Akrapovic Exhausts; from a dream to reality...
Akrapovic Exhausts started in 1990, based on the experience gained in the field of motorcycle tuning by Igor Akrapovic. His expertise comes from his own personal experiences as a motorcycle racer. He capped a successful ten-year career with numerous championship titles in the F1 and SBK classes on both the national and international levels.
In the search for improvement in tuning racing motorcycles, he was confronted with a major problem. at the times, there were simply were no high-quality exhaust systems available to the public which could meet the extreme demands of the performance bikes. The systems which were available were for the most part poorly made, with the main parts usually welded together, and usually with excessively thick pipe walls. It was considered a triumph if the exhaust system at least came close to fitting the bike for which it was designed!. Technically superior exhaust systems were incredibly expensive and difficult for the average biker to obtain. For Akrapovic, the solution was simple- build your own! He decided to go into the field of manufacturing Akrapovic exhaust systems himself.
His innovative ideas began to take shape; along the way, he established new concepts in exhaust system construction: new configurations, new tube diameters and materials. He began to expand the use of crossover tubes and conical headers. High-quality stainless steel completely replaced the ordinary thick-walled steel tubing, and exotic titanium and carbon-fiber also made their appearance. The first, and by modern standards quite simple pipe bending tool was soon replaced by a large modern pipe bending machine with optional computer control.
The 450 m2 Akrapovic workshop quickly became too small to contain the growing needs of the company, which was experiencing a meteoric rise. Exceptionally high standards and investment in development led to excellent results. The development and testing department was able to obtain its own dyno bench very early on.
Positive feedback from the racetracks was coming through which backed up the measurements that the production guys were making on the exhaust systems. At the beginning Akrapovic Exhausts produced totally custom exhaust systems for private racing teams. Even then, in 1990, they were exceptional examples in their class, standing out from other exhaust systems. This got the attention of most of the teams competing on the Pro Superbike circuit. This was at the time a very high ranking class, just below the Superbike World Championship.
In 1993 Kawasaki in Germany were finally persuaded to test out the Akrapovic motorcycle exhaust systems. After testing a model which had not been developed for the test bike, but assisted by the know how of Akrapovic, it was clear that the Akrapovic exhaust system was better than the factory system.
This was a huge breakthrough and the beginning of major cooperation with numerous teams in the Pro Superbike championship (KAWASAKI, YAMAHA, SUZUKI, DUCATI, HONDA), which resulted in the Akrapovic name being associated with a string of wins and championship titles in the ensuing years.
In 1997 Akrapovic exhausts began to use titanium extensively. The company purchased a unique titanium forming machine, still the only one of its type in the world, in order to produce titanium tubing in the Akrapovic factory. This allowed exceptional freedom in constructing tubes, precise quality control over welding and independence from unreliable suppliers with variable quality.
The result is that Akrapovic have managed to make titanium exhaust systems available to everybody, not just the elite race teams. the production plant at Akrapovic is constantly upgraded and invested the largest amount of funds into modernizing our machines and educating our workforce.
Computers are heavily used in the 3-D planning of configurations, programming of tools, computer-aided manufacture, and as an indispensable accessory in the testing department for the analysis and setting of all possible parameters.
After successes in Pro Superbike, the Superbike World Championship was not far away. The Kawasaki factory team enthusiastically followed the results achieved by the German Kawasaki team in the Pro Superbike series. After thorough testing, they became the first factory team on the World Superbike circuit to use Akrapovic exhaust systems. Based on the excellent results, other teams were to follow: first Yamaha, a year later Suzuki and finally Honda.
In the 1999 season every single Japanese team in the Superbike World Championship used AKRAPOVIC exhaust systems. as their reputation spread, interest in the motorcycle exhaust systems also arose in the 600 Supersport World Championship.
Huge growth and demand for fast and major developments were at first difficult to accommodate. One of the answers was to move to a bigger workshop, 6 times bigger in fact! At that time the company was still being marketed under the Skorpion brand name, and the majority of its exhaust systems were distributed through a central warehouse in Germany.
In moving to the new factory, The decision was taken to change the brand name, partly to overcome trademark restrictions. The logical answer was to use the name of the founder of the company, Igor Akrapovic. The unique brand name, which characterizes the product, was well-received among the public.The Akrapovic trademark experienced a huge surge onto world markets. Akrapovic exhaust systems are starting to be used by everyone who understands the importance of using top-quality components in extreme race conditions. The entry into the SBK World Championship was followed by victories in important national championships: the American AMA Superbike and the Japanese All Japan Superbike Championship.
In the year 2000 Akrapovic exhaust systems were also used by the Aprilia factory team. Their quick entry into the most prestigious class in four-stroke motorcycle racing proved to be another great move.
The first victory for Akrapovic exhausts in an individual SBK race was won in 1997 by Japanese Akira Yanagawa on a Kawasaki. The first SBK world championship title was taken in 2000 by Colin Edwards on his Castrol Honda SP-01, and in the same year Akrapovic became champions in the 600 SS class with Yamaha and Joerg Teuchert. The racing successes have increased in number and prestige as the years have passed.
The MotoGP deserves a special mention: The 2002 season was a breakthrough year for the top class of motorcycle racing. The introduction and dominance of the four-strokes called for a change in approach to the development and design of racing components. The changes also had a beneficial effect at Akrapovic, since they produce exhaust systems exclusively for four-stroke machines.
The wealth of experience and knowledge was a great advantage which Akrapovic put to good use in the newly reformed MotoGP class, and they entered the MotoGP project as the official supplier of exhaust systems to the Aprilia and Kawasaki teams. The Akrapovic workshop, which started with just six employees, has achieved major success, managing to propel itself to the very top of motorcycle exhaust systems manufacturing through the application of its own knowledge and capabilities.
Today in a production area area of over 7000 m2 Akrapovic Motorcycle Exhausts employ over 170 highly qualified and motivated people from various backgrounds. Their customers simply do not accept mistakes – the most demanding racing teams and riders from around the world.
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Copyright Motorcycle parts accessories and more, Michael Holmes 2004