European manufacturers have been trying to reclaim the Indian motorcycle market from their Japanese counterparts for quite some time now. They have a significant presence in every segment up from a quarter litre. Their presence in the small-hearted scooter battlefield though has been held only by the Vespa so far. However, things are about to change. Aprilia is making a mass market debut in India with its new 150 cc scooter, the SR150. This segment has been dominated by the Japanese for quite some time now and Honda is adamant on not giving up its top spot. Is this mini Aprilia worth all the buzz around it? Do the Japanese have something to be afraid of? There is only one sure way to find out.
A look at this scooter and you know that it is something out of the ordinary. It has been born to break monotony. It is as if Aprilia is trying to say, “’nuff with the obsession of naked bikes, make way for a naked scoot!” The body is nicely sculpted and chiseled with sharp creases that accentuate the profile. The triple colour graphics make it look like an expression of contemporary art. This scooter is reminiscent of Italian art and sculpture.
Large 14 inch alloy wheels with 120 section tyres and a 220 mm front disk with dual piston calipers make this scooter’s intentions clear. The 150 cc motor borrowed from the Vespa has been re-tuned for an optimum performance. On paper this bike is impressive with peak power and torque figures of 10.5 bhp and 11.4 Nm, respectively. The rear view mirrors remind us of the Apache’s rear view mirrors, which is a good thing in my books. The twin headlights look sporty and provide sufficient illumination. The headlamps come to life directly upon starting the ignition and unlike other scooters, don’t require you to start the engine. Aprilia has also provided a passing switch. All these things are very bike-like. The SR150, it seems, is a bike that dressed like a scooter last Halloween and then forgot to change back.
Up close the SR150 is equally breath taking. The handlebar grip and switches are made of soft touch plastic and feel premium. The dash housing plastic however is a little tacky and the cost cutting is quite apparent there. The instrument console too is analog and looks yesteryear. The seat is nicely contoured and plush and comes with a dual tone of red and black. However, the driver section of the seat droops forward at a gradient which feels weird to sit on initially. The leg and knee room are not so generous and might pose a problem for taller riders like me. The seating position is also not the most comfortable out there. The under seat storage is the same size as on the Vespa and is sufficient for a small helmet. You also get an optional mobile charging unit with the SR150.
When you fire up the engine, it roars to life with a promising purr. The sound is almost identical to the 150 cc Vespa which is no surprise as both the bikes share similar engines. The performance however is upped a bit on this scooter, which can be attributed to the tweaks to the engine and the light weight. To be honest, I expected to be taken by surprise by this scooter’s acceleration, like when I first rode the KTM Duke, and I was slightly disappointed. But that’s due to my over expectations and not due to any lack on Aprilia’s part. The motor is peppy and it guns to 80 kmph unlike any scooter out there in the market. Push it more and it will not be shy to crack a ton with still enough grunt left in the motor.
With great power comes great responsibility. Aprilia took this mojo seriously and with the power they have given this little red riding devil, they has also given it the necessary braking capability. The brakes on this thing are phenomenal. The rear drum brake unit is actually below adequate and is hapless at speeds north of 30 kms, but you can’t really complain as its sole reason for existence is to supplement the massive disk brake up front. The front brake from Bybre is a gem; it exerts a pull no less than Gargantuan in Interstellar. You can keep on pushing even when the traffic in front of you has stopped and then brake just in the nick of a time and yet get away with it.
The suspension setup on the SR150, no wonder, is on the firmer side given its sporty aspirations. You can feel all the undulations filter through at lower speeds. However, the ride at higher speeds is quite settled and confidence inspiring. The tyres felt good in stop and go traffic but sadly I couldn’t get a chance to test their mettle on winding sections of road.
Upon a short visit to the service station I realized that the SR150 is actually all Vespa under the skin. The engine configuration, CVT, inlet/exhaust manifold – in fact everything beneath the seat is exactly carried over from the Vespa. This could work charms for this scooter as after sales servicing won’t be a problem – all the major parts for the Vespa are now easily available in the market and that just gives us one more reason to buy this scooter already.
Let’s talk money. I’ll spell it out blankly – the 66k tag is just a marketing gimmick by Aprilia to draw potential customers to their showrooms. This scooter will cost you approximately 74,000 INR on-road in Pune and that’s excluding the additional cost of around 4,000 INR for ‘accessories’. Objectively speaking, 78,000 bucks is a lot for a scooter, especially in a market where you can get much more powerful 150 cc bikes like the Pulsar or the Unicorn for the same money. But then again, I’d recommend you to read the previous paragraphs. And besides, you’re buying an Aprilia; A-P-R-I-L-I-A Aprilia. The brand name is worth the extra money.
Ride Courtesy: A.K Motors, Pune.