RS 125 OVERVIEW
Like the firm's RS50, the RS125 has a very high level of equipment, performance and styling for its class. An aluminium alloy perimeter beam frame holds an advanced liquid-cooled two-stroke engine. The 125cc single-cylinder motor uses a ceramic-type coating on the cylinder to cut friction and wear, while modern intake and exhaust designs boost power to over 194kW (260bhp)/litre. The aerodynamic fairing echoes the designs of Apt-ilia's GP machinery, and there have been various race-replica paint schemes. The RS125 has a high-specification chassis design, with wide, sporty tyres, 40mm (0.8in) upside-down front forks and an aluminium swingarm with adjustable monoshock rear suspension, giving fine handling especially on the track.
Owning, Runing and Riding the Aprilia RS125
The Aprilia RS125 is without doubt a modern motorcycling legend. This may seem like a bold statement but let's consider the evidence; This is the last performance 2-stroke motorbike on the planet. Back in the 1980's two-strokes were cutting edge motorbikes.
In the mid-1980's Suzuki, Yamaha and Honda gave us the delectable RG500, RD500LC and NS400R grand-prix replica's, the only ever full size two-stroke replicas ever produced and still revered today 25 years later. Then in 1987 the battle of Japan's modern 250cc GP replica's started with Yamaha's brilliant TZR250. Suzuki and Kawasaki completely eclipsed Yamaha in 1989 with the RGV250 and KR1 as the 250 'stroker' market became one of the most hotly contested. Honda also had the fantastic NSR250 V-twin but this was not officially imported into many European markets. Unfortunately, as 2-strokes became banned from the road in the major market of California and became more exquisite rich-boys toys with high running costs elsewhere, their future sealed. By the early 90's these factors along with ever more restrictive emissions controls in Europe meant the world-wide market for 2-strokes over 125cc was severely limited and no longer worth pursuing by the big four Japanese manufacturers. 1996 was the last year Suzuki RGV250's were widely available in Europe by which time the only surviving performance 2-stroke bike over 125cc capacity was Aprilia's RS250 (which used a modified Suzuki RGV250 motor in Aprilia's own delectable chassis).
Then in 2004 Aprilia pulled the RS250 as the last ever performance 2-stroke over 125cc available. By this time the Japanese manufacturers had ceased production of even 125cc 2-stroke sports bikes so Aprilia's RS125 was the only high quality high performance 2-stroke Motorcycle on the world market. There is one important reason why this is significant. Performance 2-stroke motorcycles are an ENTIRELY different riding experience from that of riding 4-strokes. A riding experience that at its best is more raw, involved and exhilarating. Anyone who was into bikes in the 80's and early 90's or watched MotoGP before it turned to 990cc 4-strokes is likely to have an appreciation of the 2-stroke. Anyone who has ridden a performance 2-stroke and kept it buzzing near the redline will understand that these bikes are special. The fact that they effectively no longer exist as current models makes them even more special.
To put the Aprilia RS125 into perspective we should consider it in derestricted form. The Suzuki X7 that I harp on about on this site made about 29 bhp in a bike weighing about 128 kg and it was an exiting ride. So much so that the government decided it was too much performance for learners. The RS125, before last model restrictions, makes 33 bhp in derestricted form and weighs just 114 kg, has a far more competent chassis and breaks and modern radial tyres. This power gives it comparable performance to the X7 in terms of acceleration and top speed if not the ability to wheelie in 1st and second. All this from a bike with half the cubic capacity of the X7. The 33 bhp the RS125 makes is equivalent to getting 66 bhp from a 250 cc bike, 132 bhp from a 500 cc bike and 264 bhp from a 1000cc bike !! Today's 1000 cc beasts make around 160 - 170 bhp so a bike with 264 bhp per litre is undisputably special. If you're still not convinced, the Aprilia RS125 is one of the finest handling and fastest cornering bikes on the road. For any given lean angle you will be going faster on the RS than any 600 or 1000 bike. This means you can eat them in corners after you have already taken them on corner entry because of the 35% bike weight advantage that enables later braking and faster corner entry. Trust me, on a roundabout, slip road or twisty country road you can seriously embarrass modern 600's or even 1000's on one of these if you know what you are doing. Just avoid straights ! There are fewer better feelings in biking than beating much bigger machinery and no shame if you fail to.
If you need further convincing about the status of this bike, consider that it is a replica of the 125cc MototGP bike that took Valentino Rossi to his first world championship victory in 1997 and since 1992 has won 8 world titles with the following riders: 1992: Alessandro Gramigni, 1994: Kazuto Sakata, 1997: Valentino Rossi, 1998: Kazuto Sakata, 2000: Roberto Locatelli, 2002: Arnaud Vincent, 2006: Alvaro Bautista, 2007: Gabor Talmacsi.
Finally, these bikes are great fun to ride on twisty roads even for experience riders used to riding much bigger and faster motorbikes with a lot more power and this is why I have one in my garage.