I used to be a motorcycle racer, I used to be cool. I was never any good at it, it was an excuse to do something cool. It was never about winning, it was about going back to work on Monday morning and listening to people talking about watching football or going to Ikea and smiling to myself and telling them ‘I raced a motorbike up a mountain.’

I started on a KTM 640 supermotard, it was fun, but it was heavy. After a year on that I discovered the relationship that would change my life. In 2008 Aprilia updated their SXV550 supermotard, they fixed the reliability issues (they didn’t really), gave it selectable engine maps, changed the suspension and updated how it looked. I fell in love, it looked like everything I wanted a focused race-ready supermotard I could also ride on the road. I needed to have it.

I picked it up three months before the racing season started and it fried my brain. At this point in time I’d already graduated from the learner-friendly bikes I’d also owned (Ducati Monster 620, Honda Hornet 600) to some bigger stuff (Ducati 998, Kawasaki ZXR750, Triumph Trident and Speed Triple), but the Aprilia turned them all into overweight, lumbering dinosaurs.

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The focus, the savagery, the biblical discomfort. This wasn’t a road bike which could turn its hand to racing; Aprilia had thrown some lights and a license plate bracket at a psychopath. I was smitten. After a few weeks it became clear that this wasn’t a bike for road riding, it was just too much. A fact which was reinforced when I rammed it into a ditch after barely 500kms. Good thing supermotos crash well! I set it up with better brakes, shorter gearing and a slipper clutch and went on my merry way.

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The next two seasons of racing passed in a blur of involuntary wheelies, fright and occasionally wondering if the bike I had spent good money on was going to kill me.

I even managed to get out on a track!

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It was a devastatingly rapid weapon, my risible motorcycling talent barely scratched the surface of its capabilities, but it was fun.

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Then came the last race of 2009 and during qualifying, in the immortal words of Casey Stoner, my ambition outweighed my talent, I braked far too late for a chicane and stuffed my bike into the hay bales. Moral of the story, a lot of fractured plastic and a broken scaphoid.

This injury came one week before I was supposed to start my new job and over here you don’t get hired if you’re in a cast and so I spent three months with no paycheck. When I finally got back to work I did the sums and impending financial doom meant that the Aprilia had to go. I’ve sold a good few bikes in my time, but I’ve never known sadness like the day I had to say goodbye to the SXV. Yes it hurt me, yes it was useless as a road bike, but I didn’t care, it was MY race bike and it was gone. It appeared on the second hand market again in 2011 but it was already sold by the time I got in touch.

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Fast forward a few years and a random conversation with my local Aprilia dealer on the next service for the Tuono turns to the subject of the SXV. Turns out that he’s got a couple of ex-factory supported Van Den Bosch Replica racers, ridden by Christian Iddon and Luca Minutilli in the 2008 World Championship and then used in subsequent Italian and European outings that he wants to run about in his parking area before they get mothballed in his collection. He can’t race them anymore because they aren’t as competitive as the later MXV-derived ones. He remembers selling me mine and wonders if I would I like a go before he mothballs them? Of course I would!

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Fast forward again a couple of weeks and here I am, having endured the humiliation of riding around in my full leather gimp suit on the road I finally find myself in front of a psychotic-sounding Aprilia being warmed up by a mechanic. This one has the slightly longer frame, preferred by Iddon and ridden by his good self for the second half of the 2008 season and by Luca Minutilli in various other outings until the tail end of 2014, the left fork still carries a scrutineering sticker from November 2014. It’s scratched, the plastics are scuffed, the engine cases carry their outings with pride. This isn’t restored, it’s a proper, used, race bike. After a couple of minutes, he hands it over to me and away I go.

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My old one was mental, but this is a whole new type of insanity. It’s eerily familiar, but everything has an extra layer of amazingness. It’s as if you’ve left your house in the morning and come back and all of your Ikea furniture has been replaced with bespoke, hand-crafted Scandinavian house porn. It sort of looks the same, but everything is different. I rode here on a 150+bhp V4 supernaked, but it feels tame, sanitized by comparison. This thing wheelies EVERYWHERE, all the fucking time. I’m not sure if I should laugh or shit myself. The power is amazing, people accused this engine of being peakier than a single, but it just up and pisses off from literally no revs. After a couple of laps of the parking area I’m starting to figure out how things work, I’m starting to trust the slipper clutch and backing it in to corners, reveling in what appears to be anti-aircraft fire coming from the exhaust.

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All too soon the mechanic calls me back in. While the bike sits cooling I take in the details, the shorter swingarm, the massive water pump, the titanium exhaust, the infinitely adjustable subframe, the carbon tank. All of these trinkets are entirely wasted on me, but fuck me if they aren’t gorgeous. I try to move one of the cables to get a better look at the frame and I realise that my hand is shaking. These past five minutes have easily been some of the most intense ever since I started riding the best part of 21 years ago. It’s not a race-winning MotoGP bike, but I’ve had my time with a small piece of racing history. I don’t want it to end. I don’t want to give it back. It’s just too special, too much like the bike of my dreams.

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So I bought it…

Now what do I do with it? I can’t ride it on the road, I don’t have time to race it because I now race a Mini. Isn’t it a bit of a waste? I don’t care, it’s mine. It’s my piece of history, it’s my portal to memories of being a motorcycle racer.