Az Aprilia RS250 irĂˇnt Ă©rdeklĂµdĂµ olvasĂłk figyelmĂ©be ajĂˇnlom az alĂˇbbi nĂ©gy (angol nyelvĂ») cikket.
Be Like Max
- By Colin MacKellar, Dutch Desk (Motorcycle Online)
Massimiliano "Max" Biaggi rides an Aprilia 250. He's pretty handy at it too, winning races, winning World Championships, winning everything. He's the best 250cc racer of his generation -- at least he is when he's riding a 250 Aprilia. Now, for the second year, you can buy a replica of Max's bike and dream that the set of bends ahead are in fact the corkscrew at Laguna Seca or the Melbourne loop at Donnington, and if we take this one on the limit we'll have the race in the bag. The Aprilia RS250 takes the wannabe racer on the trip of their lifetime.
A superficial glance at the spec sheet would suggest that Max's GP racer and the RS250 street version are quite closely related. Both run a two-stroke V-twin power plant, although the street bike runs 56mm x 50 mm bore and stroke and the racer a square 54mm x 54mm. In 1994, when Aprilia decided to build a race replica to capitalize on their racing success they turned to the Japanese for the engine, realizing the work involved in building a reliable engine for the street was beyond the means of the small Italian company. Suzuki has been the only one of the Big Four who has continued to support the world market with limited numbers of its own pocket racer, the RGV 250, and it was Suzuki that Aprilia approached for the heart of their new bike. Aprilia builds their own pipes, play around with the ignition some for a better mid-range power delivery and raise the overall compression ratio, but essentially leave the RGV engine unchanged.
The bike turns out a little over 60 bhp. Not very spectacular, but when hauling a bike weighing just 140 kg the result is acceleration that leaves the Japanese four-stroke 400s trailing in its wake. That is if you've learned the correct procedure for quick getaways, as it has a two-stroke's typical hatred of low revs. Try riding away with a half-hearted tug on the throttle and the engine bogs and wheezes until 5000 revs appear on the clock, then spends another 3000 rpm clearing its throat. It finally wakes up at 8000 rpm and screams through to 12,000 in the blink of an eye. At 12,000 rpm you hit a brick wall, so there's no point over-revving it, as there is nothing left. Plenty of clutch slip and 10,000 rpm on the clock will see the RS screaming away into the distance. The exhausts have the sharp crack associated with racing two-strokes, and the only sound that comes close to it is that recorded by the on-board cameras at the bike GPs.
Despite being a tuned two-stroke, the RS has few of the weaknesses of the two-strokes of the past. Starting the bike is a simple one-kick prod, regardless of whether the bike is warm or cold. The digital LCD display will tell you when the bike is warm enough to pull away, as it displays COLD until the water temperature reaches 30 degrees C. While cold, dense clouds of acrid two-stroke smoke waft around the bike. The RS is slow to wake up and requires a couple of minutes idling before the 30 C appears and it is ready to drive away. At anything much under its operating temperature of 55 degrees it's one unhappy motorcycle, four-stroking at lower revs and reluctant to pull cleanly. Once warmed up, it will trickle along under the powerband without fuss and without any danger of oiled plugs.
While Aprilia has just lightly tweaked the engine, they've really put their heart into producing a superb chassis that underscores the race replica claim. A beautifully polished alloy twin beam frame which looks surprisingly like the frame Biaggi and Aprilia production racebike owners use gives it the credibility it needs as a race replica. Both the Boge rear suspension and the Marzocchi front suspension offer full adjustability for bump/rebound damping and pre-load of the spring. The Brembo brakes offer excellent linear progression, and the low weight of the bike make front wheel "stoppies" just a determined squeeze away for the posers. Steering is light and sharp; the bike's low weight makes it easy to throw into corners while the suspension does an excellent job of keeping the bike on the line you choose. The RS's lightness can sometimes be a disadvantage, as it can get a bit skittish in strong crosswinds and move all over the place in the draft of large trucks on the highway.
But motorways are not the RS's natural environment. Although surprisingly large for a 250, it's a squeeze to get behind the fairing if you are much over 5' 8". The handlebars are low, and within an hour of screaming along the highway the pain between your shoulder blades becomes excruciating. It's the bike's way of telling you to find some interesting bends to blitz and do some real interacting with the road, the bike, and your mind. Masochists determined to stick to the highway can wind the bike up to a speed of 125 mph on the dials, but this is not what the bike is about.
