2010 Aprilia RS125

The Two-Stroke Alternative

By Ari Henning, Photography by Kevin Wing

Aprilia's RS125 is one European exotic you can buy today. But there's a catch: The little two-stroke's blue exhaust haze restricts U.S. usage to the racetrack.

Fair enough-that's where this race replica belongs. Beneath the lively colors of that Jorge Lorenzo-replica bodywork is a race-proven 125cc Rotax single, liquid-cooled to keep cylinder temperature consistent. Crankcase induction favors top-end power that's perfect for the track. There's no premixing required, the automatic system metering lubrication precisely to keep the engine internals happy.

The product of years of racing experience, Aprilia's polished aluminum frame and bridged swingarm are manufacturing masterpieces, offering GP-spec rigidity and precise handling. Rearset foot controls provide plenty of cornering clearance at steep lean angles, and that asymmetric swingarm makes room for a tucked-in silencer. You'll drag an elbow before hard parts touch down.

While we didn't drag ours, we did go through a set of knee pucks wringing the thing out around Willow Springs' Horse Thief Mile. Flowing and tight, it's the perfect place to explore the Aprilia's abilities. A wet weight just over 300 pounds makes it a master of momentum, perfectly content to flick into most bends without scrubbing off any speed. All it takes to turn it in is a light push on the narrow clip-ons and the bike is on its side, tracking with superb stability.

The standard Dunlop rubber is up to most track tasks, though front-end grip is a limiting factor. Thankfully, the front tire's contact patch sends plenty of feedback through the stout 40mm fork. Rear tire movement is controlled by a single shock wedged between the rear frame spars. Adjustability is limited to shock spring preload, which is unfortunate but entirely acceptable considering the quality of the rest of the bike and its reasonable $5499 price tag.

Despite a seemingly insatiable appetite for uninterrupted speed, robust brakes are there if you need them. A four-piston caliper is ready to bite down on the front wheel's 320mm rotor with exceptional strength and progressiveness.

As with all two-strokes, low-rev power is lackluster. The bulk of the output is focused between 9500 and an unmarked redline around 11,500 rpm. Keeping things spinning in that sweet spot requires quick use of your left foot, but it pays off with smooth, strong power. Considering the bike's stellar handling and cornering capabilities, a well-ridden RS125 will give a 600cc sportbike a run for its money on tighter courses-especially with sticky, track-spec tires.

While it's a pity you can't ride the RS125 to the track, it's ridiculously easy to load in your truck. So whether you're an aspiring roadracer looking to build your skills or an experienced enthusiast in the market for a new track toy, the RS125 is the two-stroke alternative to the 600cc status quo.

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