Piaggio is one of the worldís largest manufacturers of scooters and motorcycles and is the best known scooter producer with its Piaggio and Vespa brand names. Aprilia and Gilera are also under the Piaggio umbrella, and the SRV 850 is a concept developed through the Euro-only Gilera GP 800 maxi scooter. The 839cc V90 isnít the first in the Aprilia range, though, as the Mana 850 also features this engine and CVT transmission.
The Gilera GP 800 never turned out to be the success Piaggio had hoped for, so that model has been laid all but dead. The 2012 Aprilia SRV 850 is in essence a repackaged and re branded GP 800. Aprilia is definitely a better home for this scooter bruiser, as a 76-horsepower vehicle has always belonged to the motorcycle categories and you do need a full license to ride one.
The SRV 850 is very much a scooter, though, and only the performance of the engine and stability at speed resembles a motorcycle of the same capacity. The crossover effect is quite strong, but at the end of the day Iíll say this straight away, the Mana 850 is a much more exciting concept whilst also being a proper motorcycle.
There you go; the Aprilia SRV 850 is a bona fide scooter and a fine specimen of such. The seat is very comfortable and spacious with extra lower back support for the rider. The foot boards give you a range between flat and a stretched cruising position in one. The SRV 850 does comfy- and chilled-out cruising remarkably well. The large V90 engine with its automatic transmission allows you to skooch along on small throttle openings. Apriliaís maxi-scooter proves to be much smoother than BMWís newly arrived C 600 Sport and C 650 GT. This is also Apriliaís main advance over all the others; the 76.4Nm (56.3 ft-lb.) of torque from the 839cc liquid-cooled engine pushes you along with a smooth automatic transmission.
I canít help myself in saying that the SRV 850ís sportiness is more like an American muscle car than an all-out RSV4 corner hero. The handling is a bit vague and I never completely get a good feel from the Kayaba suspension through the Pirelli Diablo Scooter tires. The steel trellis frame is connected to an aluminum swing arm and creates high-speed stability and a solid feel mid-corner.
On fast corner entries the SRV 850 feels a bit top-heavy, as a rider is set on top of most of the weight rather than being a part of the chassis. Because of this it is slightly difficult to add more lean whilst youíre committed to the first part of the corner. From mid-corner and out, the SRV 850 is great as you can use all that power. The Pirelli Diablo Scooter tires are of proper motorcycle widths: a 160/60-15 rear tire and a 120/70-16 front tire reside on aluminium wheels.
The double 300mm brake discs with 2-piston Brembo calipers provide plenty of stopping power, and a 280mm brake disc calms the rear down. Using only the front brakes arenít enough to stop the SRV 850 sufficiently, so the left-hand brake lever must be used to stop effectively after a high-speed section. The vague Kayaba suspension is the one handling feature that lets the SRV 850 down, and it loses the plot a bit over bumps at high speed.
It is fun to ride the SRV 850 fast, though, and particularly the fact that you can lay lots of power down exiting corners makes the big scooter entertaining. The sound from the massive V-Twin is remarkably scooter, and thereís not much that tells you anything about the size of the engine if you let your ears be the judge. It could just as well have been a 300cc four-stroke Single.
The SRV 850 has a parking brake located to the right of the ignition, and it has both a centerstand and a sidestand. This SRV has one of the best available lean angles I have ever experienced on a scooter, and you really have to go fast before the centerstand touches the tarmac. Aprilia has added a convenient unlock button under the ignition to open the seat, but the ignition needs to be on. Here youíll find the fuel cap and a 16-liter storage compartment. One full-faced helmet fits and nothing else. There is no glove compartment, either, so the SRV 850 gets a minus on the practicalities.
With its aerodynamic RSV4-like front fairing and large windscreen, you could argue the Aprilia SRV 850 is the Hayabusa of scooters. This windscreen is more for show, though, as itís mounted solid and canít be adjusted. To escape the wind at high speed, I had to push my bum as far back as possible to clam down completely, and itís not a comfortable position. A full-faced helmet is absolutely the best choice if you ride many miles on the motorway.
That big V90 engine provides comfort and power on the motorway. Overtakes donít have to be planned, itís simply twist and go whenever needed, as the engine will quickly boost you past anything, even at high speed. The two front lights are always on, and the middle light comes on as a high beam. On the motorway the SRV 850 definitely looks like a big motorcycle in somebodyís rear view mirror.
The windscreen might not completely protect your upper body from the wind, but the lower part of the fairing does protect your legs. The tail light comes directly from another Aprilia beast, the Dorsoduro, and it sharpens up the appearance of the SRV 850ís duck bottom. A lot of the underseat storage space is taken by a large 18.5-liter fuel tank. This adds to the plus side of practicality, and the SRV 850 didnít seem too thirsty at all on our test ride.
The Aprilia SRV 850 is a very unique scooter, and Piaggio has been brave to launch such a maxi-scooter. Youíve got to be quite into scooters to want one of these rather than a full-on motorcycle or even Apriliaís own innovative Mana 850. It breaks boundaries and perhaps brings in a few new riders rather than converting motorcyclists into scootering.
The SRV 850 is perfect for cruising and long commutes. I would get the accessory top box straight away because 16 liters (4.2 gal.) simply isnít enough space under the seat. Itís a compromise, as the big engine, large fuel tank and sturdy chassis takes up the space weíre used to on scooters. It scales in at a considerable 549 pounds, which is on the heavy side for a scooter, and the suspension isnít great. The big engine is powerful but never intimidating and smoother than most. All in all, the SRV is an exciting newcomer from Aprilia.
You can expect to see the Aprilia SRV 850 in U.S. dealerships towards the end of 2012 as a 2013 model. U.S. pricing has yet to be determined.
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