Scooters and big people don’t go hand in hand. I thought as much but till last week. After my short stint with the hospitality industry in the North Indian hill-station of Manali, I shifted back to Delhi permanently and was looking around for a new set of wheels, something that would be easy to ride, practical and give me a few grinning moments from time to time.
Lack of funds also meant I wouldn’t be able to spend much and that is when I decided to look into the world of scooters, a segment that is ruled by the Honda Activa and the Suzuki Access. But given my height, weight and frame, these scooters wouldn’t really make me look cool at all. Right then, it was time to look into the ‘exotic’ options and I immediately filtered the list down to the SR 150 Race Edition.
This the cheapest Aprilia you can buy in India. Jokes apart, I got a Rs 2000 cashback from Paytm and the little birdie was available for an immediate delivery. The entire process took 30 minutes and another half hour later, I was home with the SR parked below.
Its been over a week now and with 500 km on the odometer, here’s my opinion on India’s fastest scooter
It turns heads
I knew this from the word go. The ‘sporty’ sticker work and red color for the alloy wheels and the rear spring make it look extremely good when it comes to scooters in India. The SR 150 will feel at home as a paddock scooter for the Aprilia Racing Team during race weekends!
The sticker work is done on the base grey color and the end result is fantastic. It does feel overdone sometimes but I ain’t complaining because the birdie manages to make people take note very easily. If you notice closely, the Race edition also gets a golden color for the brake caliper.
In terms of dimensions, the SR 150 isn’t a large scooter and has almost the same dimensions as other cheaper options. The front is dominated by the huge (for a scooter) 14-inch alloy wheel and the twin headlamps – these do not turn ON together but yet illumination is perfect for dark roads.
The side profile is sharp indeed and the same design theme works at the rear. The split grab rails, sharp indicators and rising side panels finish up the package at the rear. Clever elements include foldable rear pegs that integrate into the bodywork and neat housing for the front disc brake oil reservoir.
At the same time though, fit and finish is poor at places and though there are no squeaks or rattles till now, an ‘expensive’ scooter should be free of panel gaps.
As stated above, I have a larger than average build and have stayed away from scooters due to lack of good ergonomics for riders like me. But the SR 150 is a step ahead in the right directions. I have been using it for my office commute, 40km one side, and can safely say that the handle bar-foot board-seat combination works well.
The mirrors, though not very wide, are largely vibration free and give a wide enough view of what’s happening behind me. The seat however is not very generous and if you intend to use this scooter with a pillion, the one sitting behind you will not be very happy.
Worth of a mention is the saddle height of the SR150. At 775 mm, this is higher that most other scooters and if you are anything under 5’9″ or thereabouts, resting your feet firmly on the ground could be an issue.
Not very feature-rich
Inspite of the sticker price, the SR 150 does not come with a bag full of features. You get a conventional speedometer console that misses out on a digital display and a trip meter. The under-seat storage space is average and cannot accommodate a proper full face helmet.
There is no provision for charging your mobile and the same will cost approximately Rs 1000 extra. Likewise, there is no under-seat light which is very much a norm in other scooters.
The fuel filler cap is located under the seat which makes filling a cumbersome process. And there is no remote seat release mechanism either.
But it handles so well
Ride this scooter for one minute and you will instantly notice how taut and well put together it feels. The ride is firm, yes, but flick this birdie through slow moving traffic and you will be grinning inside the helmet. Riding on telescopic forks up front and a single damper at the rear, the SR 150 feels precise, balanced and gives the rider oodles of confidence, no matter how fast or slow you are riding. It won’t be wrong to say that the SR feels more like a motorcycle, than a scooter. And you can end up riding pretty fast, without even trying!
As speeds increase, the ride quality becomes decent. That said, at lower speeds, every pothole, bump and undulation is easily felt. This is the biggest grouse in the otherwise brilliant package. A 40km commute does leave me uncomfortable and its all because of the stiff ride. Balancing this out to a large extent, are the brakes.
