Aprilia SR Max 125


Not: Seat will grow teeth after a short riding distance; unprotected footwell plastics are prone to scuffing; rear drum brake lacks progressive stopping power.

The bodywork is as jagged and sharp-edged as that of one of the world-conquering superbikes from the Noale factory, yet the performance of the Motard’s air-cooled four- stroke single-cylinder engine won’t exactly set the scooter world ablaze.

There’s just enough acceleration to filter to the front of any queue at the traffic lights without embarrassment, and just enough speed to prevent becoming a grille ornament of a faster-moving four-wheeled vehicle on the motorway, but that’s about the SR125 rider’s lot.

But then, it’s best to remember the price of the little Priller that’s no thriller any time the lack of go-power starts to frustrate.

It’s a telling $1200 cheaper than the Vietnamese-made Vespa LX125 that shares the same powertrain, and represents good buying value for anyone seeking adequate performance rather than superfluous speed and acceleration.

There’s also a slight dynamic advantage to be gained when selecting the Aprilia ahead of the Vespa that shares the same 124cc engine and belt-driven CVT driveline. For the Aprilia opts for plastic bodywork instead of the Vespa’s metal components, and gains a weight advantage from a material that many will see as a downgrade. Putting the SR on the centrestand and bumping it off again requires a bit less effort – an important factor for those frail, female, or both.

The difference in mass is a slight one but it also hands the Aprilia a slight performance advantage over its Vespa cousin. There’s welcome bit of extra vim to get the 122kg SR125 off the line, and it feels a bit more immune to the effects of gradients.

I never noticed any difference in fuel economy between the two scoots from the Piaggio group, but perhaps that was because I felt more encouraged to operate the SR at wider throttle settings, and this may have negated any positive effects on fuel use won by the lighter construction. Expect the SR125 to drink at a rate of 3.9litres/100km if you do lots of full-throttle motorway work with it, and an average of 3.5litres/100km when used mainly on urban roads.

Much as I appreciate the Max Biaggi-recalling paint scheme, and the way liquid plastic can be injected into moulds to create sharper angles and more intriguing shapes than body components cut and stamped from sheetmetal, I’d be paying the extra for the Vespa if trying to decide which of the two Piaggio 125cc scoots to buy. The prime reason would be the better-finished and more durable foot-well that results from the use of metal.

The Aprilia had only had a few hundred kilometres out on it before I rode it, but already the unpainted plastic that clads the area most vulnerable to scuffing on the SR125 was showing a few marks and scratches. These will grow like graffiti on a city wall over time, just as they do with just about every scooter foot-well fashioned in unprotected plastic. Come resale time, the LX125 will look not all that much different to when it left showroom, while the footwell of the SR125 will look like it has lost a catfight.

Aprilia SR Max 125

A sportier handling persona does accompany the Aprilia’s supersbike-inspired sense of the style though, and for many this quality will be hard to resist.

The SR125 has grip and steering advantages built into it from the ground up. The SR125’s wheels are 14-inchers instead of the LX Vespa’s choice of an 11-inch front and a 10 rear. To reinforce that superbike connection, the Motard’s front tyre is a 120/70 – a similar width and profile to the steering tyre worn by just about every sportsbike.

You can feel that extra rubber anytime you chuck the Aprilia at a corner or nail the front disc brake.

The front suspension of the SR125 is conventional telescopic fork instead of the Vespa’s aircraft-inspired leading link monoshock, and this allows better feedback about how much grip is available. The Motard therefore is no retard when it comes to bend-swinging, feeling as light, flickable, confident, and ultra-agile as any scoot bearing the sporty Aprilia brand should.

Ride quality hasn’t been sacrificed in the SR125’s quest to be the sportiest cheap-scoot on the market. The larger hoops certainly help, but the 80mm of suspension travel at each end feels equally ready to cope with urban road hazards like speed bumps and burst-water-main repairs. This leaves just the Aprilia’s seat as the greatest inhibitor of long- term riding comfort, as it feels like it has a built-in seam in the middle.

Luggage capacity amounts to an underseat reservoir almost capable of swallowing a proper full-face helmet, a lockable space for cellphones and wallets, and a handy fold-out hook for shopping bags on the Motard. Some scoots at this price point offer more storage, but if you seek the most twist n’go bang you can get for a sub-$4K price, you’ll find it right here.

– Fairfax NZ News

Aprilia SR Max 125
Aprilia SR Max 125
Aprilia SR Max 125
Aprilia SR Max 125
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