Edwards: “That bike barbequed my nuts! Aprilia Cube 'born bad'”

Aprilia’s RS-GP may have won three MotoGPs in the hands of Aleix Espargaro but its predecessor, the RS Cube, was literally a fire breathing monster.
Colin Edwards 2003
Colin Edwards 2003

Speaking on the latest edition of the OMG! MotoGP Podcast, Colin Edwards explained how he turned down a planned factory Ducati WorldSBK deal to jump onto the RS Cube and follow his grand prix dream.

“At the end of 2002, Honda had more-or-less pulled out of WorldSBK so I had a deal signed with Ducati to basically take Bayliss’ seat, who was going to MotoGP,” said Edwards, who had just beaten the Australian to win a second WorldSBK crown.

“I had a contract signed. But then a couple of weeks went by and Aprilia called and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this whole truck load of money and a really shitty bike, but do you want to come and ride it in MotoGP?’

“So I thought, ‘I need to go to Ducati first and see if it’s even possible to get out [of the contract].’

“I flew over, had a meeting and I was like, ‘listen, this is the story, I’ll totally understand if you want me to stay here, but my dream would be to go there and see if I can build a MotoGP career.”

“And they pretty much straight up were like: ‘We want you to do what you want to do. We don’t want to get in the way of your career. We’ve got riders that can win the world championship’. And with Honda being out, it was kind of guaranteed they would win in ’03, ’04 anyway.

“So it worked out. But I still chat about it now and then with the Ducati guys, ‘one day!’”

Colin Edwards 2003
Colin Edwards 2003

Things started promisingly at Aprilia, with Edwards taking sixth place on his MotoGP debut at Suzuka.

But the wild three-cylinder ‘Cube’, which featured F1 technology from Cosworth - including pneumatic valves - to deliver perhaps the most horsepower on the grid, while relying on experimental traction control and ride-by-wire electronics (no physical connection between the twist grip and engine) to try and tame the power delivery, sometimes seemed to have a life of its own.

There were also ‘reliability’ issues. The most spectacular of which saw Edwards forced to bail off his Aprilia at 120mph after the fuel cap fell off at Sachsenring, spraying rider and machine with fuel, which then ignited.

“That thing barbequed my nuts!” smiled Edwards on the podcast. “...You know that term; it was ‘born bad!’”

“In 2003 that Aprilia Cube was the first bike with all ride-by-wire. There weren’t any [throttle] cables. And we did that for a reason, for the technology, to try and move forward.”

The RS Cube disappeared from MotoGP at the end of 2004 having never bettered the sixth by Edwards at Suzuka.

While Aprilia's current MotoGP riders suffer badly from heat issues when riding the RS-GP in hot races, they have fortunately avoided anything as extreme as the fireball seen at the Sachsenring in 2003.

Edwards and Espargaro
Edwards and Espargaro

Edwards switched to Gresini Honda for 2004 and celebrated his first MotoGP podiums, before claiming ten more rostrums during seven years with Yamaha (Factory and Tech3).

The Texan then joined Forward Racing to take on development of the new breed of CRT/Open class bikes, using the now mandatory standard ECU, then in its infancy.

The final year of his career was spent alongside Aleix Espargaro at Forward Yamaha in 2014. The Spaniard, now the oldest rider on the grid, finally broke his MotoGP victory drought last year and has now won three races as a factory Aprilia rider.

“It’s awesome! Aleix came from the CRT thing with me and they were horrible things to ride! I think he got pole at [Assen] that year. I thought, ‘how the hell is he kicking that pile of shit around so fast!’ But he managed to do it!’" Edwards said.

“To come from there, as my team-mate in 2014, [to winning races with Aprilia] - it’s well deserved. You don’t ever know when your right time will be, it could be when you’re 18 or 28 years old. Everybody’s different.

"For him to have it going on now is awesome.”


Edwards: Marquez can’t stay at Honda any longer

Quizzed by podcast host Harry Benjamin on eight-time world champion Marc Marquez’s big move from Repsol Honda to Gresini Ducati next season, Edwards replied:

“I almost want to say, ‘what took you so long?’ I mean, he’s been fighting it for a few years and getting injured and all that stuff doesn’t help. I think it’s about time and I think he’s going to jump over [to Ducati] and be fast.

“If he goes any longer on the Honda - it’s hard to say Marquez losing confidence, because the guy has so much - but he can’t stay any longer.”

Keith Huewen then quoted Marquez’s recent comments in an interview with Crash.net, in which he admitted he doesn’t have the same confidence as before after the events of the last few years.

Edwards responded: “I can totally understand that. After getting beaten up for a year or two, it definitely wears on you. It’ll be interesting. But I think he’ll be fast, and at the sharp end, no question.”

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