The 220mm front Bybre disc is larger than the one found on the Vespas (Piaggio owns both Vespa and Aprilia) and works brilliantly well to shed speeds without drama. Combi braking is not available but I believe the SR 150 will be owned by experienced riders who will be able to use both the front and rear brakes properly at the same given time. I usually ride with two fingers on the brake levers (with the gloves) on and its easy to kill speed during most braking scenarios.
The SR is also the first scooter in India to ride on 14-inch wheels. These contribute a lot to the stability factor and make the scooter feel planted and stable at higher speeds. The 120/70 x 14 Vee Rubber tyres, made in Thailand, are quite grippy and I haven’t had any issues with them at all. Infact, even locking up the rear isn’t very easy as the rubber grips very well. As for their working on wet roads, well, haven’t had a chance yet!
Note that the SR 150 Race edition has the same ride, handling and braking characteristics as the standard version.
For a scooter, yes! The SR 150 uses the same 154cc four-stroke engine as found in the Vespa offerings. Power and torque figures of the Race version remain similar to that of the standard version. This means you get 10.4 bhp of power at 6750 rpm and 11.4 Nm of peak torque at 5000 rpm.
Barring the Vespa offerings, these are the highest figures for a scooter in India. And as the SR 150 is cheaper than the Vespa models, this makes it quite appealing for the youngsters. And how does it feel to ride?
The Race version, thanks to its shorter gearing, is very peppy for city usage. Various online reports suggest the Race edition to be about 0.3 to 0.5 seconds quicker to 60 km/h as well. In real world riding, the Race definitely feels ‘racy’ enough and as per my experience of red-light GPs, can safely say that this little thing stay ahead of most other commuter motorcycles. The ‘roar’ from the exhaust is simply icing on the cake – the SR is the most ‘sporty’ sounding scooter in India. Take my word for it!
And its not just the outright acceleration but the mid-range that helps you commute fast. In spite of my weight (double that of most female riders!), the punch between 60-80km/h is excellent and helps you stay ahead of traffic at most times. The SR refuses to run out of breath even at 80km/h and given the road, goes over 110km/h very easily. That said, due to shorter gearing, its understandable that the Race edition has a slightly lower top speed, by about 3-4 km/h.
One issue that needs to be highlighted is the amount of speedometer error. At an indicated 90km/h, the actual speed as per GPS is about 80-81 – this is a 10% error which is usually not found in automobiles.
The SR 150 can be used for long distance riding as well. The engine feels smooth and stress-free at an indicated 80-90km/h which enough in reserve. The SR uses a carburetor and not fuel injection and though there are vibrations at idle and upto about 15km/h, these ease out completely as revs rise.
Kitna deti hai?
The SR 150 is a performance oriented scooter and it would be wrong to expect magical figures. I have done three tank full measurements till now and the fuel economy seems to be hovering around 33-35 kmpl. These are decent figures given my tendency to use the right wrist a lot and the fact that the run-in is still not complete.
If you ride the SR 150 in a gentle manner, expect it to deliver over 40 kmpl. The usable tank capacity is about 5.5 litres which gives you a tank range of just over 200km. The problem here is the fuel cap. The filling area is too narrow and no matter which fuel dispenser I used, even the auto-cut off nozzles ended up spilling out petrol. Not good when you have stuff under the seat.
At approximately Rs 82,000 on-road Delhi, the SR 150 Race Edition is about Rs 3,200 more expensive than the standard variant. That’s a difference of less than 4% of the scooters’s cost and needless to say, is a better deal. For this extra amount, you not only get a better looking scooter but peppier performance that helps a lot during city commutes.
At the same time, for this price, you have the option to purchase motorcycles like the Honda Unicorn 160 or the Yamaha SZ-RR and still have enough left over money for a party. These are proper motorcycles but do not offer ease of riding or practicality. And they cannot turn heads like the SR can.
As a ‘scooter’, the SR 150 Race Edition is expensive. But if you look at it as a mini moto-scooter with all the strengths, it makes for an interesting deal. The only parameter that needs to be seen now is the after sales service and support. But being a Piaggio product with happy Vespa customer stories, I believe this too will be sorted in the long run.