Aprilia is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer that was first founded in 1945 in the city of Noale, Italy. First established as a bicycle manufacturer by Cavaliere Alberto Beggio, the company turned to motorcycle production when Alberto’s son Ivano Beggio took over 1n 1968. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, Aprilia established itself as one of the most important European motorcycle manufacturers and as one of the leading producers of performance motorcycles in the world. Unfortunately, financial issues rocked the company and at the start of the 21st century, Aprilia was absorbed into the Piaggio Group. Despite becoming a subsidiary, Aprilia is still one of the most formidable motorcycle manufacturers in terms of sales and racing prowess, and is still at the heart of the global road racing scene. As the company tagline suggests, Aprilia is responsible for nurturing racing talent, and developing cutting edge technology that can be tested on the trace track as well as on the street. Aprilia: Be A Racer.
The History Of Aprilia
Early Aprilia History
The Italian motorcycle manufacturer Aprilia was founded in the city of Noale, Italy just after the Second World War. In 1945, Cavaliere Alberto Beggio began producing bicycles in a bid to capitalize on the increasing demand for cheap transport to keep Italy’s citizens on the move in the difficult post war years. Though Aprilia’s bicycles were a success, the company didn’t turn into the motorcycle marque that we know and love today until 1968, when Alberto’s son, Ivano Beggio, was invited to take over the company.
Ivano Beggio had big plans to take the company in a new direction, and with a team of 12 assistants Beggio constructed the first fully-functioning Aprilia branded motorcycle. This first 50cc prototype, decked out in an attractive blue and gold color scheme, would go on to spawn Aprilia’s first production models: the Colibri, Daniela, and Packi motor scooters. These small capacity scooters were well-received by the Italian public but it was Aprilia’s next model that really catapulted the brand into the spotlight.
The Scarabeo first rolled onto the scene in 1970 and it immediately became an Italian icon. Unlike the Colibri or Daniela, the Scarabeo was a real motorcycle, and a motocross model too. The Scarabeo was available in 50cc and 125cc configurations and Italy’s youth were impressed with the bike’s speed, handling, and innovative design. In fact, many young riders who dreamed of motocross racing success saw the Scarabeo as the perfect machine to practice on. The model was so successful that Aprilia continued producing the Scarabeo until the late 70s, but not before Aprilia released a new motocross model that could eclipse the first. The RC125 was Aprilia’s first true motocross machine, and it was the RC125 that proved that Aprilia meant business.
The all-new RC125 was a landmark motorcycle for Aprilia, and both Alberto and Ivano Beggio realized that the secret to sales success relied on a strong racing presence, with the more wins, the better. Fueled by the “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” mind set, Aprilia began entering into national competitions and began seeing results. Aprilia’s debut season was successful but it wasn’t until 1977 that Aprilia really began to post the results it wanted. ’77 saw Aprilia win the 125cc and 250cc Italian Motocross Championships thanks to the skilled riding from Milanese rider Ivan Alborghetti. Italy’s newest manufacturer had arrived on the scene, and the Italian riding public were delighted.
A year later, Aprilia managed to post more positive results, with Alborghetti riding into third place in races in the 125cc and 250cc divisions, coming in a respectable sixth place overall. By this time, Aprilia’s reputation had spread beyond the Italian borders and the firm began exporting their motorcycles across Europe and all the way to the USA too. The seventies had been a miraculous time for the Italian company, and at the end of the decade Aprilia’s moped production had expanded from 150 units a year in 1969 to an incredible 12,000 annually by 1979. Similarly, Aprilia’s motorcycle division had increased production to an impressive 2,000 per units since 1974.
Despite the success of the 70s, the early 80s was a particularly difficult time for both Aprilia and the wider motorcycle industry thanks to the onset of a global financial crisis. With the threat of financial uncertainty looming, Aprilia worked hard to develop new strategies and lay foundations for future projects, gambling on the market’s recovery. It was a gamble that ultimately paid off, and Aprilia was able to reap the rewards when it unleashed its all-new enduro line, a range of modern trials motorcycles, and road-focused motorcycles.
