2008 11:27 PM
Actually Aprilia makes a bike that has more hp and weighs less than the 125 and our race team (AB-1 Motorsports) has won over 50 WERA Road Races including wins in the National Series Lightweight Twins Class on these bikes....the Aprilia SXV 550 Motards. Here is a link to some cool videos during practice at the Summit Point WERA Nationals at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6-qsH2CHwE Lap 1 of practice.......AB-1 Motards behind two front riders on SV650s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xieE5GRCQxw Lap 2 of practice. Two SV650s and AB-1 Motards hit turn 10 .....together http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_lgcJGJ4Qc Lap 3 of practice......who is out front?
SHANE O MAC -BIKES  December 20, 2008 03:46 PM
JC -thanks nordian  December 17, 2008 07:44 PM
Found this from the kneeslider.com http://www.twostrokeshop.com/Aprilia_RS500_2008.htm "Just take a look at this dyno chart; it reveals that the TSS500GP engine developes some 30% more torque than a 600cc Supersport engine, in a bike that is 35kg lighter! " 35kg = ~70lbs, so 70 lbs lighter than a 600cc bike is something around 260-270pounds for a 500 cc two stroke twin. Certainly sounds like room for improvement on the weight of this bike.
Jack -2smoke  December 15, 2008 07:14 PM
Anyone who has ridden a RGV250 or RS250 knows that nothing handles like a two stroke. Less of internal rotating mass = great handling. I'm waiting for Aprilia to bring us another RS250...or KTM to make its equivalent.
Tim -If Only  December 15, 2008 09:09 AM
If only the companies would put money into R&Ding 2 stroke engines. We could have clean, fun, and great sounding 2 strokes. And it's entirely possible. No matter how clean, powerful, and smooth 4 strokes become they will ever beat the fun factor and adrenaline rush of a 2 stroke. NEVER! BTW this "Captcha" thing is annoying!
RD350 -power kit  December 15, 2008 06:05 AM
A power kit, designed exclusively for racetrack use, is also available as an optional accessory to achieve the full potential of this amazing two-stroke engine. The kit includes: * Racing expansion chamber exhaust * Complete racing exhaust valve * Control unit and solenoid for racing exhaust valve * Needle, main jet and atomiser for full power carburation * Racing spark plug The article doesnt mention this important tid-bit ...
Nodian1 -reply to JC  December 14, 2008 10:57 AM
Well a Honda cr125 dirt bike weighs only 192 lbs. I know it is only a dirt bike but it too has inverted forks 46mm, larger than the rs125’s 40mm. And yes the rs125 has plastic fairings and a beefier frame with larger wheels. But that should not add up to 88+ lbs; which is why I think their may be gold/lead bricks or something in the gas tank of the Aprilia. The cr125 is for production bike comparisons. A Honda RS125R weighs only 157 lbs, so maybe add 20+ lbs for lights and mirrors and such, still over 100+ lbs less than the Aprilia.
Canadian Dan -Cool  December 14, 2008 06:48 AM
Pretty cool, but Rolland Sands created some cool track bike using MX 450 dirtbike.........
JC -nospam@nospam.com  December 13, 2008 02:06 PM
How much would a 600cc sport bike weigh if the 600cc motor were removed and a 125cc or 250cc two stroke dirt bike motor installed? (or maybe even a Yamaha Banshee 350cc motor!) I'll have to plead ignorance to the answer, but makes me wonder if lighter is possible off the shelf (but probably not cheaper!)
Nodian1 -Heavy!  December 13, 2008 10:21 AM
280 lbs. Dry!! Wow that’s only about 70lbs less than a cbr600rr dry weight and only 24lbs less than a pre-2008 ninja 250’s dry weight! Maybe the 125RS has gold bricks in its gas tank or something. Either that or the machine is just… how can I say it…overweight.
x2468 -N/A  December 13, 2008 10:11 AM
I bet there will be people getting street tags for them. i've seen street legal 2-stroke dirtbikes here in florida, with lights and blinkers hooked up to a power drill battery and one rear view mirror.
todd -you'll see them any way  December 12, 2008 09:28 PM
It's only a matter of time before we see a bunch of these running around San Francisco with license plates removed from the CBR in the garage... After I wear out my motor I'll either stuff the XR650 motor in there or find a CRF450 lump. -todd