Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

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Aprilia RS4-125 Review

Review Date - 10 October 2016

By Pocket Pete

My daughters boyfriend has recently passed his test but currently can only afford his Aprilia 125 due to excessive insurance costs on a newer bigger bike. He is going to wait for next year when he will have saved enough money to get the Triumph 675 he so desperately wants. Until then the  Aprilia is all he can ride. I decided to let him have a go on my Honda which is insured for anyone over 25 and I would take the downsize on the 125. 18 stone of fat retired copper on a 125. Hmm will it get off the mark?

The Aprilia 125 RS4 in matt black looking sleek and sportyIt looks fast, but will it even get moving?

The sitting position is very low down, a really sporty riding position with those low clip on type handlebars. Strangely everything is in its place, all the controls are neat and clearly marked, it's actually very comfortable even for me. My neck is strained a little being in an unusual position compared to my Honda. Apart from that it feels much bigger than it is and very solid.

We set off down the main roads heading to Buxton, I decide to cut back over the hills through Hayfield and up along the Buxton bypass. Up the hill at the rear of my house I am taking it easy while getting used to the bike. It sounds really quite mean and loud with its dinky little exhaust. Nothing seems to happen when I accelerate - it seems as if the throttle cable has snapped. Oh wait a minute here comes some more noise and speed gradually.  I hit 40mph and the bike really picks up speed then I am revving its heart out all the way to 11000 revs when the needle just stops. I change up and the bike surges forward slowly but hits 70mph on the flat without problem. 

We reach the Hayfield bypass and the twisty bends. That's a surprise, it holds the road despite the tiny tyres. I throw it into a bend at 50mph and it stays level and leaning into the bend no skipping just tight on the line I picked and out the other side. It doesn't accelerate out of the bend it just holds the speed it went in with. I drop a gear and max the revs, nothing there but it holds the line. Ten bends later I am finally getting the bike. It handles like a dream you point it and it goes exactly where you want it. Too fast! Grab the brakes which are super sharp and the speed is gone, drop a couple of gears and thrash it out of the bend. Amazing handling it is as good as anything I have ridden recently (it handles better than my CB500x which wallows around). It holds the road like a real racer its just such a pity its not a 250 or 400 engine.

The front end of the RS4 with the bars and forks and fairingAll the steering stuff works a treat.

It has a strange engine note sort of screaming sewing machine. Its power is limited to above 8K and upwards and it soon runs out of steam. The limiter kicks in and stops it blowing up. 

Onto the Buxton bypass and uphill all I can drag out of the bike is 63mph. There's just nothing left in the tank. However coming back from Buxton along Long Hill is a different story. I could throw it around the twisty bends with total confidence and down the straight section. I hit 84mph head behind the screen and then simply lean into the next 2 bends holding 80+ with ease. This is the sort of road the bike loves. Yes it takes a total hammering to squeeze every last drop of speed out of the bike but it has a brilliant chassis which can handle anything you can throw at it. The brakes and suspension are both totally overkill for the 15bhp. Maybe in Europe if they have a unrestricted bike the chassis might show its limits but not here.

The lights are good the twin headlights seem bright and all the bits feel tough and robust. I even felt a peg touch the floor. I was glad at this stage to get off the bike as the vibrations of the engine were doing my back no good at all and back on my CB500X it felt amazingly smooth and calm. I can imagine a learner will get a real buzz out of this 125. It does what it is supposed to do it gives a few thrills on a safe handling frame with great brakes so the learner shouldn't get in any difficulty.

The rear of the Aprilia in a flat matt black and sharp anglesIt's cutting edge for the learner class.

The matt black paint looks really good but on the return to my house the bike decided to not start. Hmm what's wrong? A quick look under the seat. Hmm not a battery in sight. The only place it can be is under the tank. A quick look on the internet and sure enough you remove 3 bolts and the tank pivots up and back to reveal a battery the size of my mobile phone. A quick voltage check - 4 volts.  Hmm Jump start from my car  and the bike starts. Battery is not holding charge as soon as the revs die down it stalls and stops. The battery terminals look slightly corroded which is poor considering its under the tank and well protected. More research on the internet as the bike has not been used much in the last 6 months, it seems many owners are suffering from dead battery problems. Even if its charged up for 12 hours it packs up and discharges. The only solution is to use the bike more often and for longer journeys. In most cases replace the battery. Its only 15 months old but it is tiny and the lights are on all the time. 

Several other wires are rather marked and starting to corrode, typical Italian bike. Poor quality control but it handles like a dream. The rear seat is hopeless a passenger can sit on it but only just about and the top speed on the motorway drops by at least 10-15mph 2 up. £4000 seems a lot for a 125 but there is a lot of technology in the bike.

A 17 year old would like it but its not good for much else. I think if I was going to have a 125 I would stick to a more sedate CG125 type. A bit more practical for me. I can understand why a learner teenager would like one of these. My old Suzuki GP125 was nothing compared to this bike.

2 fully grown people ready to ride on the 1252 up? It can be done.

Reader's Comments

Mark said :-
Lovely looking bike, but you're right, £4k for a 125 is a LOT of money. Especially for anyone looking to do their test and move on to something bigger.

You might not look as cool in your local McDonalds car park, but personally I'd go for something like a second hand YBR/CBF and spend the rest of the money on a bigger bike once you've past your test (presuming you're over 21)
18/10/2016 1:02:35 PM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Yes 4k for a 125 is silly. He's passed his test but his insurance on a bigger bike is totally stupid. He's 26 next month so he's is hopeful it will drop a bit.

I feel guilty my cb500x cost £ 119 fully comp. The same bike for him is £ 870.
God I must be old

19/10/2016 7:41:29 AM UTC

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