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Gas tank leak in Aprilia RSV Mille…

I’m posting this for my friend Oleg who unfortunately has to deal with a nasty issue of a leak in his gas tank. Worse still, Aprilia USA refuses to acknowledge his complaint and take responsibility for it, even though it is a known issue. Personally I wouldn’t be too crazy about shelling out something to the tune of $1000 for a new tank just because the manufacturer decided to go with a shoddily constructed part.

“From the very first time I rode an Aprilia V2 I was in love. Soon after I purchased a 2002 RSV Mille that was sitting at the local dealer, bike came with 2 year warranty and 96 miles on odometer. Since 2005 RSV had two mechanical issues; faulty starter relay, and leaking gas tank. Relay was replaced under warranty by the local Aprilia dealer, gas tank is another story.

Apartment manager called me at 8pm to tell me there was a strong smell of petrol in the underground garage and my bike was leaking fuel. Upon further investigation I found that it was leaking pretty badly, and had to park it on the street overnight since it was already pretty late to troubleshoot. I time off work and pulled the bike apart the next day, turned out that plastic tank had warped around the fuel pump mounting area and wasn’t holding fuel. Fuel pump mounts to a flat surface using metal nuts embedded in polymer gas tank. When I pulled the fuel pump off I discovered that flat surface wasn’t flat any more, it had arched between bolt holes so rubber gasket could not make good contact.

A quick call to the local Aprilia dealer revealed this as a known issue. They said it was due to US fuel containing ethanol which tank isn’t designer for. Ethanol makes plastic soft and it deforms. Dealer suggested shaving off material to make the surface flat again, however it could only be done one time. Tank would leak again and I would need to get a new one, which in case of Italian bike will not be cheap or speedy.

I left a number of messages and emails with Aprilia USA; they requested VIN number and in an email informed me that someone will get back to me “in the near future” which is rather vague. I also filled a case with NHTSA since I consider fuel leak a safety problem. Fuel pump sits right over the rear cylinder and could potentially cause Colin Edwards / Aprilia CUBE incident. Last thing I want is to jump off at freeway speed.

A few quick facts. Bike in question is a US market Aprilia RSV Mille #255 made in 2002. Gas tank is made by Acerbis for Aprilia in Italy. Searching AF1 Racing sponsored online forum I found that my case isn’t isolated and that this is a pretty common failure for plastic tank Aprilias.

NHTSA case number is 10329969. http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/complaints/results.cfm?odi_ids=10329969&SearchType=QuickSearch&summary=true.

It also looks like Aprilia USA isn’t doing a whole lot to ether post a recall or come up with a fix for this problem. I know that for most of these cases warranty is out but should a gas tank fail this way after 5 years of normal use?