2018 Aprilia SR 125 first ride review
Aprilia really did an outstanding job with the SR 150. It was our Scooter Of The Year when it was launched and since then, it's turned Piaggio India's two-wheeler fortunes around. Vespa sales are up and the SR 150 continues to be a popular choice. And it isn't hard to see why, right? It looks like nothing else on the market and it goes like nothing else on the market also. The pricing is a little premium, to be sure, but not on the same scale as the Vespa either. How could it get better? Aprilia thinks that there is a slightly younger customer who is looking for a smaller version of the SR 150. It must be noted here that this is a slightly different pitch from the usual - which is the idea that the Suzuki Access 125's volumes suggest that a 125cc scooter is now a solid commercial proposition. And now, back to the SR 125. It's a smaller SR 150 in idea and it aims for a younger customer. That's who they're targetting and they've certainly got the right ingredients in the pot. Let's see how this tastes, yes?
There are no standard grab rails on the Aprilia SR 15 that make it a bit harder than necessary to put the scooter on the centre stand
But it is the SR 150 isn't it? Yes, mostly. Aprilia says that they didn't really mess with the shape, adding only a longer seat. The body panels are identical and the real change is that the graphics are a little more subdued than the outrageously come-hither Aprilia SR 150. Our blue scooter wears a youthful but not eye-popping shade of blue with Aprilia's usually generous stickering including the contrast red elements clearly on display. It's sleek, modern and neat. You don't really notice the longer seat until it is pointed out.
The body panels of the Aprilia are shared with the SR 150 but the design chooses a less exuberant theme to soften up the sleek and sharp silhouette just a bit
Surely it's the Vespa 125 powertrain, right? Aprilia insists that they actually derived the 125cc engine from the SR 150's powertrain and not the Vespa. Inasmuch, they told us that the gearbox was identical in every way and literally the only change was the displacement. What the new engine does is make 9.65PS at 7,250rpm. That's interesting. The SR 150 makes 10.20PS at 6,750rpm. That's a loss of only half a horse, really. On the torque front, the gap is more significant. From 10.9Nm at 5000rpm (SR 150), the torque falls to 9.9Nm at 6,250rpm. The thing to note is that the power gap is smaller than the torque gap and both the peak outputs are higher up the order.
Note the missing side-stand on the Aprilia SR 125. Ours was under the seat packed in a box - it's an optional extra!
This is obvious when you're riding. The Aprilia SR 125 doesn't have that meaty take off that the SR 150 impressed us with. The 125 feels more normal and it's not until you cross 60kmph that you realise that the beauty of the Aprilia engine is intact. And that would be its ability to run right up to the top speed without feeling strained or breathless. I saw something like 116kmph while Anis, who is much lighter, had the speedo maxxed out at 120kmph at one point.
I suspect that perhaps a quicker throttle action might have returned some of the zest to the SR 125 but as it stands, the Aprilia SR 125 still packs a punch but it's a gentler hit that arrives higher in the revs.
Chassis and dynamics
The 14" alloy wheels are still the business! The Aprilia SR 125 has the biggest wheels in its class and in the corners, they really do bring the shine!
The Aprilia SR 125 is still the king of the wheel-size wars. With its 14-inch wheels, it not only has the biggest wheels, they're identical to the SR 150, which means they're pretty too. The tyres are Vee Rubber again which also means a lot of grip. And so no surprise that the Aprilia SR 125 corners with a most-unscooter like poise and confidence. It doesn't feel top heavy like most scooters and I honestly enjoyed the feel and sharpness of the SR 125. The narrow footboard area also means you can wedge your knee and boots nicely and lock in so that you can generate even more stability and corner it harder.
We do wish Aprilia had tuned the SR 125's front forks to be a little more compliant. The ride feels jittery in many places and is always a stiff one. This feels sporty for sure but requires really, really good roads to truly sparkle
Unfortunately, you will also notice how stiff the suspension, especially the front end is as you buzz the roads. It's jittery in feel and it feels rock hard in places. That's a problem because mid-corner bumps will interrupt your flow and the road will give your body a blow-by-blow account also. I think Aprilia had the opportunity to revisit the tuning of the telescopic fork and the SR 125 feeling this similar to the SR 150 is a missed opportunity. To put a fine point on it, I remember the SR 150 being slightly more settled than the SR 125 but other journalists who ride the 125 insisted that the 150 was just as, erm, lively.
Vee Rubber tyres and these brakes? Oh very yes. The Aprilia SR 125 never lacks for grip and the brakes are the best on an Indian scooter at this time
The brakes, of course, will turn you in a fan. Not a ceiling one, just an adoring one. They're strong and feelsome and the Vee Rubber really grips so you can pull off some very confident hard stops. Lovely!
The Aprilia SR 125 is a good idea. All the spice and punch of the SR 150 in a smaller package sounds like a no-brainer to me. And some of this reasoning works too. The SR 125 is probably the best handling scooter in the 125cc class and it has the best rubber as well as the best brakes too. But unfortunately, your ability to make the most of these abilities is hampered a bit by the jittery front suspension that is nice on smooth roads but a bit harsh on everything else. The new smaller displacement pushes thrust higher up the revs but you will miss only the bottom-end punch of the SR 150 - once it's up to speed, the SR 125 will feel just as on the ball.
This package has been priced at Rs 65,626 ex-showroom Mumbai and that's not the full story either - the grab rails are extra as is the side stand. Further, that's just about Rs 3,000 less than the Aprilia SR 150, which to me is worryingly close in price. I get the whole younger audience idea at Aprilia but I suspect that most Aprilia SR 125 customers will get upsold to the SR 150. Those who don't will get themselves a hardcore, sporty scooter - there is literally no other. Even the TVS Ntorq 125 is milder - and in some ways, that makes it easier to live with too. Those who pay for the SR 150, on the other hand, get a lively, punchy scooter that we love quite a lot. In the strangest of ways, win-win!
Images: Anis Shaikh