The Scarabeo has easily been the best selling large wheeled scooter in the USA and Canada, partly due to its solid design and partly because no other manufacturer save Kymco has provided much competition.
Stable handling at higher speeds and uneven ground
APRILIA SCARABEO 50 / 100 / 150 / 200 & 500
The story of Aprilia’s Scarabeo series of scooters contains many models and stretches way back to Milan, Italy, where in 1993 the first Scarabeo model was unveiled. The Scarabeo concept was conceived as way to take the practicalities of a scooter and blend them with the larger wheels of a motorbike – thus making a scooter that handles better on rough roads and at higher speeds.
This large wheeled scooter concept has proven especially popular in Europe, where function is more important than nostalgia. In Europe, Honda’s large wheeled SH scooters are top sellers and Aprilia’s Scarabeo models also enjoy a great deal of fan fare.
The original 1993 Scarabeo (or ‘Scabby’ & ‘Beo’ as they are sometimes referred to by enthusiasts) released in Europe was a Scarabeo 150. It wasn’t until 1999 that the Scarabeo arrived in the USA and it took until 2003 to migrate to Canada. Over the coming years many variants were offering in North America as described below. The end came after 2010 in Canada, while the Scarabeo series remained on sale in the USA until 2013.
Scarabeo 50 (Gen 1) – Sold 1999 – 2006 in USA & 2004 – 2005 in Canada, 2-stroke
Scarabeo 50 (Gen 2) – Sold 2009 in USA (2-stroke or 4-stroke) & 2007 – 2009 in Canada (4-stroke)
Scarabeo 100 – Sold 2007 – 2013 in USA, Piaggio LEADER motor
Scarabeo 150 – Sold 2001 – 2006 in USA & 2003 in Canada, Bombardier Rotax motor
Scarabeo 200 – Sold 2008 – 2013 in USA & 2007 – 2010 in Canada, Piaggio LEADER motor
Scarabeo 250 – Sold 2006 only in USA, Piaggio QUASAR motor
Scarabeo 500 – Sold 2004 – 2013 in USA & 2004 – 2005 in Canada, Piaggio MASTER motor
After quite a few successful years in the European market, Aprilia brought the Scarabeo to the USA for 1999 as part of Aprilia’s American debut. Since 1999, the Scarabeo has been offered in North America in a wide range of sizes including 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, 200cc, 250cc and 500cc. Aprilia’s smallest Scarabeo, the 2-stroke 50cc, comprised one half of Aprilia’s 1999 two scooter lineup with the SR50 being the sportier other half. The smallest Scabby (above right) was joined by the Scarabeo 150 for 2001 in the USA. The larger Scarabeo 500 rounded out Aprilia’s Scarabeo offerings in the USA when it was added for 2004. The mid-sized Scarabeo 250 joined these existing models briefly for 2006, but didn’t last long as Aprilia overhauled their offerings the following year.
2007 saw Aprilia simplify things, as they replaced the Scarabeo 50 and 150 with the new generation of Scarabeo 100 (left) which was designed to be as compact as the 50cc while nearly as powerful as the 150. The 250cc was dropped for 2007, but Aprilia added their new Scarabeo 200 for 2008, bringing their lineup to the 100, 200 and 500 models.
A 50cc option made a short return for 2009, when Aprilia released a smaller 50cc version of the newer 100cc body style. This new Scarabeo 50 was available in 2-stroke (“50 Street) or 4-stroke (“50 4T”) motor options. 2010 saw Aprilia drop the new 50cc model and move back to offering just the 100, 200 and 500 models, which is how their lineup remained until it was unilaterally dropped post 2013.
The situation up in Canada has been a bit simpler thankfully, with Aprilia’s offering the Scarabeo 150 for their 2003 debut, and then switching to offer the Scarabeo 50 every year from 2004 to 2009 (except 2006 when they didn’t import any). The 2004 – 2005 Scarabeo 50’s were the original generation 2-stroke models, while the 2007 – 2009 models were the newer design with a 4-stroke mill. Joining the Scarbeo 50 in showrooms was the Scarabeo 500 for 2004 – 2005 and the Scarabeo 200 for 2007 to 2010.
