The most powerful scooter in India has received some significant under-the-skin tweaks. Has it become faster than ever then?
When the Aprilia SR 150 was launched back in 2016, it was touted as the most fun-to-ride scooter in the country by a country mile. It was aimed at providing maximum Thrill of Riding owing to its firm ride and sharp handling and the motor could hit speeds as high as 100kmph.
Fast forward to 2020 — BS6 norms have been implemented and thus Aprilia has had to comply with the GoI. To compensate for the loss of power, Aprilia has increased the displacement of the engine by extending the stroke (by 2mm), taking it from 58.6mm to 60.6mm. With that, the cubic capacity has gone up from 154.8cc to 160.03cc. Power and torque figures have marginally increased to 10.8bhp (+0.8bhp) and 11.6Nm (+0.7Nm). There’s also the addition of electronic fuel injection and the tyres are new as well. Yup, the Taiwanese Vee Rubber tyres have been replaced with new MRF tyres. And lastly, the dual barrel headlamps have been replaced with a single barrel unit.
Open the throttle and the difference in performance seems marginal. Despite the added power and torque and same weight (Kerb weight, 122kg) as before, the acceleration feels somewhat subdued in comparison to the outright urgency that the BS4 version treated us with. BS6 upgrades have toned down performance in the interest of emissions on a lot of other two-wheelers we reviewed this year as well. That said, the SR 160 is still a proper hoot to ride, unlike any other scooter that’s on sale today. The power delivery is linear, refinement levels have gone up too. It sprints to 60kmph before you expect it to and it even goes over 90kmph on an open stretch of Tarmac.
There are no changes to the chassis and the ride remains primarily stiff. Going over potholes at slow speeds is quite cumbersome, but ride it around a set of corners and it comes to life. Chucking it into twisties is proper fun and there’s no other scooter in India that goes around corners with so much vigour and poise. Handling continues to be a highlight and MRF tyres provide adequate grip, even on wet roads. We expect them to last longer for the Vee Rubbers on our long-term SR 150 barely made it past the 8,000km mark. Also, the SR 160 continues to sport the best brakes (220mm front disc, 140mm drum at the rear) on any two-wheeler in the country except for the Yamaha FZ25. The bite is really exceptional.
We also reviewed the SR 160 Race, a sportier version that comes with RS-GP 20 inspired livery on a matt-black paint scheme. Like before, the Race continues to get the front Bybre caliper finished in gold and the rear monoshock in red, combining for some striking details. Except for a re-tuned CVT with different roller bearings, tweaked gear ratios and Ceat tyres, the SR 160 Race remains mechanically identical to the standard version, with the styling elements being the only distinguishing factors. After riding both back to back, the former felt slightly quicker up to 60kmph compared to the standard model, thanks to the tweaked gearbox. The difference isn’t significant though and everything else remains identical. We will be VBOX-ing them soon, so stay tuned for further updates. The Ceats though fall short of expectations and aren’t as good as the MRFs.
The lack of equipment on the SR 160 can be a letdown for those who want performance and practicality at the same time. The under seat stowage is significantly smaller than most other scooters and there’s no LED headlamp, fully digital instrument cluster or an external fuel filling cap either. Ideally, you don’t expect this from a scooter that costs Rs 1.03 lakh, ex-showroom. At this price point, you even get some really good 160cc motorcycles! The Race edition costs about Rs 10,000 more than the standard SR 160 while both models cost roughly Rs 20,000 more than their outgoing BS4 versions. Should you consider the SR 160 then? For enthusiasts who are willing to compromise on features but not on the performance front, it’s still a no brainer. Also, with this powertrain, the foundations for the upcoming SXR 160 maxi-scooter that we saw at the Auto Expo 2020 have been laid. And that’s something we’re really looking forward to next. Would it be as firm as the SR? Let’s wait and watch.