We've left the best part of the bike until last - the styling. It is this more than anything else that makes it one of the masterpieces of this decade. This bike should be hanging in the New York Museum of Modern Art. The Italians have a reputation for classic car styling and recently, with the Ducati 916 and Aprilia 250, they have brought their expertise to the two-wheeled world with stunning results. Whereas the Japanese styling is usually achieved with eye-catching graphics, the Italians achieve the effect through the form of the bike. Deliciously understated in the racing silver color scheme, the eye is not distracted from the droopy nose fairing and the sculpted front fender. This really is a classic of the '90s. For those less interested in riding a classic, they can go full hog with the black Chesterfield Biaggi replica. With a set of Dainese Biaggi leathers and AGV Biaggi helmet, you'll look just like the man.
It has to be said that the Aprilia RS250 is close to perfect, within the parameters defined for a GP race replica street motorcycle. Its only rivals are the Honda NSR250, Yamaha TZR250, and Suzuki RGV250, which are sold in Japan with an artificially restricted power output of 45 bhp. Only the Suzuki is currently available in other markets, and perhaps the new model, rumored to put out more than 70 bhp, could challenge the Italian machine. Until that time, the Aprilia RS250 will continue unchallenged on both street and track.
Aprilia RS250 Replica
- By Dave Abrahams (www.motoring.co.za)
Aprilia's RS250 Replica is exactly what its name implies - a street-legal replica of the machine aboard which Max Biaggi took several world 250cc Grand Prix championships. It has obviously been built up to a standard, rather than down to a price, and it winds up being the most expensive machine in its class by an embarrassingly wide margin. But what you get for your money is an object lesson in just what is possible in a production machine, when sheer excellence is allowed to outshout the bean-counters.
The Replica's twin-spar frame has perimeter beams pressed from thin sheets of aluminium alloy and exquisitely handwelded to a cast alloy steering head and engine plates; Aprilia claim that it is the stiffest frame to be found on a production bike. The asymmetrical swing-arm is made from the same stuff, and even has a handfitted channel through which runs the drive chain - only a race shop could afford to do it that way but the geometry is sheer elegance.
It has become a fashion amongst the go-fast freaks to polish alloy frames of this type to a mirror finish - on the RS Aprilia have done it for you. The front suspension is by Showa - the same 41mm upside-downies as are to be found on the Ducati 916, and the rear shock is from Italian specialist manufacturer Sachs; both are adjustable for compression, rebound, preload and in the case of the monoshock, for ride height as well.
Brakes at both ends are provided by Brembo. The front in particular are their state-of-the-art four-pot "two-pin" calipers, once again the same as on the 916, although the 298mm floating disks are thankfully a little better damped than on the Ducati, where they rattle audibly. At first I thought they lacked bite, until I realised that these immensely powerful stoppers have been deliberately set up to avoid grabbing, which could have been a problem on a bike this light.
In operation they are superb - effortless, direct and precisely controllable, giving the impression that stopping force is directly proportional to lever pressure - but the lever travel is long and can be disconcerting till you get used to it. Front rim width has been increased to 3.5" on this year's RS (that's another measurement that refuses to be metricated) and the correspondingly chunkier 120/60 front tire gets quite a workout from the braking forces imposed on it.
The Aprilia is noticeably large for a 250 'stroker, and surprisingly comfortable. The clip-on bars are complemented by a remarkably low seat height, a quintessentially European way of achieving a racing crouch without throwing all the rider's weight onto his wrists - or hers; ex-racer Jenni Peters, who is 1,82 metres tall, found the RS no problem around town, with room to move around as needed on the single seat. The optional pillion pad bolts onto the beautifully sculpted tailpiece and is frankly a joke; it wasn't fitted for the test. The tail unit actually looks far too large, which seems to be this year's fashion statement in sportbike design - until you see someone else riding the bike, and then it neatly streamlines the rider's hips. It also contains a cubby-hole, lockable with the ignition key, which is big enough to hold more than the usual sunglasses and packet of fags.
