Aprilia pimps the world's fastest scooter to remain at the forefront of the super-commuter class


November 28, 2011

Aprilia's SRV850

Aprilia's SRV850

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Aprilia is Europe's most successful racing motorcycle manufacturer, with two superbike world championship titles, nine off-road world championships and 38 world titles in Grand Prix motorcycle racing. So, it is entirely appropriate that as the "racing" marque of the Piaggio stable, which is one of the world's largest producers of scooters, Aprilia should produce the world's fastest scooter.

The Aprilia SRV 850 is based on the Gilera GP 800, the world's fastest maxi scooter that was created back in 2007 when Piaggio Group put an Aprilia Mana sports V-twin engine into a purpose-built scooter frame.

The bike was launched in 2007 as a Gilera GP 800 Maxi Scooter and now it's the turn of another of Piaggio's marques (Piaggio owns the brands Piaggio, Gilera and Aprilia, plus Moto Guzzi, Derbi, Vespa and Laverda), the race-orientated Aprilia brand, to make its mark on the GP 800 and make it the SRV 850.

Indeed, the scooter and motorcycle appear to be morphing into a new class of two-wheeled machine, with the power, acceleration, braking and roadholding of the motorcycle, and carrying capacity, weather protection, comfort, safety and ease-of-use of the scooter.

The Aprilia SRV850 The SRV 850 is Aprilia's redesign of the Gilera GP800, which was already the fastest and most powerful scooter ever manufactured anywhere in the world. It is a red-blooded Italian V-twin sports bike - a sports bike with no gears that looks like a scooter.

The specifications read like any Italian sports bike: the 55.9 kW (76.0 HP) engine is a fuel-injected, electronic ignition, four valves per cylinder, 90° V-twin in a lightweight rigid trellis frame. The handling and roadholding are reportedly quite extraordinary, partly because of the lightweight but very rigid trellis frame, and partly because the crankshaft and transmission rotate in the opposite direction to the wheels, significantly reducing the gyroscopic effect.

The Aprilia SRV850 There's also top shelf brakes, suspension and running gear. Maxi scooters have been around for more than a decade now, but with Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and BMW already having large-engined scooter/motorcycle combinations at or close to market, the super scooter is appearing as a new class of motorcycle with a very compelling proposition - the convenience of a scooter no longer means an anemic mid-range. Instead, the muscular 76.5 Nm (7.8 kgm) mid-range of the Aprilia SRV drives a CVT - sports riding with a modern CVT means NO gears.

The Gilera GP800 An engine of this power output (at 76 bhp, the scooter has more horsepower than the original modern day superbike, the Honda CB750, which had 67 bhp) requires a very strong chassis - the double cradle frame of the Aprilia SRV 850 is made of steel trellis with reinforcing and rigidity plates, and is apparently more than up to the task.

Honda's Integra will be released this week According to Aprilia, it has conducted simulations and road tests that have demonstrated that the SRV 850 has a coefficient of stability at full power similar to a motorcycle (1 rad/sec) and almost twice as high as a conventional scooter. The rigidity of the bracing in the trellis frame is the difference and is claimed to deliver an "extraordinary sensation of riding control", a bike that "leans into bends like a sport bike, reaching angles of 45°, always holding a neutral behavior and extraordinary road holding."

The overall package is far more rigid than the GP 800 even though it is only slightly lighter (by just 5 kg/11 lbs). The suspension has been replaced at both ends - the 41 mm cast aluminum swingarm, completely revamped suspension geometry and top class brakes sitting on fat 16" front, 15" rear lightweight cast aluminum rims.

BMW's new GT600 The interesting thing about the SRV 850 is that the engine faces the opposite way to normal - the crankshaft and transmission have a rotational motion opposite to that of the wheels in order to reduce rotating inertia and the gyroscopic effect which makes it more difficult to tip a conventional motorcycle into a turn.

The company claims that by removing this suppression of the rotational inertia, "the handling and quick entrance into turns" of the Aprilia SRV 850 has been improved.

The chassis design has also given Aprilia a way of minimizing the vibrations of the big V-twin by isolating the engine from the frame with "elastic mountings" and similarly with the 2-into-1 exhaust system.

Piaggio also produces the MP3 three-wheeler The front end of the SRV 850 is styled on the RSV4 SBK 2010 SBK World Championship bike, with a big triple headlight, dynamic air intakes under the headlight assembly, and a fairing supposedly designed in a wind tunnel, though it doesn't look that much different to the original GP 800.

The braking system on the SRV 850 is similarly top shelf, hauling an admittedly porky machine (for a scooter, 249 kg/549 lbs), to a stop from its road bike speeds with ease. Up front are Brembo Gold Series double piston floating calipers and two 300mm semi-floating steel discs, and at rear the floating caliper has opposing pistons and acts on a 280 mm steel disc. Twin channel anti lock braking makes this a breeze.

Honda's Integra As the RSV has a CVT and hence no ability to lock the rear wheel by engaging the transmission, it's one of the very few two wheelers on the planet to also have a parking brake, which is operated by a lever on the right of the leg shield.

The SRV comes standard with radial tires, being a 120/70 at the front and 160/60 on the driving wheel.

Aprilia's influence on the sporting character of the bike is most pronounced in the area of suspension. A cast aluminum swingarm is similar to that of the remarkable RS250 road bike which is sadly no more.

The frame on the Yamaha T-Max leaves no doubt about its rigidity It is clamped by suspension linkages that are dominated by a horizontally mounted, lateral hydraulic monoshock absorber, adjustable to seven different preload settings. Compared to the GP 800 the fork made in aluminum with large 41 mm stanchions, it adopts a more sustained calibration resulting in significant improvement of dynamic control of the vehicle, improving braking and leaning stability.

Suzuki's 650 scooter The maxi scooter class is growing considerably - the only thing now that it requires for take-off as a class is for the the fuel prices to follow their natural course, and all those ex-motorcyclists to renew their vows.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, (Australia's largest Telco), (Australia's largest employment site),,, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

The headline claims it\'s the fastest scooter yet - but in the article there\'s no word about how fast exactly that is....

Kim Scholer



Why is there such a world reluctance to throw a blanket out there over what I would term the Personal Transport Vehicle (of which the scooter in 2-3-4 wheel configurations woudl be included as well as say now there are a number Articulating PTV cars out there like the Carver recently raved about by some nonce on a driving program because he\'d never felt the effect of 1rad/second before) with pehaps a minimum of 2 seats linear only to make road congestion and carbon footprints just so much smaller.

Governments need to be driving this requirement by just announcing th standards and the Manufacturing world probably has 4 pre-production prototypes in every Marque just waiting to be put on the road, so why don\'t they put them on the road i places like Britain with absolutely Zero bureauchracy about such driven vehicles.

I have my own design in mind just as many engineers would have many drawn to to part level let alone so many in cotton wool waiting implemantation. We don\'t need mega scooters to get people back on smaller trasportation, we need much better vehicles with much better and wider apilications to gewt people seriously out of a \"4 seater car) configuration of any size into a PTV.

Many idea\'s in the PTV world fall flat on their face for trying to bite too much cherry at once (the POD style rivers of commuters) what is needed is a quantum step in first the mechanical engineering of such vehicles for which there are already alternate drive systems (electric etc) available and then the vehicle needs to be able to run all week and then do the w/e.

I wonder how many axamples of real PTV we have like that right now rather than a \"Mega-scooter\". People have forgotten that to eat your Elephant you can start with a mouthfull not stuff an unchewable amount in your mouth all at once.

Gavin Greaves
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