Michael began his riding on an Aprilia Scarabeo 200 scooter, before subsequently up-grading to the Aprilia Scarabeo 500 pictured on the left.
When the time came when he was coming off his LAMS restrictions, he began looking for a bigger bike. He wrote in to our Questions page asking for advice.
Initially he was thinking about either the Harley Sportster 883L, or the Triumph Bonneville. But he wasn’t sure if these were what he was looking for. But whatever he bought would have a hard act to follow. He said, “What I really like about the Scarabeo 500 is its comfortable ride, fuel-economy, brakes, great under-seat storage room, relatively low seat height of 780mm, and dry weight of 189kg.”
One thing that concerned him was weight. He is 167cm, and weighs just on 60kg. (What would you call that? “Gravitationally-challenged”?). He said it took him a while to get confident with the weight of the Aprilia 500. He asked, “Would I be struggling too much with either the Bonneville's dry weight of 203kg or the Sportster's 251kg?” The general consensus of opinion (mine and readers’) was that the Harley would probably be a bit of a struggle. Being the “L” model, I also suggested he’d miss certain things – like comfort! The 883L has the same suspension (or lack of it!) as the Nightster.
He’d narrowed down some specifics. He said, “I've worked out that I'd be more comfortable on a bike that lets me sit up, similar to a scooter riding position. And I'd want to have a windscreen.”
He looked at bikes in the mid-size category but couldn’t find what he wanted there either. “I’ve come to the conclusion that few bikes in this category would offer me more features than what I already enjoy.” Following my suggestion that he give the mid-sizers another look, he checked out a few more models, but found them lacking in quality compared to the Italian machines he was used to. I then suggested he look at the Ducati Monster 696. Following this, he also considered the Moto Guzzi Breva 750. Both of those would be optioned up with screen and additional luggage. And so the search went on.
“In the next couple of months I got out and test-rode as many ‘traditional’ bikes as I could with the view of getting one now that I'm past the LAMS restriction period. In each case however I would have been outlaying around $15,000 to get a new ride with at least the equivalent in modern technology that I already enjoy. Yep, they are fantastic ‘free spirit’ machines, and do all those things we love with a fantastic accompanying sound, but where are the instruments, lockable storage or security? As I use my scooter as my main mode of transport I need to leave it in public places for hours on end and need to know my expensive gear will all still be there when I return. With the rising cost of fuel, I need to get the most number of km per litre.
“My Scarabeo 500ie comes standard with fuel gauge, temperature gauge, battery status, trip meter, odometer, huge under-seat lockable storage, immobiliser plus tilt alarm. I have dual front discs, single rear discs and the brakes are linked. On highways I get 30km/litre at 120kph and normally around the suburbs around 26km/litre.”
Sound impressive? Sure does! And Michael began to realise that his best next bike might be the one he already had! He said, “I'll be keeping my scooter as a great practical ride and later I’ll look out for a second hand bike as a ‘fun machine’."
Michael sent me the specs of the big scoot. It has a single-cylinder engine of 460cc, with fuel-injection, developing 29kW and 43Nm of torque. Transmission is variable automatic, of course. Suspension is pretty impressive, running a conventional fork up front, and twin-units at the rear. Suspension travel is impressive too, with 103mm at the front and 100mm at the rear. Wheels are 16” front and 14” rear.
Scooters have progressed in leaps and bounds over the past few years. Michael says, “Scooters are integrating new technologies with each new model.” Of the Scarabeo he says, “No it's not a big and bulky maxi, but it’s stable and it can get to 160kph (on a track of course!).”
Is it the perfect bike? No, but his main complaint was easily fixed. “One of my biggest gripes with the Scarabeo is that meeting Euro 3 standards you hardly know the engine is running. A 3rd party pipe (Gianelli) has fixed that; together with an air horn."
Michael sent me this photo of the scooter just about to leave for the Christmas Toy Run.
The name? Glad you asked. Michael explains. “For reasons only attributal to the vagaries of youthful memories, I named my first Scarabeo, ‘Audrey’ after Audrey Hepburn from ‘Roman Holiday’.  When I got the 500ie, I continued with the Audrey name but called it ‘Big Red Audrey’."
It really does show how practical today’s scooters are doesn’t it! Michael looked at a lot of bikes, and considered buying a few, but in the end the Aprilia Scarabeo provided him with more than these other bikes could. So he’s sticking with Big Red Audrey.
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