The 1980s And Beyond
Aprilia’s new line-up included some ground breaking models such as the new trials-focused TL320 in 1981; the revolutionary enduro machines in the Aprilia RX series, which featured powerful liquid-cooled two-stroke engines, six-speed transmissions, spoked wheels, a monoshock, and a race derived livery; and the radical road-focused ST 125, Aprilia’s first road motorcycle. The ST was lauded by the motorcycling press thanks to its sporty nature, punchy engine, and easy handling. Despite the success of the ST 125, it was the enduro models that riders liked the most thanks to their race-derived technology. Capitalizing on the success of their enduro range, Aprilia released a new line in 1985. The new ETX platform included 125cc and 350cc models and were a roaring success. Unfortunately, the public’s love affair for all things motocross begin to wane by the second half of the 80s, with endurance and road racing becoming the new hot topic.
In 1985, Aprilia began a partnership with the Austrian engine manufacture Rotax, who would supply Aprilia’s engines for the majority of their models. With motocross going out of fashion, Aprilia quickly moved into the production of the AF1, a sports-oriented model, and the Taureg, a dual-purpose motorcycle geared towards competing in long-distance enduro rallies like the Dakar Rally. Aprilia’s new direction began to show early results on and off the track, with sales increasing, and with factory riders Philippe Berlatier reaching fifth place in the Trials World Championships and with Loris Reggiani scoring sixth in the road racing World Championship on board an Aprilia GP 250. In 1987, Reggiani went on to win the World Speed Championship on board an Aprilia AF1 at Misano.
Since Aprilia was enjoying rising success on the road racing circuit, the company decided to scale back their off-road enterprise and solely focus on developing competition quality road motorcycles that could also be sold to everyday consumers. However, before Aprilia abandoned the off-road sector altogether, they decided to release a model that took the best of Aprilia’s off-road knowledge, along with the company’s rising interest in road-focused technology. The result was the 1990 Aprilia Pegaso 600, a model that re-defined what a dual-purpose motorcycle could be.
1992 saw Aprilia’s first World Championship title arrive in the 125cc racing class, thanks to the efforts of Alessandro Gramigni. From then on, Aprilia would become one of the most important racing names, launching the careers of many of the sports most talented riders, such as Max Biaggi, Loris Capirossi, Roberto Locatelli, Kazuto Sakata, and Valentino Rossi – riders that have subsequently become legends in their own rights. Thanks to Aprilia’s small capacity racing prowess, the marque became synonymous with racing excellence.
Tackling the street market proved to a wise decision from Aprilia, since the global demand for scooters began to rise. 1990 saw the arrival of Aprilia’s first modern scooter, the Amico, which featured a few revolutionary details such as the fact that the bodywork was made entirely from plastic. Small, powerful, and practical scooters seemed to be the ideal product for a brand that had already defined itself as experts in the small capacity market. To underscore their commitment to small-displacement machines, Aprilia went on to launch the sporty Amico LK in 1992, and the catalytic converter equipped Pegaso 125 motorcycle. Aprilia followed this up with the introduction of the world’s first four-stroke, four-valve scooters in 1993, which eventually evolved into the new breed of Scarabeo scooters, the Leonardo line, the SR, and the Gulliver. But it was 1995 that really helped define Aprilia as a brand with the launch of the incredible Philippe Starck designed two-stroke racers, the RS 125 and RS 250.
The Aprilia RS 125 and 250 were single-handedly responsible for turning teenage dreamers into competent racers all over the world, and these pocket-sized sports bikes are still some of the most sought after racing bikes to this very day, though the current models are four-stroke rather than two-stroke. Even so, back in the mid-to-late 90s, they were the best motorcycles in their division. Aprilia complimented their new sports range with the likes of the 1998 RSV Mille, a liter-class sports v-twin sports bike, and the Falco, which became Aprilia’s dedicated sports-touring model.
Acquisition By Piaggio
Aprilia enjoyed so much success throughout the 1990s that they decided to expand their presence by purchasing the Moto-Guzzi and Laverda marques in 2000. Together with the new brand names, Aprilia also invested in new technologies and systems, such as the new 50cc DiTech engine, which was a small-capacity two-stroke engine with direct injection, offering great economy and low emissions. Other new and exciting Aprilia models included the ETV 1000 Caponord adventure touring machine, and the RST Futura, a bold sports-touring model – both powered by Rotax v-twin engines. Aprilia also dipped its toes in the off-road market once again with a supermotard machine called the SXV – a model which won the Supermoto S2 World Championship in its debut year.
Unfortunately, Aprilia’s investment in innovation and purchase of Moto-Guzzi and Laverda couldn’t have come at a worse time. The motorcycle industry was in decline and the huge investments made by Aprilia saw little in the way of financial returns, and company boss Ivano Beggio was forced to sell Aprilia and all of its holdings to the Piaggio Group in December 2004. Piaggio’s acquisition of Aprilia, Moto-Guzzi and Laverda transformed the Piaggio Group into the world’s fourth largest motorcycle group, annually producing more than 600,000 units, increasing their presence to in excess of 50 countries, and posting more than 1.5 billion Euros in annual sales.
