2001 Aprilia Scarabeo 150

Putting the "Fun" back in "Functional"


Torrance, California, May 17, 2001
We must be getting old over here at MO. Or maybe we're just becoming excessively practical lately, what with gas prices sneaking ever closer to the big three-dollar mark.

Maybe it's our fault, though. Instead of wasting away our collective youth on race bikes, big trucks and chasing some rather large women, our time might have been better spent if we'd hugged a few more trees and saved a few more lizards. Maybe then we wouldn't be looking so hard at all these scooters that are coming down the pipeline lately.

But, then again, just because something gets good gas mileage and looks like a scooter doesn't mean it is a scooter. Or does it? Aprilia bills its Scarabeo 150 as a "motorcycle with an automatic transmission" and "the agility of a scooter." So we had to find out if Aprilia was correct, especially after becoming scooter nuts since falling for Yamaha's zippy little Vino a while back.

And that Italian styling that made Yamaha PR types so proud? The Scarabeo is Italian. So, naturally, we had to get a full dose of what the boot country had to offer. So what better place to start than with the Scarabeo 150?

Tech Check    Aprilia describes the Scarabeo 150 as having a "motorcycle-inspired design." As such, you'd expect it to perform as one. Featuring dual disc brakes, alloy rims and motorcycle-esque suspension, the potential is there. The 151 cc, four-valve, overhead cam, four-stroke engine is definitely more motorcycle than the usual small-bore two-stroke scooter fare. In fact, the only things scooter-like about the Scarabeo are its looks and transmission.

The single-beam, double rear cradle frame is stiff enough, although with aggressive riding, you'll notice some flexing of the front end. The single cylinder, liquid-cooled engine is smooth and delivers power via a centrifugal clutch and variable belt transmission. Air and fuel come together through a Keihin CVK carburetor and is ignited by electronic ignition.

Model and Scarabeo 150 basking in the late afternoon Italian (well, Studio City, CA) sun.In typical scooter fashion, the right hand lever controls the front 260 mm brake, while the left hand lever controls the rear 220 mm unit. Both brake calipers feature a dual piston design.

However, what sets the Scarabeo apart from normal scooters, and further blurs the scooter/motorcycle line are its two large wheels. The 100/80 front tire rides on a 2.5 x 16 inch rim and is separated from the rest of the bike via 35 mm conventional forks with 110 mm of travel. The 130/80 rear tire snuggles its beads within a 3 x16 inch rim that is affixed to the chassis by way of a dual sided-swingarm. Both rims are of the five-spoke alloy variety. Hardly scooter like, these wheels allow the Scarabeo to have the smooth handling of a full size bike, while still maintaining its "scooter" edge.

The swingarm implements a preload-adjustable mono-shock setup and has 110 mm of suspension travel, just like the front. The left arm (as viewed from the back of the bike) houses the belt and transmission, while the right side is there for additional support -- and some stuff.

Under this beautiful cover resides part of the automatic transmission that helps to separate the Scarabeo from motorcycle-dom.Undoubtedly, owners of the Scarabeo will use it for errands and commuting. To accommodate those requests, Aprilia offers optional hard bags and a different top box. The side bags offer 20 liters of cargo capacity while the optional, larger top box will be capable of holding two full face helmets. As is, the standard, lockable top box offers 29 liters of capacity and is large enough for one full face helmet. A small, lockable compartment located near the ignition key slot has enough room for smaller objects, such as registration and insurance papers.

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