Bike India

Monica Bellucci of Scooters

The hot, new Aprilia SXR 160 looks exotic in the overcrowde­d scooter market, but that equally gorgeous price tag puts it out of reach for most


Sarmad Kadiri Apurva Ambep

Story: Photograph­y:

Over a cup Of steaming hOt espresso, Diago graffi told us about his early morning ride from pune to Lonavala. the president and managing Director of piaggio india (the mother brand of aprilia) was fresh off the aprilia sXr 160’s saddle, the hot new moto-scooter to enter the scene. With the usual effusive italian manners, he talked about riding down from pune to nashik recently and how comfortabl­e it was during the five-hour trip. ‘this is a completely new breed of scooter and is based on aprilia’s latest global design language.’ and we agree, as it sure looks ravishing in the flesh. Designed and developed in italy, the sXr 160 is an all-new model made specifical­ly for india and will be the marque’s most premium scooter offering in our country.

graffi says that like the sr range, the new sXr is also a segment creator that will target not just new motorcycle and scooter buyers, but also car-owners in big cities who are bored of being stuck in traffic every time they commute. and the reason he’s been taking inter-city trips on the sXr is that the italian brand feels it can be used for short tours. ‘With the sXr 160, we offer a premium experience along with great performanc­e, comfort, and style. so, you can even take it on longer rides in comfort. in fact, you must try riding the bike with a pillion because it’s just so comfortabl­e.’ after the italian coffee, it was time to taste the pudding… i mean, ride the sXr to see if all this really holds water.

the aprilia is quite a head-turner. the only thing that comes close would be the suzuki

Burgman street 125 but this one is a whole lot more proportion­ate. the sXr is large without being bulky and every design element comes together pretty well. the large front takes inspiratio­n from maxi-scooters, while the sleek rear gives it a rather unique appeal. a large smoked screen in front is a dominating design element and offers decent wind protection at city speeds. the split headlamp with built-in LeD DrL is positioned on the front body and looks pretty premium.

the rider gets access to a range of informatio­n through a large LcD screen, not a colour unit but probably the biggest in the segment. it displays the speedomete­r, tachometer, outside temperatur­e, time, fuel-gauge, trip and odometer, and even an engine temperatur­e gauge. the motorcycle-like handlebar is covered in matte plastic, giving it a nice chunky look. even the sturdy-looking switches and buttons are picked from sr’s parts bin, the only difference is that the sXr gets a “mode” button on the right-side unit which helps cycle through the various informatio­n on the display. then there’s Bluetooth connectivi­ty for smartphone, but that’s currently an optional feature and i couldn’t try it during my short ride experience.

the seat has nice contrastin­g stitches and is large enough to accommodat­e a pillion. underneath is a wide but flat storage area, which means only a small open-face helmet can fit in. i found the position of the ignition slot not very user-friendly as it is hidden from the rider’s vision, thus making it difficult to insert the key. there’s another storage space on the front apron and its lid pops open with a gentle push on the ignition slot. this one gets two small pockets and a built-in usB charger for your phone.

the aprilia team never referred to the sXr 160 as a maxiscoote­r, so, for obvious reasons, there’s no central spine which internatio­nal models offer. instead, it gets a regular floorboard like convention­al scooters but one that isn’t expansive mainly because the sXr uses the same platform as the sr. and that’s why it also borrows the 160.03-cc sOhc, three-valve, singlecyli­nder engine which is also used by its siblings. But to match the moto-scooter positionin­g, aprilia have tuned the ecu for a relaxed power delivery. a chat with the r&D team revealed that the cvt has been tweaked as well, but they didn’t elaborate on it much. according to the specificat­ions supplied by aprilia india, the sXr makes 11 hp and 11.6 nm of torque, which peak slightly earlier in the rev-range compared to the sr. this gives the sXr 160 an easy-going character which sets it apart, making it less intimidati­ng for the casual rider.

right off the line, it’s faster than the usual 110-125-cc crowd but not as lightning-quick as the sr 160 and even the exhaust note is more subdued. the other difference is that the sXr gets a seven-litre fuel-tank which is one litre more than the scooter it’s based on. there’s decent mid-range, too, which would translate into hassle-free cruising. it even has enough steam to touch almost 90 km/h on the speedo and remains pretty stable at high speed. But just in case this is too much for you to handle, the italian brand is also working on a smaller capacity sXr 125.

using the same underpinni­ng from the sr 160, the new scooter employs the same front telescopic fork and mono-suspension at the back but they have been tuned to offer a softer ride. however, a major difference are these beautiful 12-inch alloy wheels which, in terms of grip and handling, can’t match the 14-inch ones of the sr. it seems to have a longer wheelbase, while the steering rake angle also appears to be more relaxed. the

sXr 160, being the company’s flagship scooter, comes with a 220-mm front disc brake with aBs (single channel) as standard while there’s a 140-mm drum at the rear. the braking is still among the best in the segment, so no complaints here.

the sr suspension, as you know, is notoriousl­y stiff. thankfully, the sXr feels a shade better, intending to offer greater comfort without losing most of the agility. you can flick this large scooter around with ease and it remains nice and composed around corners as well, but it’s not as razor-sharp as its sibling. the tuned front fork ensures that the front doesn’t skip and bounce any more, making it more forgiving to ride. over broken roads, the pillion will find the ride quality to be still on the firmer side, though most riders won’t find the setup troublesom­e. however, the smaller wheels take away from the motorcycle­like dynamics the sr range boasts of.

For the extra oomph and styling and a large digital display, the sXr 160 demands rs 1.26 lakh (ex-showroom) — a premium of rs 22,000 over the sr 160 which costs about rs 1.04 lakh (ex-showroom, before 2021 price revision). It goes without saying that this premium scooter will have a niche clientele who are willing to spend that extra buck to stand out of the crowd. and that’s one thing this Italian beauty does pretty effortless­ly.


January 2021

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