Aprilia is an Italian motorcycle company, one of the marques owned by Piaggio.
Having started as a manufacturer of bicycles it moved on to manufacture scooters and small-capacity motorcycles.
In more recent times Aprilia has produced large sportbikes such as the 1,000 cc V-twin RSV Mille and the V4 RSV4. Aprilia has enjoyed considerable success in road-racing.
|Rocco Sabelli, CEO|
|Products||Motorcycles & Scooters|
|Parent||Piaggio & Co. SpA|
Aprilia was founded after the Second World War by Cavaliere Alberto Beggio, as a bicycle production factory at Noale, Italy in the province of Venice. Alberto’s son, Ivano Beggio, took over the helm of the company in 1968 and constructed a 50 cc "motorcycle" with a dozen or so collaborators. The first production Aprilia mopeds were named Colibrì, Daniela and Packi. Aprilia later produced amotocross bike in 1970 called the Scarabeo. Produced until the end of the 1970s, the Scarabeo came in 50 and 125 cc versions.
In 1977 Ivan Alborghetti from Milan, Italy won the Italian 125 and 250 cc motorcross championships on Aprilias. In 1978 Alborghetti closed the season with two third places in individual races and sixth place in the World Championship. In the 1980s Aprilia added enduro, trials and road bikes of between 50 and 600 cc. In 1981 Aprilia introduced the TL320 trials machine. In 1983 Aprilia launched to St 125 road bike. In 1984 Aprilia launched an improved model called STX, and an enduro, called the ET 50.
In 1985, Aprilia started outsourcing engines for some models to the Austrian company Rotax. In 1985 Aprilia launched a 125 STX and 350 STX. In 1986 Aprilia launched the AF1; a small sports model, and the Tuareg; a large tanked bike for African rallies like the Dakar Rally. Aprilia factory rider Philippe Berlatier contended for the trials world championship reaching fifth place, and Loris Reggiani rode an Aprilia GP 250 with Rotax engine to sixth place in the road racing World Championship. Two seasons later, on August 30, 1987, at San Marino Grand Prix in Misano Loris Reggiani's AF1 won the first World Speed Championship.
In 1990 Aprilia launched the Pegaso 600, a road bike derived from off-road mechanics. Later, in 1992 Aprilia rider Alessandro Gramigni won the World 125 Road Racing Championship title. Also in 1992, Tommy Ahvala won the World Trials Championship on an Aprilia Climber. Since then, Aprilia has 124 times won 125 and 250 cc class Grand Prix, 15 Road Racing World Championship titles, and 16 European speed titles. Many world champions started on Aprilia such as Biaggi, Capirossi, Gramigni, Locatelli, Sakata and Rossi.
Also in the 1990s, Aprilia entered the scooter market starting in 1990 with Italy’s first all-plastic scooter, the Amico. In 1992, Aprilia introduced the Amico LK and the two stroke Pegaso 125, both withcatalytic converters. In 1993 Aprilia launched a large diameter wheel scooter reusing the name Scarabeo with a four-stroke, four-valve engine. Later Aprilia launched more scooters such as the Leonardo, the SR and the Gulliver.
In 1995, Aprilia commissioned Philippe Starck to design the Motò which was shown in New York’s Modern Art Museum. Also in 1995 Aprilia launched the two stroke RS 125 and RS 250 sports bikes. In 1998 Aprilia launched what is its current flagship model the RSV Mille, a 1000cc V-Twin Superbike, and the Falco, a 1000cc V-Twin sport tourer with emphasis on sport. Both bikes used a variation of aRotax 1000cc engine.
In 1999 Aprilia entered World Superbike Championship racing with its RSV Mille, and during 2000, Aprilia acquired Moto-Guzzi and Laverda, both historic heritage Italian marques. In 2000 Aprilia launched the 50 cc DiTech (Direct Injection Technology) two stroke engine for scooters which provides high mileage and low emissions, and also the RST Futura, a sport tourer, and the ETV 1000 Caponord; anadventure touring motorcycle. Both of these latter two motorcycles used a variation of the Rotax 1000 cc V-Twin.
