Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 18th June 2008

Here’s a riddle for you; what do you get when you cross a scooter with a small commuter motorcycle ? Answer, the Aprilia Scarabeo 125.

The world of scooters is amazingly diverse these days and as you might expect from an Italian company, the design limits of the vehicle are being pushed further by Aprilia than most. Their 125cc four stroke Scarabeo is a practical towntool and a design statement – love it or loathe it, you can’t ignore it.

You may well get some funny looks riding around on the Scarabeo scooter, which is surely one of the most bizarre looking objects ever to have two wheels attached. A weird fusion of 1950s kitchenware and low cost commuter technology, the Scarabeo doesn’t exactly blend into the background, unless you live in a town made out of bakelite and Lego.

So what is it all about then?

Italian manufacture Aprilia reckon the Scarabeo is a hybrid bike/scooter, combining the superior ’big wheel’ handling you get on a motorcycle, with the practical comforts of a scooter. They even sell a 150cc four stroke variant on mainland Europe, which features a huge set of panniers and a topbox, converting the scoot into a pocket tourer.

Underneath the bidet shaped plastic panels, there is a water cooled, single cylinder, four stroke 125cc engine, which churns out around 11bhp. It’s a remarkably smooth, quiet, free revving engine for its size and pretty nippy off the line for a mere 125.

It’s an automatic rev’n’go and there’s easily enough lunge to get you away sharpish at the lights. Once past 20mph, the Scarabeo can carve through traffic as good as any two wheeler in town, topping out at an indicated 70mph. But it is a particularly stable scooter on the corners for such a tiddler too, making it ideal for any novice looking for a machine which boosts confidence fast.

The secret of its success when it comes to bend swinging is simple; big 16 inch wheels. These give the Scarabeo a real feeling of stability that persuades you to lean the bike well over, without feeling like the whole thing is suddenly about to slide sideways.

The Aprilia also has an excellent pair of disc brakes, which will save your life ten times a day in the rush hour grands prix. The braking is way above the norm for 125cc class scooters and again, having bigger wheels – and hence larger tyres – gives you a that bit more traction in emergencies.


On top of the precise steering and excellent braking, the Scarabeo 125 also boasts supreme rider comfort, with possibly the widest saddle I’ve ever seen on any scooter. Only 250cc plus super scoots like the Suzuki Burgman, or Yamaha Majesty can match this for big Dad’s pants style luxury.

The only criticism you can make about the seating is that it’s two-tone in colour, with the red/beige combination on this model being particularly revolting to look at. It’s all personal of course, so you might love the two-tone looks.

Some details on the Scarabeo really do combine classy Italian design with functionality too; the ‘peaked’ headlight offers outstanding illumination at night for example. Another nice touch is that one twist of the ignition key unlocks the seat, revealing the fuel cap underneath. Handy.

There’s no underseat storage however, which is the price you pay for having a big 16 inch rear wheel, but the standard topbox takes a full face helmet, or a four pack of Stella Artois with ease. There’s also another little cubby hole in the front legshields, which is lockable.

There’s no denying that the Scarabeo is something of an ugly sister in the Aprilia range – the SR125, Area 51, Leonardo 125 all have sexier curves. But if you don’t mind looking like a bit of an oddball as you nip around town, it’s a very well made, civilised and effortlessly comfortable way to travel. The clincher for many people will be the cost, which at just over £2,500 OTR is too much for many penny pinching commuters. But do shop around – several Aprilia dealers are keen to shift even one example of the Scarabeo, so you might well drive a hard bargain.

Ultimately, the Scarabeo retro style smoothie isn’t as good looking as Honda’s Joker 90, or Aprilia’s own Habana 50/125 or the budget priced SYM Fiddle 50 – all three do the 50s retro thing with more panache, for a lot less cash, and you’ll never miss the extra 20mph top speed in town.

The SYM Fiddle and grey import Honda Joker 50 both retail at around £1500 on the road – around a grand less than the Scarabeo. That buys a lot of trendy sunglasses, trainers or mobile phone accessories.. even in Soho.

Get Aprilia bike insurance for the Aprilia the scarabeo 125.

Vital Statistics
Engine 124cc water cooled, four stroke, single cylinder.
Claimed power (bhp) 11bhp
Cycle parts
Automatic Weight 140kgs (308lbs)
Brakes disc system
Wheels/Tyres 16 inch diameter, 120/80 front, 16 inch diameter 130/80 rear
Colours Gold or Red
Top speed 70mph
Buying Info
Current price Cost £2,899 OTR (£2,999 with full panniers and bigger topbox luggage set)