Mongrels to Mecca
Exploding tires, closed roads, creative pit-stops and American pride on not-your-father's scooters.
With significantly more power than the smaller Morphous, the Scarabeo felt like a veritable powerhouse, but it came with a price.
The sheer bulk of the chassis made it my second choice whenever I just needed to go across town or to the other end of the track.
For these jobs, the Morphous was perfect.
Some bikes (and scooters) just beg you to throw a leg over them and take off. Such is the case with the Yamaha. Unfortunately, when the road gets long and/or steep, the Morphous is just plain out of its element.
Think of it as a sexy lightweight cruiser for around-town duties.
The Aprilia, on the other hand, never calls me into its comfy saddle.
But once I commit to throwing a leg over the machine, I feel as comfortable as if on a full-dress tourer, and only when the odometer starts showing some miles do I know it's time to stop.
This is a good choice for anyone who wants a "lightweight" dresser, and will no doubt lure some `Wingers or BMW LTers away when they get old enough to realize a lighter weight machine will make riding a little easier.
So the current state of scooterness is quite well, thank you. As displacement continues to rise and features keep being added, I think more riders will begin to make the switch, or perhaps add one as a second ride.
My dad never had it so good in his day. But by his accounts, he walked 2.5 miles uphill in the snow to school everyday. At the same rate scooters are turning into full-sized motorcycles, I seem to be turning into my father.
After all, the older I get, the faster I was.
|The Engineer's Experience|
Having not enjoyed riding smaller scooters long distances in the past, the Scarabeo seemed to be the ideal mount for the trip from LA to Monterey. Unfortunately, the bike had several problems. First, the ignition switch was very tight. It loosened up after several applications of WD-40 over the week I had it, but it still was a chore to operate. About half way up from LA the idle began to drop and the motor would stall. This coupled with an automatic clutch that seemed to engage later then ideal made slow speed maneuvers challenging. Hopefully these were defects that would have been fixed under the machine's two-year warranty.
The luggage capacity of the machine was outstanding. Two full-face helmets could fit in the top trunk and the side cases were large and easy to use.
It looked so good that even my hard-core roadrace buddies thought it was cool.
It looked so good that even my hard-core roadrace buddies thought it was cool.Ergonomically the Aprilia fit me fairly well. I would have preferred a little more room between my legs and the dash. The seat surprised me. It looks very comfortable judging by the supportive looking shape, but like nearly all stock motorcycle seats the foam is too soft and pressure points developed on my 6'2" 220-lb. frame. The mirrors and controls all seemed to be well placed and functional, and the windshield provided excellent wind coverage. I did have trouble deploying the side stand with my leg. I found it easier to reach down and use my hand.
Handling was very different from a motorcycle. It took me nearly a day to adjust as even my DR650 dirt bike steered heavy by comparison. It is not that the handling was bad, just very different and required some adjustment on my part. At freeway or rural road speeds the suspension transferred strong jolts over some bumps. I am unsure if it was caused by a lack of travel or too much high-speed compression damping.
Power was marginal for freeway use as it accelerated with the same ferocity as my old Ford Ranger 4 banger. It would work for commuting for someone without a lot of 2-wheeled experience, but even my single would leave it in the dust. Hopefully this was related to the poor idle, stalling and EFI warning light, and would be better if the motor was functioning correctly.
Braking was again weird for a motorcyclist. The "clutch" was actually the rear brake lever which made for some embarrassing moments in gas stations as I attempted a U-turn. The front brake had some feature that caused the lever to become soft when not moving. I do not understand how this was an advantage and it was unsettling on the steep hills at Laguna in traffic.
Styling is an area in which this machine truly shines. It looked so good that even my hard-core roadrace buddies thought it was cool. It just looks well, Italian.
Assuming the functional problems were an isolated incident that a trip to the dealer and a warranty card could fix, the only real problem with using this machine as a long-distance mount is the seat. If used for commuting and your saddle time is less then an hour at a time it would make an excellent commuter.
The Morphous is typically Japanese: everything works perfectly as intended. The motor functioned perfectly as did the clutch and drivetrain. Although it looked cool, the low stance limited the legroom. The seat has a small backrest near the rear, but as I am tall and the legroom is limited, the small backrest dug into my tailbone. Because of both my size and the scooter's it was impossible to not sit on the backrest. After a long day in this saddle my tailbone hurt for days after the ride.
Although the Yamaha is technically legal to ride on the freeway it is way underpowered for this role. The maximum comfortable speed is 75 mph and acceleration is very soft, making for some exciting freeway entrances. It is better to stick with back roads and urban environments. You will live longer.
As with all scooters' steering, it is very light and both brakes are on the bar. The suspension is similar to the Aprilia in that it is not as plush as I would like over larger and sharp-faced bumps.
The long and low look limited the maneuverability of the machine when compared to the Aprilia. If I was in the market for a small scooter for use around town I would choose one with more standard ergonomics and dimensions. In my mind the most valuable assets of a small scooter such as this are low-speed maneuverability and gas mileage.
-Ray Engelhardt, guest tester
|From the Pillion|
My first ever scooter experience was on the Yamaha Morphous from Apple Valley to Monterey. Being just 5' tall and 115 pounds with all my gear on, I was thrilled with how easy it was to get onto the scooter. The ride was comfortable for about an hour and half, but after that my butt became quite sore.
The passenger grab rails were well positioned for those times when I needed to stretch. After we reached our final destination, I was not unhappy to get off due to the cramped space and uncomfortable seat. Short stints on the bike were freeway, it was very quiet with only a slight roar when it was fed with gas.
We switched scooters and took the Aprilia down the Pacific Coastal Highway. This always quite pleasant, however. While the Yamaha felt a little slow on the scooter was pure comfort! The seat wa s nicely shaped for long-distance riding, and the backrest was just amazing. Now if I can only convince Lee to put one on his SV650. I don't think I had a single sore body part while riding as a passenger on the Aprilia. There were a couple of drawbacks, however. The footpegs are positioned a little too far forward for a petite person, which made it feel like I needed to stretch my legs. The engine sounded a little loud compared to the Yamaha (even with earplugs) and it was a bit more difficult to get off the scooter because it was a lot taller in height. The kickstand on the Aprilia had always interfered with the foot pegs when getting off, so I had to fold the foot pegs up before putting the kickstand down. The Aprilia had a nice range with its 4.5-gallon tank, and I liked the way it handled, especially during the twisty sections.
...I'd happily sign on for another long-distance trip on one.
Overall, the Aprilia was a great scooter experience and I'd happily sign on for another long-distance trip on one.