The footpegs are neat little castings, with beautifully fabricated foot levers - the brake lever even has a GP-style adjustable stop. The pegs are cleverly mounted at the narrowest point on the whole bike and are as close as possible to the centre line of the frame. By moving the rider's legs towards the centre of effort and narrowing the entire bike/rider package Aprilia have reduced the effort needed to flick the bike from side to side and quickened the steering without sacrificing stability. Draw the sketch yourself - placing the 'pegs thus increases the attainable angle of lean to the point of lunacy without bringing the rider's heels up around his bum and making the machine unrideable around town.
But this is not a town bike; it comes into its own out in the twisties, where one of the most competent chassis in the business will give you a very enjoyable riding lesson. Rarely have I felt as immediately at home on a new machine as I did on this one. As well as being comfortable and genuinely easy to ride, the RS inspires total confidence. The steering is race-track quick and much more accurate than is to be expected on the wide front rubber - where you look is where it goes - yet the bike is astonishingly stable.
No steering damper is fitted, nor is one necessary. Not once during the test did the bike shake its head, even on some of the bumpiest backroads in the Swartland. As supplied, the suspension was set up on the sporty side of firm, but the Aprilia felt so planted on the road that we left it alone, put up with the bone-jarring bumps of the Van Schoor's Drift road and revelled in the 250's ability to retain its composure over difficult terrain.
On faster, more open sweepers, I was able to pile on the throttle early, the suspension working even better when heavily loaded. You can scrub off excess velocity with just one finger on the anchors, deep into the corners, and get on the gas even before the apex, gently at first to load up the transmission, then as hard as you like, tilting the horizon until you can feel yourself grinning inside your helmet, accelerating with the kind of urgency you can only get from a red-hot 'stroker.
The Replica is blessed with the most powerful engine ever fitted to a streetable 250, putting out a heady 56.7 kW at 11,900 rpm. The basic mill is sourced from Suzuki's RGV 250 Gamma, but with Aprilia's own barrels, pipes and ignition module giving a healthy improvement in top-end. Yet this is no light-switch special; almost from cold it will idle, it will drift through heavy traffic, pulling cleanly if lazily anywhere above 4,000 rpm. It refused to foul its plugs or overheat - in fact if anything it's a little overcooled; throughout the test I never got the coolant above 68 degrees.
Above six the motor has the wherewithal to overtake most four-wheelers safely, and between eight and nine the power really comes in. Above 10,000 rpm is Warp Factor country, as the RS pulls away from practically anything on wheels. The powerband is strongly marked, real adrenaline stuff, but it's not sudden enough to unsettle the chassis. In the two lowest gears monowheeling is almost inevitable - I nearly fell off the chase bike as I saw Peters pull a monster wheelie away from a traffic light, the front wheel coming up slowly, almost gently, under perfect control.
The transmission, unfortunately, isn't quite as impressive. Although the clutch is sweet in operation and seemingly abuse-proof, there is a lot of lash in the gearbox, and perceptible snatching in the long final drive. The Suzuki-sourced 'box is plagued by most un-Suzi-like jerking as it takes up the drive between gears, especially at lower revs, and throughout the test I was unable to achieve a clean clutchless change in either direction. Even with the aid of the left-hand lever, the drive is prone to a little snatching, but the short throw is positive and neither of us missed a shift during the test.
One of the Aprilia's most impressive features is its computerised dashboard. The only dial is the rev-counter, and that's electronic. There's no red-line, but a little red light labelled "max" comes on at the safe limit. What's totally amazing is that the system adjusts itself - when the bike is brand new the light comes on at 6,000 rpm, and then the computer tallies the miles as they add up, moving the bloodline accordingly. Once the engine is run in, the red line is actually programmable by the rider.
On either side of the central "clock" is a liquid crystal display showing speed in either English or metric, the time and the temperature of the coolant in Celsius or Fahrenheit. A button in the left-side switchgear operates a stopwatch with the ability to store up to forty laps and to display lap time, maximum speed attained on the preceding lap or mean speed - or you can just set it to function as a digital speedometer - which I must admit is where I left it. I'm a biker, not a computer nerd.