After the takeover, Aprilia was left in the hands of Piaggio executives with Ivano Breggio given the title as honorary president. The new leadership pushed Aprilia in a new strategic direction that renewed Aprilia’s line-up to support an new breed of engine, refreshed their branding and sales structure, and increased Aprilia’s presence in racing competitions. In fact, Piaggio successfully managed to redefine racing history in 2019, when Aprilia successfully toppled MV Agusta as the most successful racing brand in history, clocking more than 276 victories. Today, the Aprilia brand is stronger than ever – despite the loss of Aprilia’s main visionary Ivano Beggio, who passed away on 13 March 2018. Despite new leadership, Aprilia lives on and will continue to do so for a very long time in the future.
Though you can rely on Aprilia on the race track, the reliability of their road-going motorcycles is often brought in to question. Reliability and build quality greatly depends on which model you’re talking about and when. For example, Aprilia branded models with Rotax engines generally enjoyed favorable reliability reviews, whereas models without Rotax engines may receive a different assessment. Similarly, models produced before the Piaggio takeover should be categorized differently to those produced after.
Unfortunately, Aprilia wasn’t included on the latest Consumer Reports customer satisfaction survey that ranked motorcycle manufacturers in terms of reliability and build quality, based on the testimony of over 11,000 motorcyclists riding over 12,000 motorcycle models over a 12 month period. Since Aprilia wasn’t included, the only way we can assess the reliability of their products is through anecdotal evidence and the amount of recalls issued over a past number of years. Generally, most riders have a favorable review of modern Aprilia’s reliability, with only minor issues reported.
In terms of recalls, Aprilia scores remarkably well. Since the company changed hands on New Years’ Eve 2004, the manufacturer has only issued 10 recalls between then and now. In the same time period, BMW Motorrad issued 60 recalls, Ducati issued 49, and Triumph issued 39, so Aprilia’s 10 is very low – tough it must be noted that Aprilia’s US sales figures are much lower than BMW, Triumph and Ducati’s figures. The largest of these recalls concerned 1,856 units, taking place in December 2017 and it technically wasn’t an Aprilia fault – it was a failure on master cylinders manufactured by Brembo and it affected a wide range of models from numerous manufacturers. The largest Aprilia recall that was an official Aprilia fault came in 2009 and affected 1,260 Scarabeo 200 motorcycles thanks to an incorrectly set carburetor float, which caused problems with the float needle that led to fuel flooding, poor performance and starting issues. Dealers corrected the problem for affected customers free of charge. With that in mind, it’s fair to say that Aprilia motorcycles are generally reliable.
Aprilia’s Commitment To Innovation
Aside from building the advanced direct-injection two-stroke in the 1990s, Aprilia has always had a strong passion for innovation. A recent example of this is the current Aprilia flagship sports bike model: the RSV4 FW-GP. The Aprilia RSV4 FW-GP is a production motorcycle that anyone can buy, that offers a guaranteed power output of 240+ horsepower, citing that it’s the closest thing to a MotoGP racing prototype currently on the market, and fitted with more bells and whistles than the average rider would know what to do with. It’s not just Aprilia’s top flight sports machines that are blessed with advanced technology. In fact, these Aprilia riding aids are available on a large number of the firm’s models:
Aprilia Dynamic Damping (ADD)
Aprilia’s Dynamic Damping system is a unique system that electronically controls a motorcycle’s suspension for the optimum levels of safety and control for a wide range of circumstances. Featured on the Aprilia RSV4 and Tuono V4 models, the ADD system is a pioneering method to improve shock absorbing and handling, using automatic preload adjustment to fine tune your ride experience on the go.
Aprilia ABS & Cruise Control
Aprilia’s advanced ABS system offers the best braking pressure to keep riders upright under a wide range of circumstances. Their system prevents wheel lock under extreme braking thanks to the use of sophisticated sensors that measure wheel rotation speeds and calculate when to intervene and assist with the braking.
The company also offers a progressive Cruise Control function that allows riders to set their desired speed, which can be equally maintained uphill and downhill, without touching the throttle. The system is instantly disengaged when the rider touches the brake or clutch, allowing for optimum safety without compromising the benefits of Cruise Control.
Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC)
Aprilia’s top electronics package is their APRC Performance Ride Control suite which was developed alongside Aprilia’s World Superbike technologies. The package controls a wide range of features that includes Aprilia Traction Control (ATC), Aprilia Wheelie Control (AWC), Aprilia Launch Control (ALC), and Aprilia’s Quick Shifter system (AQS). Currently, it’s the only all-encompassing system that offers a unique auto-calibration mode that offers the best ride experience in a wide range of circumstances.
Aprilia Multimedia Platform (AMP)
This advanced multimedia system links Aprilia’s Caponord with an iPhone to offer an unparalleled amount of information trafficking between your motorcycle and your handheld device. The AMP service connects your phone to your motorcycle wirelessly, and allows you to communicate with four selectable parameters at any one time. For example, your phone could display a speedo, an rpm indicator, and show off your power and torque settings, or you could program it to assess your fuel consumption rates, or even suggest what gear you should be in. These are only a few of the modes available for the Aprilia Multimedia Platform, but it’s one of the most comprehensive riding aids currently on the market.
DAQRI & Aprilia
One of Aprilia’s most over-looked recent technological achievements was spawned from the brands partnership with Augmented Reality helmet manufacturer DAQRI. Aprilia enlisted DAQRI’s help to develop a series of helmets to be worn by Aprilia’s pit mechanics at the MotoGP races. These helmets are equipped with a whole host of interesting features, such as thermal imaging cameras, live connections to the motorcycle’s telemetry data, permitting mechanics to visualize the motorcycle’s issues and problems on their Head-Up-Display, allowing for fast mechanical evaluations and repairs. Now that’s pretty neat.
Aprilia: US Line Up
Over the years Aprilia’s product range has expanded to include a wide range of models, but it has also contracted at times, cutting off failing products to focus the energy on developing new and exciting ideas. While Aprilia may have burst onto the scene as a furious motocross motorcycle builder, times have changed, and Aprilia haven’t got any dedicated off-road vehicles available for the US market. In fact, many of Aprilia’s models aren’t available in North America – this is largely due to the fact that most of Aprilia’s product range comes with small-displacement engines. These engines are ideal for the narrow streets of Europe or the urban metropolises of Asia, but they are less at home on American highways. For that reason, Aprilia only offer a small product range for North America. These models include:
The Aprilia RSV4 Series
Aprilia’s flagship sports motorcycles are based around the RSV4, a 999.6 cc V4 sports bike that’s capable of producing a claimed 201 horsepower of peak power, 85 lb-ft of peak torque, and hit top speeds in excess of 177 miles per hour in stock form. The RSV4 is available in four models, the stock RSV4 RR, a special edition RSV4 LE, the advanced racing RSV4 RF, and the class leading and exceptionally impressive Aprilia RSV4 FW-GP. The FW-GP comes with a selection of race packs available, all derived from the Aprilia RS-GP MotoGP factory prototype racer.
The Aprilia Tuono V4 1100
The Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 is the naked descendant of the RSV4, but it differs slightly thanks to its larger engine capacity which has been increased to 1100cc. The engine output is still an aggressively powerful 175cc, but the package offers a more manageable power spread in a more practical chassis for everyday riding. Like the RSV4, the Tuono comes in multiple variants, the “RR” and “Factory”. Since both models of the Tuono are essentially dialed down sports machines, Aprilia have sensibly equipped them both with their advanced APRC electronics package listed above. For those wanting something a little more exclusive, the more refined Factory option comes complete with a full Ohlins suspension package, including upgraded forks, an upgraded shock, and an advanced steering damper.
The Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally
Aprilia’s Caponord 1200 is one of the most advanced adventure touring motorcycles currently on the market. Boasting a fun-filled, hassle-free, and practical ride across paved roads and rough trails alike, the Caponord 1200 is suitable for almost any kind of motorcycle journey, and it will excel at it too. Featuring a comfortable chassis and a high-performance twin-cylinder engine, the Caponord 1200 Rally also comes complete with Aprilia’s ADD (Dynamic Damping) system with semi-active suspension that adapts and calibrates the bike’s suspension to provide the best settings for any given situation. It’s a true adventure motorcycle.
