Aprilia manufactures motorcycles all across the riding spectrum, from small 50cc scooters up to literbike racers competing in the World Superbike championship – the only European manufacturer to claim such diversity. Founded in the small city of Noale, Italy, Aprilia joined the Piaggio Group in 2004 where the Italian firm now resides under the same umbrella with iconic brands like Vespa, Gilera and Moto Guzzi.
Aprilia set up shop in Noale after WWII, with founder Alberto Beggio’s company originally producing bicycles. The second generation Beggio, son Ivano, saw the introduction of motorized bikes in 1968 with small-displacement mopeds like the Colibri and Daniela.
Mopeds and scooters are still a component of the Aprilia lineup, with the popular Scarabeo series now ranging from 50-500cc. The SportCity and Atlantic models also extend the Aprilia brand, complementing the extensive scooter offerings within the Piaggio Group.
Racing has played a major role in Aprilia’s development. First success came in the off-road realm during the mid ‘70s when the Italian marque enjoyed success in the Italian and World motocross championships. Aprilia still produces off-road machinery like the enduro RXV 4.5 and 5.5 and the 2-stroke RX 50 and RX 125. For 2009 the Italian firm pushes forward with a Twin-powered motocrosser – the MXV 4.5, which will compete in the FIM Motocross series. Supermoto versions of the XV Twin are the SXV 4.5 and 5.5.
Aprilia’s greatest racing success has been in Grand Prix, where the small Italian brand has held its own with a total of 33 titles to its credit. Although competing at times in the premier class, Aprilia has excelled in the 125 and 250 GP series, where former championship riders include eventual MotoGP stars like Max Biaggi, Loris Capirossi, Jorge Lorenzo and even the Doctor himself, Valentino Rossi.
The RSV4 literbike, powered by a new V-Four, places Aprilia back into a premier roadracing series, as it will compete in the 2009 World Superbike Championship with none other than Max Biaggi at the controls, along with Japanese rider Shinya Nakano. The Twin-powered RSV1000R superbike remains in the current roster, while the 2-stroke RS125 GP racer is available in the US for the first time as a 2009 non-street-legal track bike.
Aprilia’s current street bike lineup includes a number of models, many with a “Factory” version sourcing high-end componentry. The dual-sport Pegaso 650 is a Single-powered Euro model. Other road bikes are V-Twins, like the 749cc Dorsoduro supermotard and Shiver naked. The Mana 850 is also powered by a Twin but features a new automatic transmission, eliminating a clutch lever and making a bid for the entry-level rider. The high-performance Aprilia Tuono is a stripped down standard version of the RSV literbike and a multiple winner of Motorcycle USA comparison tests.