View Full Version : Scarabeo 150 vs. Ninja 250

11-23-2003, 10:25 PM
I have been riding my Scarabeo 150 since the spring. I love the full hard luggage set I have with it and the ease of driving and handling. I only have three major complaints:

1) The max speed is 75mph on the flat. If I go up a slight upgrade and or/into the wind, this drops to around 68mph max.

2) The ghas tank is 2.5 gals. At 60 mpg and my commute, I have to fill up every 2.5 days. Often if I go somewhere midweek the first place I have to go is the gas station.

3) Parts are expensive.

To compare small bikes, I have recently purchased a used Ninja 250. The power is great, and the gas tank holds over 4 gals. I have some soft side bags on it, which are not nearly as good as the scarabeo's easy-access hard luggage -- and hard luggage is not available for this bike. My major complaints with it however are:

1) It is geared WAY too low. There 5mph difference between gears, and you run through all 6 of them before 40 mph. At 75 mph it runs at 9500 rpm (from the engine sound I think the Scarabeo runs at 5000 rpm @ 75mph). This weekend I replaced the rear sprocket, which brought the 75 mph rpm down to 8000 rpm. There's still plenty of power left. I plan an equivalent replacement of the front sprocket this weekend.

2) At these rpm I get a fair amount of high frequency vibration through the handle bars -- making the single cylinder Scarabeo 150 seem much smoother than the 2 cylinder Ninja 250.

Big Question: Does anyone have any ideas on how one might retrofit a small-ish water cooled Kawasaki Ninja 250 engine into a Scarbeo 150????

... ideas and opinions between these two bikes are welcome, as I will be selling one of them (not sure which one) in the spring.

- Ken

11-24-2003, 12:37 AM
Instead of going for a major retrofit project, which would likely require so much redesigning that you'd be practically building a scooter from scratch, you might look into some of the big bore kits available for the scarabeo.

I know there is someone around with a Malossi 172 kit in, along with a performance variator, who loves it's extra power. Hopefully you can find some info about it, or maybe they will chime in here.

I'd say the scarabeo is the better bike of the two. Partially it depends on what you are wanting in a bike. The ninja 250 isn't very practical it seems, and is meant mostly as a 'trainer' for the bigger sportbikes. If your goal was to one day be riding an RSV1000, the ninja would give you better experience. However, if you plan on sticking with a small bike, the scarabeo is much nicer.

You won't find many rides smoother than an aprilia scooter. The belt drive plus very well designed engines that are slung very low and back on the vehicle mean the handlebar vibrations are very low, and makes the ride very comfortable.

Also, something to think about, though it shouldn't be a major consideration, is the fact that ninja 250's are all over the place. Around here you can't sling a dead cat without hitting a ninja 250. They are solid, fairly reliable, consistent bikes, that haven't changed a bit in 15 years besides minor updates. The Aprilia turns heads, it is attractive, it is obviously designed by people who cared much more about its build, appearance, fit and finish, etc. It is a much more unique vehicle than the ninja. That shouldn't count for much, especially if there are big problems with it that make it not worth owning for you, but it is something I feel is worth paying a slight premium for.


11-27-2003, 11:01 PM
... Good points all....

I purchased my Scarabeo (used) in the springtime, and have since put on about 5K miles. We have a Dodge Caravan and Geo Metro for family vehicles. During the week I take the Scarbeo, leaving the (40 mi/gal) Metro for my wife. We use the Caravan (22 mi/gal) on weekends or when we have more than two riders.

Since I'm now using the Scarabeo/Ninja for a year-round substitute car (we live in Texas and can ride about 300 days/year), I will wind up putting on about 12-15K miles per year.

Question: Does anyone have any idea as to what the upkeep costs and longetivity of the Scarabeo 150 (or the Atlantic 500) are?

... $13 for an Aprilia oilfilter seems a bit pricey, and might be an indicator of maintenance-rebuild costs. Since the Ninja 250 has been around forever and one can get a whole engine for it on ebay for around $300 -- I suspect it will be a lot cheaper to use as my (nearly) year-round commuter bike.

