Scoots don't give a hoot for urban crawl
Luxury scooters are catching on in South Africa - we have the climate, the scenery and mostly great roads. Trouble is, particularly for car-driving commuters, we also have a scourge called urban crawl.
That's where a scooter such as Aprilia's new Atlantic Sprint comes in and the company says it is dedicated to riders who want more than just comfort.
Unfortunately it won't be available in South Africa - but at least we can tell you all about it as a great example of the genre.
"The Atlantic Sprint has more acceleration and speed," Aprilia says, "than most maxi-scooters with the compact size of a 250, a combination that really places it in a class of its own."
It has a big double seat - with lumbar support - excellent wind protection and a high-performance, 500cc engine that makes the bike excellent for either touring or commuting.
"It's our answer to scooter riders who have been waiting for a fast, safe machine that not only offers great comfort but promises high performance urban commuting," Aprilia says.
The large seat is ergonomically shaped and provides lumbar support while the footboard has been carefully tapered where the rider puts his feet on the floor to ensure quick, easy and firm contact with the ground.
The leg shield and high windshield give excellent protection from wind and rain and the luggage rack incorporates pillion grab handles. It can also take an optional 45-litre top box without additional mountings.
There's also generous and illuminated under-seat storage big enough to hold a full-face helmet. This compartment has a power socket to charge a cellphone and there's a second, lockable, storage cubby in the rear of the leg shield.
The Atlantic Sprint comes with an electronic remote-controlled anti-theft system, the first of its kind fitted to a scooter. It immobilises the engine and will sound a loud alarm and flash the hazard lights if any attempt is made to move it.
Every aspect of the chassis, Aprilia says, has been designed to match the power and performance of the 500cc engine.
The strong, tubular-steel frame has a double cradle designed for torsional rigidity and robustness. That translates to stability, even when moving fast, with precision steering coming from a front fork comprising 35mm stanchions and 105mm of wheel travel,
The engine and transmission assembly, which acts as the rear swing arm, is damped by two gas-filled shock absorbers. Rear spring preload is adjustable to five positions and there's 90mm of wheel travel.
Scooters are notorious for "head shake" - wobbling when the front wheel hits uneven tar or a pothole - but the Atlantic Sprint has unusually large 14" wheels and wide- low-profile tyres (120/70 at the front, 140/60 at the rear) which largely remove this phenomenon
Integral braking (one lever works front and rear brakes) provides reliable, safe and gradual control over all surfaces thanks to having a disc brakes on each wheel - two 260mm discs on the front and 220mm at the rear.
The 500cc engine that powers the Atlantic Sprint is the same unit that has proved so successful on other Aprilia scooters - a modern, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke with electronic fuel-injection, single overhead cam and four valves.
Maximum power is 27.5kW at 6750rpm, maximum torque 42Nm at 5500rpm - figures, Aprilia says, that are similar to those of many multi-cylinder engines - and translating to one of the best power-to-weight ratios of any scooter.
A dynamic balancer shaft eliminates engine vibration.
The Sprint's fuel tank will take 15 litres.