Do you remember the Italjet Dragster? That funky 2-stroke moto-scooter that, a decade ago, made bike journalists brought up on a diet of Yamaha RXs and Bullets go mental? I remember showing the story to my dad and telling him to start saving; even now the editor can vividly recall its riotous performance (when not shedding parts) and even more insane styling. Of course it was never launched in India. Kinetic did try, did send out bikes for road tests, but even with the best will in the world, they knew a race-inspired scooter would never work in India. Instead they focussed on the much larger Blaze, another Italjet scooter they’d bought the moulds for, and stuck in their own 165cc motor. That too didn’t work; there were no takers for a sporty scooter.
Times change and the options available to the biking enthusiast have gone through the proverbial roof. Manufacturers are getting out of their shell and dabbling in funky, innovative, niche products – the Honda Navi being the best example in recent times. And now a serious effort is being made to get into the sporty swing of things with the Aprilia SR 150.
Well, Aprilia had to make a sporty scooter, didn’t they? The Italian brand is synonymous with racing and, praise be to the lord, they’ve stuck to their roots with their first India-specific scooter. Well they do sell the SRV 850 scooter in India but it’s not like you’ve seen many of them on the road – any of them in fact. But, trust me, you will see a lot of SR 150s on our streets in the future.
The SR 150 is a minimalist moto-scooter and a take on the MotoGP paddock scooters that the likes of Lorenzo whack from track-side photographers to scurry back to the pits after an accident. This is essentially the SR Motard 125 that is sold in Europe and makes its India debut with the Vespa’s 150cc powerplant and a modified variator case to accommodate the longer wheelbase. Segment-wise, it is the first proper moto-scooter to debut here, the Dio was only a restyled Activa if you’re wondering.
The SR 150 carries an edgy and minimalist style and I like the way the rear foot pegs fold into the bodywork and the front disc reservoir sits flush in the handlebar – all very neat and clean. The stand-out element is definitely the big 14-inch wheels wrapped with Thai-spec (sticky) tyres that will be offered on the first few lots until Aprilia ties up with an Indian tyre manufacturer (possibly MRF) for local rubber. While most of the bodywork remains similar to the SR 125, India-specific changes include an increase in seat length to accommodate a pillion. The graphics are well designed keeping Aprilia’s trademark black, white and red theme while panel quality and fit/finish levels are quite good. The switchgear feels a class down on the Vespa though, or that’s just me nitpicking.
Similarities to its Vespa 150 cousin are limited to the powerplant. Unlike the scooter’s monocoque frame, the SR 150 employs a tubular underbone frame and weighs two kilos more than the Vespa. This is a surprise as it felt substantially lighter than the metal-bodied Vespa and this is probably a factor of better weight balance and the big tyres that certainly aid dynamics. The Vee Rubbers are of a softer compound and have a wide footprint, both in the front and back. This makes initial turn-in a bit heavy but the advantage is a grippy and stable front end. The suspension setup is a bit on the stiffer side but at high speeds, it offers excellent stability.
The 154.4cc air-cooled and carburetted single makes 11.4bhp and 11.5Nm of torque and that’s enough power to wind the needle all the way to its 120kmph marker on the analogue speedo. That’s pretty good performance for a 150cc scooter. There is a fair bit of vibration at idle but once on the move, it smoothens out. You have to contend with the induction roar due to the minimalistic bodywork but I think that adds to the sporty character of the bike. While we could not test it, it does feel like the fastest 150cc scooter around. The front disc-rear drum setup is excellent with lots of bite. In fact, we were told that the front 220mm disc clamped with two-pot Bybre brakes were originally a lot sharper and had to be toned down, keeping the average skill levels of Indian customers in mind.
We rode the SR 150 along B-roads bordering the Attapadi forest reserve outside Coimbatore and first impressions are of a lightweight scooter with a tall seating position. Acceleration is sprightly and makes for some entertaining speeds along these deserted winding roads. You can corner with utmost confidence thanks to the wide contact patch over the patchy tarmac. And, if things seem to get out of hand, a gentle squeeze on the front brake lever is all it takes to keep you from being splayed across the electrified fences meant to keep elephants and pesky motorists away from each other. The suspension though is stiff and the non-adjustable rear dampers could probably benefit from an adjustable gas-charged unit. It would of course push costs up but I reckon there is no harm in offering an optional bunch of Aprilia power parts.
The kicker? At Rs 65,000 (ex-Delhi) you get to own an Aprilia! Okay, it’s no superbike but by the current standards of scootering in India this is one heck of a sporty scoot and it gets a double thumbs up from me.