Aprilia, one of the marquees of the iconic auto-maker Piaggio, is all set to slice its way through to the 250 cc category….. or so do the rumors say in the industry.
There’s a lot of buzz going on at the moment about this development, and there’s no final word on it. But it does fit into the jigsaw puzzle, as the trend in developing markets like India, supports small, affordable and fuel-efficient sport bikes.
Let’s take a trip down the memory lane. Quite a few years back, Pulsars, Apaches and Hunks were the perfect foil for the speed-crazy riders of India. There was a demand for larger capacity bikes, but Kawasaki Ninja 250 was the only quarter-litre machine available off-the-shelf through Bajaj. Add to that, it’s 3 lakhs price tag and it was still a rare sight on the streets. Nevertheless, it was the best quarter-litre machine world over.
Then the “Big Red” strutted over with it’s Baby Ceeber (CBR 250R) with a sub-2 lakhs price tag. It had a relaxed motor that could gobble up the highway miles without breaking a sweat. That coupled with a modern “layered-fairing” and aggressive headlamps, it was the thing Indian bikers were waiting for.
They lapped it up, and suddenly the quarter-litre category was the “hot-and-happening” thing. The Baby Ceeber started making inroads into the Ninja’s territory. All the automakers sensed an opportunity, and started to plan the roll out of their baby-beasts.
So we have a “no-holds-barred” melee in the 200-250 cc category now, with the automakers going all-guns-blazing to woo customers. Bajaj-KTM rewrote rules about displacement when they brought 200 cc mills which could give the 250cc bikes a run for their money. South Korean automaker Hyosung blitzed across with their GT 250R Comet. But wait, there’s still more to come.
Yamaha is sending feelers all-over about it’s Fazer 250, and a much anticipated RC 250. Suzuki is expected to roll out its GW250, inspired from it’s “B-King”. Hyosung is also on a roll, with a planned 250 cc cruiser (GV 250) and a naked 250 cc (GT 250 N) on the cards. Moving apart from the Asian automakers, we also have Triumph planning a 250 cc street bike. KTM has done the unexpected, and gone miles ahead with a Duke 390 cc launch along with a Pulsar 375 cc bike.
Kawasaki has provided a shot-in-the-arm to it’s Ninja 250, and have rechristened it a Ninja 300. It’s in this backdrop that Aprilia’s 250 cc machine makes an interesting piece of news. Aprilia have been nine-times champion in the 250 cc category of Grand Prix. They had a 250 cc two-stroker earlier, called the RS250.
It was known as a “Corner-Kisser” and was a sure-shot winner in terms of looks when it came to comparos with Japanese bikes. But the launch of a two-stroker is highly unexpected, so probably it’s a RS4 250 that’s in the pipeline at the moment. At present, Aprilia isn’t directly engaged in sales in India. Will these bikes come to the Indian shores ? Well, I am keeping my fingers crossed.
For the performance-crazy bikers of India who are looking forward to graduate from their Pulsars and Apaches, this certainly is the moment. “Affordable Performance” is the buzzword, and these machines do exactly that….i.e. let you experience a daily thrill without breaking the bank. It’s all happening here in India at the moment, and lots of interesting events are lined up.
Stay tuned to Bikeadvice for more !!
*Aprilia RS4 in the pics is for illustrative purposes only