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Aprilia RS250

Super Stroker

(by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, July 2021)


Aprilia's RS250 series was a high point in two-stroke motorcycle development

The story of Aprilia’s remarkable RS250 is one which defies belief: Here’s what was then (1994) a minor player in the motorcycle game picking up an engine from Suzuki and building a hugely competitive bike with it. In fact, by the time the second generation RS250 two-stroke came along in 1998, it was at very least a serious threat to the Suzukis and, on some tracks, a dominant player.

Now there were extenuating circumstances here. It’s worth remembering that, as one of Japan’s ‘big four’, Suzuki has vast experience and knowledge, far in excess of Aprilia’s.

So those extenuating curcumstances? For a start, Aprilia charged near enough to a 40 per cent premium – in 1998 the Aprilia RS250 cost $12,750 compared to $8900 for the RGV250. And for the Italian maker, this was core product that was a make-or-break for its reputation, where for Suzuki the RGV series was on the way to being phased out.

Suzuki RGV250SP

Having said that, there was a final up-spec SP version of the RGV (above) produced for 1997-98, which switched from the 90 degree platform to a 70 degree twin and which claimed power figures much in line with the ‘Priller’. For Suzuki and RG/RGV fans, this is a seriously capable and collectible model and would make the perfect pairing with the RS.

Aprilia RS250

While Aprilia’s first-gen RS250 (above) was a major success and rode on the coat-tails of factory rider Max Biaggi winning the 1994 World 250 GP title, it’s the second-gen from 1998 (top and below) we’re concentrating on, as the ultimate expression of the series.

Let’s start with Suzuki engine. Aprilia took the 90 degree liquid-cooled two-stroke and applied some tuning. That included a raised compression ratio (skimmed heads), different ECU and barrels, plus its own expansion chambers.

As for the chassis, the second gen included new wheels, upgraded suspension, with the latter including a 41mm Showa fork and Sachs shock on the rear. Braking up front was by high-end Brembo four-spotters.

Aprilia RS250

Aside from the GP-inspired graphics, the outstanding styling cue was the beautiful polished aluminium frame and its banana-shape swingarm. We don’t know if anyone bought the model for those elements alone, but who could blame them if they did?

Incredibly, the RS was noticably more roomy with a slightly more relaxed ride position than the RGV, something much appreciated by taller riders, or anyone who actually used them on the road. It’s still a very long way from being luxurious and requires a serious sporting stance.

Looks were backed up by performance. Claiming a monster 72 horses from the high-stepping stroker engine, the 141kg (dry) missile was capable of 210km/h more or less out of the crate.

Aprilia RS250

More importantly, it was a supremely capable sports bike and equal to anything else in the market when it came to fun – better than most. It had a well-deserved reputation for quick steering with excellent feedback, remarkably forgiving stability and delivering what was among the best sports riding experiences you could hope for. Particularly on the racetrack.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying that, for many riders, this was the ultimate two-stroke sports bike despite its relatively modest capacity. And of course it became the weapon of choice for quarter-litre production racing, responsible for developing he skills of a whole generation of racers.

Performance is peaky. It’s rideable around town but that isn’t really its happy place. We’re talking a power plant which makes peak power and torque at over 10,000rpm from a small capacity, so playing tunes on the throttle is pretty much compulsory.

Aprilia RS250

It’s hard to know how many survive, but probably not a lot. The sales numbers were never huge and a fair number would have been worn out or demolished on the track. With the exception of a few owned by people with unusual foresight, many examples would have been scrapped as not worth fixing.

Their reputation on the maintenance/reliability side of things is pretty good, given that it’s a highly-strung two-stroke and essentially racer with lights. We’ve seen recommended piston replacement intervals of 10,000km – not a massive job and whether it’s necessary will come down to how the bike is treated. The overall proviso for buying one is the bike needs to have been looked after, right down to exclusively being fed good quality synthetic oil.

These machines, along with a host of other premium two-strokes such as Yamaha RZ500 and Suzuki RG500, have seen a strong resurgence in interest over the last five to 10 years. Get the right example, and you’re in for a major treat. They’re an exciting ride with exceptional handling and are a marker for an era when two-strokes ruled the tracks.

Aprilia RS250

One for sale
The example shown here in the majority of the pics was recently on the market and we’ve used it as a way to illustrate what these bikes should look like in good nick.

It was plated as a 7/98 example, for the 1999 model year. Mileage was 19,800km, It came with all the books and the original exhaust system in addition to the Arrow system shown. It was offered at $20,000 with a roadworthy certificate.

Aprilia RS250


Great handling
Halfway reasonable ride position

Watch for
Bikes that have sat inactive for years
Ex-racers that have been poorly patched up

Aprilia RS250 gen 2 1998-2004


TYPE: Liquid-cooled, 90 degree two-stroke V-twin

BORE & STROKE: 56 x 50.6mm


FUEL SYSTEM: 2 x 34mm Mikuni flat-slide


TYPE: Six-speed, constant-mesh, 



FRAME TYPE: Alumium twin-spar

FRONT SUSPENSION: Showa USD telescopic fork, 41mm, full adjustment (40mm Marzocchi on previous gen)
REAR SUSPENSION: Sachs monoshock, full adjustment 
(Boge on previous gen)
FRONT BRAKE: 2 x Brembo 298mm 4-piston calipers 

REAR BRAKE: 220mm Brembo with two-piston caliper

DRY/WET WEIGHT: 141/167kg



FRONT: 120/60-17
REAR: 150/60-17


POWER: 52.9kW (72.5hp) @ 11,900rpm
(hp said to be more like mid-50s at the back wheel)
TORQUE: 40Nm @ 10,750rpm

PRICE NEW $12,750 plus on-road costs

Aprilia RS250

Aprilia RS250

Aprilia RS250

Aprilia RS250

Aprilia RS250

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