This is the first in a series of postings that review living with and enjoying the PIaggio BV250 Beverly Tourer Scooter.
The Cruiser Group meets the Piaggio BV250 Tourer
Tough bunch, this group that I meet with on Friday nights. The core of the group all ride Yamaha Star motorcycles; big Roadliners and the like. When I pulled up on the Piaggio BV250 Tourer that I’ll be running through its paces over the next two weeks, the title of this post was the first comment from the guy that I pulled up next to:
“That is the coolest scooter I’ve ever seen!”
Well, that’s a good start, eh?
I didn’t know what to think as I dropped off my big Moto Guzzi California Vintage and picked up this diminutive ride. I hadn’t ridden a scooter since 1984, and although I had a bit of exposure to scootering when I investigated my return to riding, I really hadn’t thought seriously about riding one around after I purchased my Eldorado.
It really is a pretty ride. Very light, with lots of plastic panels over a steel frame, yet rattle free and solid. Nice color-contrasting seat, and a big headlight gives it kind of a “Lambretta-like”, tall stance, but with everything new and updated. This is NOT your Roman-holiday Vespa. This is a 250cc maxi scooter with 50 years’ development behind it.So here I am at Piaggio’s press bike pick up area in Torrance. I didn’t know what to do; I’m about 45 miles from home at this point. There’s a long stretch of Friday afternoon 405 rush hour in front of me. I don’t have to be anywhere, so I decide to make a run up Sepulveda Blvd up to Northridge, just to get used to the scoot and see what it will do without the distractions of 2 ton beasts trying to squash a 250cc bike.
Note to self forever. Piaggios have a continuously variable transmission. That lever on the left is the rear brake, not the clutch. When you’re coming up to a stop, its good to use the rear brake, but this bike will throw you over the handlebars if you yank it like you’re disengaging a motorcycle’s clutch.
I only made this mistake once without serious consequence. After that I learned a nice “front-brake-pull” — one, two –“rear brake pull” — three, four – to stop. The bike sets well with the front lever, then the scooter will stop very quickly, evenly and predictably with the addition of the rear brake.
The close set handlebars and the seat that puts you very close and forward seem odd at first, but once underway, you understand the advantage. At speed, your arms are completely relaxed and at a perfect angle, almost like a computer keyboard. Very easy to handle the bike with this posture — the 16 inch tires give the ride a nice height, eye-level to SUVs.
You can really lean this scoot over with no fear of rubbing anything, and the little 250cc engine just picks up the revs beautifully as your wrist adds throttle after apexes. I’m getting used to this.
Carving through the traffic
The $4900 list BV 250 Tourer is made for traffic. Front of the line, baby, that’s me on the BV. Thin as a deck of cards, it allows you to carve between traffic at stop lights and pull to the front. Once there, it will completely smoke anything across the intersection (be damned sure the opposing traffic is stopped!). No gear shifts, no hesitation, no flat spots. The four-stroke, water-cooled 250 engine rocks the street like:
- A chihuahua on steroids.
- An angry miniature wolverine.
- Some kind of heretofore unknown pygmy jungle bear when you’re messin’ with her cubs.
Green light. Twist wrist. Accelerate. Don’t forget to grin.
Stopping, once you’re used to the big brakes on the BV250, is just mind-blowing. I had the opportunity to stop hard (Los Angeles streets are well, cranky at times), and the application of front-then-back, harder-harder-harder, was very impressive. I could modulate the stop easily and after a little bit, almost without voluntary thought. I found myself braking deep into corners and letting the transmission just ease me through the apex. I think it improves my technique for the bigger bore stuff on top of the simple bliss of rocking surface streets with this machine.
Nice storage under the seat and a small space up front is nice for knickknacks. A locking hook provides in the dash provides a place to put a purse or shopping bag for quick trips, and the gas compartment separate from the front or back compartments met with a nice approval from more veteran scooterists that I spoke with.
The biggest problem with the BV250 Tourer you may have is getting off this seat long enough to put stuff under it. Piaggio made it comfortable in a non-motorcycle way, but, after putting some serious miles on it, my 6’1, 240lb body comfortably sits on it for hours at a time. It’s top speed in excess of 75 is proven to me; I saw an indicated 90 while running down the freeway. Still I’m thinking that it has the same “Italian” optimistic speedometer that has populated autos and bikes from there for the last 50 years. Bottom line, I stayed up with freeway traffic, so I’m thinking 80+ with my big, non-scooter-body-type butt attached to it.
It’s maybe, maybe not “mod”. Maybe, maybe not pure enough for serious scooterists. I’m going to find this out. I do think there’s a place in it for 47 year old middle-aged men that love to ride. It starts with no fuss, it goes like stink for a 250cc, stops on a piece of newspaper and is comfortable and “green”.
As an ode to Quadrophenia revealing my age and some Rude Boy roots during College in California:
Bloody nora, this scoot is sterling!