The history of Aprilia dirt bikes dates right back to 1945 when it began as a bicycle manufacturer in a wee place called Noale in Italy. Alberto Beggio was the man with the plan responsible for founding the company. After a couple of decades of producing bicycles, Alberto's son Ivano Beggio must have got a little tired of pedaling to work, so he took control of the company and introduced their first motorcycles to the market. Two 50cc mopeds called 'Colibri' and 'Daniela' were the first bikes to come out around 1968. But it was the 1970, 50 cc 'Scarabeo' motocrosser that helped kick-start a new era of Aprilia dirt bikes.
The 70's saw Aprilia dirt bikes making their stand in the Italian and World Motocross Championships. And although they achieved some success with their motocross and enduro bikes back then, they haven't progressed as strongly as the other major dirt bike brands in the off-road scene. Though in saying that, recently in 2008, legend Stefan Merriman won the Italian Enduro Championship on an Aprilia RXV 550 sending out a message that Aprilia means business!
In 2004 one of the worlds largest motorcycle manufacturers, the Piaggio Group, bought out Aprilia for a few bucks (meaning Ivano definitely doesn't have to cycle to work any more!). So Aprilia motorcycles now rests comfortably under the same umbrella as other major motorcycle brands such as Vespa, Moto Guzzi, Derbi and Gilera.
Never afraid to venture outside the square, Aprilia have produced a 450cc, V2 powered enduro and motocross bike that has already claimed victories in both motocross and supermoto. In 2008, riding on an Aprilia RXV 450, Nicholas Pagonon became the first person to finish the Erzberg Rodeo (a hardcore enduro race held in Austria) on a twin cylinder dirt bike, finishing 12th overall.
So although Aprilia's recognition resides mostly with their successful and prestigious range of on-road/super-bikes, they do produce a handful of high performance European dirt bikes that are constantly being refined.
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Have you ever owned an Aprilia? Maybe a vintage Aprilia? Tell us what you think of their unique range of bikes. Do you know of any design faults or problems with particular models? Maybe you have a mechanical tip to share...
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