Frugal Fuelers: Aprilia SportCity 250 - First Look

Scooter middle ground.

Frugal Fuelers: Aprilia SportCity 250 - First Look

Even as the price of oil pushes past $140 per barrel, promises of exceptional fuel economy from lightweight, small-bore scooters draw little more than short-lived curiosity from most motorcyclists–newbies and veterans alike. After all, even the most powerful sportbikes and biggest-inch cruisers already easily outdistance their four-wheel counterparts at the pump. What’s another 10 or 15 mpg, especially if it comes at the expense of the added comfort, performance and stability of a full-size machine?

Aprilia struck a blow last year for the small-wheel set with the debut of its SportCity 250, powered by a fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, four-valve, sohc, 244cc Single that produces 16.7 horsepower and 12.5 foot-pounds of torque. That’s enough to propel the 347-pound machine to 60 mph in 14.3 seconds and a top speed of 78 mph, all the while returning 75 mpg.

Acceleration, while not up to 250-class motorcycle levels, is quick enough to dust most in-town traffic, and there is sufficient engine “headroom” to pull ahead of other vehicles when needed with a simple twist of the throttle.More impressive yet is this step-through’s ability to shed speed. Triple-disc brakes–twin-piston calipers acting on 260mm discs up front and a 220mm rotor at the rear–are commonplace on motorcycles but rare on scooters, especially in this displacement category; among Aprilia’s four-model U.S. lineup, only the top-of-the-range Scarabeo 500 i.e. is outfitted likewise. Indeed, a moderate pull on the left-hand lever is sufficient to howl the 120/70-15 Maxxis front tire. Feel and control are excellent.

With a wheelbase of 54.5 inches, about 1 inch less than most frontline repli-racers, the SportCity responds immediately to steering inputs. Fifteen-inch cast aluminum wheels aid stability, and the 35mm fork and preload-adjustable twin shocks are firmly sprung and relatively well-damped. Great mirrors, too.Also worth noting are the SportCity’s convenience features: The locking storage compartment integrated behind the leg guard contains a power outlet for on-the-go phone recharging, and there’s room in the molded plastic well under the seat for a full-face helmet. Aprilia also offers a range of accessories, including two windshields and three sizes of top boxes.There are full-size, hand-clutch, foot-shift motorcycles that cost less than the $4599 SportCity; Kawasaki’s reborn Ninja 250, an impossibly good deal at $3499, is a prime example. Should you prefer the twist-and-go approach, the Aprilia SportCity 250 is a fun, versatile and, yes, fuel-friendly alternative.

Ups:| * Serious brakes * Sporty handling * Centerstand!
Downs:| * Costs more than some full-size motorcycles * Not as cool as a Ninja 250 * Wife and kids always borrowing it
Dry weight:|347 lb.
Wheelbase:|54.5 in.
Seat height:|31.6 in.
Fuel mileage:|75.0 mpg
0–60 mph:|14.3 sec
1/4-mile:|18.87 sec. @ 68.21 mph
Horsepower:|16.7 hp @ 7100 rpm
Torque:|12.5 ft.-lb. @ 6950 rpm
Top speed:|78 mph