Unusually, the speedo is operated not by a conventional drive on the front wheel but by a magnetic pickup on the rear sprocket. The reason is typical of Aprilia; a mechanical speedo drive robs the engine of about a tenth of a kilowatt. The builders of the RS were unwilling to give up even that much in their effort to build the ultimate lightweight sportbike. What they have produced is the class of the class; it has a rocketship motor which will cruise around town without complaining, and a supremely competent chassis enhanced by some of the world's finest suspension and brakes. Its styling is individual but not quirky, the graphics striking without being gaudy, but it is above all a superlative rider's machine. All right, I admit I'm biased; the thing fits me like it was custom built for me, to my exact measurements. But then, everyone I've spoken to who has ridden one says exactly the same thing.
Rossi's fumer - Aprilia RS250 supertest
Aprilia re-launch their RS250 and it's a dead ringer for Valentino Rossi's 250 racebike. So, with Sonic at the helm the Aprilia went sniffing out larger prey in the bigger capacities. 600? Chomp. 750? Chomp chomp. You've got to work at it, but if you've got the skill and the determination, this is one of the purest rides out there.
Well of course it takes a bit of skill and determination to ride fast: it's a 250 two-stroke. And not just any 250 either, but the RGV250 90Â° vee-twin motor. A rinky-dink two-stroke motor with extreme powerband, swivelling powervalves, buzzsaw exhaust note and apocalyptic fuel consumption. Somehow it all seems a bit 80's, a bit past it, but get a test ride on the new RS250 and it will turn you into a believer. This bike is a tool to sharpen all your senses and will eat CBRs for breakfast in the right hands.
Besides all that, it is unbelievably beautiful. Sculpted and curvy like a silicon model, it's a beauty that grows on you and I'll admit that when I first saw the new 250 I thought it was much uglier than the old one. It's just so radically different to any other superbike on the market that it takes time to appreciate it. The polished chassis and swingarm are totally evocative and items of considerable sexual merit. The slooping tail unit is similar to that of a GSX-R but much pointier and prettier. The fairing is a little bulky but is an exact replica of Rossi's 250GP machine and is all the more interesting for it. Then there's the amazing electronic dash, with its adjustable strobe change light (you set the rpm where the light flashes at you, saving you from looking at the tacho - straight off the racetrack), last highest top speed data, clock, temperature, average speed... it is possibly the most comprehensive dash yet made. Everywhere you look on the Aprilia there's quality and details that you just wouldn't expect on what is, after all, just a 250 two-stroke. Perhaps it's not really comparing like with like, but if Bimota ever finished their donor-engined bikes off to this degree and level of finish, they'd be worth every penny.
Next shock: for such a small bike the Aprilia isn't actually that small. I'm over six foot and the RS was dead comfy for me, plenty of legroom, no cramped wrists, and all this with the sort of ground clearance that would make a Ducati 916 proud. Around town and in slow, useless, totally non-RS250 traffic situations the Aprilia is pretty liveable-with for a small two-stroke, with just enough power from 4,000rpm so you don't have to scream the clutch and throttle in unison to pull away from lights. It doesn't sound very good at these speeds - infact it sounds shite - but to drive the RS250 round town or in congestion is a shameful waste of your money and Aprilia's time in making the RS in the first place. Get her out on the open road, start feeding the buzzsaw and it all gets very intense. You see, this bike is F.A.S.T.
It's fast because it makes 60bhp at the back wheel and you HAVE to ride it flat out, everywhere. People who witness this sort of behaviour fairly assume that you are riding like this because you are a twat with a small nob who has something to prove to the whole world, but they don't understand. The Aprilia MAKES you ride like a wanker everywhere because of three things:
1., The 10-11,200rpm razor-edged powerband 2., The race-screen with invites you to stick your crash helmet beneath it 3., The fact that you simply must be the first everywhere and make as much ZZzzzzyyannGGGG! noise as possible.
It's a frenzied, frenetic assault on the senses that doesn't go away until long after you've returned home. Every stop light is an excuse to blip the throttle mercilessly, keep your eyes fixed on that red light and as soon as the bitch hits amber, gooooo! Give her as much throttle as you can slip in through the clutch, the revs hovering on 10,000rpm as you accelerate, zipping up to 11,200rpm, the change light flashes at you and catch the powerband into second. All this accompanied by the purest two-stroke howl from the twin pipes. It is intoxicating, attracts every cop within half a mile and is so unsubtle and exciting that it's getting me all thrilled just writing about it. Dammit, who's got the Aprilia tonight? Just one more fix, please, just one...