Thanks, - Ken

12-07-2003, 10:42 PM
Man those two bikes are so different you shouldn't even compare them. I used to have the Ninja 250 and I switch scooters with my friend who has a scarabeo 150 about one day a week. My Ninja had a Kerker pipe and it would smoke a scarabeo and get about 35mph more top end. The ninja revs high for quickness off the line. Plus it has a 2 cylinder engine with way more torqu. The ninja is a good bike for a girl to learn on or for learning how to do wheelies and stoppies and stuff like that. The Scarabeo is more for cruising and comfort and eas of use.

12-07-2003, 11:32 PM
I put new front and rear sprockets into the Ninja a couple of weeks ago, which brought the revs way down.

Right now -- the Ninja is much better on the highway, the Scarabeo is much better in town-city traffic.

I love the hard luggage on the Scarabeo -- and I cannot find anything nearly so attractive nor functional for the Ninja


The Ninja has a 4.3 gallon gas tank making it's range about 220 miles before I have to start looking for a gas station (vs. the Scarbeo's 100 mile range). Ninja parts are also way cheaper -- which is a consideration since I live in Central Texas and ride (more or less) year round -- racking up miles quickly.

I go back and forth on this, using both bikes, and still cannot make up my mind on which bike to sell in the spring. ...If only someone made a small touring bike.

Regards, - Ken

12-22-2003, 01:59 PM
As per all the points in the previous posts, and several months of riding both the Ninja 250 (with a more reasonable set of sprocketing) and my Scarabeo 150, I have finally made a decision....

To get the bigger gas tank and more power of the Ninja, yet to keep the luggage and ease of handling of the Scarabeo 150 -- I have decided to get rid of both bikes and get a Scarabeo 500.

Bike has been paid for and is at the dealers now awaiting a missing Aprilia part. Hopefully the continued cost of ownership won't be too bad, as that's the only remaining downside to staying with Aprilia...

02-04-2004, 12:18 PM
How about an update on the Scarabeo 500 ? I didn't look to see where in Texas you are. If you have been out riding let us know what you are finding with the larger Scarabeo.


02-09-2004, 10:37 PM
Scarabeo 500 Review


I now have about 1800 miles on my Scarabeo 500. I use it as a car when it's only me I'm transporting, and I ride it (pretty much) year round here in Texas. It's the first new bike I've ever purchased -- and to date I think it was worth the investment.


Basically, I got back into biking after 16 years with a Scarabeo 150 in the spring. Later, I wanted more power, but still wanted to keep the (water cooled) engine under 500cc, so I got a Ninja 250. After re-sprocketing the Ninja more for the street (it goes thru all 6 gears in under 35 mph), I had all intentions of selling the Scarabeo 150 in the spring. The Ninja has a bigger gas tank, much more power, and is definitely a fun bike for a curvey country road. I take a Spanish class down in Austin after work on Wednesday nights however, and found the Scarabeo 150 (automatic) was much easier in traffic, and required much less thought to drive after working all day, than the 6 speed Ninja. It's carrying capacity (with the full Aprilia luggage set) was also much better than the Ninja -- hence I looked at getting either an Atlantic or Scarabeo 500 to combine the carrying capacity and convenience of the automatic, with more power and a bigger gas tank/more range, and (after test driving a BMW RT1150, and looking at a Honda ST1300 and a Honda Goldwing) still keep the gas mileage at least around 50 mpg.


Appearance-wise, my two favorite bikes are a silver BMW 1150RT and a silver Scarabeo 500. People come up and ask me about the Scarabeo 500 fairly often -- and they usually think it is some sort of BMW. If Aprilia marketing got their act together I think they could clean up for a few years with this bike (this is, until the Japanese start to copy it). I think the Atlantic 500 with the auxillary top box looks a little awkward, but that's only my opinion, and this wouldn't be a show stopper for me if the Scarabeo 500 wasn't available.

