In Italy, whenever anybody mentions the town of Noale with its 15,341 inhabitants in the province of Venice, people automatically think of Aprilia.
Aprilia has been part of the Piaggio Group (headed by chairman and managing director Roberto Colaninno) since late 2004. The Piaggio Group’s strategic objective for Aprilia is to strengthen the company’s position as motorcycle and scooter market leader, and as Europe’s only ‘full line’ manufacturer of two wheelers from 50 to 1000 cc. The identity of the Aprilia brand will be decisively reinforced by further development of the R&D and production centres at Noale and Scorzè.
The link between Aprilia and local area dates back to the period immediately after the second world war when Alberto Beggio opened his bicycle factory in Noale. This same plant passed under the control of Alberto’s son Ivano Beggio in 1968. Aprilia then entered the motorcycle market and introduced its first ‘bike’, a gold and blue fifty cc model. Aprilia’s first products were the Colibrì and Daniela mopeds, but the model that established the marque’s reputation was the 50 cc Scarabeo motocrosser of 1970.
Stimulated by the dream of competing in national level competitions, Aprilia nurtured a genuine passion for motorcycles in general and motocross models in particular.
Aprilia’s first competitive motocross machine was introduced in 1974 and was entrusted to Maurizio Sgarzani, who rode it in the cadet class. The next year, 1975, saw the introduction of the first Aprilia with genuine hopes of racing success. The first titles arrived in 1977 in the 125 and 250 classes of the Italian motocross championship. Then In 1978, Alborghetti finished the season with two race third places and in sixth overall place in the motocross world championship – the best result ever achieved by an Italian rider. In the meantime Aprilia’s reputation was spreading. Export markets were beginning to show a growing interest in Aprilia motorcycles.
The early eighties was a period of crisis for the two wheeler market in general but not for Aprilia. The company was alive with new ideas and produced many designs destined to win international acclaim.
1985 saw Aprilia entering MotoGP. Aprilia Racing proved to be a nursery for great talent. Many recent world champions learned their trade riding an Aprilia, including names like Biaggi, Capirossi, Gramigni, Locatelli, Sakata, Rossi, Poggiali and Lorenzo.
In the nineties Aprilia made a decisive entry into the urban mobility market. Here too creativity and the confidence to break with conventions proved key to success. Aprilia scooter designs have always been daring, from the Amico, the first all-plastic scooter introduced in 1990, to the already legendary Scarabeo.
Today, membership of the Piaggio Group has given Aprilia the confidence to forge ahead with developments in the middleweight and big bike sectors, and major investments have been made in new models and engines, designed entirely by Aprilia and industrialised within the Piaggio Group.
The Aprilia scooter range has been expanded and the Scarabeo family extended and updated (Scarabeo is now available with a wide choice of engines from 50 to 500 cc and is complemented by other successful models like the Sportcity). These developments have been accompanied by the introduction of motorcycle models packed with advanced technology, style and innovation, like the Shiver 750, the first production bike in the world with a ride-by-wire electronic throttle, and the Mana 850, the first bike to boast a revolutionary, fully electronic automatic gearbox. On the off-road scene where Aprilia’s racing success began, Aprilia’s new, high performance 450 and 550 V twins have started a revolution.
On the 22nd February 2008, Aprilia unveiled the RSV4 ‘Race Machine’. With 4 cylinders, a displacement of 1000cc and over 200 bhp in the racing version, the new bike marks Aprilia’s return to the Superbike world championship in 2009. The RSV4 will be launched commercially before the end of 2008.
The arrival of the RSV4 confirms Aprilia’s determination to compete at the highest levels. The excellent work done at the Noale based racing department has enabled Aprilia to collect another two championship titles with Aprilia bikes and riders winning the 125 and 250 classes of the 2007 MotoGP world championship, and taking four titles out of four just as in 2006.
Aprilia has now accumulated a total of 40 world championship titles, including 33 in MotoGP.