The Aprilia Dorsoduro 900
The Aprilia Doroduro is an exceptionally fun motorcycle that evolved right out of the supermotard class of motorcycles. Powered by a punchy v-twin engine that can produce a formidable 95.2 horsepower at 8,750 rpm and an impressive 66.3 lb-ft or torque at 6,500rpm, all wrapped up in a chassis that’s designed for easy maneuverability, precision handling, and ultimate agility. To complement the engine and race-bred architecture, Aprilia have treated the current iteration of the Dorsoduro with a mutli-map ride-by-wire system, traction control, and ABS too. Aprilia has a long and illustrious history in the supermoto department, and the Dorsoduro 900 is the perfect example of the company’s know-how.
The Aprilia Shiver 900
Aprilia’s smaller capacity naked street bike, the Shiver, has gone through a few changes over the years, but the larger displacement Shiver 900 of today is the most advanced to date. Growing from 750cc to 900cc, the Shiver is now equipped with a fully Euro4 compliant v-twin engine that boasts a power output of 93 horsepower and 66 lb-ft of torque. The engine is held in place by a bold chassis that optimizes handling and offers a fantastic ride experience, taking naked motorcycles the next level in performance.
The Aprilia SR Motard 50
While Aprilia boasts a comprehensive scooter selection in other markets, the Italian manufacturer currently only offers one model in North America: the highly acclaimed 50cc Aprilia SR Motard 50. Good things come in small packages, and many scooter aficionados will agree that Aprilia’s SR series is one of the most advanced scooter arrangements on the market. Aggressive, compact, sporty, and undeniably practical, the Aprilia SR Motard 50 is excellent for navigating the urban jungle, weaving through traffic, and getting from A to B in style.
Aprilia: Company Snapshot
In Italy, Aprilia boasts an impressive sales network that comprises of 192 official dealers and approximately 1480 authorized sales outlets, and the wider brand consists of four European based selling agencies in Germany, France, Spain, and the UK, with four foreign subsidiaries, including Aprilia’s Croatian, Greek, Japanese, and American arms. Today, Aprilia products can be found all over the world thanks to an official sales network that spans more than 24 countries, with an import structure that supplies more than 1,800 dealers worldwide.
Historically, Aprilia motorcycles have been exclusively manufactured at their factory in Noale, in the Province of Venice in Italy. However, since Aprilia became a part of the Piaggio Group, Piaggio has taken production of some Aprilia branded models abroad. For example, in regions where Aprilia’s small-capacity scooters have a large presence, Piaggio has established a factory. To that end, Aprilia factories exist outside of Italy, in countries such as China, India, and Vietnam.
Despite the fact that Piaggio has repeatedly posted impressive sales figures over the last ten years, many industry professionals have been critical of Piaggio’s handling of the Aprilia brand. Prior to the Piaggio takeover, Aprilia was the largest European motorcycle manufacturer, producing in excess of 300,000 units per year. Today, however, Aprilia produces around 10% of that figure instead. Leading critics claim that Piaggio has taken Aprilia’s innovation and passed itself off as its own, and that Piaggio has been a poor brand ambassador for Aprilia by not capitalizing on the company’s race-bred background.
Regardless of the effectiveness of Piaggio’s management skills, Aprilia is still very much considered to be a market leader with a prestigious racing presence and successful products, built on top of a name that signifies success and reliability. While Aprilia is only a subsidiary of Piaggio, it’s arguably one of Piaggio’s most successful acquisitions, with a stronger market presence than the likes of Gilera, Derbi, and Moto-Guzzi.
US Aprilia Dealers
Today, Aprilia North America is headquartered in the Piaggio Group America’s offices on Park Avenue in New York City. The Piaggio offices oversee a total of 139 authorized Aprilia dealers and sales outlets in the USA. These dealers offer a wide range of goods and services for Aprilia customers, including: sales, service, and test riding facilities. Despite being a member of the celebrated Piaggio Group, Aprilia’s dealerships are noted as being sub-par when compared to the industry standard – according to mystery shopping experts Pied Piper and their annual dealership ranking survey.
Pied Piper Dealership Rankings
Pied Piper’s 2017 Prospect Satisfaction Index surveyed the quality of the nation’s dealerships and calculated some interesting results. Using a team of mystery shoppers, Pied Piper analyzed the quality of sales and service staff at a number leading motorcycle manufacturer’s dealerships, focusing on dealership staff’s ability to promote a brand’s products, likelihood to ask for a sale, request potential customer information, and evaluate which manufacturer’s staff are more likely to go out of their way to answer specific customer questions, and convert casual browsers into actual shoppers. The 2017 survey ranked Aprilia in 11th place out of 16. Aprilia’s customer service actually dropped three places from a similar survey conducted in 2015. However, Aprilia still managed to beat out the likes of Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, KTM, and Husqvarna respectively. The top honors were awarded to BMW Motorrad’s dealerships, followed by Harley-Davidson and Ducati. Aprilia may have scored below average, but these surveys are hardly comprehensive assessments of a brand’s quality.
