Aprilia 250 RS SP

The stopwatch never lies. As I flash across the start-finish line, flat-out in fourth gear, I press the button on the left handlebar and glance down. In a box alongside the tachometer, a digital display shows my lap-time: 2 minutes 0.48 seconds. Terrible! My previous few times have been under two minutes, but this lap I got a couple of bends all wrong and when you do that on the Aprilia RS250, the evidence is plain to see.

At least there was no team-manager frowning from the Misano pit-lane wall. This was not a factory team test session but the launch of Aprilia's long-awaited race-replica complete, like the real thing, with high-revving 250cc V-twin motor, chunky alloy frame and even a GP-style cockpit mounted lap timer. The Italian firm claims this bike is the closest you can get to a grand prix racer for the road, and in many respects it's hard to disagree.

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