A few years ago inspired by MotoGP riders, I took up cycling as a means to stay fighting fit for motorcycles. The Aprilia SR 150 was already fighting fit, and so it undertook the simpler task of wrapping itself in the same colours as its very distant cousin the Aprilia RS-GP, a motorcycle raced in the upper echelons of the biking galaxy. Last year with Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl and in 2017 with Aleix Espargaro and Sam Lowes. What could a little scoot (even with the word ‘power’ suffixed to it) have in common with those technological marvels?
We have seen the Honda CBR 250 get ‘Repsol’ colours as well as the Suzuki Gixxer SF. None of these machines might have anything in common with the factory MotoGP bikes, but it is still happily splashed on to your commuter, so that you remember the racing heritage which each of these companies boast. So while you potter along to the market to buy milk and bread, you can still feel like Marc Marquez and his ilk! And here the Aprilia SR150 Race looks the part.
Piaggio targeted that untapped segment of the market who wanted a the convenience of an automatic scooter along, but were not willing to compromise too much on performance. First unveiled at the Auto Expo 2016, it grabbed the attention of motorcycle enthusiasts. What with its quirky looks! It looked unlike any other scooter that was being sold here. Long before it set foot (or tyres if you please!) on Indian roads, there was tremendous interest and once the scoot was launched, it got a fair share of bookings, with most prospective buyers not having even seen it in the flesh. Later in 2016 Aprilia launched the SR150 at 65,000 ex-showroom Delhi and at that price point it was one of best things to happen to the Indian two wheeler industry.
Styling wise, the SR150 looks unlike any other scooter that you can buy in India. It has got razor sharp styling and oozes aggression and sportiness from every angle you look at it – be it the beaky front end or the upward pointing shortish tail with a split grab rail. The front is further enhanced by twin headlamps incorporated into the apron. Now the RACE version gets a MotoGP inspired colour scheme which looks plenty good when you get up close and personal with it. The graphics have #beAracer written on it, probably not the best quote to an 18 year old weaving through traffic! Red wheels and a red rear suspension are the new additions to the RACE edition. The most striking thing about the SR150 is its meaty 120 section 14-inch tyres at the front and back, which gives it a very muscular look. The white background all analogue instrument console compliments the overall sport styling. The pillion footrests tuck neatly into the side panels and looks classy. Boot space is okay but not large enough to hold a full face helmet.
The Aprilia SR150 RACE uses the same 150 cc single cylinder, air-cooled engine that powers the regular SR150 and the Vespa 150 scooters in India. The difference between the two bikes lies in its suspension tuning we are given to believe. With the RACE getting a sportier setup! That probably should be interpreted as a tad firmer than the already firm suspension that the SR150 had. Since we didn’t have the older scoot to ride back to back, it was near impossible to notice any difference. But I would be willing to wager, even if you do ride the two bikes one after another, chances are slim that you will notice much. Which isn’t really a bad thing, the bike was good in the first place! It touches the 100 kmph mark without any hiccups and can be ridden at 70-80 kmph with enough juice left in hand to overtake large vehicles. This engine feels smooth across the rev range; however, it isn’t among the most refined engines out there. It does do justice to the Aprilia SR150’s sporty looks and makes it a fun machine to ride. It accelerates quickly right from the word go and manages to pull strongly even in the higher rev range. The mid-range is meaty as well. Though while climbing the ghat sections we would notice at the first touch of the throttle, the bike would rev but not move ahead. A delayed telecast so to speak between throttle hand and rear wheel!
On the handling front, the SR150 RACE impressed with its performance. It is quick and easy to manoeuvre and holds its lines well while cornering. Providing far more entertainment than should be legal on a scoot! The 120 section rubber does come into play here and makes things easier. The job of braking is well taken care of by the 220 mm disc up front and the 140 mm drum brakes at the rear. The scooter comes to a halt from double digit speeds without any fuss even when the brakes are applied with a sense of urgency.
The seat felt plush and wide enough even for bigger riders and despite its compact size, it didn’t feel cramped. Though at 5’11”, there is no space left for a pillion, once the rider has made himself/ herself comfortable. The flat footboard offers just enough space for me to place my size 11 sneakers, I doubt if my motorcycle boots would fit in that space. Of course, you also don’t have any footboard left to carry any larger bag. A backpack is the way to go with the SR150.
Aprilia has billed this RACE version as their ‘second’ crossover offering for India. We humbly disagree, there isn’t much different from the regular SR150 to consider this a separate bike. It is at best the SR150 with a racier paint scheme, and at a price difference of roughly 3k, it is worth it. At least for those MotoGP fans and everyone else who prefers this colour.