Aprilia SRV850 review

Aprilia-SRV850 It’s a busy year in the superscooter sector. BMW entered the category with its C600 Sport and C650 GT while Yamaha completely revamped its definitive T-Max. Aprilia has also pitched in, claiming the largest-capacity engine yet in the class.

More accurately, that should be the equal-largest engine, since the new SRV850’s 839cc V-twin, along with the rest of this giant scooter’s chassis, is almost identical to that of the discontinued Gilera GP800. Both brands, along with Vespa and Moto Guzzi, are under the Piaggio Group’s umbrella so there’s much technical sharing, but the wholesale transfer of a platform is less common. It’s been done because a sportier version of the Gilera would fit better with Aprilia’s brand image. At the same time, there have been changes to the engine management to smooth the throttle response and boost mid-range output.

Aprilia says the chassis is unchanged, but something has been done because the old Gilera, which debuted four years ago, was prone to some wobbles at high speeds, yet the Aprilia is substantially more stable. The claims are only for minor suspension tweaks, so the suspicion is that the tyres are different, too. It weighs more than a quarter of a ton when fully fuelled – that’s about the same as the new BMW C650 GT – but, although it resists rapid changes in direction, the weight isn’t a dominant feature.

You can feel the front end twisting if you wrench at the bars, which is not surprising as the Aprilia follows basic scooter practice in having a single yoke locating the forks.

In other respects the suspension is more sophisticated, with a chain drive and swingarm at the rear that you’d normally see on motorcycles – most scooters have an enclosed drive system fixed to the engine, and the whole lot moves with the rear wheel, meaning massive unsprung weight and hence poor suspension performance. Many riders will dislike having to keep the SRV’s exposed chain lubricated and adjusted, however.

The engine is an eight-valve, 90-degree V-twin as used on Aprilia’s automatic Mana motorcycle, producing a huge (for a scooter) 75bhp. The 0-62mph time is claimed to be 5.8sec, the same as BMW’s C600 Sport, but top speed is in excess of any other production scooter at 120mph. This means the SRV has plenty in reserve even at motorway speeds, making it a realistic prospect for long-distance riding – as long as you don’t make too much use of the performance. Economy when riding at everyday speeds is about 50mpg, which means the 4.1-gallon tank will take you 180 miles, but use the SRV hard and that can drop to 40mpg or less.

The SRV is comfortable, with a good seat and all-new bodywork providing reasonable protection from the wind. Less successful is the underseat storage, which is only just large enough for a single helmet.

The overall look uses many generic Aprilia styling cues, and even some components such as the RSV superbike’s triple headlights and the rear light from the Dorsoduro 1200, while the rest is lean and sporting. It’s a style that suits the scooter’s intentions well, while also complementing Aprilia’s range. But where most Aprilias have high levels of equipment and electronics, the SRV doesn’t even have an ABS option.

Then again, neither does Yamaha’s T-Max, and at £7,799 the SRV undercuts this by more than £1,000, and the BMW C600 Sport by £1,600. Even Suzuki’s long-running Burgman 650 is more expensive at £8,175, although this does have ABS as well as a sophisticated auto or manual transmission and superb storage space.

THE FACTS Aprilia SRV850

Price/on sale: £7,799/now

Power/torque: 75bhp @ 7,750rpm/56lb ft @ 6,000rpm

Top speed: 120mph

Fuel tank/range: 4.1 gallons/180 miles

Verdict: Very fast if basically equipped and lacking the handling precision of some rivals. But it looks good value against the competition

Telegraph rating: Three out of five stars

The Telegraph