The word ‘scooter’ was once a synonym for one cluttery low power thing that had two wheels and a handlebar. A device that to this day is frowned upon in the motorcycle community and blaming it for taking away the ‘biking experience’.
The only thing making it tick and stay is its ease of riding around the urban chaos and for people for whom shifting a gear is a daunting task to undertake. See the pun there? It’s there on purpose.
However, things started to change in 2016. It saw the entry of two 150cc Italian scooters which take the two-wheel game to a whole new level. They were onto mucking about the boring geared entry level motorcycles in full zest, style and a mountain full of panache.
Piaggio introduced the decade’s first 150 cc scooter with the Vespa SXL 150 and set the ball rolling. Then came a machine from the same bloodline, but with racing written all over it, the Aprilia SR 150. Both scooters share the same capacity engine and this is where the similarities end. The rest of is chalk and cheese.
Both scooters are styled extremely different where one is filled with curves and classic touches, the other is all about angles and sharp lines. This distinctive character gives both of them their identity take with one as a retro and another as a sporty figurehead.
The Vespa takes the best of fine Italian dressing and packs it in a niche retro silhouette. It became a cornucopia of sorts for people wanting a machine that could take them back in time and re-live the classic age. It manages to gracefully steal your heart with the square headlamp units in a chrome accent and leather wrapped saddle contrasting a beautiful paint job. Chrome bits also extend to the mirrors, levers and the muffler making it all the more special.
The whole design of the Vespa rounds off perfectly to form a nice, clean and smooth outlook that pleases the eye whereas the Aprilia is designed to cut through the air and just go fast. And with Aprilia’s history backing them, it was not a very difficult thing to do for them.
They have designed the bold and aggressive scooter right on the racetrack where the juggernauts of the motorsports world are. The massive 14” black wheels are the only curve you will find on the scooter. With racing is in the DNA, the Aprilia SR150 was designed for riders looking for the attitude of a sports bike and the convenience of an automatic. The racy colour palette makes the SR’s intentions pretty clear. This scooter gets a pronounced ‘beak’ on the front wheel and the aggressive handlebar design gives it a distinct look that can only be Aprilia. It also gets an art-leather seat, double-barrel headlight unit, and stylish swept back body kit that can make anyone look exquisite.
The oyster shaped speedo on the Vespa claims a retro flair whereas the SR stuck to a basic twin-dial analogue instrument cluster. Aprilia gave the SR a pass flash switch that misses on the Vespa though. And either of them lacks a rear brake lock that could have probably become handy when parked in slopes.
Being a scooter, people look at storage as a main focus point of being practical. The Vespa earns a point here possessing cubbyholes under the handlebar and a sepulchral storage under the seat. The SR, on the other hand, can store just one small puny helmet under the seat but has a USB charging port. Fancy. Both scooters, however, give a miss to remote seat opener and fuel filler taking away the slot of the ‘most practical’ cadre.
By now, you must have thought that because they carry the same capacity engine, they perform similarly. I forgive your innocence for this. Both are tuned differently to give you a different state of kick. One is tuned to give you Coffee and the other gives you Red Bull.
For the Vespa, it is all about the style, and the fact that it also moves fast is kept as a bragging right. This new scooter comes with an all new four stroke, single cylinder, 3-valve, air cooled, 150cc engine, which is capable enough to belt out 11.6 bhp of maximum power and 11.5 Nm of peak torque.
The Aprilia’s single cylinder air-cooled engine produces about 10.6 bhp of peak power at 7,000 rpm and 11.5 Nm of peak torque at 5,500 rpm. But thanks to bigger wheels and revised gear ratios, the SR is faster to the quarter-mile than the Vespa. Aprilia has managed to eliminate the elastic feel of the automatic, and it makes the scooter feel extremely quick on the move with a very taut and sporty in feel. It also makes use of lesser fuel than the Vespa under all conditions, and I fathom understand how the engineers at Aprilia managed to pull this one off. Brilliant wizardry in action actually.
The Aprilia’s exhaust note is also raunchier than the Vespa and the engine feels more refined too. This makes the Aprilia the fastest scooter in the country and easily the most exciting one to zip around.
This is a territory where both scooters have their distinctive characters set to what they were built for. Both the scooters have taller saddle height and smaller, slimmer seats which might hinder majority of scooter riders. But makes up in other sections.
Unlike other scooters on telescopic, the Vespa carries the aircraft inspired single sided front trailing link suspension and the rear single sided hydraulic coil spring of its younger sibling, the Vespa S. This, along with its smaller wheels, makes the Vespa feel plush and comfortable at urban speeds. But then, twist the throttle further, flaws in its dynamic capabilities are shown with wheels twitching about because of the squatting instead of pitching under braking and banking situations. That said, this behaves perfectly mature to do your short runs to the grocery store and office trips.
Aprilia, on the other hand, is on purpose made to have a stiffer and sturdier ride. Then there are the large wheels. All of this makes the SR attack curves more comfortably, giving it fantastic grip as well as agility, and this makes the scooter feel more at home. The sheer handling prowess of the SR makes it the best handler in the scooter segment which can even put to shame all 100 cc motorcycles and even some 125 ones. It always urges you to twist the throttle and keeps your confident levels high in all riding conditions. But, given the not-so-comfortable seats and stiffer ride, you might want to take a second opinion, if you wish to go touring on this one.
This is where the Aprilia takes away the overlord from the Vespa. The SXL 150 comes at a premium price of ₹ 91,430 (ex-showroom) while the Aprilia yours just for ₹ 67,396 (ex-showroom).
The Vespa will splurge you with a choice of colours like the Orange, Matt Black, White and Red. The Aprilia has only two options: Black/Red and White/Red.
This is quite a dangerous section. Especially if it has two products in the same segment but are made for two very different kinds of mankind.
The Vespa takes the crown in the looks category, no doubt. You sit on it and you will feel like it’s the 90s’. People will turn heads and not help but feel jealous of you. You also will feel spoilt for the comfort this scooter offers, especially on your town rides.
The Aprilia, it’s more of a ‘whoopee’ scooter. Designed to make you go supersonic, be it on a straight or a hairpin bend. It is not that comfortable, yes. But go on a track and the SR will put every other scooter to its place. Down below. Very down, on their knees. It also looks pretty hunky-dory and very Italian.
Both have their own versions of awesomeness. It is very easy to be different, but very difficult to be better. And judging one to be the better of the other is ‘almost’ like sinning.
Thank god for the word ‘almost’ because I am picking the Aprilia SR 150 as our top dog.
Let me tell you why. The Vespa is damn good, no doubt. But why should anyone pay such a premium for a scooter that has the same engine, but performs inferior? If you are looking for the way the scooter looks, go for the Vespa 125, it looks just the same, is a cool 10000 cheaper and is even more economical to run.
The Aprilia SR 150, on the other hand, is a fine conglomeration of an impeccably engineered scooter with a raunchy motor and well-balanced chassis to zipping across town faster than anybody, all rolled into a price point that is just the norm. All of this even made the Aprilia SR 150 bag the Scooter of the Year for 2016. And this is what you want to invest into for boasting and gloating about to all your folks, who if I am not wrong, still ride on boring old-fashioned 100cc.
Show them how it is actually done.