Storage and mpg:

The Atlantic lacks the front hook (which holds that bag of groceries down low), and while the Atlantic has under seat storage (the Scarabeo 500 has a slightly larger gas tank instead), you can't fit a full face mask under there -- hence you need the (I think awkward looking) $350 top box for storing a full face helmet. The Atlantic also won't really take side bags; however, I wound up removing the side bags from my Scarabeo 500. I did a 60 mile test run with and without them and found they cost 4.8 miles per gallon at highway speeds. Overall, with the side bags on I got between 46-48 mpg, after removing them I got 51-53 mpg. My engine has under 2K miles on it.


My lower back hurt AFTER around 2 hours of solid riding the Scarabeo 150. I do not have this problem on the Ninja 250 (even though my hands eventually go numb from the normal engine vibration), and I do not have this problem on the new Scarabeo 500. While both Scarabeos have a prone seating position, the Scarabeo 150's windshield / fairing does not come up very high -- hence the wind is in your chest and the pivot point becomes your lower back.

While the Scarabeo 500 seat is not uncomfortable, it could be a bit "squishier". The Kawasaki Concours seat is much softer/better in this regard. After removing my side bags I got a bigger bag (see photo) that sits in the passenger seat, and attaches/unattaches (e.g. for gas fills you have to lift up the Scarabeo 500 seat) easily from the hand rail. Sometimes I lean back on it -- when full of raingear, etc., it makes a good cushion. All this is relative however. I still think the Honda Goldwing has the most comfortable seat in existence.

You sit about 1 1/2 inches higher on the Scarabeo 500 seat, relative to the windshield height, than on the Atlantic 500 (both windshields are the same height from the ground). As a result, the wind noise is different between them - with the Atlantic being noisier. I suspect this is offset a bit with the Atlantic also being that much more aerodynamic. I don't know how much this affects the gas mileage.

Owing to scooter frame design, very little of the engine vibration makes it up into the handle bars. I found both the Scarabeo 500 and Atlantic 500 maxi scooters, while not as smooth as a Goldwing, were still incredibly smooth - even though they have single cylinder engines. While they idle like big lawnmowers and have a distinctive "putt-putt" idling sound, once you start moving even a little they smooth right out (on a related note, I thought the BMW 1150RT could idle smoother for that kind of money). They are both incredibly easy to drive, with their high-speed stability and fairings it is soooo easy to just cruise along at 85-90 mph / 6K rpm (and pick up a ticket - which I haven't done yet but I suspect it's a matter of time). I'd have to compare the bigger 16 inch wheel of the Scarabeo 500 to the Atlantic 500's in a series of side-by-side driving tests to determine the difference, but after 1800 miles I DEFINITELY like the smoothness and handling of the Scarabeo 500 (it's on par or better than the BMW 1150 I test drove), even though the Scarabeo 500 is slightly longer and wider than the Atlantic 500.


The top box was the only thing that gave me a hard time. It opens via a cable connected to the ignition key. The problem was that the cable adjuster inside the top box didnít do anything, and the cable was just a tad too long. When I first got the bike I had to press on the front of the top box's (slightly flexible) plastic to get the latch to pop open. One day, when the weather was just above freezing, the plastic became hard and the top box simply did not open. I messed up the little plastic lifting tab on the lid trying to pop the darn thing open (there is a very good latching mechanism inside the top box and it will not pop open). Later, at home, I removed the rear hinge pins (I was able to tap them out with a small nail) and worked the lid loose. I wound up crimping about a quarter inch of metal to the end of the cable (photo attached). Now the mechanism works perfectly. Too bad I had to mess up the lid in the course of figuring this out.


From the Aprilia webpage, I had thought that there was an extra stop light on the top box. While there seems to be a way to route a cable to it (see photo) - on US models there is no extra stop light - it's just a reflector. If there's a retrofit kit, I plan on buying it for that little bit of extra safety.

Hope this helps! - Ken


02-09-2004, 10:39 PM
Photo of Scarbeo 500 top box channeling for stop light cable

02-09-2004, 10:41 PM
Scarabeo 500 with side bags

02-09-2004, 10:46 PM
Top bag -- it looks better from the front and with big ol' me on the bike in front of it; but I didn't take those photos

02-11-2004, 02:40 PM

Thanks ! great review, very much appreciated.

