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Aprilia SR150 Race vs Suzuki Access 125 Comparison Test

07 July 2017, 03:06 PM Charles Pennefather

Introduction

India is the biggest two-wheeler market in the world right now, and a large contributor to that is the scooter segment, which is growing at a mind-boggling rate of 20 per cent. Mind boggling because the Honda Activa has been the highest-selling two-wheeler for the past few months, and the absolute numbers are staggering. However, with such growth, everyone will want a piece of the action, and sometimes the competition has found that dislodging the Activa isn’t such an easy task. Enter left-field entrants like the Suzuki Access 125 and the Aprilia SR150. These are scooters that offer more, for someone who’s looking beyond the ordinary or standard scooter. Interestingly, they’re also two of the quickest scooters sold in India. 

Looks

The Access is an inoffensive design, designed to appeal to the largest possible audience. As such, it is quite bland. There are a few nice touches like the chrome headlamp surround that is oddly reminiscent of the Intruder M1800R, and the swoopy lower half of the side panels. Opting for the retro-styled Special Edition for Rs 3000 more will net you chromed round mirrors that we first saw on the Vespas, and a maroon seat cover and beige plastics. Everything oozes quality, but it won’t turn heads, and not just because it sells so well that it is a common sight – the Aprilia appeals to a very specific kind of buyer, and it has that focus in spades. 

It starts with the large and very red 14-inch wheels rims. Then there’s the tyres, which look like they were made for a superbike but then shrink-wrapped to the smaller scooter rims. The headlight is a twin barrel affair and mounted on the front apron like that other scooter that is so popular with the youth, the Honda Dio. The SR150 Race is distinguished by the addition of green to the decals. The SR’s design is an aggressive one, with elegance built in, but the decals on the Race make it look very busy. The seat also contributes to it with the dual-tone theme, with the second colour being a contrasting red. It isn’t shy about its intentions: it is the only scooter so far that warrants a saree guard. That’s how minimal the bodywork is when you get to the rear of the scooter. The only fly in the ointment is the quality – the matt plastics don’t look or feel as good as the corresponding bits on the Access. 

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Aprilia SR150 [2017-2018]

Aprilia SR150 [2017-2018]

  • Displacement154.8 cc
  • Mileage - Owner Reported35 kmpl
  • Max Power(bhp)10.25 bhp
  • Kerb Weight122 kg
  • ;

Last known Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 73,373

The Aprilia knocks it out of the park with its styling, and would earn even more points for delivering this style with more quality. The Suzuki has played it safe, but that’s alright with us; we’re expecting a new Swish at some point in the future, and that is the fashion-conscious sibling in the Suzuki lineup. 

Instrumentation, Riding Position

The Access provides its information through a part-digital instrument cluster. Like its styling, it has opted for form rather than function. A clear white background, large, simple fonts and a single button that helps you cycle through the digital readout at the bottom. You can choose to display the odometer or either of the two tripmeters, the fuel gauge is always on display, and ‘service due’ and ‘oil change’ indicators light up whenever necessary.

The Aprilia has a more youthful twin-pod layout. The smaller left pod houses an analog fuel gauge that runs clockwise when full but ‘Empty’ is at the bottom and ‘Full’ to the left, and the bigger pod on the right houses the speedometer and odometer. This makes the Aprilia one of the few remaining scooters with analog odometers and zero tripmeters. The Aprilia doesn’t show any concern for fuel economy in its speedo meter, the way most scooters (including the Access) do with a ‘green zone’ from 30-50kph. It also includes the ‘Aprilia’ and ‘SR’ logos in each of the pods, which give it character, unlike the Suzuki’s nameless cluster.  The warning lights are housed in recesses that hold rainwater which doesn’t drain – a solution would be nice. 

The riding position of these two couldn’t be more different if they had tried. The Suzuki puts your feet flat on a big floorboard; so big that Suzuki claims it is the longest in the class. The Aprilia, on the other hand, has just enough space for my size eleven riding boots. It’s the same case with the pillion seat – you’ve got to be comfortable getting physically intimate with whoever your pillion is on the Aprilia. Great if you’re a single college-going male giving a lift to your crush, but not so great if you’re planning to take your mother to the market, and if she rides sidesaddle.