Racing Certified Dealerships
Aprilia have recently added a bonus racing certification program for their US dealerships. The new certification will turn qualifying dealerships into authorized Aprilia racing shops that offer customers access to a wide range of performance enhancing parts and kits developed in Italy, with technology deriving from the company’s World Superbike and MotoGP efforts. Certified dealers will have participated in an advanced training program hosted by Aprilia Racing, focusing on calibrating an Aprilia motorcycle’s electronics, engine, and chassis for optimal race performance. These training programs are taught by Aprilia’s tried and tested race engineers from Noale who oversee Aprilia’s race teams at the WSBK and MotoGP, so you can be assured of their quality. Certified Aprilia Racing dealers will be able to offer expert tuning to customers, as well as offer Factory Works specification parts and accessories.
Aprilia Financing Options
Aprilia USA has varying seasonal promotions running throughout the year to help attract potential customers. While these deals range in value and promise, the majority of them consist of low APR rates for limited contracts, or offering certain incentives such as cash rewards that are redeemable in accessory credits, on selected models. The best way to learn about Aprilia’s current deals is to visit your nearest dealerships. Aprilia doesn’t offer any special discounts to veterans or exclusive members of the public, however, the larger Piaggio Group does offer attractive incentives at different times of the year, so we advise you to keep an eye on the Piaggio website for more information.
Aprilia’s current seasonal specials for the USA include finance options that include monthly specials with payments starting from as low as $144 per month, or options including financing with APR as low as 0% for 24 months, and additional offers that include the possibility of adding up to $1,500 of customer cash that can be redeemed as store credits that can be spent on a wide range of Aprilia parts and accessories. Other deals include reduced rates on selected models from selected models, such as a $1,500 price reduction on an RSV4 RF from the 2017 model year, or a $1,000 MSRP reduction on a 2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro. While these options vary from month to month, any potential Aprilia customers should regularly check in at their nearest dealership to take advantage of these incredible offers. Owning an exotic thoroughbred Italian superbike has never looked so affordable.
The Piaggio Group
When the Aprilia Group was sold to Piaggio in 2004, the Aprilia brand name, as well as the Moto-Guzzi and Laverda marques, were also absorbed by the Italian giant. While Aprilia is now only a subsidiary of Piaggio it stands alongside some impressive motorcycle brands with long and illustrious histories. Piaggio might be famous for a certain brand of iconic scooter, but there’s a lot more to the Piaggio name than the Vespa. Here’s a brief summary of Piaggio’s other two-wheeled holdings that stand alongside Aprilia.
Gilera was one of the most famous motorcycle manufacturers of the 20th century. Founded by Giuseppe Gilera in 1909, Gilera enjoyed an impressive run on the global racing scene during the aftermath of the Second World War, dominating the 500cc class and consecutively winning the Championship between 1950 and 1955. In 1969, Gilera was sold to Piaggio. While Gilera enjoyed some more racing success between the years 2000 and 2008, Gilera is primarily a scooter brand today and no longer competes in competition racing.
Derbi is another famed motorcycle manufacture now owned by the Piaggio Group. Derbi was first formed in 1922 and has been a prominent presence in the motorcycle industry ever since. The company has specialized in small-capacity race machines and enjoyed success in the 50cc divisions of the Grand Prix and other competitions. Unlike many other Spanish manufacturers like Bultaco, Ossa, and Montesa, Derbi managed to adapt to the new democratic regime after the death of Franco, and was a profitable enterprise right up until it was purchased by Piaggio in 2001. “Derbi” is a shortening of the Catalan phrase Derivats de Bicicletes or derived from bicycles.
Moto-Guzzi was absorbed into the Piaggio Group with Piaggio’s takeover of Aprilia. Being passed from one owner to another is nothing new for Moto-Guzzi, a company that has changed hands numerous times since it was first established in 1921. Moto-Guzzi rose to fame quickly thanks to its successful racing track record, but after experiences financial issues in the 60s the brand was taken over by the SEIMM (Società Esercizio Industrie Moto Meccaniche), a State backed receiver. Luckily, SEIMM was purchased by Argentinian industrialist Alejandro de Tomaso of De Tomaso Industries, and the Moto-Guzzi brand was sold, along with Benelli and Maserati. De Tomaso successfully returned Moto-Guzzi to its former glory and it was successful until it was bought by Ivano Beggio and Aprilia in 2000. As a part of Piaggio, Moto-Guzzi is still a successful motorcycle manufacturer today.
