2012 Aprilia SRV 850 Review

Bad Motor Scooter

It is perfect sunshine and not a cloud in sight. I’m in Porto Ercole, Italy. I can see 200 km/h (124 mph) with more revs to go crouched behind the small windscreen. The 839cc V-Twin engine produces enough torque for black lines to be left behind me out of slow corners, but, no, this isn’t a superbike, this is Aprilia’s new bad motor scooter: the SRV 850.

Piaggio is one of the world’s 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 isn’t the first in the Aprilia range, though, as the Mana 850 also features this engine and CVT transmission.

2012 Aprilia SRV 850 Beauty

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.

2012 Aprilia SRV 850 Leaning Right

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 I’ll 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. Aprilia’s maxi-scooter proves to be much smoother than BMW’s newly arrived C 600 Sport and C 650 GT. This is also Aprilia’s 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 can’t help myself in saying that the SRV 850’s 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.

2012 Aprilia SRV 850 Cornering

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 you’re 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 aren’t 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 there’s 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. 

2012 Aprilia SRV 850 Front Cornering

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 you’ll 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.

2012 Aprilia SRV 850 Action Front

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 it’s mounted solid and can’t 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 it’s 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 don’t have to be planned, it’s 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 somebody’s 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 850’s 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 didn’t seem too thirsty at all on our test ride.


2012 Aprilia SRV 850 Storage

The Aprilia SRV 850 is a very unique scooter, and Piaggio has been brave to launch such a maxi-scooter. You’ve got to be quite into scooters to want one of these rather than a full-on motorcycle or even Aprilia’s 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 isn’t enough space under the seat. It’s a compromise, as the big engine, large fuel tank and sturdy chassis takes up the space we’re used to on scooters. It scales in at a considerable 549 pounds, which is on the heavy side for a scooter, and the suspension isn’t great. The big engine is powerful but never intimidating and smoother than most. All in all, the SRV is an exciting newcomer from Aprilia.

2012 Aprilia SRV 850 Profile Right

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.

 Highs:     Lows:
  • Smooth V-Twin power with seamless transmission
  • High-speed stability
  • Good brakes
  • Mediocre suspension
  • Heavy
  • Not as inherently practical as other maxi scooters

Related Reading
Aprilia SRV850 Maxi-Scooter Coming to North America – First Ride Impressions
EICMA 2011 Preview: Aprilia SRV 850 Maxi-Scooter
2012 BMW C 600 Sport Review
2012 BMW C600 Sport and C650GT Scooter Preview

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