2012 Aprilia SRV 850 | Review

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2012 Aprilia Maxi Scooter

There’s perfect sunshine and not a cloud in sight as I’m in Porto Ercole, Italy. I can see 125 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 while exiting slow corners, but this isn’t a superbike – this is Aprilia’s new bad motor scooter, the SRV 850.

The new SRV 850 is a concept developed through the Gilera GP 800 maxi scooter, and this is no surprise considering both Gilera and Aprilia are owned the Piaggio name.

The 839cc V90 isn’t the first in the Aprilia range, though, as the Mana 850 also features this engine with automatic transmission.

The GP 800 never turned out to be the success Piaggio had hoped for, so that model has ceased to exist. But 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 due to the 76 horsepower, a number that has historically belonged to the motorcycle categories. And in most countries, 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 I’ll say this straight away: Aprilia’s Mana 850 is a much more exciting concept while also being more practical.

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 paired to its automatic transmission allows you to smooch along on small throttle openings. Aprilia’s maxi scooter is also much smoother than BMW’s newly arrived C 600 Sport and C 650 GT.

This is Aprilia’s main advance over all the others; the 56 ft. lbs. 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 American muscle car ‘esque than all-out RSV4 corner hero. The handling is a bit vague and I never completely get a good feel from the Kayaba suspension down to the Pirelli Diablo Scooter tires.

The double 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 and that’s all rider as you sit 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 while you’re committed to the first part of the corner, but from mid corner and out the SRV 850 is great because you can use all the power.

The Pirelli Diablo Scooter tires are of proper motorcycle dimensions in a 160/60-15 rear tire and a 120/70-16 front tire sat on aluminum 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 and the left hand lever must be used in addition to stop effectively after a high speed section. The vague Kayaba suspension is the one handling feature that lets the SRV 850 down and over bumps at high speed it looses the plot a bit.

It is fun to ride the SRV 850 fast though and particularly the fact that you can lay lots of power down exiting corners make 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 the ears be the judge. It could just as well have been a 300cc single four stroke.

For parking the SRV 850 have a parking brake located to the right of the ignition. The maxi scooter have both a center stand and a side stand and the lean angle is one of the best I have ever experienced on a scooter and you really have to go fast before the centre stand touches the tarmac. Aprilia have 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 litre storage compartment. This takes one full faced helmet and nothing else. There is no glove compartment either so the SRV 850 gets a minus on the practicalities.

You could argue that the Aprilia SRV 850 is the Hayabusa of scooters and it has a very aero dynamical RSV4 front top fairing with what looks like quite a large windscreen. This windscreen is more for show though as its mounted solid and can not be adjusted.

To escape the wind at high speed I had to clam down completely and push my bum as far back as possible and it’s not a comfortable position. A full faced helmet is absolutely the best choice if you ride many miles on the motorway.

Again, 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 high beam then the middle light goes on as well. 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 from the wind. The rear light comes directly from another Aprilia beast, the Dorsoduro and it sharpens up the SRV 850’s duck’s bottom.

A lot of the under seat storage space is taken by a large 18.5 litre 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 Maxi Scooter Conclusion:

The Aprilia SRV 850 is a very unique scooter and Piaggio have been brave to launch it in the first place. You have 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 a few new riders in rather than converting motorcyclists into scootering. I must say though that the SRV 850 is perfect for cruising and long commutes. I would get the top box straight away because 16 liters simply isn’t enough space under the seat.

It’s a compromise of course as the big engine, large fuel tank and sturdy chassis takes up the space we’re used to on scooters. 249 kilos is on the heavy side and the suspension isn’t great. At top speed the SRV 850 is very stable and despite the little slip here and there out of corners it’s all very controllable. The big engine is powerful but never intimidating and smoother than most. All in all a exciting newcomer from Aprilia.

2012 Aprilia SRV 850 Maxi Scooter Positives:

+ Smooth V-twin power with seamless transmission
+ High speed stability
+ Good brakes

2012 Aprilia SRV 850 Maxi Scooter Negatives:

– Suspension
– Not as inherently practical as other maxi scooters

Photography: Milagro