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Macchina Estrema: Simone Conti’s radical Aprilia SXV550

Aprilia SXV550 custom by Simone Conti
In the custom world, Simone Conti marches to the beat of a different drum. He’s not into retro throwbacks, old school vibes or stealthy upgrades. He builds fast, aggressive-looking machines that look like they’ve just rolled out of a NASA design center.

His new build is based around the motor from an Aprilia SXV550, and that’s a good thing. “It’s a very beautiful and small engine,” Simone tells us.

Aprilia SXV550 custom by Simone Conti
The bike was created for the first Motorcycle Arts & Designers (MOARD) exhibition, held in Milan’s historic Palazzo del Ghiaccio in May. And despite appearances, it’s not a CAD effort—Simone works on the design of a bike as he builds it.

The SXV550 was a basically a street-legal supermoto racebike, and although its 70 hp V-twin was temperamental, it also provided more thrills than just about anything else on the road.

Aprilia SXV550 custom by Simone Conti
It’s hard to describe the style of this build, which is unusually low—and short, at just 1400mm (55 inches).

“I originally wanted an ‘Italian chopper,’ says Simone, “but while was building it, I had to change the style.” He’s kept the idea of a rigid back end, though, which helps to keep the weight down to a remarkable 120 kg dry (265 pounds).

Aprilia SXV550 custom by Simone Conti
In his workshop in the small town of Sassuolo in Modena (yes, Ferrari’s home territory), Simone started the build by removing the SVX550 engine and discarding the rest of the Aprilia.

The engine is now cradled in a custom-made frame similar to Yamaha’s ‘delta box’ design, built from 1.5mm steel. (The tube section at the back is 30mm.)

Aprilia SXV550 custom by Simone Conti
Simone has crafted the bodywork out of aluminum, and created the girder-type front end. Also made from 1.5mm steel, the simple but eye-catching arrangement is damped by a high-end MTB shock from RockShox.

The suspension is concealed by shrouds that Simone machined from a solid block of steel, and hooked up to custom-made bars too. They’re home to a Koso digital instrument and Rizoma switchgear and reservoirs, which are plumbed into Brembo brakes.

Aprilia SXV550 custom by Simone Conti
The front system uses M4 four-piston monobloc radial calipers and a Marchesini forged rim from a Ducati. Simone made the rear wheel himself out of two pieces of aluminum …

The SXV550 engine is a peach, so Simone left the internals alone. He’s created a custom stainless steel exhaust system though, which coils like a snake before exiting high with two carbon mufflers under the seat unit. Every millimeter is hand-made.

Aprilia SXV550 custom by Simone Conti
The new frame required a new cooling system though, so Simone modified a pair of Ducati Streetfighter radiators, and flushed them into the lower bodywork right behind the front wheel. There’s no danger of the highly tuned Aprilia motor overheating on this particular machine.

The last SCM bike we featured was based on a Ducati SuperSport 1000 DS, and a year later, the visual lineage is clear. The Ducati was a huge hit, but this Aprilia is more compact and more extreme: a distilled version of Simone’s unusual but strangely compelling vision.

Aprilia SXV550 custom by Simone Conti
It’s the kind of build that makes us feel good about the future of the custom scene—edgy and original, yet full of traditional craftsmanship. Molto buona, Signore Conti!

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Aprilia SXV550 custom by Simone Conti