The Access can manage the latter with ease even when presented with XXL-sized people – although weirdly the side step is now an optional accessory that you have to pay extra for, over the quoted price. As is tradition with most of rural India, one can have your pillion and your sack of potatoes, too, if you’re riding an Access 125. The practicality doesn’t end there – among the other optional extras is a 12V charging socket. However, it is placed under the choke switch on the front apron, which makes it unusable during the monsoon. The Aprilia does not offer any options that increase its practicality. The ‘Race’ variant was supposed to get a few upgrades over the regular SR150, but none of them involved practicality. As such, it has underseat storage, a bag hook, and nothing else. 

The Suzuki wins this round with its better quality, and practicality that is miles ahead of the Aprilia.

Performance and Handling

The mechanical upgrades that the SR150 Race was supposed to get included a different exhaust system, different suspension settings for the front forks, and a more responsive gearbox. All three were designed to make it the fastest scooter made in India, and even though it has got only the gearbox update as per the company, it is enough to make it comfortably quicker than the Access. From a dead start in a drag, it is surprisingly the Access that jumps out to an early lead, but once the scooters cross an indicated 20kph, the SR picks up its game and never looks back. The Access has the slightly better gearbox response – meaning that the ‘rubber band’ effect we’ve come to associate with CVT gearboxes – is almost nil. The SR still has that effect, but it allows the engine to rev and take full advantage of the 10.3bhp and 11.4Nm it generates from its 155cc engine. The Suzuki manages 8.4bhp and 10.2Nm from a 124cc engine, but unlike the high-revving SR engine, it prefers to ride the torque curve. It never feels stressed or hurried, this Access. 

This same character is reflected in the suspension – the Aprilia is so hard that it is uncomfortable, especially at the front, where on bad roads the jittery handlebar feels like it is going to slip out of your hands, making it quite tiring to ride. This same rock-hard suspension offers excellent feel and feedback on a smooth road and at highway speeds. Unfortunately perfect roads are very few and far in between in our country, and something like the Access works better in most situations. It is so much softer in comparison that jumping from the SR to the Suzuki had us thinking that the latter had picked up a slow puncture! As with the looks and the engine, it aims to please the most people possible. It will cruise happily at its top speed and not grumble when presented with bad roads (credit here to Suzuki who have managed to delete 10kg of weight from the old Access while developing this one) but it is never as exciting as the Aprilia, either. Both sport front disc brakes, and the Access impresses with its progressive single-piston calliper… Until you experience the overkill that is the twin-piston front brake on the SR. Matched with the pace of the engine and the soft compound Vee Rubber tyres, though, it is a great addition.

Even though the Aprilia appeals to a very narrow group, we like and appreciate its focus when it comes to performance and handling. It is the weapon of choice if you want a quick scooter. 

 

Verdict

In many ways, the Aprilia SR150 Race is something that doesn’t make sense. It is a premium scooter with an instrument cluster that most regular scooters have moved on from in the last generation. Its fuel tank is the size of a thimble. Its ride is harsh enough to shake the fillings from your teeth, but it still is something the enthusiast in us has been praying for, for a while now. It is fast and ignores everything else. Its purity of purpose is what makes it so appealing, but it appeals to a very small group of people – people like us. That is why we would dearly have loved it to win this comparison.

The Access, on the other hand, will keep both the college-going boy and the mother going to the market equally happy, with its performance on the one hand and the amazing storage capacity, comfortable suspension, large seat and the reliability that has made it such a favourite. There is no doubt that Suzuki India has put a lot of work into making the current Access 125 better in every way that matters over the previous one, and the result is why it is the winner of this comparison. 

Photos: Kapil Angane

Suzuki Access 125 First Ride Review  

Aprilia SR150 Race First Ride Review

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ParametersMax PointsApriliaSR 150 RaceSuzukiAccess 125
Rank21
Looks & styling107.55
Ergonomics & Quality1056
Features & Tech1035
Engine & Gearbox1066
Performance107.56.5
Ride Quality1036
Handling & Braking1076
Fuel Efficiency1046
Price & Warranty104.56
Desirability106.54.5
Total1005457

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