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 Super Scooter Showdown

Honda and Aprilia provide large cc'd scoots to the US market.

Scooters on the freeway? Scooters traveling from Seattle to San Francisco and back? 'Crazy' you say?

When Honda introduced its 250 Elite and Helix's into the United States in the 80's it was the first time reliable four-stroke Japanese scooters were able to make their way onto freeways. The Helix held its position as the largest scooter on the American market until 2002, when it was replaced with a super scooter � the Honda Silver Wing.

The Honda Silver Wing was released to Europe and Japan one year earlier. At the same time Aprilia had its own super scooter under development- the Atlantic. It seems as if Aprilia got their hands on the new Silver Wing, let R&D tear it down and built the Atlantic back up from that for about $1,500 less retail U.S.'

While the two share similarities, there are distinct differences.

Power Plant

Honda slammed a four-stroke, two-cylinder 582cc in-line water-cooled twin under the seat of the Silver Wing- no small feat and unheard of until now. Aprilia opted for a thumper and went with a single cylinder 460cc 4-valve overhead-cam configuration. While the Aprilia is slightly less powerful it still has the guts to make needed passes beyond posted interstate speeds. This is a benefit both scooters provide, which was not a reality with the smaller 250's that were previously on the market. Each bike features a large chamber exhaust that is pleasantly quiet. Aftermarket hop-up kits are available for those who insist on more horsepower and hearing loss sooner in life. Both scoots are fuel injected!

Storage

People who ride scooters like to pack a lot of stuff into them. Both these machines are wonderful for around town commuting, as well as long trips to far away places. Storage is a critical issue. The Silver Wing provides space for two full face helmets under the seat. The Aprilia offers a bit less room, but here's the clincher: the Aprilia was designed to have an optional luggage unit attached that cosmetically fits the rest of the bike. While you can add a Givi mount to the Silver Wing, the beauty of the bike diminished with the extra hardware. Honda also provides two cubbys on the front providing 1.5 liters of storage for your garage opener, tire gauge, polishing wax and more. Aprilia skimped with a much smaller front storage unit.

Instrumentation

Honda provides a simple setup on the Silver Wing offering speed, tach, odometer/trip meter, clock and the usual warning lights. Aprilia takes it a few steps further with an extended trip meter that also provides things like top speed, average speed, air temperature, and gas mileage. We think the air temperature is something that every bike in the Northwest should have so it was a pleasure to see it arrive on this one. Why either of these bikes need a tachometer is beyond us. They're both V-belt auto drives.

Leg Room

The Silver Wing wins hands down on legroom, a real plus for taller people. Honda also provides an adjustable lumbar support on the scooter which allows the rider to adjust the seat point specifically to them- a great feature, especially if you're out riding long distances. Aprilia did not include this option on the Atlantic.

Styling

Both scooters have contemporary lines styled into the bodywork. Aprilia included a set of crash bars on the front, Honda did not. While it seems like a good idea to protect bodywork it's already been proven not viable by more than one Aprilia owner. Both companies could take a cue from the Acura R&D team which styled in effective crash bars in Honda's Pacific Coast in the 1980's that really worked for standing-still falls.

For 2002 Honda provided two color options, Black and Candy Red. Aprilia came to the party with four � two blue tones, silver and red.

Wheels, Brakes and Suspension

Both bikes could use a few more inches in the wheel sizes. Aprilia provides a 15" in front and a 14" in the rear. While Honda provides a wider rear tire for more contact with the road, the rear wheel is just 13" and the front 14". Perhaps they were both concerned with seat height, thus the small hoops.

Both bikes feature integrated braking- with both brakes operating on the handlebars- no foot brakes. When Aprilia was looking for cost-cutting measures in the design of the Atlantic, front braking was not on the list. The designers had the smarts to put two discs on the front wheel allowing it better stopping power in shorter distances; the Silver Wing only has one disc. Both feature a single disc in the rear.

Both provide adjustable shocks on the rear and the Aprilias shocks are concentric which provides more options.

Pricing

Honda's list price is $7,499. Aprilia introduced the Atlantic at just $5,699. The $1,800 price difference was enough to make a few people run out and order their scoots in advance. In the end you'll want to inspect and ride each scooter to be sure where you want to put your money down.

Where to Buy Em

Click here for listing of dealers for each brand


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