The Aprilia RS250 is a legendary V-twin two-stroke road going GP inspired motorcycle that satisfied riders needs for a truly excellent machine.
Produced between 1994 and 2004 the Aprilia RS250 remains a modern classic today and continues to revel in the well-deserved hype that followed it from the models inception.
It was 1991 when the first Aprilia RS250 was produced as a GP race-only bike and the bike had its first world title win in 1994 with Max Biaggi at the helm.
Not long after the win the first of the GP replica, road-going RS250’s were unleashed from the production line and two-stroke fans lapped the Italian beast up.
At its heart was a V twin Suzuki engine taken straight from the RGV250 which they modified to fit into their own chassis.
After a 10 year stretch, two stroke motorcycles on the road were to be a thing of the past. Emissions regulations meant that it just wasn’t possible to keep them going, although Aprilia did keep the RS 250 in production as a track race bike.
Let’s take a look at why the Aprilia RS250 is considered to be such an icon among two-stroke fans.
Aprilia RS250 Review
Engine and Transmission
Aprilia turned to Suzuki 3 years prior to the production of the RS 250 to acquire the rights to use their RGV250 engine, a proven reliable and powerful 250cc motor.
Now with the perhaps slight tilt and very few other changes, the engine remained essentially the same as the RGV in Aprilia’s possession.
It was other changes such as the top-end, ignition, cooling and gearing changes that made the RS 250 notably different and arguably improved.
When riding you will notice the bike struggling from the kick-start and not really settling until you get up in the rev range.
10,500rpm is where the bike is at its happiest, comes to life and explodes.
You have to work for the power and speed, but once you get there you are rewarded and those initial coughs and splutters dissipate quickly.
Chasing the power is addictive and brings out the inner hooligan in even the most reserved rider.
On the engine in the RS 250 MCN say “For anyone raised on multi-cylinder motorcycles it’s initially frustrating, but persevere – nothing worth striving for comes easily. So hone your gear selection, hang on to every rpm and ride it like you stole it.”
The rear sprocket has one tooth smaller which raises the overall gearing but it also means the gears are wider spaced. On the road you will likely not notice this but on the track where every detail is important some riders may notice the difference compared to the RGV250.
Aprilia is stamped on the engine cases but the engine is completely Suzuki designed and is mechanically identical to the RGV.
Barrels, crank, clutch and gearbox are all the same as the RGV but new heads and re-shaped combustion chambers were two of the main changes Aprilia made to the RS 250.
Aprilia claims this makes the RS 250 more potent at your local tracks.
Some owners argued the gearbox was a bit stiff, so it took some getting used to.
Chassis, Suspension, Brakes and Handling
The weight of an Aprilia RS250 is low down and the steering is slightly slower than the RGV. This combination makes for a predictable hanging experience that puts you at ease as soon as you get on to ride.
The polished pressed aluminium frame is incredibly rigid and inspires great confidence at speed, paired with excellent upside down forks and rear shock, feedback is impressive and the whole setup makes for a poignant ride.
The banana swingarm is made from the same polished aluminium as the frame and is incredibly pretty.
Enhancing the basic framework of the bike is the stunning bodywork that along with the frame looks straight off a race-developed bike.
Compared to other two-strokes of the time the Aprilia felt very stable at speed and there would be little tank slap to scare you; largely down to the fact it was heavier than its competition such as the Yamaha TZR250 or KR-15.
Aprilia also had the edge in the styling department. While Japanese rivals opted for practicality, Aprilia shot for design and to get as close to a sexy racing machine as possible.
Anything not necessary was stripped off the RS 250 and it was strictly about being a minimalist sports bike in the shadow of the great race bikes.
Brembo four piston disc brakes are more than capable at providing the stopping power necessary to calm down the RS250. They are powerful and the suspension set up combined makes for a nice rider experience.
It is not a comfortable ride, but it was never meant to be. Sure, it’s less of a strained riding position than a genuine Grand Prix bike but a few hours in the saddle will be more than enough.
The seat is very thin and the banana swingarm pushes you forward over the tank.
