Aprilia ETX 150 Review

Recently this article was published Aprilia ETX 150 Adventure Bike which pointed out some of the features including a list of the initially obvious pros and cons. To follow on from that article, this review article follows the use of a Aprilia ETX 150 in an adventure riding environment. The majority of the riding for this review is by my sister which offers a good perspective from someone new to adventure riding. In addition, because I am quite curious how the bike will go when pushed off road, I have had the occasional ride and will throw my 2 cents in also.

Photo 1 of Aprilia ETX 150 Review
ETX15 with the Dririder Explorer Tail Pack fitted

Aprilia ETX 150 Economy

Many online promotions claim the Aprilia ETX 150 can achieve 50 km per litre. By comparing this to a bike I am very familiar with, a fully laden DRZ400 will average around 17.5 km per litre. Naturally I was very dubious about this claim. Recording fuel usage from a number of adventure rides without luggage saw the Aprilia ETX 150 get 41 km per litre when riding conservatively from A to B on flat ground. While this is not the claimed 50 km per litre, it is still pretty good. Off road, the fuel efficiency drops to around 27 km per litre. The drop in efficiency is expected as off road riding is more demanding so this figure can also be considered pretty good. 

Aprilia ETX 150 Hand Guards

On a recent adventure ride the Aprilia ETX 150 had a drop. Not a big drop, first gear down a steep gravel 4X4 track and the front wheel washed out. For the likes of BarkBusters or similar, it would be a case of picking the bike up and carrying on without a second thought. The Aprilia ETX 150 however had a smashed hand guard, bent handlebars and bent bar clamps.

Smashed hand guard
Photo 2 of Aprilia ETX 150 Review
The Aprilia ETX 150 hand guards are very brittle and break at the sniff of a drop
Aprilia ETX 150 bar clamps
Photo 3 of Aprilia ETX 150 Review
While most bikes use 12mm bar clamp bolts, the Aprilia ETX 150 has 8mm bolts flanged at the top to 12mm. The clamp brackets themselves are soft and easily susceptible to bending

Aprilia ETX 150 handlebar and bar clamp upgrade

There was no point buying stock clamps, bars and hand guards again as they'd just do the same thing again on the next drop so an upgrade was required.

Aftermarket bar clamps
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Solid 1 1/8 bar clamps with high tensile 12mm bolts
New handlebars
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A set of Renthal Fatbars. Aside from looking sharp they are seriously tough bars
New hand guards
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A set of Biketech hand guards were fitted. The nice low density flexible plastic makes them much more durable than the stock ones
Reference Link : Biketique - Handguards
Photo 7 of Aprilia ETX 150 Review
The Biketech backbone is a full alloy bar offering far more protection than the stock ones which have no backbone at all

Centre stand

As handy as a centre stand is for fixing flats and general maintenance, for adventure riding they can affect ground clearance and also add surplus weight. It was easy to see from day one the centre stand on the ETX 150 was not designed to be ground clearance friendly. A lot of the photos of the ETX150 are from the viewpoint of a standing person and it doesn’t look as though clearance would be too much of an issue however if you get down to the level of the wheel and look squarely at the centre stand you get to see just how intrusive it is to ground clearance. Removing the centre stand is a simple 5 minute fix to increase ground clearence.

Photo 8 of Aprilia ETX 150 Review
Riding through a wooded section and getting hung up on a relatively small log by the centre stand.

Aprilia ETX 150 Foot pegs

The foot pegs on the ETX 150 don’t follow the norm of adventure/off road bikes and have return springs on the foot pegs. Lifting a foot to clear an obstacle or plant a boot on the ground to take the weight is often followed by the action to replant your foot on the foot peg only to find it has flicked up and there’s nothing there! On road bikes it is common to have no return spring and it doesn't pose an issue but for adventure/off-road riding it is very off-putting if you lift your foot, go to replant, not knowing if the peg will be there or not. 

Photo 9 of Aprilia ETX 150 Review
Right hand ETX 150 foot peg

Foot placement

There is no mistaking the low lying exhaust is probably one of the weakest design features of the ETX 150, but while having a ride off road the other day, I noticed the muffler also interferes with foot placement when standing on the pegs. When you stand, your heel makes contact with the muffler guard and you cannot get your foot in a comfortable position unless you move your foot forward on the peg. When in the seated position, this isn't an issue. 

Photo 10 of Aprilia ETX 150 Review
Photo showing how close the muffler guard is to the foot peg

Aprilia ETX 150 Wheel bearings

At just 2,300km the rear wheel bearings and cush drive bearing were absolutely shot. After pulling them out I discovered the two bearings in the wheel are CXCL bearings and the single cush drive bearing is a JUF. Both are low price Chinese made bearings of debatable quality. It would be unreasonable to expect a bike of this ticket price to have top end, high priced precision bearings; but it is not ideal to see the bearings fail at a mere 2,300 km on such a small bike with such limited engine load.

Photo 11 of Aprilia ETX 150 Review
The removed stock Chinese ETX 150 bearings

Speedo and Cruise Speed of the ETX150

Many reviews (and the shop salesman) say the ETX 150 can ride at 100 kmph all day. This was another claim I was a little dubious about as we are only talking about a 12 horsepower bike here. A previously owned DRZ250 with just shy of 20 horsepower was a push to sit at 100 kmph in all riding conditions and the cc to horsepower ratio of the DRZ250 and ETX150 are very similar yet we are looking at 40% less capacity/horsepower from the ETX150.

I saw a video of someone achieving 127kmph on an ETX150 but after checking this ETX150's speedo against a GPS it is quite a way out and perhaps what is causing the common belief that a comfortable 100kmph is achievable. 64kmph on the ETX speedo is actually 50kmph. The ETX can however sit at 90kmph comfortably(ish) with a heavy throttle hand. Head winds and hills don’t do cruising speed any favours but to be fair 90kmph is still adequate to get out there and enjoy a ride.

ETX150 Engine

So far this is a strong point of the ETX150. Although far from a powerhouse at only 12ish horsepower, the engine has not missed a beat. It starts well and runs well.


Final 6,000 km Review

So the bike has now done 6,000 km and the motor is still ticking over well. The only other major maintenance since the wheel bearings at 2500 km is replacing the chain and sprockets. The factory chain is cheap rubbish and was pretty much toasted at 5000 km. This is fairly low considering the bike is only putting out 12 hp. The chain has been replaced with a quality DID O-Ring which should last four times longer.

There are other small items such as decals falling off, the seat always coming out of the poorly designed mounting clips and chasing nuts and bolts that vibrate loose.  Additionally, the excellent fuel economy of 41km per litre plummets to around 21 km per litre when it is fully loaded up with camping gear and the throttle is held wide open trying to push the engine to maintain its maximum speed of 90 km/h, or riding uphill or riding into a head wind. 

So as a final review on the ETX150 knowing what I know now about the bike, would I have encouraged my sister to buy one? The answer is no. Although the purchase price is very low, it is a nice looking bike and the engine is still operating without fault; the low purchase price simply means low quality materials have been used. The result of low quality materials means items are breaking or wearing out and have to be replaced. This in turn means the brand new ETX150 purchase price plus repairs/maintenance after a year of ownership is similar to the brand new purchase price of a Suzuki DR200.

The Suzuki DR200 has far better build quality with higher quality components. Additionally the Suzuki DR200 is better designed for more off-road oriented adventure riding than the ETX150.

Click on the link below for photos of the ETX150 out adventure riding
Author of this article: RMOTO