Two-stroke engines come and go and most people know the score pretty well. This one made 60bhp at the back wheel, has better midrange than last year's RS, and doesn't pull too badly at all from around 7,000rpm. You'd hardly call it torquey but it's that final, glorious 1,200rpm powerband where all the fire and brimstone lie, propelling bike and rider up to 132mph in the right conditions and a guaranteed 120mph everywhere. 100mph cruising is a doodle thanks to the plump faring, but the gears are lazily spread and you've got to be quick to pop each one in before the RS drops out of the powerband. The change between first and second is particularly wide and it's very easy to get the perfect GP start, only to bog in on the rocks with a fluffy two-stroke midrange as you miss the perfect change-up point. Use your strobe light to good effect - Rossi would.
All this would be fun enough if the RS250's chassis was merely adequate, but the suspension is like the engine: razor sharp, so immediate in response and feedback that it'll blow your tiny mind if you're not on the case. It's one of the finest-handling roadbikes in production, so neutral and light in its steering but so bloody quick when you want to turn that it really takes some getting used to. Whap! Turn it one way. Whappapp! Turn it another. You'd expect something that turns like this to be flighty and slappery on the bumps and on the gas, but not a bit of it. The rear Boge shock certainly is firm and your eyeballs will take a battering on B-roads over 100mph, but the Showa forks up front are joy themselves and the trade-off for this firm suspension setup is incredible machine control everywhere, at any speed. You can scream towards a given corner (head right down behind the bubble, of course) - leave the braking another 20 yards, yer fool - bang on the massive Brembos just when you see your life flash before you, and chuck the RS on its side as fast as you're able. Get back on the throttle now - NOW! - and fire her out. You never get used to it, you very rarely get it just right, and you could always have gone quicker. The chassis is so pure, so precise, only Ducati 916's handle anywhere near this good and they weigh another 40kg.
Dunlop continue their relationship with Aprilia this year and the OE fitment D204J tyres work fine. The 'J' part of the tyre marking is significant because is means this is a new 204 Dunlop, not like last year's skidmasters at all. Dunlop skimmed a great deal of the new D207 tyre's construction and compound into the new 204, and the result is a tyre that warms quickly - even on a small bike like the RS - turns sharp and grips well. Didn't deck anything out on the Aprilia 'cos the ground clearance is phe-phe-phenomenal, mate, but I'm sure the summer months will see footrests lightly grazed. You can just push it and push it until the front starts to go, pull it back quickly on line and know you've found the limit. The Aprilia's chassis is as forgiving as it is exact.
I'm not making any excuses here - I love this bike. Deeply. But then, I only lived with it for a week and didn't have to rely on it as my sole form of transport. Make no mistake, for all its racetrack prowess and single-minded beauty the RS250 would require extreme determination or the blind adoration of two-strokes to live with as your everyday machine. As a weekend tool for pissing off the entire universe, racking up a trio of points on your licence and returning home tired but utterly sated, the Aprilia rules supreme. It'll polish long-rusty reflexes, carve round or up the inside of anyone on a trackday, and every time you catch the powerband in fifth, hurl it in on the brakes and fire it out again perfectly will have you grinning from ear to bleedin' ear. Problems? Yeah, it's *6,000 on the road. And for that... I could have a parallel imported, brand new 1998 VTR1000 Firestorm. I guess then that you'll see few enough Aprilia RS250s on the road this year, but rest assured: the punters who can afford them just for the sake of it will be the happiest weekend people of them all. And isn't that what motorcycling is all about now?
Are you sorted...?
- By Alex Hearn (Performance Bikes)
Listen: 5 % of the time Aprilia's RS250 is the purest, most highly charged motorcycle you will ever ride. 5 %, that's all. Nothing on two wheels can match its race track focus, B-road corner speed, roundabout carving capability and sheer cat-like precision. For the other 95 %, the part that involves boring A-roads, deathly motorways, tickling along with turgid mates, the thing's pants. Useless, a major drag in every respect.
But it's that 5 % that makes the RS250 worthwhile, and so highly desireable in my book. It's all about commitment, is the RS250. Commit yourself fully to riding so hard - within an inch of your being - everywhere and you'll be up there (wherever it is) with the gods. It's that good.
There's no pretence of practicality, and none needed. If you can't fully embrace or understand the concept of this bike, or are too used to he gentle forgiveness of most four strokes (R1 excepted) then don't bother with the Priller. Carry on gathering moss, lovehandles, pension plans, VFR800s and (oops) gray hair.
