RS 125 OVERVIEW

It may only be a '125' but this bike is a little nugget

If you're one of those people who've lost interest in two-stroke roadbikes, may I suggest a spin on the Aprilia RS125 as a way of repairing a fractured relationship.

The little Italian terrier oozes fun out of all its pores, which is why I took every opportunity during a recent ride -- normally when I was being held up by other vehicles -- to stop, survey the scene, and then dump the clutch in yet another 'GP' start.

It's not too often that I practice my race starts on public roads, but that's the type of spell that a machine like the RS125 can have on you.

I took the bike for a blast through the Royal National Park in Sydney, which was my first interaction in years with the machine that has become the standard bearer for all 125cc two-stroke sportsbikes.

Since my last contact, the RS125 has become even more refined -- the reed-valve engine meets Euro 3 emission standards for a start -- and now Aprilia has released a limited-edition version with the same livery as Max Biaggi's RSV4 Factory world superbike machine.

Only 50 of the 'Max' bikes will make it Down Under, retailing for $8990, $1000 over the standard RS125.

As well as the bullet-proof Rotax liquid-cooled engine, fed by a Dell'Orto 28mm carburetor, the electric-start RS125 has a beautifully finished cast aluminium-alloy twin-spar frame, 40mm upside-down forks, a preload-adjustable rear-end, radial brakes, aluminium-alloy multi-spoke wheels, and a number of style pieces from the RSV1000 V-twin sportsbikes -- fairings, wheels, yokes et al.

Total weight is 128kg, so it's certainly a lithe package. Seat height is 805mm.

So what's it go like? For a 125cc machine, it's certainly a very formidable package, but like any two-stroke there's no real safety net in the way of torque -- and engine braking is negligible, which places a premium on savvy corner preparation.

If you haven't ridden a two-stroke for a while that can take a little getting used to, but once you've got your head around the tighter terms of reference, everything becomes a lot easier -- trust me.

Anything under 7000rpm on the RS125 is fairly unremarkable, but from that point on the power really comes on with a bang. The shine lasts 11,500rpm, until you kick it up another cog and start the show all over again.

Once I got in the groove of working on those power terms it was unbelievably good fun. And because the whole package is so light, it only adds to the enjoyment.

The RS's steering is just so precise, and you can literally throw it around like a minibike -- which is great for a learner who's slowly building confidence.

The RS125 is also one bike where you can really maintain a good rolling speed, using every bit of the Dunlop 150-section rubber on the rear. The front tyre is 110/70 configuration, with both wheels 17-inch.

I did make few procedural boo boos on the RS, especially when I pushed down a cog or two too many heading into a corner, which saw the tacho needle soar way past redline on the overrun.

Nothing much happened for a split second, before the RS125 cracked back into life and away I went. By the way, the gearbox is sweet: not one missed gear all day.

First gear on the RS is quite tall, but after that the ratios tighten up to provide rich pickings for the sportsbike experience. That means some crafty clutch work is required from a standing start in first gear.

And the golden rule when taking off is to not jump the gun: just when you think the bike is on its way, keep on feathering the clutch a little bit longer to make sure it doesn't bog down. It soon becomes second nature, and the clutch is light so your fingers won't ache their way into oblivion.

At a standstill, the RS125 is extremely quiet -- so much so that you'd hardly know it's ticking over. But it does pay to give the engine a few blips during that time to keep it running clean and crisp, which can reap dividends when it's time to get cracking.

I certainly wouldn't be afraid to take the RS125 for a longer rider in the sticks, and with a number of luggage nooks you wouldn't have to put all your belongings in a back pack. Just put it in sixth gear and purr along. And although the screen isn't the tallest thing, because the seating position on the RS is quite aggressive, there isn't a massive amount of buffeting to be had.

Generally speaking, the RS125 is an absolute gem.

There are bread and butter elements which are appealing to learners, such as light weight, nimbleness and great looks. And they may not know it but the bike is also an excellent platform to actually learn the fundamentals of riding: clutch, brake and throttle control to be precise.

Take those fundamentals, add in a quality chassis, brakes and suspension, decorate with a dash of adventure, and you've then got yourself a mighty little sportsbike. I reckon that amounts to a pretty clever package.

Source: bikepoint.com.au
Aprilia RS 125 Max Biaggi SBK

Aprilia RS 125 Max Biaggi SBK

Aprilia RS 125 Max Biaggi SBK

Aprilia RS 125 Max Biaggi SBK

Aprilia RS 125 Max Biaggi SBK

Aprilia RS 125 Max Biaggi SBK

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