17 again... Riding Aprilia's new RX125

17 again... Riding Aprilia's new RX125

Aprilia aims to teleport riders back to their teens with the new learner-legal RX125

WHAT were you riding at 17? I bet it didn’t have ABS, rear-wheel lift mitigation (RLM) or even an LCD screen. But Aprilia’s new RX does, and the Italian manufacturer claims it’s here to remind you of your hoodlum teenage years.

For me, that’s barely half a decade ago so hooligan Laura comes naturally. At 17 I was teetering on my dad’s DT125R, awkwardly wobbling to college each day and even more awkwardly referring to myself as a diehard ‘biker chick’. Cringe.

The RX certainly reminds me of the DT in one respect – height. With a seat at 905mm, it’s very much a tiptoes job. And at 120kg dry, the RX actually weighs 4kg more than the 2001 Yammy. The RX makes 15hp – one more than the DT, while the DT trumps the RX on torque – making 16.3Nm at 7,000rpm as opposed to 10.9Nm at 8,250rpm. Of course, the DT is two-stroke, making it 100 per cent more yobbo.

But the point that I’m trying to make is that on first impressions Aprilia had it spot on – I did feel 17 again. Slightly less emo, maybe.

The Italian manufacturer has launched two versions of the model – the off-road-going RX, with a 21-inch front wheel, 18-inch rear and 69-tooth sprocket, and the supermoto SX, which boasts a 17”/17” set up and 62-teeth. And as for brakes, the RX features a 260mm disc up front and a 220mm at the rear – both with floating callipers. The SX upgrades those discs to stainless steel, and boasts a 300mm unit at the front.

Our RX test comprised a twisting route through Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia, 50 km in all – not long but ample for a knobbly-sporting 125.

The roads were greasy from the kind of non-committal drizzle you only get in Europe, and the questionable CST tyres certainly didn’t inspire confidence.

Bosch ABS on the 21-inch front wheel – other bikes in this class tend to just have linked brakes – could certainly be useful, although I didn’t actually need it that morning. However, for teenage learners and their parents it’s a reassuring addition. Rear-wheel lift mitigation also features, but again wasn’t required.

As the morning progressed, the rain finally abated, and the forest roads soon started to dry. The tyres, while still not great, weren’t quite as bad as I’d imagined, and so we picked up the pace.

Weighing 136kg wet, with a 124cc single cylinder lump and making just 15hp, the RX’s spec sheet alone isn’t enough to get your pulse racing. In fact, that Derbi-derived lump harks from the 2010 GPR125 and has most recently been seen in Aprilia’s RSV and Tuono 125 models. For the SX and RX models, it’s been treated to revised gearing and a different mapping.

But it soon became apparent that power figures were irrelevant. Imagine yourself as a 17-year-old and it’s the best thing since Playstation 4.

To my 23-year-old self it was slightly less impressive, but fun none the less. The power was perky and delivery smooth – providing you’re in the right gear, that is. I was bouncing off the limiter in every gear, revving the daylights out of it to reach that sweet spot. While 15hp and 10.9Nm may not sound like a lot, it’s plenty to get your adrenaline flowing. And the bike pushed to 114km/h – that’s 70mph – remaining relatively wobble-free.

The steel-perimeter framed bike felt light, agile and relatively balanced, although thanks to that height you do feel very top heavy. The front end was a little sketchy turning into bends, and on a couple of occasions felt in danger of washing out but I’m putting this down to the knobblies rather than the suspension set up.

That set up comprised a 41mm upside down fork with 240mm travel, and a progressive link monoshock, with 240mm travel. While the forks were ample soft, I found the RX rear to be quite firm for my 56kgs – larger riders disagreed. The brakes were alright too, with a decent bite and not bad stopping power. However, the larger front disc on the Supermoto were markedly better.

Unfortunately, we only took the RX about 200m off-road, but from that brief impression it felt well balanced and capable. No ABS on the rear made for plenty of skids, too. 

So, in short Aprilia has done a bloody good job in reminding riders of what it feels to be 17 again.  On our short route I become fond of the RX’s perky power, agile handling, and DGAF nature. It’s not as potent as the two-stroke of my teenage years, but maybe that’s a good thing, and the added safety net of Bosch ABS and RLM is more likely to sway parents in this bike’s favour.

At £3399 it’s cheap and cheerful (if your parents are paying) and can be seen in dealers now.

Best beginner motorcycle? KTM RC 125 first road test