Want to feel 10,000 volts up your spinal column? Are you ready to forget/ignore the other 95 %? Get one of these bikes. Sell your soul to the two-stroke cycle, mainline a little Silkolene Comp 2 and come on over to the darkside... yes.
Oh alright, enough already. Time for facts: the '99 [identical to the '98] Aprilia RS250 is powered by a six speed 249cc liquid cooled two stroke 90Â° V-twin, just like it's always been, robbed from the kamikaze Suzuki RGV250. Peak power is 56bhp@10,500rpm with 28 ft-lbs of torque at the same revs. Nothing happens below 8,000rpm, the motor's working but dead. A thousand rpm later it's kicking, screaming and by 11,000rpm you'd better have hooked the next gear or get ready to suffer the brick wall effect.
In effect you've got a band of about 2,500rpm to play with. If you're a fraction late with a down change and the motor bogs, you cruise at a steady speed and the motor bogs... You've got to attack and flog the RS250 at all the time... keep it in that 5 % bracket, or park it.
The gearbox is like the engine. Try a lazy shift, or even a regular-everyday-gearchange and it feels slack, disjointed. But time your foot and wrist to perfection with the barest twitch of movement and changing up a ratio becomes a barely perceptible surgical act. Pulling away from standstill is a balancing act, just the right amount of revs, not too many and not too few, because you'll bog. All controlled between clutch and throttle, with some GP-like body language to keep the front wheel nailed to the ground in first gear.
Aprilia have connected a fancy electronic clockset to the engine. It weaves all sorts of magic: lap times, gear shift light, fastest speed travelled, khp/mph in digital numbers, but all that stuff is meaningless. The only thing to pay any attention to is that big tacho (in the right place and the right size) and the sweeping needle within it. That and the tarmac ahead viewed through the plastic you'll be permanently tucked behind.
The sculpted ally twin spar frame that contains the frenzied powerplant is a quality object, an object where function and form come together with margins to spare. And then there's the swingarm, which is a piece of polished aluminium art. Forks are fully adjustable usd 41mm Showas, the shock a fully adjustable (plus ride height) Boge. Brakes are Brembo 4-pot calipers mated with twin 298mm discs. Check the rear Brembo 2-pot caliper - it's tiny and mounted on the slenderest amounts of metal. Details like this are what make the RS250 special: look at any other sportsbike and most are still chunkily bolted together - for the road, see. Not the RS250, it's built like a 125 but with the strength and grace of a race bike.
The chassis, quite simply, is flawless and could easily cope with more power, lots more power. Most bikes roll onto their sides prior to entering a corner. The RS250 razors onto either footpeg so fast your ears may bleed the first time or two. And as for feedback... if you laid face down, stark bollock naked on a stretch of road with the entire cast of U Fat Bastard - the musical on your back you wouldn't feel more than you do through the Aprilia's seat foam and clip-ons. Wet, dry it makes no difference, the tarmac's yours to own.
The real beauty of the RS250 is this: thrash the living daylights out of it, cane it, murder it, all of that stuff and you'll never get much above 120mph, anywhere. It might feel like 170mph, but it's a long way off. It's anti-social, but compared to an R1/ZX-9R quite harmless.
And the rewards of making it fly, in your skilled hands (and feet), far outweigh the effect of merely opening a throttle and sitting there like a sack of shit. In the end you'll be living for that 5 %... raw, pure, uncut. I guarantee it.
I guarantee also if you're on a B-road mission and take a look in those surprisingly useable mirrors for your slack-arsed mates, they won't be there. They'll either be dead from spent two-stroke fumes, or so far behind theirs beards will have grown knee length by the time they get to you. Meanwhile you'll have had time to sit, smoke a luxury-length tab and admire the gorgeous flowing lines of the Priller, its sexily slung rear seat cowl and GP snout. Only a 916 is as drop-dead fuck-off beautiful.
It's a reminder, the RS250. A reminder of what this whole motorcycling job is about - if you're a bit bored or disaffected with two wheels then the Aprilia RS250 is the serum you need. That's why Aprilia's RS250 is a must have for 1999: it won't be around for ever, and life without one could get boring. Boring in the extreme.