What was Aprilia thinking when they came up with the SportCity 250? I’m willing to take a guess; it was probably something like “how can we add some sex appeal to our current, rather stuffy line-up?” Go ahead, go to their site and look at what they’ve got. Besides the punchy SR50 and the ornately chromed Mojito they’ve got the Scarabeo series weighing in at 100, 200 and 500cc’s. Given a one-word description, all three Scarabeos can be summed up as “Business”. They all beg the rider to “sit up with a proper posture”, they all have rather calm “face” about them with their single headlight and badged “chest”. They come in a variety of drab colors, all except for that trouble making Red one. If you were looking for a FUN scooter, you’d likely look right past a large portion of the Aprilia line-up, that is until you saw the SportCity 250.
Still quite business from a color and seating position standpoint, the SportCity’s design is anything but boring as a matter of fact I would say it’s closer to breathtaking! The front end is aggressive, giving oncoming traffic a stern look as it comes around the bend. The 15-inch wheels are big and substantial, giving the rider a high degree of confidence in the turns and on less than perfect terrain. I took her from San Pedro, California to Point Dume and back hitting the curvy canyon roads along the way.
The large wheels allowed the SportCity to grab hold of Mulholland’s curves with a high degree of assuredness; hugging each curve with confidence and aggression usually reserved for larger, sportier motorcycles. The SportCity had no issues keeping up with the pack of Guzzis on the turns, though the straightaways were a different story. What did you expect from a petrol-tottling 250cc engine? It couldn’t possibly keep up with the 1100ccs of raw power those bikes produce. Even still I managed to touch 80 mph, allowing me to keep them in my sights until the next roadside police car cooled their jets for a bit.
Now back to that engine. The SportCity is driven by a 22.5 hp, electronic fuel injected, 244.29cc, horizontal single cylinder, 4-stroke, forced liquid-cooled, 4-valve head with overhead camshaft *gasp*. What does that mean? It means that the SportCity has no problem carrying my 200-lb body from 0 to 50 mph in under 10 seconds and up to 60 mph in 14, beating out the 21.7 hp 250cc Vespa GTV I tested by nearly 2 seconds. In places like California where they allow lane-filtering (filtering forward in slow traffic especially at traffic lights where 2-wheelers have an off-the-line acceleration advantage), the SportCity really shows its colors; leaving 4 passenger cars in the proverbial dust. The SportCity 250 is rated with a top speed of 79.5, though mine registered 80 downhill, just enough power for short jaunts on most non-life-threatening highways… yes, even California’s 405. Best of all, in these times when $4-5/gal gas is still scarred into the memory banks, is the 61 mpg fuel efficiency; that and a 2.7-gallon tank capacity means more than 160 miles per fill up!
Stopping power is provided courtesy of Aprilia’s triple disc braking system. At times it felt a bit touchy, but at no time did it feel insufficient. In the front she’s got Twin 260mm stainless steel discs under the grip of twin piston floating calipers and a 220mm stainless steel disc in the back with a single piston caliper. I’m certain I could literally “Stop on a dime” with enough practice.
One of the benefits of owning a scooter is storage space. On a standard motorcycle you’ve got engine under your seat, but on a scooter like the SportCity you’ve got room to keep your full-face helmet safe and sound as well as whatever else you can stuff inside your helmet. I actually kept my video and still camera there on my ride. If that’s not enough there’s also a locking storage compartment built into the leg shield to give you a place to keep your papers, glasses and gps safe as well as a place to stow and even charge your cell phone. Those Italians think of everything. Also included above the leg shield storage is a standard grocery bag hook found on most every proper scooter. If you need even more storage, you can strap your briefcase onto the luggage rack or add a top case from Aprilia. All that space makes the SportCity a great commuter scooter.
The SportCity 250 is one of the lightest scooters in its class with a very narrow profile making her very easy to maneuver. The 32-inch seat height makes for good visibility but also makes it hard for anyone less than 5’7″ to sit flat footed (both feet flat on the pavement). The short windscreen does a good job of keeping the wind off of your chest, but you’ll want to wear a full face helmet if you don’t want the wind in your face. The gauges are clean, simple and easy to read. The speedometer is analog with a prevalent reading in MPH, as it should be for the US market. The digital display shows an odometer, trip odometer for two different measurements, a clock (I love scooters with clocks), a tachometer, fuel gauge, engine temperature and a host of other important warnings. The SportCity’s floorboard has some pluses and minuses. It is completely flat which is good for times when you need to carry something in between your legs, like a case of beverages but it is also rather narrow which limits the rider’s ability to vary their foot position on long journeys. Try sitting at your desk for more than two hours without shifting your feet around and you’ll understand how important it is to have a large, open floorboard area.
There are only a handful of scooter brands whose name alone inspires confidence and Aprilia is one of them. The SportCity 250 is superbly stylish with a quality fit and finish you would expect from the Italians. She performs well, handles well, burns clean and economically. It’s really hard to find fault in this little gem and to make her even more irresistible the SportCity 250 has an MSRP of just $4599, that’s less than any other Japanese or Italian 250cc scooter. I don’t know how they did it, but I’m not mad at ’em. The 2009 edition doesn’t seem to fair as well in the fit and finish department which is a disappointment considering she’s a hundred dollars more.