Intro: THE MENACE OF THE MAXI-SCOOTERS
The niche market for big-wheeled scooters that appeared only a couple of years ago has already joined the wave of maxi-scooters that are pretty recent themselves.
By putting their big wheels together with the engines from the maxi-scooters, the Piaggio Beverly and the Aprilia Scarabeo have taken another step towards the Holy Grail.
Leaving behind their 125ccs in favour of 500s, they can also claim superior road holding over their cousins. We decided to try these 2 bikes face to face to see if they live up to all they promise.
Esthetique: THE APRILIA AHEAD
Its difficult to compare the Beverly to the Scarbeo given the numerous differences in their looks. The thing we dont like about the Piaggio is the optional windscreen. Installed to counter the ineffectiveness of the original windbreaker, it looks like a wart, or should I say a boil ! An inelegant appendix that doesnt integrate at all into the original design of the Beverly 500. Its even more of a pity since care has obviously been taken over the Piaggios design. Its dynamic design, with its clean cut volumes, touches of chrome and lights that attract attention with their rather chic colouring mean the Beverly is maybe a bit coquettish for a utilitarian kind of bike, but its nice to look at... apart from the horrible optional windscreen, that is !
The Aprilia plays another card : neo-bio-design. Its massive, but not inelegant. The Scarabeo is more homogenous than its competitor and you dont have to look at it for long to realise that the designers made comfort their priority. Which hasnt stopped them taking a few risks with the lights. In short, its bigger and steadier but no less classy, especially in this smart grey livery !
The cosseted impression created by its design is borne out as soon as you sit on the Scarabeo. The Aprilia has inherited the materials and also the exceptional comfort of the Atlantic 500. An almost perfect saddle, although its a bit on the high side at 800 mm, protection worthy of the best road bikes in the world including its original big windscreen, integrated hand protectors and lateral deflectors.
It all makes you want to ride it. Its only defect is the " sitting " position, which can be tiring for your back on long journeys.
The Piaggio performs slightly less well on the comfort front but the difference is not striking since its saddle is very welcoming too and rather better for the smaller rider given that it is 2 and half centimetres lower. On protection though, the comparison isnt so good. The apron is much less enveloping and the original windbreaker doesnt promise much in the way of effectiveness.
The difference can be easily explained by the origins of the bikes. At Aprilia, the Scarabeo 500 is descended from the Atlantic 500 whilst the Beverly takes its inspiration from the cheaper 125 version.
This is particularly striking when we look at the equipment and the controls.
In the saddle of the Beverly, the tour doesnt take long. 1 speedo, 1 petrol gauge and an engine temperature gauge, the normal warning lights, an odometer and a trip meter and thats it. Nothing very exciting when compared to the design if the bike which is a pity.
Opposite, theres a lot more on offer. Sobriety is the name off the game, but nothings missing. Rev counter, speedo, petrol and engine temperature gauges, a clock, the normal indicator lights as well as the odometer and two digital trip meters. Add to that an onboard computer with numerous functions, warning lights, automatic return indicators and a circuit breaker in case of a fall... you certainly get plenty for your money !
The aim of these bikes is clearly to compete with motorbikes on their own ground, while keeping all the intrinsic advantages of a scooter. Amongst the qualities is protection and that has been optimised on the Aprilia.
Motorization: CITY VERSUS URBAIN
High speeds are new ground for these bikes. In performance terms, theres not much between them. Which is logical since the Scarabeo and the Beverly both use the same engine. The famous " Master " engine originally developed for the X9 500 serves both Italian cousins.
Paradoxically, the engine has kept its original configuration in the Aprilia : 460 cc with 39 horsepower at 7,250 revs and a torque of 40 Nm at 5,500 revs. All that to drive an ensemble that weighs 234 kilos, enough to get caught by the odd radar on the motorway since the Scarabeo can buzz along with 170 kph on the clock.
Aprilia use a " client " version of the Master engine whilst Piaggio have modified it a bit.
The cylinder capacity is the same, the power is identical but the torque is a bit higher. All for a weight of just 201 kilos which is 30 less than the Aprilia.
Because of that the Beverly 500 has excellent acceleration and picking up but fitted with the optional windscreen, it doesnt exceed 160 kph on the clock.
More highly strung, the Piaggio is the champion when it comes to accelerating away from green lights and its lighter weight gives it an advantage in town over the Aprilia. Its in an urban setting that we can really judge the basic philosophic differences in these two bikes. The Beverly is livelier, more agile and of course lighter, which means it is perfect for city use.
The Scarabeo is longer, wider and heavier and requires more care in the city but this also means that it is better suited, with its greater comfort and superior protection, for riding outside the town
On the road: A DRAW
The more impressive of the two here is the Scarabeo. Even fully loaded, it remains stable and precise and that didnt come about by chance. Between its 16 inch wheels both front and the back, its optimal weight spread, its steel tube trellis frame and its steering shock absorber, you dont have to look far to explain its good road holding.
Behind it, the Beverly has trouble keeping up. Its big 41 mm diameter fork, its adjustable rear suspension and its steel chassis plead in its favour, but with a rear wheel of just 14 inches, the Piaggio proves to be a little less stable than its adversary.
When it comes to the brakes though, the Beverly defends itself better despite the fact that there is little difference in the basic equipment. And the reason, here again is that the now familiar coupled front-rear braking system is supplied from Piaggio for both bikes. (direct)
The Beverly is equipped with 260 mm diameter discs in front and 240 mm discs at the back, with the bite supplied by Brembo callipers. Power and an attacking bite are definitely there and the result is both efficient and reassuring. (direct).
The Scarabeos braking is not so good. The extra 30 kilos explain some of this difference as does the fact that the Aprilia is equipped with a 220 mm diameter disc at the back as opposed to the 240 on the Beverly. In the front they both have 260 mm discs.
To sum up, as you can see, these two bikes share the same architecture but they have chosen a totally different basic philosophy. Comfort and long range on the one hand and liveliness and compactness on the other. Their objectives are so far apart that it is difficult to judge them together.
Price will no doubt be the balancing factor : 7,500 for the Scarabeo and 5,100 for the Beverly. That makes the Piaggio almost unbeatable on this score, even you have to add the price of a windscreen and a top case to this figure.
One thing is certain, and that is that both constitute a real threat to the maxi-scooters so good is their road holding. We are getting closer than ever to the day when we will see an " automatic " motorbike.