In the early 90’s the Italian motorcycle manufacturer Aprilia from Noale in the province of Venice was surfing the wave of success, churning out innovative scooters for a booming market. It was then that “il patron” Ivano Beggio, whose dream was to create an eternal design icon of his own like the Vespa or the Fiat 500, commissioned the French star architect Philippe Starck, to create a new motorcycle.

Aprilia Motò 6.5 by Philip Starck

First time for the two wheels

For the biker Starck it was his first project in the world of two wheels. “Compromises were considered blasphemies”, Beggio wrote in his autobiography, and the engineers went mad before the almost impossible task of developing an extremely compact motorcycle with organic, round shapes.

Aprilia Motò 6.5 by Philip Starck

Innovative exhaust system

The rideability of the Aprilia Motò 6.5 was a victim of this because of the unfavourable position of the centre of gravity, due mainly to the innovative, bowl-shaped exhaust system under the engine. The poor grip of the rear wheel during acceleration and the oscillations at higher speeds were partially improved by fitting tyres with a soft rubber-compound taken from racing-tyres and by making last-minute changes to the chassis geometry shortly after production got underway.

Aprilia Motò 6.5 by Philip Starck

An icon all over the world

Even the head of testing refused to collaborate and Beggio remained the only person convinced of the soundness of the project that was an economic flop for Aprilia: after its presentation in 1995 production went on for 2 years and was stopped after approximately 6,200 motorcycles had been built. Today the Motò 6.5 is a design icon with loyal brand clubs all over the world.

Aprilia Motò 6.5 by Philip Starck

Creativeness must improve the life

Philippe Starck, (born in 1949) and designer of multifaceted inventiveness, always focuses on the essential. His vision: new objects, in whatever form, must improve the lives of as many people as possible. With over 10,000 creations, ranging from everyday products to architecture, ships and space technology, Starck is today considered one of the world’s most visionary and renowned creatives.

Aprilia Motò 6.5 by Philip Starck

Mr. Starck, how did your collaboration with Aprilia start and how did the project evolve?

I come from a generation that grew up with very simple bikes and cars. Velosolex and Motobecane were extraordinarily simple and innovative concepts like the Italian 125 cc-bikes I rode afterwards: Italjet, Malaguti, MV Agusta. They were reflections of minimalist thought and intelligence.

When Ivano Beggio asked me to design the Motò, it was the marketing people that ranked the motorcycles of the future: Dakar motorcycles and bikes for fake Hell’s Angels, fake racing bikes…

I wanted to get rid of all the junk and gimmickry that marketing was devising and create a pure motorcycle that lived on its own truth: 2 wheels, engine, tank and seat.

That’s how we did it and thanks to Aprilia’s excellent engineers, it turned out well. I was complimented by real bikers for the execution of the project but my criticism and my opinion of the new fashions and the marketing were not really appreciated at the time.

(Full article in A&D no. 243)