"Because of the long history of Aprilia racing with two-strokes we continued with the RS125".
Say goodbye to the blue smoke and high-pitched buzzing of two-stroke bikes.
Stricter European greenhouse gas emissions standards have almost completely killed off two-stroke bikes and scooters around the world.
The latest victim is Aprilia's popular and long-running RS 125. Andy Pecora, spokesman for Australian importers John Sample Automotive, says they have only about 30 of the multiple GP-winning motorcycle in stock at $7190 plus on-road costs.
Two-stroke engines are characterised by their puff of blue smoke and their high-revving scream. Invented in 1881, the "stroker" completes the combustion cycle in one turn of the crankshaft with the oil burnt up in the piston.
Although they are economical, their exhaust emissions have sounded their death knell. Honda announced almost 10 years ago that it was pulling out of two-stroke machines, despite its massive market share of "stroker" scooters.
Other manufacturers, such as Aprilia, continued production of small scooters and high-performance race-style bikes such as the RS125. "Because of the long history of Aprilia racing with two-strokes we continued with the RS125," Pecora says.
"Aprilia had been able to work with regulators to meet the stringent guidelines of Euro 3 and still keep all of the performance of the machine, however with new regulations becoming more stringent if has been difficult to get the high level of performance we wanted out of the powerplant." Aprilia will continue with the four-stroke RS4 125cc in the learner-legal sportsbike sector and the 50cc SR50 R Factory scooter.
Most of the other strokers still available are small ATVs and scooters. "It's definitely a sad day," says Pecora. "There's a rich history of racing with two-strokes and everyone was disappointed when the 125s finished up last season."
Aprilia two-stroke champions have included Valentino Rossi while Australia's Casey Stoner won many GPs on Aprilia two-stroke machines. Part of the mystique of two-stroke racing included the "black art" of tuning the engines. "Two-strokes have always been for the true enthusiasts who loved tinkering and getting messy," says Pecora. "I'll miss the sound. There's nothing like a screaming two-stroker."
Aprilia RS 125
Warranty: 2 yr/unlimited km
Engine: 124.8cc single-cylinder two-stroke
Transmission: 6-speed, chain drive
Tyres: 110/70 R17; 150/60 R17
Body: 1955mm (l), 720mm (w), 1100mm (h), 805 (seat)
Fuel: 14-litre tank