Traction Control, ABS and a 75bhp v-twin — they call this a scooter?

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The Aprilia SRV850 isn’t new. In fact, it’s just a re-skinned Gilera GP800, which debuted in 2008. But, it is now getting both ABS and switchable traction control. Those, plus the 90º, liquid-cooled v-twin with twin-spark plug ignition, counter-rotating crankshaft that’s mounted to the frame, instead of the swingarm, make this scooter more sophisticated than many motorcycles. What the hell?

This isn’t the first scooter with TC either. That was another Piaggio product (Piaggio owns Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa and Gilera), the BV350 that you saw when we ripped that Zero DS to shreds on RideApart.

The GP800-cum-SRV850 actually uses the same engine as a motorcycle too, the same 839cc, liquid-cooled v-twin and CVT transmission as the Aprilia Mana, the Gilera GP800 makes 75bhp and 54lb/ft of torque. That’s a LOT for a scooter; in comparison the Piaggio MP3 500 makes just 40bhp. Unfortunately, it has to move a lot of weight — 235kg/518lbs (dry), in fact. That’s two pounds heavier than a Mana in running order, fully filled with fuel. Still, that power is good for a top speed in excess of 120mph. It should be fairly stable at such speeds too, wheels grow to nearly motorcycle-size; 16” up front and 15” rear.

In that motor, both the crankshaft and transmission components rotate in a direction opposite to the wheels, an effect which reduces rotating inertia and gyroscopic effect. You may remember that the MV Agusta F3 makes great noise about its counter-rotating crank and its handling benefits.

That motor/transmission are also mounted to the steel, double-cradle frame, not to the swingarm, as is a traditional hallmark of the scooter configuration. Aprilia claims this gives the SRV a coefficient of stability at full-throttle nearly double that of traditional scooters — 1 rad/sec.

The rear monoshock is mounted horizontally and adjusts for preload. The 41mm forks are unadjustable. Front brakes are dual 300mm discs gripped by four-piston Brembo calipers.

The SRV is capable of 45º lean angles before dragging anything.

ABS you’ll be familiar with. Speed sensors on both wheels provide data that’s continuously monitored by an ECU. Should the rate of deceleration of one fall below the other, ABS works some magic and the brakes don’t lock. Those same wheel speed sensors inform TC operation too; if the speed of the rear wheel is found to exceed the front while the throttle is being applied, the ignition advance and injection timing are altered to limit torque until traction is regained. That’s not the sophisticated APRC system used on bikes like the RSV4, but it should be an effective safety aid on wet city streets — the SRV’s home. TC is switchable between normal and “Sport” modes, the latter backs of the intervention threshold to allow more fun. You know, because they last thing you want is for an electronic nannie to prevent you from power sliding your scooter.

  • Ben W

    This is exactly what I would want for a track day if I were a rich bastard.

    • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]


  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

    To my eyes, it actually looks much better than an RSV4. Aesthetically, its lines are much more sorted, and its front end doesn’t look like some alien bug.

  • Gene

    Not a fan of the CVT transmission. When the belt goes, it’s expensive and only the dealer can replace it.

    • cramer

      Not sure if that’s right. I’ve changed the belt on a CVT on a modern Vespa.

    • Ax

      Is there something special about the SRV850′s belt or CVT? It’s a pretty simple procedure on my Yamaha Majesty (400cc). Belts are about $130 and usually last at least 13k miles.

      • Gene

        At least on the Mana, after you replace the belt, you need to have a special USB tool & software to recalibrate the “computer feedback pot” to the new belt. If you don’t, then it’ll either throw a “BELT” light and shut down, or chew up the new belt.

        My problem is you can’t buy the special tool, and the nearest Aprilia dealer is 190 miles away. The nearest one that isn’t a total dick is more like 300 miles away. They both charge up the ass for a few seconds of clickety-click on a computer.

        This is from my experience with a friend that said “help me” after his bike left him stranded 3 or 4 times because of the belt.

        Now, I don’t have a thing against special computer tools, I have one to help sync the TBs on my SV-650, but at least Suzuki was willing to sell it to me. Aprilia isn’t, citing IP issues.

        • cramer

          Ah, that’s a bummer. Thanks for the detail.

  • Ax
  • Campisi

    “You know, because they last thing you want is for an electronic nannie to prevent you from power sliding your scooter.”

    Yeah, pretty much. This thing is pretty much a motorcycle in drag anyway, so why not?

  • GGno

    This is the new tourer-bike generation.

  • Dani Peral

    Yeah i like the looks more than those of the GP800, also good technology added. But, it should have a bigger bonnet/luggage under seat to really compete with the TMAX.

    Here the TMAX is KING and it is a really tough enemy to beat.

    Still, I think I will see this scooter from time to time, as GP800 is quite common here as well.

  • Chris Davis

    I guess I could see Steve McQueen riding a modern Triumph, but Stevie Ray Vaughn on an Aprilia scooter is a stretch. When will this crass commercialism end?

  • Keith

    “The GP800-cum-SRV850 actually uses the same engine as a motorcycle too”

    OK…we need to step back (or through) and re-think this motorcycle or scooter designation.
    This is a motorcycle.
    The only way I will call it a scooter is if my insurance company will cover it for less $$$

    • Ax

      When my uncle, who used to ride Triumphs and BSAs, took my Yamaha Majesty out for ride, the first words out of his mouth when he came back were, “That’s no scooter!”

    • stempere

      In europe we call them “maxi-scooters”.

      I think it’s still a bit different, the big difference for me is the riding position.
      You do see more and more guys riding them with their feet on the pillion pegs though…