While Moto-Guzzi is one of Piaggio’s success stories, Italian performance motorcycle manufacturer Laverda wasn’t so lucky. Laverda was first founded in 1873, and the company was well-known for building fast and exotic, but innovative and versatile motorcycles. Unfortunately, Laverda failed to stand up to the might of the Japanese motorcycles that had begun to dominate the European market in the latter half of the 20th century, and the marque slowly began to fall into obscurity. Despite many attempts to revive the brand, including innovative new models released in the mid-90s, the company was sold to Aprilia who tried to kickstart some interest in the brand – but it ultimately failed. Piaggio’s purchase of Laverda re-ignited hopes in 2004, but the marque is well and truly dead. Piaggio has publicly stated that the rights to the Laverda name are very much up for sale.
While Vespa isn’t exactly a subsidiary of Piaggio, it is a brand name in its own right and must be counted among the Piaggio Groups assets. The first Vespa motor scooter was manufactured in 1946 by Piaggio, thanks to Enrico Piaggio’s idea to move the Piaggio company away from aeronautical enterprises to focus on Italy’s need for practical and economical transport solutions for the masses in the aftermath of the Second World War. The result was the Vespa – or “wasp” translated into English – a single-cylinder two-stroke scooter that was destined to become an icon. Today, the Vespa and all of its subsequent products can be found all over the world and ridden by people from all walks of life.
Over the years, Aprilia has enjoyed unprecedented racing success for such a small company. Ever since the company began producing motorcycles over bicycles, Aprilia’s bosses have known that the secret to sales success rested in racing. From motocross and enduro racing, and from the World Superbike Championships to the premier MotoGP class, Aprilia has always been a threat. Despite being one of the most formidable off-road motorcycle manufacturers of the 20th century, Aprilia is now best known for its success on the road racing scene, notably in the now-defunct 125cc, 250cc, and 500cc Motorcycle Grand Prix divisions, the FIM World Superbike Championships, and the new MotoGP format.
Grand Prix Success
After enjoying relatively good success in the Motocross World Championship in the 70s, Aprilia adapted to the changing trends and decided to focus on road racing. The company first entered into the Road Racing Grand Prix in 1985 and has become very successful. From the very beginning, Aprilia performed competitively, but it wasn’t until 1991 that the company managed to secure their first victory in a championship race. Alessandro Gramigni managed to pilot his Aprilia all the way to the top step of the podium at the Czechoslovak Grand Prix’s 125cc event. The next year in 1992, Gramigni would go on to win the entire 125cc Championship. From then on, Aprilia focused on producing the best small-capacity racing machines possible, enjoying success in the 125cc and 250cc Championships.
Unfortunately, Aprilia’s racing efforts never managed to attain the same success in the premier class 500cc event. In 1994, Aprilia entered the 500cc class with 250 V-twin engine bored out to 380cc in a bid to defeat the competition using a lighter engine and better agility to compensate for displacement. Eventually, Aprilia managed to increase their displacement to 430cc and secure a third place finish in 1997, but the team withdrew at the end of the year, and Aprilia didn’t return to the MotoGP class until 2012, when it could take advantage of Claiming Rules Team category – supporting an independent team rather than a factory backed outfit. In 2015, Aprilia returned to the MotoGP with an official factory team, fielding the RSV-GP race prototype, with the team displaying steady improvement.
While Aprilia struggled to field a competitive racing prototype in the MotoGP, the firm was able to post some impressive success in the World Superbike Championships. After debuting in the series in 1999 with the RSV Mille, Aprilia enjoyed good results. It wasn’t until Aprilia replaced the RSV Mille with the RSV4 configuration that the team could celebrate their first Championship win. In 2010, Max Biaggi won the Rider’s Championship and repeated the feat again in 2012. Sylvain Guintoli also won the Rider’s Championship with Aprilia more recently in 2014. Aprilia has won the WSBK Manufacturer’s Championship a total of four times, in 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
The Aprilia Factory In Noale
Die hard Aprilia enthusiasts can visit the Noale factory, though gaining entry is a complicated process. Simply turning up isn’t enough, and factory tours are by appointment only with an official tour group. The best way to find out information on the latest methods of securing a factory tour is through online Aprilia owner forums, or by inquiring at your nearest Aprilia dealership for information. You can turn up at the factory and look through the windows, but you won’t be allowed to enter. Fortunately, Piaggio offers a comprehensive museum of their own that all motorcyclists, Aprilia enthusiasts or otherwise, should visit if they’re traveling through Italy.
