2001 Aprilia Scarabeo 150

Putting the "Fun" back in "Functional"

It's not Italy, but it's hereBrochure-speak aside, we were curious if this whole "motorcycle with an automatic transmission" bit meant the best of both worlds. We were worried that, as is sometimes the case, this translates into a compromise on both counts that results in far less than the sum of the collective parts.    At first glance, we were a bit unsure as to our feelings about the Scarabeo's styling. The front fender is almost as big as the top box mounted just behind the passenger seat. But as Aprilia's Robert Pandya pointed out, once you go splashing through a few big puddles, you'll see why it's there. As graphics guru Calvin Kim so studiously pointed out, "it looks too tacked on. It has got something to do with the front fender shape in relation to the wind blocker thingy." Yes, perhaps it might. Or maybe it was the all-black color scheme (Aprilia offers some other, far tastier choices), but the bike's otherwise beautiful lines didn't make as stellar an appearance as they could have.

The majority of the Scarabeo's body work is absolutely scrumptious. Nice chrome touches help to accentuate clean lines.It comes as no surprise, then, that after looking like a scooter we expected reasonably scooter-esque things from the Scarabeo. Light weight, cramped ergonomics and Fred Flintstone-style starts were all our feeble minds could conjure up. Thankfully for us (and Aprilia) though, the soles of our shoes were safe as this little four-stroke-powered Scarabeo does a great job of moving things along, and of changing our opinion of the little beast.

The motor comes to life with an idle that sounds almost two-stroke like since there's a bit of a ringing and dinging that sometimes emanates along with the lower-toned staccato flowing from the bazooka tube of a muffler. A twist of the throttle brings the revs up and almost immediately you're on your way as the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) automatic transmission engages at about 3,000 RPM and shoves you off.

   Accelerating away from a dead stop, the motor pulls better than we expected. The gearing is good and the transmission seems to work well with the stock motor's output. There's a bunch of torque (relatively speaking, of course) from as little as five miles-per-hour that helps get things up to the speed of everyday traffic with little fuss.

The instrument cluster tells you everything you really need to know. The little compartment by the rider's knees is a nice place to keep your registration papers.Thirty MPH comes up very quick, as does forty. Beyond that, though, keeping the throttle pinned results in decent acceleration, though nothing that will have the bars slapping back and forth in your paws. Still, the motor will get the Scarabeo accelerating up to about 75 MPH and will drop only 10 MPH from that if you chose to cruise two-up. It doesn't have the peppy feel the little two-stroke Vino does, instead choosing a more linear power delivery that fits rather well with the "motorcycle with an automatic transmission" party line.

At speed, you can take the Scarabeo onto the freeway, though cruising at those speeds is a bit unnerving. Most of this feeling is due to the lack of upper-body wind protection and the riding position that works so well around town. Though the Aprilia is capable of these feats, it seems to be more of a byproduct of an excellent, sturdy design than a design goal that the engineers had to begin with.

The front 260 mm front disc provides good stopping power. The front fender is our only bit of styling on the bike that we detest -- even if it does work well.On a machine capable of these speeds, good brakes are a necessity, and Aprilia's got them. Both brakes work well enough to get the bike slowed down reasonably quick from just about any speed the Scarabeo is capable of attaining. To impress your friends, you can even get the back wheel to lock up if you modulate front-to-rear bias just right and initiate a little bit of a weight transfer of your own.

The top box was extremely handy and the lock secured positively every time. The plastic felt a bit thin at times, but then again, it's not meant for carrying bricks to and from the construction site. More for carrots, bread, wine and the storage of a helmet and some gloves.

The only real gripe we have of the bike is that it feels rather top-heavy in the slow-going. This scooter has a very large feel to it, thanks in part to the driver's seat that becomes rather wide as you slide back. While this is a good thing for some long-legged riders since it offers beaucoup butt-padding, shorter-stemmed riders (like our female photo model who checks in at five-foot-nine) had a few issues with getting their footsies firmly on the ground.

The Scarabeo is fine once you get rolling, though some short-stemmed riders have problems getting their feet down at stops.Not Quite, Almost, PerfectSo, does the Scarabeo heighten our recently acquired fascination with scooters? Well, lets just say it doesn't do anything to dampen our enthusiasm.    The coolest thing about little scooters is just that -- they're little. The Scarabeo, however, really is a motorcycle with an automatic transmission, just as Aprilia's own literature suggests. It's too small (power-wise) to be a real motorcycle, and yet it's too large to be a flick-around little scooter that you don't mind having around just to play on or run errands on. At an MSRP of $4,199 US dollars, the Scarabeo is a bit more of a commitment than many people are willing to make for a "toy" of this nature.

But, then again, what do we know, having wasted our precious youth on frivolous activities for which we have no fruits to show? With over 50 miles-per-gallon, burning anything-combustible-you-can-find and real eye-tal-yun styling and pedigree, this Scarabeo is sure to attract its share of buyers. It's quick, comfortable and quite the head-turner. Just what responsible people like us need.

Engine : Single cylinder, 4 stroke, liquid cooled, OHV, 4 valves.
Bore and Stroke : 62 x 50 mm
Displacement : 150.95 cc
Compression Ratio : 12.5:1
Carburetor : Keihin CVK 26 (25 mm diffuser)
Ignition : Electronic
Starter : Electric
Transmission : Automatic with centrifugal clutch.
    Front : 35 mm conventional, 110 mm travel
    Rear : Preload adjustable mono-shock, 110 mm travel
    Front : 260 mm disc, dual 25 mm piston caliper
    Rear : 220 mm disc, dual 32 mm piston caliper
    Front : 2.5 x 16", 100/80 x 16 
    Rear : 3.0 x 16", 130/80 x 16
Length = 2075 mm (82 in.)
Width = 740 mm (29 in.)
Height = 1225 mm (48 in.)
Seat Height = 800 mm (32 in.)
Wheelbase = 1387 mm (55 in.)
Dry weight (list) = 308 lbs.
Fuel tank cap. (list) = 2.5 gal. (0.5 gal. reserve)

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