At the end of 2001 the old Class 500, the highest expression of motorcycle racing, was retired to make way for the new MotoGP. This category guaranteed margins for the development of less restrictive vehicles, so Aprilia registered with a vehicle derived from the previous RSW-2 500.
Called RS Cube, it was conceived with the purpose of drastically increasing the power of the engine, an element that had represented a defect on the model used in 2000.
Designed by Luigi dell'Igna, it was equipped with a 4-stroke in-line four-cylinder: the choice of a 3-cylinder derived from the advantages granted to engines with less fractionation and progressive regulatory weight, making it unique among the motorcycles deployed in 2002.
This solution, together with the experience already gained with the previous RSW-2 500 and with the two-cylinder RSV Mille, respectively in the World Championship and in Superbike, led the racing department of Noale to make a motorcycle very compact and lightweight, very similar to those of an old 500.
Taking advantage of advanced electronics and components derived from Formula 1, the RS Cube was able to release the power of 240 hp, becoming the most powerful racing bike in the first season of MotoGP.
After its first time on a circuit on 24 January 2002 at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit, and then long tested by the tester Marcellino Lucchi, the RS Cube made its debut in the 2002 MotoGP driven by the French Régis Laconi. Laconi at the time was part of the annual Apriala apprenticeship and development, which had no particular care of rankings.
The absolute debut in Japan got an eighth place that would have remained the best result of the season. This result was later equaled at Mugello, but in subsequent races the Italian bike immediately showed its many flaws: despite the great power emitted by his three-cylinder and the sophisticated electronic, the RS Cube was afflicted by serious cycling problems that made it a hyper-reactive bike, difficult to tame at the front end and to keep to the rope in the corners, severely limiting its driveability.
This resulted in many races concluded in the last places or even retired, with the same Laconi decimated by numerous pains in the legs because of the difficult driving style to be adopted.
These defects induced the Noale company to make an updated variant for the 2003 season.
Aprilia RS Cube test
Thanks to Valentina Zanola for the cooperation