Aprilia 6.5 Motò

27 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Aprilia 6.5 Motò

Aprilia 6.5 Motò

This is one of those odd motorcycles than provokes strong reactions not only in the world of motorcycling, but also among the general public.  When launched it was aimed at bikers and non-bikers alike and definitely polarised opinion – love it or loathe it.  The large quantity of column inches it received ensured that more than the specialized motorcycling columnists knew about the bike.

So what’s the deal with the Moto 6.5.  If you know anything about this bike then you’ll probably know that it was designed by Philippe Starck.  Some hold this against the bike, others say that it adds to the styling of the machine.  Built around a very reliable Rotax 650cc engine also found in BMW 650 GS and Aprilia 650 Pegaso, the engine is capable of beating out a top speed of 160 kilometres an hour.

  First introduced to the public in 1994, the reception for the bike was mixed.  Many doubted Starck’s credentials.  Best known at the time for his unusual product design style, he also worked in interior design, styling the private apartment of François Mitterrand.

  Unwittingly you may be aware of some of his more famous household items – no matter how sheltered a life you’ve lead, I’ll guarantee you you’ve seen Juicy Salif, his sleek and popular lemon/orange juicer, now almost a cult item.  My flabber was completely gasted recently when a very non design conscious friend of mine not only recognised what the item was, but also knew who had designed it.  I suspect he may have be informed by an alternative source.

  So would the cross over from kitchen product designer to motorcycle designer work for Mr. Starck? Would he succeed where others had failed?

Italian car designer Giorgio Giugiaro of ItalDesign, the man responsible for the Lotus Esprit, VW Golf Mk1, Fiat Panda, Lancia Delta and Seat Ibiza, and who in his career also designed cameras for Nikon, took tentative steps into motorcycle design in 1973 with Ducati giving us the 860GT.  Giugiaro design had squared off styling which proved unpopular.

The 860 become the 900 Super Sport, Darmah and eventually the Mike Hailwood replica, built to honour Hailwood’s comeback victory at the Isle of Man in 1978. The square-case Ducati engine eventually lasted more than a decade, sustaining the company through a downturn in the early 1980’s.  In 1977 Giugiaro also created an innovative new logo, launching Ducati forward into the world of design.

This signature logo appeared on racing bikes in the 70’s and 80’s and is still used today on their clothing range.

More recently Giancarlo Morbidelli, a successful producer of woodworking machinery and committed bike enthusiast, produced what he believed to be the ultimate V8 road bike.  In 1994 the prototype was unveiled, but Pininfarina styled bodywork failed to impart the motorcycles sophistication.  The hefty $60,000 price tag didn’t help sales either.

Prior to getting involved on the 6.5 Motò, Starck tentatively dipped his toe into the world of two wheeled design working on the Aprilia Lama Prototype scooter in 1994.  There are two in existence today, one in the hands of Aprilia’s Alberto Cappella, the other Lama is at the Noale factory.  It’s design seems simple and appeals to me, but never having seen one in the flesh and not being mass produced, it‘s difficult to comment further.

  It’s reception at the time wasn’t entirely positive.

In October of 1997, Philippe Starck received the GSD’s first Harvard Excellence in Design Award and presented his work in an informal talk. The following is the editors’ adaptation of that talk, an adaptation that retains much of the original’s flavour.

The Scooter Lama [1992] is the prototype of a motor scooter. When a company called me to design a scooter, I was happy because I drive only motorcycles – I have thirty-two. For me it was a dream. But I saw immediately a problem because in Europe, scooters are mainly used by teenagers to go to school. The problem is that some stupid designer designed them like weapons: black like the moped of Batman, and that was especially stupid because at the time there was war in Yugoslavia.

I said, Why design weapons when a moped is just a very convenient, practical, nice object? And I was sad when I saw that the guy who is lucky enough to have a moped was just saying, Look, I have a bigger dick than yours. That’s why I made my scooter a sex object. To exist the object must have sexuality, or you don’t have relations with it. The problem is that today, 100 percent of objects with engines have male sexuality; more than that, they are ridiculously, stupidly macho.