The Museo Piaggio
The Piaggio Museum located at the Piaggio Factory in Pontedera, Italy boasts an incredible museum that has showcased the history of the brand ever since the museum was first established in 2000. Since then the museum has welcomed more than 600,000 visitors, and to celebrate their success, Piaggio has recently extended the museum from 3000 to 5000 square meters, exhibiting more than 250 pieces. The museum houses collections from all of Piaggio’s brands, including Vespa, Ape, Gilera, Moto-Guzzi, and of course, Aprilia – but it also showcases Piaggio’s other transport endeavours, such as cars, aeroplanes, trains, and ships. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions that focus on things outside of the motorcycle industry, such as fashion, art, scientific installations, and more, making the museum a great day out regardless of whether you’re passionate about Piaggio or not.
Piaggio’s museum can be found on the Viale Rinaldo Piaggio, in Pontedera, which is just outside of Pisa. The museum is open between 10.00 am and 6.00 pm from Tuesday to Saturday, and is open on the second and fourth Sunday of every month, keeping the same hours. Through July and August, the museum is open on every Sunday. It’s recommended that you check the Museo Piaggio’s website for information ahead of any planned visits.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Aprilia
#01. While MV Agusta has a longer history in motor racing, Aprilia actually holds the title as the most successful motorcycle racing brand in history. Aprilia successfully overtook MV Agusta on the 15th of August 2010, when Aprilia secured their 276th motorcycle racing victory.
#02. Aprilia secured the majority of those victories in the smaller divisions, largely because Aprilia has never managed to become a threat in the larger displacement categories. While Aprilia might not dominate the premier class, they are responsible for some incredible innovations. The RS Cube, for example, pioneered the use of ride-by-wire throttle and used innovative pneumatic valve actuation systems.
#03. Aprilia motorcycles boast pioneering and innovative technology, but the company isn’t afraid of pushing the boundaries of design either. Did you know that the opinion dividing Aprilia Moto 6.5 was actually designed by daring French designer Philippe Starck? Starck has also designed the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles, Steve Job’s Venus yacht, and the Xiaomi Mi MIX smartphone, to name a few.
#04. An Aprilia RS 125 famously appeared in the movie Transformers 2 – Revenge Of The Fallen in 2002, ridden by Megan Fox, and with Shia LeBeouf riding pillion in one scene. To celebrate the film’s release, Aprilia fielded a special Decepticon themed bike at the AMA Pro Daytona Sportbike Championship at the Road America Circuit in 2009.
#05. Aprilia has had starring roles in other movies too, with the most notable other role being in the 2004 Joseph Kahn movie “Torque.” In that movie, the main character uses an Aprilia RSV 1000 to escape from gangs and the FBI.
#01. Where Are Aprilia Motorcycles Made? Aprilia motorcycles are primarily manufacture in Noale, Italy. However, since Piaggio’s acquired the brand, some of Aprilia’s small-capacity models are manufactured in China, Vietnam, and India.
#02. Aprilia Is From Which Country? Aprilia was founded by Cavaliere Alberto Beggio in Italy in 1945. It’s an Italian company, and despite ownership changes, it’s still very much Italian.
#03. Who Owns Aprilia? Since 2004 the Aprilia name and all of its holdings has been owned by the Piaggio Group. The deal was concluded in December 2004, and the acquisition transformed Piaggio into the world’s fourth largest motorcycle group overnight.
#04. How To Derestrict An Aprilia RS 125? Depending on how your RS 125 is restricted, you may need to derestrict the CDI or derestrict the power valve. The most common way is via the power valve, which requires you to get access to the power valve blank, removing the blank, and replacing it with a RAVE controller, a power valve blade, and a couple of other components. YouTube is a great resource for this.
#05. What Does Aprilia Mean? Unlike many other manufacturers, the Aprilia name is still shrouded in mystery since it’s not a family name or a combination of initials. The leading theory is that the founder, Cavaliere Alberto Beggio, was a big fan of the Italian made Lancia Aprilia sedan from 1937 and liked the Aprilia name so much that he named his company after it. As to what is means, it seems that Aprilia is just a nice sounding word.