If you’re into your performance exhausts, you’ll know the name: Igor Akrapovic formed Skorpion exhausts in 1990 and they soon became the biggest name in performance exhausts.
Following a name clash between themselves and a car exhaust manufacturer, Skorpion became Akrapovic in 1997. Based in Slovenia – a part of the former Yugoslavia – they’ve helped power some of the top race teams around the globe and sold hundreds of thousands of road systems for our favourite modern classics.
Igor started out making injection-moulded plastic goods in his dad’s factory:
“It’s true! But in my spare time I worked on engines and tuned them in between racing a little myself from 1977. I realised that the main thing that was missing were high-performance exhaust systems made to a very high quality. We built an exhaust, allowed a German superbike team to test it and they found it was better than the factory system. The first exhausts were built in 1990, we later had around six staff: we built 2500 in 1994, 5000 in 1995 and – in 1999 – my proudest moment when our exhausts were used by every single one of the Japanese factory teams in World Superbike. By the mid-2000s we were building 40,000 exhausts a year, making us one of Slovenia’s big success stories, getting through up to 100 tons of titanium a year! Today we employ around 450 people.”
Racing drove the firm forward:
“We started in the German national class – Pro Superbike – then the World Superbike class and our superbike activity grew. In MotoGP we worked with the Kawasaki factory team and sometimes other manufacturers – but not officially. (Rumour has it Rossi’s 2003 MotoGP Honda ran an Akra badged as something else…)
Popular products in the ‘modern classic’ area include:
“Ones for the most popular machines, such as the Yamaha YZF-R1 or Suzuki GSX-R1000: the exhausts with the most variations over the years must be for the Kawasaki ZX-7RR and Honda’s SP-1 and SP-2 race machine. We all know that the Kawasaki was racing for so long it changed many times, while we had to match the exhaust to Honda’s changes to their WSB twin. These two machines had many different variations and our changes we like to think helped them win the 2002 title.”
“The under-seat exhaust had more to do with aesthetic design, than performance. For us, the ‘standard’ position of a can was either on the left or the right was always best for performance and our logo could easily be seen! With under-seat exhausts you also had weight high-up and on the rear of the bike, which is also not good.”
From the late 1990s into the 2000s the biggest changes were:
“Noise and emissions regulations: they were and are the biggest challenges we face in our business. We have motorcycles from different manufacturers and different regulations covering the World, so sometimes it was difficult to make exhausts that can be approved for road use.”
Akrapovic is best because:
“Over the years we’ve re-invested all the money into new technical equipment, into development and into new machinery for the factory. We also offer our customers the same product that our race teams use: that’s our philosophy. All the staff is also 100% dedicated: everybody has to be committed to the product. Not just the engineers, or development staff, welders, production or any one section. It’s ALL the staff. Everybody has to do a perfect job and this commitment is very important to us. This is why historically we pay so much more than the average Slovenian wage.”
It’s not just bikes:
“We have had to diversify over the years: we’ve made motocross exhausts, all-terrain vehicle exhausts and we’ve also worked in Formula 1 and had small projects, which have been interesting. Over the years we’ve worked with partners such as Porsche, BMW, Audi as well as motorcycle manufacturers and joined forces with many different alloy suppliers to develop new systems. We always wanted to develop new products and use the latest materials and be the very best.”
The name is pronounced: