scuderia

Aprilia Scarabeo 200 Review

Zebra Stripes Last weekend was the SF Scooter Girls' Rally "So Far So Good IV". I had a great time riding along with a ton of scooter enthusiasts with a variety of scooters. Everything from vintage Lambrettas to modern Vespas and an Aprilia Scarabeo 200. I didn't know what to expect from it, but I was pleasantly surprised at what I ended up getting out of it. My first one was back in 2003, a Lemon Acid Aprilia Scarabeo 50cc, 2stroke. I learned a lot on that and it catapulted me into the dark, seedy world of motorcycles.

Someone asked me at the rally why I love scooters so much. I don't know why, maybe it's because I owe my motorcycling life to that 50cc scooter. I had no idea I could love a sport this much, and if my husband and I never rented one in Vegas on our honeymoon, I never would've found out. I also think they're are a different animal compared to a motorcycle. Yes, they may not be as fast as a motorcycle and they may not corner like one, but they're a lot of fun in their own right. They can also be a huge stepping stone for someone wants to get into motorcycling. Or maybe not. Some people love scootering and that's it. Believe it or not, riding one can be more challenging than you think. Even though there isn't a manually operated clutch, there's still the matter of throttle and braking control. Since that's all you have, it forces you become more skilled at modulating your throttle and braking so that you can start and stop smoothly and remain stable at slower speeds. Ever wonder why you see people hang both their feet off the sides of a motorcycle or scooter? It's because it's really difficult to creep along at 5mph when your center of gravity is too high. But if you know how to balance your throttle and braking properly, you can make it look and feel effortless. That's definitely one of the challenging parts of scootering that makes it fun for someone like me.

Living in San Francisco, you'll see a ton of scooters around town. That's because they're so economical and sensible in a densely populated city, with very very difficult parking options. It's just not convenient to drive your SUV to the Marina district and expect to find easy, almost free parking. But on a scooter? Absolutely. Motorcycle/scooter parking spots are everywhere (compared to other large cities, like New York) and you can always find a couple metered spots to park in.

It’s been awhile since I had a scooter to ride regularly, so I forgot how easy and carefree it can be. Last weekend's ride was a fabulous event with a nice pace through the streets of San Francisco all the way down to the hills of Brisbane.

Don and Crystal, owners of Scuderia West in San Francisco were gracious enough to lend me this zebra striped Scarabeo to test ride for the rally. I had no idea what to expect, since I’ve never ridden anything larger than a Kymco Agility 125cc. I also was afraid that a larger scooter would handle like an SUV or something large and awkward. I’m happy to report that I was wonderfully impressed with the Scarabeo. It was speedy, stable and most of all, fun! The zebra stripes certainly helped attract attention, as no one had seen this model before.

If you're looking to upgrade from a 50 or 125, the Scarabeo might be exactly what you're looking for. Or maybe you have a BMW 1100GS sitting in the garage but wish it were a little smaller and and lighter for maneuvering rush hour. Who needs 1100cc to go buy groceries anyway? Wouldn't 200cc in the form of a compact, light and funloving scooter be better? If you haven't considered one before, I urge you to consider this one. And if you're a larger fellow, say 5'11", 195lbs, I would recommend at least 150cc-200cc to make sure you have a comfortable, enjoyable ride up those hills.

Fit

I think a new rider of my stature (5’3”, 135lbs) might have a hard time maneuvering and handling the scooter without dropping it a couple times in the first few weeks, so I wouldn't recommend this scooter for someone without previous motorcycle or scooter experience, and with an inseam of less than 30".  Even though the seat height is only 31.88", the wider seat makes it a little more difficult to put both feet down flat. So you may need a couple more inches of inseam in order to be flat footed. Not that it's impossible, but certainly makes for a challenging learning curve. Just make sure you wear a solid pair of motorcycle boots with plenty of traction to help you manage the weight.

If you're looking for a scooter to handle passengers, or your significant other won't go anywhere near the back of your motorcycle, the Scarabeo should provide plenty of space and comfort for him/her to go with you for a night out. If you've never been a passenger then you just don't understand how it can feel on the back of a motorcycle with absolutely no control over what might happen and how scary sudden acceleration can feel.

The Ride

When I left Scuderia, Abby in Sales told me she thought it was the best one that felt most like a motorcycle. She was right! One thing that I didn't like about the Kymco Agility 125 is that it always felt a little wobbly up front when starting and stopping. The throttle response on the Scarabeo always felt quick and solid. I never felt like there was a lack of power, given the speed of traffic I was riding in. It seems like the they've provided just enough torque to get off the line and keep up. According to Aprilia, "The front and rear wheels are linked by a new integral braking system that distributes braking force between the two wheels and guarantees ultra-short stopping distances in complete safety.” No wonder why it felt stable and smooth when coming to a stop.

There's definitely a considerable difference in the suspension, braking and handling. This made for a really fun ride, especially through a rather twisty, tight section of San Bruno Avenue. If you've ever ridden through the hills of Berkeley, near Grizzly Peak, with its narrow roads and hairpin turns you know how challenging that can be. San Bruno Avenue gave us just that. The Scarabeo was nimble, easy to maneuver in the corners and really fun.

At one point our ride took us on Guadalupe Canyon Parkway, a mini highway, where I approached speeds of 45-55mph with ease. I felt like I could easily go faster if I wanted to. It felt sturdy and solid pushing 50mph and I never felt uneasy as if I were going to topple over. With a dry weight of a little over 300lbs, this scooter isn't going anywhere at those speeds.

Features

Going from 650cc to 200cc seems painful, right? Not when you're riding in San Francisco. It's so convenient to hop on a scooter to the grocery store, toss your groceries under the seat or in your top box. The only downside to this zebra striped scooter is the lack of underseat storage space. Sadly it'll only accommodate a half helmet, a purse or maybe a small pair of flats. You'll have to get a Givi top box in order to have more space to keep a full face helmet and small bag of groceries.

The small windscreen up front didn't hinder my view or ability to drive at all. It probably kept the wind down while riding through the Canyon. I also liked the digital instrument panel with the quick mode change button to toggle between your odometer and trip meters as well as a couple of other useful pieces of information. Unfortunately, this button is located right next to the starter button. So if you're not careful, you might accidentally hit that while trying to start up and then wonder why it won't start? (looks around the room innocently...... )

Aside from the 'glove box' below the instrument panel, you'll also find a hook below the seat to secure one small grocery bag, in case you don't have a top box.

Last week's ride lasted a few hours with the various breaks we took in between the different stops. By the 2nd hour, my behind was feeling a little flatter than usual and was jealous of the Vespa LX150 with the custom Corbin seat. With that upgrade, I think the Scarabeo would be fun on an overnight ride down Highway 1.

Overall, I really enjoyed riding the Scarabeo and would consider buying one in a heartbeat. Sadly my garage currently only accommodates 2 sportbikes, but should another space open up....I would love to add this to my stable.

If you're considering a Vespa 150 or 300 or any other scooters in the 150cc-300cc range, you have to add the Aprilia Scarabeo 200 to your list of options, given the performance, value and comfort.

MSRP: $3499 Local Dealer: Scuderia West

Related Links

Examiner San Francisco - Scooters Motorcycle Parking SF Purple Moments SF Parking Scarabeo Overview/Technical Specs

Scuderia Fall Open House! Sat. Nov 7.

It's time for Scuderia's annual fall open house! Looking for gear? Just getting started and interested in buying a scooter? Maybe you've never heard of KTM or Aprilia and want to see what all the fuss is about. If you're just getting into motorcycling or scootering and you need real protective gear but don't know how to go about finding it, then you'll want to come in and see us at the open house. We'll have vendors on hand as well, to answer all your questions about the latest and greatest in protective gear.

Come in for your chance to win an Aprilia Scarabeo 100cc Scooter, among other fabulous prizes that will benefit Riders for Health, an AMAZING organization that helps those who need medical care the most in areas that can't be reached by traditional methods of transportation. Read all about what they do and how they do it here.

Other than supporting what Riders is doing, we'll also have a HUGE surprise in store, especially for those of you who are Aprilia fans. ;)

So come by for the free bbq, say hi and check out all the new gear making its way into Scuderia including but not limited to New Arai and Shoei helmets for 2010, Racer, RS Taichi and more!!

Riding, blogging and gear makeovers

These past few days my husband and I have been doing more riding than we've done in the past 6 months. 549 miles in 4 days. 375 of them done in one day! I found that while I'm riding I have a lot of time to think about gear. Am I comfortable? Is the A/C on too high? Do my leathers sweaty? Among other things, I also think about why other people don't wear more than jeans and sneakers while going 75-80mph on the 101, riding into ~40-50 mph winds.

Sometimes I get strange thoughts in my head like "I can't believe I'm going 70mph on a motorcycle right now." I also get ideas for my blog but then I have absolutely no way of writing them down or remembering them later. I also have found that the more I ride, the more I want to write, and the more ideas I'm able to come upwith.

The only one I remembered when arriving to our lovely motel in Cambria was the one I'm going to write for you now. (OT, Big shout out to the Cambria Palms Motel, the Best Deal In Town!. Cheap, clean, easy to find off Hwy 1. Stay here if you need somewhere to crash on the way down from SF or up to SF, especially if you're stopping at Hearst Castle).

So working at Scuderia West, I have the pleasure of meeting many different riders, all shapes, ages, sizes, riding experiences, backgrounds, etc.

Example:

  • Female customer, about 5'2", approx. a women's size 8.
  • She had trouble finding pants that fit her waist/hips and inseam. She rode a scooter and needed pants to commute in. She already had a jacket (don't know what kind) but wanted overpants as well. She had tried on various other pants but hadn't found anything that fit quite right.
  • I was going to put her in Olympia Airglides or Pro Pants, but unfortunately the inseams were going to be too long for her.
  • Gear Solution: REV'IT Zip Pants, Size Small-Short



  • The beauty of the Zip Pant is that it has an adjustable waistband. This is particularly useful for women who have hips or a disproportionate waist (ie not an hourglass shape). And you can get a size small in short! Unfortunately you can't get any size smaller than that in short, since they do run down to an XXS.
  • One thing that she wasn't sure about was the fact that when she sat on a scooter, there was a little room in the back of the pants, right at the lower back. That's perfectly normal for overpants, as they are meant to be zipped to a jacket, or worn with a longer cut jacket. Zip pants do have a fairly neutral 6 inch zipper which you should be able to find on brands such as Olympia.

Working in a place like Scud also has helped me figure out a couple things about customers who come in looking for gear, and complain that they can't find anything in other shops. A couple of observations:

  • They have no idea what proper fit is, especially for motorcycle gear, and especially for the type of gear we carry (protective, functional gear).
  • Most people, especially women, complain that nothing fits them. I'm sure that at least 50% of the time this is probably true.
  • hey probably don't carry the variety of gear that Scud does, with different fits.
  • No one ever tries gear on a bike! Fit is never 100% right while standing straight up with your arms at your sides. Not real gear, anyway. Sit on that bike!
  • Ladies, listen to me when I tell you that gear is supposed to be fitted, close to your body. Not 2 sizes too big because you want to cover up your 'problem areas'. I've seen too many women come in wearing their husband's/boyfriend's gear thinking that it was fine. Newsflash! You have an hourglass figure, hips, boobs, long legs (sometimes), smaller shoulders, a small back, etc., you get the picture. Sometimes women have this notion that in order to 'cover up' these areas that wearing large, oversized clothing is the solution. Not so! Even more so when it comes to motorcycle gear. Because the added function of gear is to Protect and Function on a motorcycle. If it doesn't fit you right it's not going to work when you crash
  • There aren't many 'apparel-only' shops vs. motorcycle dealerships. Most places are dealers like Scud that also carry apparel. But many of these places lack the selection. They could order mounds and mounds of women's gear. But they don't, probably because the majority of their customer base are men, and those that are women usually ride on the back.
  • The lack of trained apparel employees can also have a huge effect on the way you are shopping for gear. You may not realize that it's supposed to be that snug, that standing up straight with your arms at your side is going to be uncomfortable, that the garments are cut for riding position, I could go on and on. When there is no one there to guide you along the way, how are you supposed to know? Of course you're going to assume nothing fits because you may not know how it is supposed to fit.

So for those of you that still have trouble shopping for gear, or are in need of a gear makeover, I'd like to propose the following:

  • Send me your gear wants/needs. (jacket, pants, gloves, boots?)
  • Send me a photo of yourself from head to toe, preferably wearing something semi fitted (jeans, tshirt) so I can see your body type.
  • Tell me what size you wear in regular jackets and pants (in numerical US size)
  • If you already have gear, send me a picture of you wearing it.

If you send me an email with the above criteria, I'll send you my gear recommendation based on what you send!

Or if you live in the Bay Area and would like a gear makeover in person, let me know. I would be your personal shopper for Free, if you let me write it up on my blog. We'll hit up all the shops that carry women's gear and help you find gear that fits. Only flattering photos will be taken by me, I promise! We'll take some before and after pics and show the world how to find that perfect outfit for riding. The first 3 people who email me will get a free GearChic Tshirt!

