Of all the scooters available in India today, the Aprilia SR150 is by far the sportiest and most engaging to ride. And it’s done fairly well in terms of sales too, with about 32,000 units sold last year, which is just a few thousand less than the combined sales of the Vespa range. But there was an unusual problem. Aprilia noticed that a number of buyers were charmed with what the SR had to offer, but seemed to associate 150cc with a capacity more suited to a motorcycle and thought it might be too much for a scooter.
Of course, this was purely a problem of perception. So, while the original plan for the SR was for it to remain a 150, Aprilia later decided to offer it in a lower spec capacity as well, since the market clearly isn’t mature enough just yet. Enter the SR125.
What is it?
Simply put, this is an SR150 with a heart transplant. So it's no surprise that the 125 looks nearly identical to its big brother. All the bodywork and the mechanicals are more or less the same. Aside from a slightly longer seat and new colour schemes, you won’t be able to tell the two apart. Aprilia reasons it is trying to improve pillion comfort, but a short ride with a pillion revealed that the seat still feels a bit compact and a grab rail is sorely missed; the SR125 doesn't carry the split grab rail from the 150, but you can buy a more conventional one as an optional extra. Weirdly enough, you have to buy the side stand as an accessory too, and Aprilia says the same applies to the 150 as well. Not very nice, considering how much these scooters cost.
Those are essentially the visual differences between the 125 and the 150. The rest remains the same, including the lovely 14-inch wheels, sharp bodywork, basic dials (to be upgraded to a digital display on the SR150) and switchgear of rather average quality.
What about the engine?
The SR125 borrows its motor from the Vespa 125, but in a slightly different state of tune. Where the Vespa makes 10.06hp and 10.6Nm, the Aprilia makes a lower 9.52hp and 9.8Nm. Thankfully, the performance doesn’t seem to suffer at all, probably because the Aprilia runs a different gearing to the Vespa, similar to the setup on the SR150. In terms of kerb weight, Aprilia quotes the same 122kg as the SR150, so there are no gains there.
The engine produces a gruff sound but actually feels pleasantly smooth and unstressed throughout the rev range. We haven’t tested it yet, but going by the sheer seat-of-the-pants feeling, this feels like the quickest scooter in the segment. 80kph comes up with ease and the speedo needle keeps climbing until it maxes out at 120kph! Incredible as that may sound, our experience with the SR150 reveals that the speedometer is highly optimistic and that true speed actually hovers around the 100kph mark. Still, that's quick for any scooter in this segment.
So, yes, the SR125 has a top speed pretty much on par with its big brother, but the difference comes in with noticeably less urgency when you open the throttle, especially at lower speeds. We haven’t had a chance to test fuel efficiency either, but Aprilia says it should return about 4-5kpl (about ten percent) more.
Still a good handler?
Absolutely! And that’s no surprise considering that the chassis, suspension, and brakes are the same. The 14-inch wheels offer unmatched levels of stability and the Thai-sourced Vee rubber offers impressive grip. Braking performance is excellent too, with a powerful front disc and an easy-to-modulate rear drum. Show the SR125 a smooth set of roads and no scooter this side of the SR150 will put a wider grin on your face. But smooth roads are a few and far between and that’s when the SR125 suffers. Just like its sibling, the rough roads bring out a very firm and jittery feeling from the front fork and that gets tiring. And it’s this very characteristic of the SR brings us to the conclusion of this review
Should I buy one?
The SR125 is still a hoot of a scooter and it really isn’t much slower than the SR150. But whether you should buy one for the value and practicality it aims to offer raises some doubts. First, this remains an unabashed sports scooter, which means that ride comfort is pretty much non-existent. You also don’t get a very spacious floor or underseat storage area. Riders shorter than 5ft 6in won’t like the seat height either.
Second, at Rs 65,310, the SR125 is a whole Rs 7,000 more expensive than rivals like the TVS Ntorq and Suzuki Access. Further still, it's only about Rs 4,500 less than the SR150. Buying an Aprilia SR is clearly all about buying into the sporty riding experience. And with that being the case, I wouldn’t think twice about paying the small premium for the SR150 (all prices ex-showroom, Delhi).