I, like you were, am presently riding a 150 and spending time considering both the Atlantic and Scarabeo 500 while the snow is on the ground. I'll ride both as well but always interested in comments of others.



02-14-2004, 10:28 AM
Hey Ken,

How about the positioning of the instruments and display. Happy with it ? You mentioned you ride at night. How is it at night ?

I know I sometimes find it hard to check speed on my 150 at high noon on a summer day. Does the canopy over the dash help much ? Guess that is a little unfair of a question given the sun sits so low these Winter days.

The floor board is cut out a little like on the Atlantic. As a prior 150 owner does that really make that much of a difference in freeing the rider to drop a leg down ?

The Scarabeo 500 is beautiful. I'm jealous.

Still on my 150.

04-06-2004, 10:46 PM

Finally! - some time to reply.

Overall I'm happy with the instruments. I wish however that (1) they would have put a little bit of white tip on the speedometer needle (it's red against a gray background -- see photo). (2) the mileage is given in ml/G.

Does anyone know what ml/G means? I thought it is some sort of miles per gallon measurement. If so, does anyone know how to convert the reading (mine reads around 3.5, which winds up being ~53.5 mpg) to miles per gallon?

I love having a temperature gauge on the dashboard -- it tells me whether I'm being a whimp because it's warmer than it feels -- or a fool becuase it's colder.

Hope this helps! - Ken

04-07-2004, 09:53 AM
I made the jump to the 500 since we last exchanged messages. Absolutely love it ! I was seriously considering a new/overlooked 2002 Silverwing and a Burgman but neither dealer wanted to make the trade for my 150 so the best deal for me remained with the Aprilia. When I left work the other day I had four guys walking out with me to take a look at the bike as this office building is all glass and my new Black/Devil Red Scarabeo stands out amongst all the Civics, Accords and SUVs.

I've only got a hundred or so miles on the bike but couldn't be happier.

Spring rains are starting to settle in so I'll be in the garage some this week conditioning the leather and getting the first coat of McGuire's on readying for all the dust and nasty acid rain.

I am finding the same with the mileage reported. Date threw me a little also as it reads (7 4) (day month).

04-20-2004, 10:41 AM
There is a rumour going around that Aprilia will have a Scarabeo 250, perhaps to compete better with the Vespa GT and Piaggio BV 200. It seems like upgrading the whole scooter to a 250 would be cheaper and easier than trying to upgrade engine parts on an old Scarabeo 150.

As to maintainance costs, mine Scarabeo has been pretty reasonable. I bought oil filters from here, Aprilia Forum, half the price of the local Aprilia dealer. And I change the oil myself, saving quite alot... it's pretty easy, fun and rather satisfying. My dealer has been nice about working with me on service pricing and only doing the parts of the services that I can't or won't do myself.

I keep looking at motorcycles to cruise around on, and love the new Aprilia Tuono, which I'll get a chance to demo in a few days. But, riding a scooter in and out of DC is alot easier than a heavy motorcycle with gears. Insurance on a scooter is also quite a bit cheaper.

My two cents..

04-20-2004, 12:54 PM
I don't know anything more than you do but I've seen Mototek report that the Scarabeo 250 won't be coming to the U.S. anytime soon.

I keep wondering if Aprilia will make moves to reduce their line of scooters. If you start with the Rally, Mojito and end up with the 500s you have a very large number of scooters to market.

Many of those in between are real winners too. Heck, no one can bad mouth the SR50 DiTech or the Scarabeo 50 DiTech or the Scarabeo 150.

My suspicion is that the Scarabeo 250 will come here one day but likely not this year.

best of luck,


Originally posted by z3bum
There is a rumour going around that Aprilia will have a Scarabeo 250, perhaps to compete better with the Vespa GT and Piaggio BV 200. It seems like upgrading the whole scooter to a 250 would be cheaper and easier than trying to upgrade engine parts on an old Scarabeo 150.

My two cents..