It was a very wet day in Pune when I got the call from Amit that we need to review an Aprilia SR150 over the weekend. Having seen the scooter plastered in posters across the city, it definitely was something I was looking forward to.
So with mixed feelings, I made my way to the Aprilia showroom in Yerwada, Pune. On hindsight, I should have waited for the wet days to fly by. Pune which started off being called as the city of bicycles is now a city with the highest density of two wheelers in country – and hence forms a major market for all two-wheeler manufacturers.
Look and feel
The first word that came to my mind when I saw it in the flesh was – “gorgeous”. The scooter looks very sexy from the front. Very Italian.Very racy.Very Vibrant.
It’s proud of its heritage with the Italian flag colors on the front cowl. The headlamps look very purposeful. The rear foot pegs fold neatly in the bodywork without being an eye sore. The stepped seat is extremely comfortable.
I had assumed that the beaky overhang on the front tyre was a bit too sharp, but it actually works very well in real life. The design of the scooter is neat and meticulous. The graphics add to the visual impact of the scooter, making it a treat to look at. The 5 spoke alloys in black look very fancy.
The under seat storage is adequate to store an open face helmet. There is also a provision to charge your phone via a conveniently located USB port. An added side effect is to deter people from talking on the phone while riding – which is very common in Pune. *Rolls eyes*
The Red on White instrument cluster looks sporty but basic. A trip meter, watch and digital odometer would have been a welcome addition. The front brake oil reservoir is neatly encompassed in the front faring. The rear indicators look straight out of a motorcycle. Having LED indicators and brakes would have been nice.
This scooter has presence. It looks like a million bucks and stands out. Since there are not many on the road yet, it does turn more than a few heads.
The ergonomics are traditional and comfortable. The handle bar is at the right height and within reach. The footboard is flat with no humps or bumps. There are two recesses in the front to tuck your legs in for taller riders. The seat height could be a small issue for riders below 5’4” who will have to tippy-toe to maintain balance.
From a pillion’s point of view, the rear seat is generous, well-padded and comfortable. This being a stepped seat, makes it a tad uncomfortable for the vertically challenged pillions while clambering on. The split grab handles are functional and have an intuitive holding position. The footrest requires one to bend down to extract them for use. A small knob or protrusion to do it by your feet would have been a thoughtful touch.
Over the week, I also got a chance to go shopping on this. The recessed hook looks and functions much better than the aftermarket jagged ones on other commuters – which tend to tear thin plastic bags.
Overall, it’s as good as (or better) the competition.
Engine & Exhaust
Thumb the starter and the smooth 10.4 HP 150cc SOHC air-cooled four stroke carbed engine thrums to life. It does not sound like any other automatic scooter since the exhaust is loud-ish and sporty. It is fast off the mark and makes any first timer go wheee. The throttle response is quite fast for a scooter and it’s quick to reach 60kmph. The engine feels stress-free till 80kmph and then seems to exert a bit. The NVH levels are under control.
It’s got a 7-liter tank and with an estimated average of 45kmph should give it a decent range of @300 km.
The mid-range is torquey for a scooter and this coupled with the exquisite handling makes it a treat to flick through the traffic. Even when two up, it can handle inclines with aplomb, without running out of steam.
A big thumbs up on this front.
Let’s get to the best part of this scooter. It handles like a dream. Don’t bother comparing it with any other gearless scooter in the market because it’s in a different league altogether.
The way it handles speed bumps and broken roads is comparable to motorcycles than with its other competitors. The ride quality is brilliant and the suspension tuned just right in the sweet spot to make it a predictable handler while still retaining the ability to go easy on your back on broken roads.
It’s the large 14” 120/70 section tyres which make a lot of difference. It makes the scooter handle so much predictable and comfortable over bad roads and good. There is no twitchiness which is seen in other daily commuter scooters. The front feels nicely weighted and stable which inspires a lot of confidence. This scooter eggs you to go faster and faster in consecutive runs.
The 220mm ventilated front disks with twin piston calipers are amazing and offer excellent and predictable stopping power. You tend to slide forward under heavy braking. The 140mm rear drum brakes, however, are nothing to write home about. It just does not have enough stopping power. Locking up the rear wheel takes a lot of effort. Having said that, using both the brakes together, the way they are supposed to be used makes for extremely predictive and confident braking.
The fat Vee rubber (120/70 14”) has a round profile and are extremely sticky. I found myself going faster and faster in spite of being on wet surface. The only time when I felt them lose traction was when I was on wet granite and the rear spun just a wee bit.
The front uses a hydraulic telescopic suspension and the rear has a traditional hydraulic shock absorber single arm suspension. Even though its hefty at 122kgs, it feels quite nimble and well balanced in motion. Its stable in straight lines and good at cornering as well.
Overall – this is where the scooter really shines and stands head and shoulders above the competition.
Who is it for?
It’s for the weekend super biker who still has to do bread and anda runs.
It’s for the college kid who wants to go fast but mom thinks bikes are dangerous.
It’s for the middle aged uncles & aunties who are still young at heart.
It’s for the wannabe’s who are looking for an Italian brand. Let’s face it. This is the cheapest Aprilia available in the market.
It’s not a scooter, it’s not a bike, but slots in somewhere in between. It’s the crossover of the two wheeler world. Maybe it could be compared to the Honda NAVI. Note to Editor: When can we do it?
For the price, there is not much in the market which can come close to this vehicle.
Trust me on this, every time I wrote scooter, I had to delete the word bike and rewrite it as a scooter. Every.Damn.Time.I kid you not.
It reminds me a lot of my daily bike and I always found myself comparing it to the Duke 390 which also has a similar character. It eggs you to go faster. And faster. It seems to be asking you – “Is that all you can do? Go on, I can take it. But can you?”
It’s that good.
If I have to nitpick – the horn button came off on Day 1. It does not seem to be a quality issue though; it was probably my fault since my jacket got entangled in the horn button. It would take a small change in the design to reduce the overhang and prevent it from snagging into things.
The double barrel headlights, looks purposeful, but the light is not enough due to less wattage. The spread is quite good. This is easily remediated by putting in higher wattage lights. (I didn’t say it)
Mirrors are not perfect – they don’t cover enough anda remote fuel release would have been nice. As said elsewhere in this article, a way to pull the footpegs out easily would have been good.
But really, I am nitpicking. There is not much which is wrong. All of the above can be easily overlooked or remediated. There is no deal breaker at all.
After sales service of this scooter is something which time will tell.
Absolutely nothing at all.
Note: Owing to incessant rains in Pune during the test phase, we weren’t able to click images of the scooter within the city, so we have used the images we clicked during our first ride.