Aprilia Atlantic 500
Text: Christian Neuhauser • Photography: Christian Neuhauser
It took some doing to find out where Salina is. Now I know. It’s in the middle of Kansas, and after a 14-hour drive, we finally arrived at Salina Powersport.
Robert Bohm, the owner, welcomed us heartily and set about explaining the operation of two Italian scooters, Aprilia’s Scarabeo and the luxury liner I’m scheduled to cruise upon, the Atlantic 500.
Aprilia’s origins date back to the mid-1940s when Cavaliere Alberto Beggio founded a bicycle production factory in Noale, in the province of Venice. Alberto’s son, Ivano Beggio, took over the helm in 1968. Not too interested in bicycles, he and a dozen collaborators constructed the company’s first 50cc motorcycle.
That product was successful, so they created a few more and christened these mopeds the Colibri, Daniela, and Packi.
But Beggio’s big goal was to build real bikes and the first step in that process proved to be the Scarabeo in 50 and 125cc. In 1974, Ivano Beggio became the Chairman of Aprilia, and from then on, the company’s fortunes improved at incredible speed with the production of motocross and street bikes, and the start of their competition in the Italian national championship.
Some of Aprilia’s milestones: 1977 – 125cc and 250cc Italian Champion; 1985 – Loris Reggiani starts in the World Championship GP 250; 1987 – first place for Loris Reggiani at the San Remo GP in Misano; 1992 – Aprilia rider Alessandro Gramigni wins the World Championship 125cc GP, and in the same year Tommy Ahvala wins the World Trails Championship.
Since 1985, the Austrian company Rotax has supplied Aprilia with one of the finest engines in the world. Five years on, in 1990, Ivano Beggio exhibited his two-wheel expertise again. Recognizing that the scooter lifestyle was reborn, he jumped on that bandwagon and presented the first all-plastic scooter, the Amico.
In only 14 years Aprilia had become a serious and significant player in the scooter industry. Outstanding design and innovative engineering like the Ditech (Direct Injection Technology) made them a trendsetter, too.
That’s pretty good, I think, when I see that we’re going 75 mph on the speedo. The throttle isn’t even fully open yet. In the rolling hills along the Missouri River, the Atlantic persuades me that her focus is touring. The sitting position behind the serviceable windshield is comfortable, and the steeped seat (77mm height) for the rider is low enough for shorter legs.
Underneath the seat there’s a huge 47-liter storage space roomy enough for two full-sized helmets. The glove compartment is big enough to stow wallet, cell phone, and all the other little things you need on tour. It also contains a cell phone socket for rapid recharging. At the base of the handlebars I discovered another useful compartment.
Aprilia put a lid there that is perfectly designed to hold coins, sunglasses, or motorway toll tickets.
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For the complete article of the riding impression(s) and technical specifications, please purchase the September/October 2004 back issue.
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