If you are a fan of Valentino Rossi and followed him through his early years in MotoGP you will recognise the importance of Aprilia providing Valentino with 125cc and 250cc championships in 1997 and 1999. Aprilia was at the top of their game building very quick and excellent handling grand prix bikes and the RS125 and RS250 were often the pin-up bikes of 125GP and 250GP fans during the late 1990s.
The bikes being watched at the track and on TV were full-on race machines, however road going versions were also a seriously quick bike for track day fans and back road racers. I recall a few times where 750cc and 1000cc machines were left for dust behind a well setup RS250 with a good rider, they just changed direction so well and all the superbikes could hope for is a long sweeping bend or straight to catch up.
The RS125 had an impressive production run from 1992 to 2010, receiving many updates during the production run to replicate the improvements seen on the GP bikes. UK machines were limited to 12bhp to comply with learner laws, however a derestricted bike produce around 28bhp, making a lot of fun learner and more experienced riders. If you have never ridden a two stroke race derived bike, they are amongst some of the most fun bikes ever made. Just remember that you have virtually no engine braking so you’ll be grabbing big handfuls of brake to slow them up.
The RS250 took riding to another level, produced between 1995 and 2002 they also enjoyed and impressive production run. The bike also had impressive power characteristics from the two stroke v-twin, with output around 70bhp and a dry bike weight of 141kg. As with most two strokes, more power could be liberated with race exhausts and a proper setup, however the dyno never lies, and whilst more power is possible many ‘tuned’ bikes became peaky and lost some of the rideability on the road.
Mk2 Aprilia RS250 2003
This lovely condition 2003 Aprilia RS250 is the last of the breed, and arguably the model to have with a decade of subtle changes and improvements. If you are looking to buy a later standard bike always check the country of origin because some bikes were fitted with power sapping emission controls. These can be overcome but obviously you’ll need to find original equipment from bikes exported to other markets.
This 2003 example has only covered less than 4000 miles and looks amazing for an 18 year old bike. Finding an example which hasn’t been ‘tuned’ is very difficult, and an engine which has barely run-in. As with any bike of this age storage and maintenance is critical to avoid running issues and parts failure. The RS250 engine has a reputation for being a strong unit, however using good quality two stroke oil and gearbox oil is a route to a long life.
Aprilia don’t have a very good reputation when it comes to parts supply. If something breaks in August and not in stock with a dealer you’ll be out of luck for a month because the factory has shut down. I’ve had this a happen a couple of times with Aprilia parts, so plan ahead and also check out the user forums for new in box OEM parts which are gathering dust on owner’s shelves.
If you are planning to use this bike for some sunny rides out give everything a thorough check over before heading out. A bike can be mechanically sound but 10 year old tyres won’t inspire much confidence when you start to explore the performance and limits of the bike. Bikes that have sat unused for long periods generally start to suffer with gummed up carburettors, so make a clear decision about riding or completely draining all fuel if not used. You may want to check out our article on modern fuels to help you through storage and running issues due to ethanol.
If you are bidding on this lovely Aprilia RS250 we wish you the best of luck and let us know what your plans are for the bike. We don’t know how long it will be before petrol power becomes too expensive, so we need to see these bikes on the road. Remember to catch up with other motorcycle fans on our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest pages.