THE Aprilia SRV850 sat waiting in the Cycle Torque shed.
As the garage door opened I thought I saw an RSV4, then realised the long, sleek ‘bike’, was, in fact a scooter?
And what an amazing device it is.
The RSV4-inspired fairing, with triploid headlight, the rangey wheelbase and sticky Pirellis, all pointed at performance.
Then there is the 850cc mill. How could such a beast be called a ‘scooter’?
An earlier incarnation from the Piaggio Group lacked the electronic enhancement package, and also the spiritual high performance link to Aprilia.
As well as a stonking engine this unit boasts ABS brakes and dual mode traction control, switchable on the fly.
The future is now
Here was a platform that dripped performance and technology, and provided both in a package that was at once versatile and user friendly.
At 250kg dry, it’s no lightweight however the mass is low as is the 780mm seat height. The ‘bars, sporty but wide enough to make low speed handling a breeze, never once feeling ponderous. The 90-degree V-Twin 850cc engine makes the best part of 80hp, and hails from the discontinued Aprilia Mana 850 motorcycle.
Our test machine had standard pipes, but there is a performance option consisting of a delicious titanium bodied, carbon fibre-tipped Arrow muffler that I would have to go for. Scooters often have parking brakes, and this one is no exception. Useful when used in circumstances where the nose is downhill. You can’t select first and leave her there, just use the parking brake. Simple.
The transmission is a CVT item with torque server, with the engine and transmission rotating in the opposite direction to the wheels, somewhat counteracting the net gyroscopic forces in order to benefit change of direction manoeuvres. Certainly the rangey wheelbase imparts wonderful high speed stability, complimented by nippy handling at the helm. Impressive.
The tank holds a useful 18.5 litres, giving our not quite semi-step through machine a range of 250/300k. Touring and sportsriding can be accomplished here, no problem. There is an accessory top box, and the pillion comfort is very good.
‘Super-Pillion’ exclaimed: “This is more comfortable than anything we’ve got!”. High praise indeed. The rear suspension is adjustable for preload and rebound damping, however I didn’t need to go in search of a good compromise.
As delivered, the SRV was nigh on perfect solo or two-up. It was an engine young in miles, however two-up, in ‘standard’ mode it pulled like the proverbial train all the way to 190km/h and was still piling on the coals with authority. I have no doubt whatsoever it will see off 200+ given the right ‘closed road, demonstration purposes only’, conditions prevailing, of course!
Acceleration is wonderful, very few will ask for or need more performance. The brake package consists of dual 300mm semi-floating Brembos up front and a single unit at the rear, all with ABS, and combined with the Pirelli Corsa tyres and dual mode traction control, wet or dry, solo or pillion mounted, I couldn’t fault the set up.
Certainly, as is usual these days, I couldn’t outrun or faze the ABS. I may have fazed myself however trying to do so! The SRV has a great braking package. The SRV850 is a highly developed sophisticated item, the water cooled engine mounted with, (forgive the old Norton term) ‘Isolastic’ mounts. The V-twin rumble is there but the harshness is not, plush rather than raunchy. (Would love to try that Ti’ muffler though).
Many scooters run an enclosed belt final drive, however in this instance we see a beautiful alloy rear swingarm and conventional chain and sprocket. Another pointer to the fact we are really looking at a scooter for motorcycle riders. The SRV850 is the most powerful scooter in the world, it carries design references from the RSV4 superbike, at the front, with the triploid headlight and the Dorsoduro, at the rear with the LED rear signalling array. It has, dare I say it, ‘heavy duty street cred’, from the pilot seat anyway. A scooter that looks a bit like a superbike, and certainly outperforms all other scooters, and I wonder how many motorcycles?
It is possible to be impressed by a scooter – ride an SRV850 and you’ll see what I mean. It combines technology, quality finish, high performance and user friendliness. Most importantly it’s fun and it would be a mistake to get caught up in the ‘neither fish nor fowl’ debate. I wonder, as time goes by if the ‘line’ between bikes and scooters will continue to blur? I must admit I was well impressed in all aspects although I feel the sidestand could be a touch longer. It’s a personal preference, as the current one is serviceable but leans the super scoot a little further than I feel is needed, meaning a ‘little’ more heft is required to right the beast. This may not apply to younger and stronger riders of course.
The SRV 850 deserves to succeed, whether or not it will in this country remains to be seen.
At $5,990 it’s not a cheapie by any means, however, performance, quality and a unique platform to access awesome fun, seldom is. It is the heavy hitting class leader in all respects. If you love technology, can think outside the square, and have an open mind when it comes to your riding this just could be the ultimate (sporting) compromise. To label it ‘just a scooter’ is to entirely miss the point.
Just remember, when you nail it, prepare your pillion, and hang on tight ‘coz you’re riding a Super Scooter.