Perhaps the macho look can be interesting if you want to fight dinosaurs. But now to survive, you need intelligence, not power and aggression. Modern intelligence means intuition – it’s female. Products like this must follow the female intelligence. I’ve tried to work on that.

This scooter doesn’t looks like a female, but it doesn’t look like a dick either. It’s just a simple animal with a soft skin and ears that are red because the winter is cold.

Riding this bike tends to get you noticed.  The model I’ve been given a go of is canary yellow.  This motorcycle is more commonly seen in orange and grey or matt and gloss black.  Pootling along the N something or other, I see drivers in their cars cast a look in my direction as I overtake, and then glance again, trying to figure out exactly what the make is.

  The Rotax engine sits housed within a futuristic and minimal frame, a single cylinder 4 stroke, brisk reliable and fault free.  A 5 speed gear box and single front and rear brakes hold the machine in check.  A sweeping 810mm seat for the rider continues it’s arc over the rear of the bike.

  The pillion saddle is incorporated in this sweep and perhaps isn’t the most suitable for actually carrying passengers.   This non aggressive roadster is water cooled and has a 5 valve engine produces a maximum of 45bhp.

The chassis is based around a steel frame, it’s curve sympathetic to that of the tank and saddle of the bike.  The exhaust system, sweeps smoothly underneath, the ovoid shape adhering strictly to Starck‘s vision.  The front display consists of three circles of decreasing size, speedometer, temperature gauge, with the showing indicators, lights, neutral and oil.  No rev counter.

Aprilia Moto 6.5

  Some accessories were available at the time of production, and this test ride model has a small circular clock mounted on the handlebars. The designers obvious empathises on style did result in a few practical drawbacks.  The sharp curve as previously mentioned on the pillion saddle is one.

  The fuel tank is also deceptively small, giving a range of less that 160 kilometres.  About 1.5 gallons of fuel are left in the tank and the only way to make use of this reserve is to wheelie up the road!

Another extract from the same talk as listed above, here’s the designers own view of the Motò:

The Moto Aprilia 6 [1995] is a motorcycle, definitely more male, but a lot less so than the terrible products on the market. The real problem is not sex for the motorcycle, but marketing. The marketing sells to a fake person – Buy a Harley-Davidson, and you will be a biker.

Buy a Paris-Dakar and you will be Thierry Sabine of Paris-Dakar. And it’s terrible to buy a personality. It’s especially terrible with a motorcycle, because a motorcycle is so intelligent, so minimalist – wheels, tank, engine, seat, basta.

My design is just to say, With this, you are yourself, not a fake Hell’s Angel.

Whether you like it or loathe it, the Motò 6.5 stands out in a crowd.  On a recent visit to San Francisco I seized upon the opportunity to visit the Moma there.  Halfway through my visit I was amazed to see a black Motò 6.5 perched upon a display, a permanent fixture apparently!

  The motorcycle was never released in the US, and it seems to have secured it’s place in the design hall of fame there.  While many motorcyclists here wouldn’t see themselves on one, it’s definitely gaining a cult following and is indeed likely to become a classic.

Apart from this yellow model, I have seen one other black Motò 6.5 lurking in the forgotten mess of jumble in a Dublin motorcycle dealer who specialises in bringing containers of bikes back from mainland Europe.  And if you are interested in buying one, it seems that the best choice is available in Italy and France.  There is a forum on Philippe Starck’s website, http://www.philippe-starck.com/ where people buy and sell them, but the prices maybe a little inflated.

  Internet searches will reveal others scattered about mainland Europe.  New in 1995 they retailed at €5,600 comparing with a Cagiva 600 River at €4,955 and a BMW F650 at €5,895.  Now, in excellent condition you could expect to pay around €3,000, while a slightly shabbier one coming in around €1,000, depending on age of course.

More recently Starck has been working with French manufacturer Voxan on the Voxan Starck Cafe Racer Super Naked.  Opinion seems as split over this new café races as it was over the Moto.  Originally aimed for production sometime this year, we may have to wait a little longer to see if Starck can trump the Moto 6.5, and it the endless battle of style over function will continue.

Last modified on Wednesday, 02 May 2012 04:41

Aprilia Moto 6.5
Aprilia Moto 6.5
Aprilia Moto 6.5


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