Aprilia SRV850 | First Ride

Super-Duper Scooter!

By Roland Brown, Photography by Massimiliano Serra, Marco Zamponi, Matteo Cavadini

They say: “An RSV4 for the scooter set.”
We say: “The similarities are only skin-deep.”

Badge engineering is nothing new. Fifty years ago, AMC’s bikes were offered as AJS and Matchless models to appeal to each marque’s enthusiasts.

Piaggio is using the same strategy in re-badging the Gilera GP800 as the Aprilia SRV850. Aprilia's stronger, sportier image is more useful for selling a premium-priced bike, particularly in America where Gileras aren’t imported. However, while the SRV resembles the RSV4, there is little evidence of Aprilia’s engineering influence elsewhere.

The eight-valve V-twin is mechanically identical to the Gilera GP800 and Aprilia Mana 850. All the SRV’s underpinnings are carried over from the Gilera as well, with the Kayaba fork and Sachs shock both firmed up slightly. The main changes are all in the bodywork, the RSV4’s looks echoed in the scooter’s triple headlights and the plastic designed to look like the RSV4’s twin-spar aluminum frame.

The result is an attractive scooter with sportier looks than anything else on the market. Aprilia is aiming it at riders who value style ahead of convenience, but the lack of underseat storage space is still disappointing. The compartment was too small to hold my size-XL Arai, while BMW's C-models hold two!

Aprilia’s redesign also sacrifices wind protection for style with a short, non-adjustable screen. Piaggio’s decision to re-use the GP800’s engine made sense, though: It’s smooth and refined, as well as very flexible and powerful by scooter standards. The CVT transmission lets the big scooter surge forward at an impressive rate in response to a twist of the wrist.

The SRV’s claimed 76-bhp output makes it roughly 15 bhp more powerful than BMW’s new C-series twins. It stormed to 100 mph on a short stretch of open road and purrs along at an indicated 85 mph, feeling utterly unstressed.

High-speed stability was good in a straight line and reasonable in curves, although it wallowed slightly over bumps when cranked over. Even so, it cornered well enough to be fun and the soft suspension, roomy riding position, generous footboards and broad seat make it quite comfortable.

But the mystery is why Piaggio thought restyling the Gilera was sufficient in this increasingly competitive super-scooter market. Hopefully, Aprilia’s next-generation maxi-scooter will show the benefits of the firm’s commitment to performance. The SRV850 is an Aprilia in name only.

At least Piaggio’s badge engineering kept development costs to a minimum. At roughly $9630, it will undercut the T-Max and both of BMW’s scooters in most markets. It’s fun to ride, and by no means a bad bike.

Tech Spec

Price na
Engine type l-c 90-deg. V-twin
Valve train SOHC, 8v
Displacement 839cc
Transmission CVT
Claimed horsepower 76 bhp @ 7750 rpm
Claimed torque 56 lb.-ft. @ 6000 rpm
Frame Steel-tube with single-sided swingarm
Front suspension Kayaba 41mm fork
Rear suspension Sachs shock with adjustable spring preload
Front brake Dual Brembo two-piston calipers, 300mm discs
Rear brake Brembo two-piston caliper, 280mm disc
Front tire 120/70-16 Pirelli Diablo Scooter
Rear tire 160/60-15 Pirelli Diablo Scooter
Seat height 30.7 in.
Wheelbase 62.7 in.
Fuel capacity 4.9 gal.
Claimed curb weight 577 lbs.
Contact www.aprilia.com
Verdict 3 out of 5 stars
The fastest production scooter on earth.

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