Any ideas of riding 2-up or any significant distance should be discarded immediately, as the Aprilia RS250 was never designed to be your typical road bike. Get out and ride the hell out of it, ride it to the tracks and then let loose like a bat out of hell when you get there.
A neat little feature on the RS 250 was the built-in lap timer into the display, for those who would want to test their skills and the closed tracks, with the hope to get faster with each lap.
Reliability of the Aprilia RS250 was always pretty good and no real complaints were to be had other than the usual issues that could go wrong with any two-stroke machine.
The biggest concern that affects an RS 250 is the lack of use and time spent standing still. Any parts that have come into contact with fuel will likely be degraded; it can wreak havoc on plastics and rubber.
Old fuel is also detrimental to carbs, so this is something to be conscious of if looking for an Aprilia RS250 today. Fortunately there are plenty of two-stroke enthusiasts and mechanics that will be able to fix things for you if it’s something you don’t want to tackle yourself.
Parts can be an absolute nightmare, as Aprilia was known for having supply issues that were never fully resolved. Your best bet is to take your time looking for an RS 250 and buy the best, most complete version you can find.
Aprilia RS250 Specifications
Engine and Transmission Specs
- Two-Stroke, 90 Degree, V-Twin, 249cc
- Bore x Stroke – 56 x 50.6mm
- Compression Ratio – 12.0:1
- Lubrication – Oil Pump with separate circuit
- Induction – 2 x 34mm Mikuni carburetors
- Ignition – CDI
- Max Power – 72.5 horsepower at 11,900rpm
- Max Torque – 40 Nm at 10,750rpm
- Transmission – 6 Speed
- Final Drive – Chain
Chassis and Dimensions
- Front Suspension – Inverted fork, adjustable
- Rear Suspension – Magnesium alloy swingarm and monoshock, adjustable
- Front Brakes – 2 x 298mm discs, 4 piston calipers
- Rear Brakes – Single 220mm, 2 piston caliper
- Length – 1880mm
- Width – 690mm
- Height – 1080mm
- Wheelbase – 1370mm
- Seat Height – 810mm
- Ground Clearance – 135mm
- Dry Weight – 141kg
- Wet Weight – 167kg
- Fuel Capacity – 16.5 litres
How Fast is an Aprilia RS250
The top speed of an RS 250 is somewhere between 130mph and 138mph depending on which source you refer to and which model year they have tested.
Quarter mile performance for the two stroke legend was 13 seconds.
How Much Will an Aprilia RS250 Cost Today
Somewhere between £6,500-£8,000 should be able to get you a good quality RS250 example in the UK.
This 2002 example is on for an asking price of £8,700 and looks to be in an immaculate state of affairs.
The ParkingMotorcycle is a good resource to find an RS250 and options open up once you are willing to look towards Europe for a model.
You could pick up two bikes at the same if you so wish with this listing that is offering two good condition RS250s and is asking for offers of around £11,000.
$4,000-$7,000 seems to be the price range that the bikes are at in the US.
Although paying a little extra could get you this special Aprilia on Smart Cycle Guide that is completely original with less than 2,500 miles on it, priced at $9,990.
$5,999 will get you this race track only Aprilia RS250 in Coopersburg, PA.
Something to be aware of when looking for an RS 250 is that if you are intending to ride it on the road, be sure that it is a road bike and it hasn’t been altered just for race use.
The bikes’ very nature led them to be converted for amateur racing and track days, so don’t get caught out with a bike that isn’t road legal.
Although, this wasn’t quite as extensive as the Japanese competition and the 400cc class was getting a lot of attention during the RS250 era so less people were opting to race 250s.
Just a few years ago you were able to pick up an Aprilia RS250 for quite a bit less than what you can today so they are appreciating in value and it is likely they will continue to do so.
The Aprilia RS250 is an absolute monster of a two-stroke. Aprilia took a Suzuki engine and built a premium quality machine that became its own legend.
The Italian manufacturers just know how to produce a premium motorcycle that is as much of a performance machine as it is stunning; the RS250 was no exception to this.
It will continue to be appreciated, increase in value and will be revered as a legendary two stroke for years to come.