Starting with seating comfort, the Aprilia SR 160 offers a traditional upright riding stance that never feels uncomfortable. The seat might feel a bit firm initially but softens a bit after spending a few minutes on it.
The engine of the SR 160 is still one of the strongest traits of this scooter. It's so much different from most of the easy-going scooters we see on the road and offers a decently quick and punchy performance. The SR 160 is fairly quick off the line and keeps pulling away cleanly at city speeds. It's pretty fun to ride in the city due to brisk low-end acceleration but the pull tapers off as you get past 60-70kmph. Also, under hard acceleration, be ready for some harsh vibrations on the footboard.
The scooter can even cruise at around 80kmph on the highway without much stress on the engine. But overtaking at this speed requires a lot of planning and contemplation. The whole riding experience is accentuated by the throaty and rough exhaust note which gives it a character of its own.
Complementing its potent engine is the sharp handling of the SR 160. Reiterating what has already been said so many times before — the handling of this scooter is quite close to a motorcycle. That’s mainly because of its rigid chassis and large 14-inch wheels. The SR is light on its feet and changes directions pretty quickly. Most of our time spent with the scooter was in the city where it hugely impressed us with its agility. Although we couldn't show it some nice tight and sweeping corners, we are sure it will be pretty engaging and enjoyable there as well.
And when it's time to stop the scooter, the brakes of the SR turn out to be very proficient for the job. The front brake has tremendous bite and sheds speed in no time. Even the ABS kicks in at appropriate times. This is coupled with a fantastic feel from the lever. It's almost the same story with the rear brake as well, which offers a great balance of bite and progression.
The stiff ride quality of the SR was a major issue back in its BS4 form. Then with the BS6 transition, Piaggio worked on making it a bit plusher. However, it continues to be uncomfortable as the road conditions deteriorate. As the scooter goes over sharp bumps, rumblers, or deep potholes, all the shock is transferred to your back for the most part. Even increasing the speed doesn't help. As for the front, it feels even more jarring and crude, hampering the overall ride.
In the quest of giving the SR 160 a sporty and minimalist look, Aprilia has compromised on the utility front. The footboard of the scooter continues to be a cramped unit and it's difficult to accommodate things like a backpack with your feet occupying most of the space. And the under-seat storage space isn't very impressive either. But on the positive side, Piaggio has installed a boot lamp and a USB charger under the seat.