Most recently, in 2003, Aprilia launched the RSV Mille Tuono which was essentially an RSV Mille with motorcross-style high handlebars and only a small headlight fairing. Most of the major motorcycle magazines picked it for the best bike of the year. In 2004 Aprilia was acquired by Piaggio & C. SpA, to form the world’s fourth largest motorcycle group with 1.5 billion Euro in sales, an annual production capacity of over 600,000 vehicles, and a presence in 50 countries.
With the acquisition by Piaggio, the newly nominated President of Aprilia is Roberto Colaninno (President of Piaggio & C.), and the Managing Director is Rocco Sabelli. The founder, Ivano Beggio, is the Honorary President. On 15 August 2010, Aprilia became the most successful motorcycle racing brand in history, surpassing fellow Italian MV Agusta with a record 276th victory.
Despite being a relatively small company by global motorcycling standards, Aprilia is very active in motorcycle sports. It contested many Road Racing formulae, including the now-defunct 125 cc, 250 cc and 500 cc Grand Prix classes of the FIM World Championship. From 2002 to 2004 they participated in the FIM MotoGPWorld Championship, and from 1999 to 2002 they participated in the FIM Superbike World Championship. Aprilia has returned to World Superbike since the 2009 season and in MotoGP since the 2012 season.
Aprilia also feature in the off-road racing world, with their 450 cc V-2 motocrosser producing respectable results (including race wins) in both off-road (Motocross) and on-road (Supermoto) categories.
Grand Prix World Championship
Aprilia made their international racing debut in the Motocross World Championship competing in the 125cc class from 1976 until 1981 with a best result being a fifth place in the 1979 season with rider Corrado Maddi. The firm then focused on the Grand Prix road racing world championships in 1985 and since then it has seen varying successes. Aprilia won their first world championship race at the 1991 Czechoslovak motorcycle Grand Prix with rider Alessandro Gramigni winning the 125cc race. In 1992 they won their first road racing world championship with Gramigni winning the 125cc class. They continued to be successful in the smaller displacement categories, winning numerous races and championships in the 125 cc and 250 cc Grand Prix classes.
However, their 500 cc Grand Prix bikes failed to attain the same success. They began campaigning in the 500cc class in 1994 with a 250 V twin motor enlarged to 380cc in hopes of using its lighter weight and nimble handling as an advantage against the heavier, V4 engine bikes used by the competition. The bike eventually displaced 430cc and had its best result with a third place by rider Doriano Romboni at the 1997 Dutch TT but, could never overcome power disadvantage during the starting line sprint and was withdrawn at the end of the 1997 season for further development. Their first MotoGP effort, dubbed the RS Cube, was technically advanced but difficult to ride and performed poorly in the championship. The Cube did, however, pioneer many advanced technologies including ride by wirethrottle and pneumatic valve actuation systems. Aprilia left the MotoGP class at the end of 2004 and then left the lower classes when two-stroke engines were banned. Aprilia set the record for the most points earned by a manufacturer in a single season from the 125cc class with 410 points in 2007. It was also the highest points earned by a constructor in Grand Prix motorcycle racing's history until 2011when 420 points were won by the same bikes winning 16 out of 17 races.
The company is also notable for choosing somewhat atypical engine configurations. For example, they progressed with development of a V-2 500 cc Grand Prix bike when other teams were moving to V-4configurations for what some believed was better and more usable power outputs. Aprilia continued this trend, taking advantage of lighter minimum weights with the introduction of their RS Cube MotoGP bike – featuring three cylinders in an inline triple layout, the bike had the least number of cylinders on the Grand Prix paddock.
Aprilia rejoined the MotoGP class in 2012, taking advantage of the newly introduced Claiming Rule Team category that encouraged independent teams with lower budgets to use bikes from manufacturers not officially involved in MotoGP. Aprilia supplied RSV4 SBK-derived bikes under the ART (Aprilia Racing Technology) name to Aspar, Paul Bird Motorsport and Speed Master teams. In both the 2012 and 2013 seasons Aprilia's ART machinery stood out as the best CRT bikes.
For 2015 Aprilia returned to the world championship with a factory effort.