First in a Series: Gear Around the Bay, Scuderia West

This is the first in a series about the best shops for women's gear in the Bay Area. But more importantly, they will carry the best that there is to offer in real gear.

Living in the Bay Area, we are so lucky to have so much available to us as motorcyclists. There are so many riders living here that of course we have more than your average number of motorcycle dealerships and apparel shops just for us!

I hope to visit 3-4 other shops in the Bay Area over the next few months to give you an up close and personal look at why these shops are so great!

Scuderia West, 69 Duboce Avenue, San Francisco, CA

For those of you who've never been to Scuderia, here is a 180 degree high res photo that will almost make you feel like you're really there. :D


Scuderia West is near and dear to me for more than the most obvious reason that I work there part time. 6 years ago my husband and I bought our first scooter there after renting one in Vegas on our honeymoon. I also bought my first helmet, jacket and gloves. I knew that Scuderia was a really special shop the minute I walked in. I also bought my first piece of gear that day, my now discontinued Vanson Textile. Long story short, it was this experience that kept me coming back to Scuderia. I almost hated going sometimes, because there was sooooo much stuff I wanted to buy there. Jackets, boots, gloves, pants, the list is endless! When I originally came up with the idea for my website, I thought it would be so cool to hang at Scuderia and learn as much as I can about gear. Where else could I go to get informative, useful information from people who knew their stuff?

And, I loved the fact that so many women were working there at the time. I'd gone back since then to buy more gear. So I took the plunge and asked Crystal one day if she needed any extra hands for the upcoming Open House. She said she'd think about it and the rest is history! I had no idea how much I would enjoy working there. It was so much fun, so easy and I sucked in every piece of information I could get my hands on.

If you take a look at the 180 pic above, you'll notice that some things you might see in most apparel shops are missing at Scuderia. No chaps, tassles, not a lot of chrome, no harley-wear. Crystal has done a fantastic job of identifying a badly needed gap in the motorcycle apparel business. The emphasis is mainly on quality products that protect, function well on a motorcycle, and *gasp* fit! Have you ever walked into an apparel shop that: 1) has dedicated apparel employees; and 2) knows how to give you proper fitment with your gear? Most shops have no dedicated apparel personnel. That expense is just seen as an unnecessary one, and/or it's really hard to find qualified, experienced people who know what they're talking about in terms of fit and selling the apparel for what it is, not how much it costs.

When you come in to buy gear, you'll find a variety of garments with different shapes and fits to accommodate different body types. Because if you've ever read my blog before this post, then you know how much focus I put on fit. I'll even let you in on a little secret. Come Closer. *We do not get commission on apparel sales at Scuderia.*


So when we tell you how well that jacket fits you (regardless of the price tag), we really mean it! There is nothing more satisfying for me than seeing the smile on a customer's face when she is standing in front of the mirror, admiring herself and so happy that she found a jacket that fits her like a glove. And, even if she's not sure she wants to spend ~$400+ on 'the one', we'll even encourage to check out other options at competitor shops. Once a customer knows exactly what's supposed to fit, how it's supposed to work and why it's worth the money, inevitably, they always come back. That's what makes Scuderia so special. We're really here to help inform and advise you the best we can. Sometimes what we have won't work, but we're going to tell you that instead of pressuring you to buy something that doesn't.

One common problem that both the men and women I've spoken to about gear have shared with me is how hard it is to shop for gear. Unless someone tells you, it can be really difficult to figure out what you need, why you need it and how to go about finding it. That's the problem with shopping virtually. With the wealth of information online available to you, there's no one to help you wade through it and make sense of it all. Especially as it relates to you! What bike you ride, what kind of riding you're doing, what features you need, what features you don't need, etc. Shopping is a lot of work, whether it's for gear or for just a jeans and tshirt.

By going to a place like Scuderia, you're going to get a lot of information that you just won't find anywhere else.

Open House - October 20th!

Once again, it's time for Scuderia West's Fall open house on Saturday, October 20th at 10am-6pm. Come and check out the sales and specials that they'll have in store for you including fall clothing and accessories for cold weather riding.

As always, reps will be on hand to answer questions about their products. Scuderia is known for having extremely knowledgeable and friendly employees (myself included) to help you find the right jacket/pants/boots/helmets/gloves for you. If you've never been to a Scuderia open house, you know you don't want to miss this one.

See you there!