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Aprilia Dreams (Aprilia SR)

January 7th, 2010

Diane Hall has owned autos before, savage beasts that push out oh, around 7bhp – a Yamaha Salient 50 and the everlasting equivalent to Top Gear’s Toyota pickup truck, a Honda Vision.

Di chose an Aprilia SR as in her words – “I find them different to the norm and visually more appealing.” This one was originally blue and orange, hence the forum name she’s recognised by – ‘Tango SR’. The modifying began almost immediately with new rear lights followed by new grips, footplates, clear lenses and a new front panel. Next up was the exhaust, a PM52 which was quickly sprayed VHT black to prevent rust. Di’s husband Craig had just bought a Dragster 180, so it wasn’t long before she decided to go the whole hog and make her SR go faster. Tired of seeing her other half overtake, she did a bit of Internet searching and sought the advice of fellow forum members to see what could be done with her engine. Needless to say parts were ordered. Manley’s Bike Shop in Clacton-on-Sea did the surgery turning the scoot into a road reliable 172. The scoot is now pushing out around 90mph and Craig is now the one choking on two-stroke fumes.

Di’s ability to speak a foreign language meant she could drop in on European scooter forums and see what other SR owners were doing to their scoots. It took a lot of decision making to arrive at the current build and Di often refers to her bike as “the never finished article”. Originally she wanted a flip paint scheme, but after a trip to the Ace Cafe and her first custom show, the plan soon changed… So, off the panels went to Lee at Ford Road Auto for painting, then after some more deliberating she decided to try some DIY painting opting for a matching colour for the flyscreen and inner panels.

It must be said that the amount of work Di has physically done herself puts some of the blokes to shame. I recall the time when she fitted the Kiesler undertray and went to the extent of obtaining another set of SR side panels to ensure her painted ones didn’t get scratched in the fitting process. The undertray had to be modified to fit as they’re made to fit an SR 50 and the rear shock on a 50 is further forward than the 125. Di did all the meshing herself, cutting into panels and adapting the rear mudguard to a more unique shape. The grips changed again to some blingy chrome numbers and by this point the scoot has really taken shape with a new kickstart pedal, new mirrors, rim tape and matching bolts to complete the theme.

So that’s the bike covered, what about the rider? What’s it like for a female in a male dominated pastime? And more importantly, how does she find the time with three kids? “Well I’ve never really given it much thought as it feels normal to me, it’s just a shame there aren’t more female ‘auto pilots’ out there. I’ve never been treated any differently by male scooterists. In fact, I’ve made some great friends through the scooter scene, both male and female.” Di talked about her first real scooter run – last year’s Great London Rideout. “I found it all a little daunting at first to be honest as I didn’t know what to expect from the hardcore rally goers, but was nicely surprised at just how friendly and accepting everyone was. We’ve made some really good friends and had lots of fun and that’s what it’s all about.”

And what about having three little (or now, not so little) mouths to feed? “It’s just nice to get out and away from family life sometimes I suppose, everyone needs a bit of ‘me’ time and I get that from my SR when I go for a ride, it never fails to put a smile on my face. I’m quite a careful rider round town, but when I hit a nice long road I just can’t help but pull the throttle and let rip, pure adrenalin rush for me and I love that.” Di is a regular to the Mersea Island rally, and this year her bike made 100mph on the dyno in front of a small crowd of fellow Darksiders of which she’s a member. In between all this, she still finds time to update her small space on the web – apriliadreams.co.uk, which has its own forum for fellow SR owners of the world. Di says the bike “is never finished”, and has more plans for it – a re-covered seat, a chromed exhaust and Chromax painted wheels are on the list. Where does it all end?! A testament to Dave Spikey’s catchphrase indeed.

Words: Phil Littlechild
Photos: Clinton Smith
Model: Maya

This article was originally published in the print version of PETROL ISSUE.04

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