All models of Scarabeo scooters use 16” rims (except the 500cc version (right) which has a 14” rear rim). Large by scooter standards, these rims offer superior handling and performance over bumps compared to smaller wheeled scooters. Traditionally, scooters have used 8-12” rims. The compromise with these larger rims is the reduced underseat storage area, which is intruded into by the larger rear wheel. Aprilia tries to make up for this by adding a rear rack that allows for easy mounting of an optional top case. Also easing the lack of underseat storage is a locking glovebox which is an amazingly handy inclusion.
Most Scarabeo scooters also come standard with some sort of windscreen. The Scarabeo 50 gets nothing, while the 100 gets a small windscreen, the 200 (below in red) gets a moderate sized shield and the 500 gets a full adjustable windscreen.
A number of engines have been used in the Scarabeo scooters over the many generations and versions. The original Scarabeo was the 150 and it was powered by a Rotax engine sourced from Bombardier.
Later on, Aprilia developed a relationship with Piaggio (well before Piaggio purchased Aprilia in 2004). Accordingly, most Scarabeo’s since the original 150 have used Piaggio engines. Piaggio’s LEADER motor can be found in all 100cc and 200cc Scarabeo’s. This core motor is shared with Piaggio scooters like the Fly 150 and Vespa LX 150. The larger Scarabeo 250 used Piaggio’s QUASAR motor, which can be found in modern 250-300cc Piaggio and Vespa scooters (ie. Vespa GTS).
The original Scarabeo 50 (pre-2007) was a 2-stroke scooter using Piaggio’s Hi-PER2 engine. While regular and high performance (“DiTech”) versions were sold overseas, Insatiable North American’s were seemingly offered only the high performance variant. Regular models used a Hi-PER2 engine with a carburetor and 9.9:1 compression, while the high performance DiTech models gained fuel injection, rear disc brake and 12.5:1 compression. The DiTech version of this motor is shared with Aprilia’s sporty SR50 DiTech model.
The second generation of Scarabeo 50 was sold in Canada for 2007 – 2009, and 2009 only in the USA. In Canada, the lone motor option was Piaggio’s 4-stroke Hi-PER4 motor. In the USA a 2-stroke “Scarabeo 50 Street” version was sold alongside the regular 4-stroke model. The 2-stroke Street version utilized a standard spec version of Piaggio’s Hi-PER2 motor, which means it had a carburator, lower compression and a rear drum brake. These motors were shared with other Piaggio machines of this era including the Piaggio Fly 50, LT50 and 50cc Vespa’s.
The largest Scarabeo 500 was powered by a 460cc Piaggio MASTER motor putting out 39 hp. This motor was also used in Aprilia’s Atlantic 500 and Piaggio’s X9 500.
Kymco’s People, People S and People GT lines of scooters are the most direct competitors to the Scarabeo scooters. Honda also briefly competed in the large wheeled scooter market in North America with their 2010 SH150i, but sales were slow and that scooter was dropped after one year. Both the SH150i and Aprilia scooters offered the latest technology in a very refined package. The Kymco People and People S scooters use older motors that don’t yield quite as much power, but the prices are certainly tempting. The newer People GT from Kymco is a more technologically endowed with fuel injection and 4-valves and remains an excellent choice.
One other model worth mentioning is Piaggio’s LT 50 and LT 150 scooters, which made a brief appearance in the USA market. The LT is quite uncommon and quirky, with their Vespa ET meets large wheels” styling. They are well built scooters that will appeal to some.
Overall, North American’s don’t seem to adore large wheeled scooters as much as Europeans do. Large wheeled scooters are the top sellers in Europe, while only a few have been offered to North America. The Scarabeo has easily been the best selling large wheeled scooter in the USA and Canada, partly due to its solid design and partly because no other manufacturer save Kymco has provided much competition. The Scarabeo scooters and Kymco People GT will appeal to buyers looking for a higher end large wheeled scoot, while the Kymco People and People S are good choices for tight budget buyers.
Stable handling at higher speeds and uneven ground