Aprilia: Motorcycle History

Motorcycling History

In need of money after World War II, Alberto Beggio began a small bicycle factory in Noale, calling it Aprilia. There was success, but it wouldn’t be until 1968 when the brand would really start to build. This is when his son Ivano took over the company and followed one of his dreams.

Ivano’s dream – enter the motorcycle market. Forty-two years later, Aprilia is one of the world’s most famous motorcycle companies, stemming from Noale, the quaint province of Venice – mention the name Noale to anyone in Italy, and they’ll automatically think of Aprilia.

The company’s first motorbike was a gold and blue 50cc model, then the Colibrì and Daniela mopeds. But it would be the release of the 50cc Scarabeo motocrosser in 1970 that established Aprilia’s reputation. Beggio had an ardent passion for competition, and dreamed of competing on a national level, focusing on motocross bikes in particular.

In 1974, Aprilia introduced the RC 125, the first competitive machine that was entrusted to Maurizio Sgarzani, who rode it in the cadet class. The following year, Aprilia released motocross racing bikes, hoping for success.

The titles would arrive in 1977 in the 125 and 250 classes of the Italian Motocross Championship. In 1978, the best result ever achieved by an Italian rider occurred when Alborghetti rode an Aprilia to two third-place finishes and sixth in the championship.

Now people were paying attention, and overseas markets were becoming more interested in what Aprilia had to offer. In the early 1980s, as the motorcycle market was at a low point, Aprilia was developing new bikes, such as the 1981 TS320 Trials Bike and the 1983 ST 125 road bike.

In 1985, Aprilia began outsourcing engines to Rotax, a producer of motors for motorized recreational products such as snowmobiles, quads, watercraft, motorcycles, scooters, karts and aircraft.

That same year Aprilia entered MotoGP, and in 1987 Loris Reggiani scored Aprilia’s first Grand Prix road racing victory. From its start in GP racing, Aprilia Racing became a "nursery for great talent," with many of the world’s greatest racers learning how to compete on Aprilia: Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi, Jorge Lorenzo, Loris Capirossi, Alessandro Gramigni, Roberto Locatelli, Kazuto Sakata and Manuel Poggiali.

In the 1990s, Aprilia entered the urban mobility market, breaking with conventions of the time. From the company’s daring leap into this market came the Amico, the first all-plastic scooter, and the legendary Scarabeo.

Since late 2004, Aprilia has been part of the Piaggio Group, headed by chairman and managing director Roberto Colaninno. Aprilia became one of seven marquees owned by Piaggio, the world’s fourth largest motorcycle manufacturer. The Piaggio Group has two main objectives with Aprilia: strengthen the company’s position as a motorcycle/scooter market leader, and build Aprilia’s position as Europe’s only "full line" manufacturer of two wheelers from 50 to 1000cc.

Forward to today, and the Piaggio Group has given Aprilia the incentive to go ahead with developments in big bike and middleweight sectors, such as the famous RSV Mille.

One of the most famous scooters ever, the Scarabeo family is now available from 50 to 500cc, and is complimented by the Sportcity. On the motorcycle side, Aprilia is a leader in "advanced technology, style and innovation."

One such model displaying this is the Shiver 750, the first production bike with ride-by-wire electronic throttle, and the Mana 850, the first to have a fully electronic automatic gearbox. Going back to its roots in the dirt, Aprilia’s high-performance 450 and 550 V-twins have started a revolution.

In February of 2008, Aprilia unveiled the awesome RSV4 "Race Machine," which marked the return of Aprilia to World Superbike in 2009. The bike has been in the spotlight since its introduction, and continues to win races; as of Round 5 in the World Superbike Championship, Max Biaggi has piloted the RSV4 to four wins, a double in Portimao and another in Monza.

Aprilia has now accumulated a total of 40 world championship titles, including 33 in MotoGP.