Bik­ers go Ital­ian

Pop­u­lar Aprilia is ris­ing above the pack, writes Mark Hinch­liffe

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Bikes -

AUS­TRALIAN rid­ers seem to have a taste for Ital­ian ma­chin­ery. Though the to­tal road mo­tor­cy­cle mar­ket is down 11.2 per cent to the end of Oc­to­ber, sales of Ital­ian-made Aprilia road bikes are up a whop­ping 25 per cent.

And while the na­tional scooter mar­ket is down 2.1 per cent, Aprilia scooter sales are up 7.6 per cent.

Kris Matich, na­tional man­ager of Aprilia and Moto Guzzi im­porter John Sam­ple Au­to­mo­tive, ex­pects Aprilia road bikes sales to ‘‘fall back a lit­tle over the next few months due to stock is­sues re­lat­ing to some mod­els be­ing phased out and the tim­ing of new mod­els next year’’.

‘‘But over­all Aprilia road bike sales will con­tinue in pos­i­tive ter­ri­tory for 2010, which is pleas­ing con­sid­er­ing that Aprilia was one of only three brands that re­ported 2009 sales up on 2008,’’ he says.

The other two brands were Tri­umph (0.8 per cent) and Moto Guzzi (5.7 per cent).

‘‘While over­all the mar­ket is down and in par­tic­u­lar the pre­mium-priced and high­per­for­mance seg­ments are well down, the only rea­son the to­tal road mar­ket is not down more is the strong re­sult of the LAMS ( Learner Ap­proved Mo­tor­cy­cle Sys­tem) mod­els across many man­u­fac­tur­ers,’’ Matich says.

‘‘Un­for­tu­nately, apart from our RS125cc sports­bike, Aprilia and Moto Guzzi do not have LAMS suit­able bikes avail­able, which means that our over­all sales per­for­mance is even stronger.

‘‘For ex­am­ple, the su­pers­port seg­ment is down more than 30 per cent so we can only be pleased with the re­sults we are achiev­ing in these mar­ket con­di­tions.’’

New Aprilia mod­els next year are the 97kW Dorsoduro 1200, ar­riv­ing in Fe­bru­ary at $17,990, fol­lowed in June by the V4 Tuono and RSV4. Prices are to be con­firmed.

The Tuono and RSV4 will come with Aprilia Per­for­mance Rider Con­trol (A-PRC) sim­i­lar to Du­cati and BMW man­age­ment sys­tems. It in­cludes con­trols for launch, trac­tion, wheelie, brakes and throt­tle.

Though Moto Guzzi sales are down 11.4 per cent in line with the mar­ket, Matich be­lieves new mod­els will help lift the mar­que.

Key among Guzzi’s 2011 prod­uct range is the third vari­ant on the 750cc V7 range. The Ital­ian shaft­drive com­pany has added a mod­i­fied limited-edi­tion Racer to its Clas­sic and Cafe mod­els.

The Racer will ar­rive in March at $16,500 plus on-road costs, fea­tur­ing ‘‘retro mods’’ such as a chrome tank, race num­bers, red frame and fork gaters. Matich says the num­ber 7 refers to the V7 Sport race bike of the ’ 70s, not to Barry Sheene’s famed num­ber.

‘‘But own­ers could eas­ily put the Euro­pean stroke through the ‘7’ to pay Barry trib­ute,’’ he says.

In its 90th year, Moto Guzzi will also add the gran turismo Norge GT 8V ABS in Fe­bru­ary at $23,990.

Also, the Stelvio ad­ven­ture bike will fi­nally get the large tank it re­quires for trans-con­ti­nen­tal tour­ing, ex­pand­ing from 18 litres to a healthy 32.

Here in March: Moto Guzzi’s V7 Racer.

Retro: Aprilia’s Dorsoduro 1200.

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