2009 Piaggio BV250 Tourer – Day 3 – The Big Commute

This is the third in a series of posts dedicated to living with the 2009 Piaggio BV250 Tourer.  The second article is here.

 

Stopping for fresh parsley.

Stopping for fresh parsley.

 

 

The 160 mile commute

For a few more weeks I will be commuting from Northridge to Santa Barbara, California.  I’ve been at this job since mid-April, and the 80-mile-each-way ride has acted as a “firewall” between my family life and my work.  If I had to make this trip through the city streets and freeways of Los Angeles, it would definitely not be as much fun, but I get to ride Highway 118 through the farmlands of the Santa Paula Valley and then along the Ocean for about 30 miles on the 101 from Ventura to Santa Barbara.  Only about 12 miles of “regular freeway rush hour” traffic is encountered around my house along the freeway section of the 118 over the Santa Susanna pass and Simi Valley.  

The nice thing about this ride is I get to wring out the Piaggio BV250 Tourer in just about every commuter condition that could be encountered, along with a seriously long mile commute to judge just how practical it is to sit on this bike for more than 2 hours a day.

The morning was crisp and the sun was just coming up as I strode out the door and mounted the new Piaggio. I love riding to work on days that are just slightly cool.  The air is bracing and you feel like you’re riding something.  As usual, the BV250 starts within seconds and runs like a sewing machine.  Never any problem and the solid build of this product inspires confidence in long-term reliability.  Out the driveway and onto the familiar streets around my house to the freeway onramp at the top of Reseda Blvd.  I had taken a few short trips on the freeway the day before to get an idea of how fast the scooter would come up to speed and handle the undulating surfaces of Southern California’s multi-lanes.

I was shocked at how fast the BV250 Tourer comes up to speed.  Just about any on-ramp in the nation will afford the rider enough runway to launch safely into traffic.  I figured that I would just stay to the right and see how I could pull with traffic, but found that I was able to easily accelerate to higher speeds and cruise further left than I expected. As I saw an indicated 80mph on the speedo, I decided to move to the HOV lane and cruise through the Santa Susanna Pass, which is slightly steep.  I accelerated further to an indicated 85 and awaited the 250cc engine’s bog as it hit the slope, except I only lost about 3mph during the steepest part, and the motor itself made no protest as it moved my bulk up the hill. I gained speed as it flattened out, leaning beautifully through the high speed downhill sweepers on the west side of the pass as it drained into Simi Valley.

The Piaggio seems to shoot a current of smile voltage across my face.  It handles like a small sport bike through the turns, yet the weather protection, riding position and ease of use are miles ahead of this.  I’m wondering if I’m going to be tired after the first 80 miles, but I’m confident already that this bike’s going to handle the trip.

The 118 freeway though the Simi Valley has some “construction issues”, and the road can get a little rough.  The suspension of the BV just soaks up the bumps and keeps the scooter extremely stable.  As the traffic bunched up, I was able to split lanes and weave through slower cars with confidence; even the bumpy reflectors couldn’t upset the Michelin shod 16 wheels.  The CVT transmission is always in the right gear, and I’m not using full power for cruise, so I have a “little extra” to get around as I need it.  The Los Angeles Street exit arrives, and I prepare to ride the scooter through Moorpark and the country roads of the Santa Paula Valley to Ventura.

Highway 118 through Moorpark is a wide parkway with about 6 intersections that slowly funnel 6 lanes into two as it heads into the farmlands.  Large produce trucks litter this road as rolling chicanes, backing up traffic at the lights as they head to the thousands of acres of farmland in the area.

The fields were full of cilantro and green onions ready for harvest, filling my helmet with wonderful odors.  On the two lane road which stretches around 20 miles, the traffic backs up and slows down into the fifties. The ample power of the BV250 Tourer allowed me to pass in the openings with an ease close to the big-bore motorcycles I normally take down this route.  The Piaggio’s brakes gave me confidence as well, since there are many cross streets filled with cars that might pulling into traffic.  The huge headlight on the scoot throws a big beam even in the daytime which also gives an extra margin of safety.

There are a couple of turns on the road that I use to work on my cornering technique.  I didn’t expect much from the BV Tourer, yet found that the large tires gave more than enough clearance to support a great lean, and the CVT always put the torque to the road as I accelerated through the apex.  Even the big 270 degree banked turn that returns me to the freeway at the other end can be taken at surprising speed — I wonder if I can do a lean off turn!

Back to the 101 and I stop for coffee.  Friends that I meet there all ask questions about the Piaggio.  I can’t say enough nice things about this bike to them, as it continuously exceeds my expectations.  The retro look of the BV with the modern engineering is just a wonderful combination and the solid construction, storage space and thoughtful ergonomics impress everyone that I talk to.

The final stint to work is on the 101 from Ventura to Santa Barbara.  The old highway is battered by salt air, ocean and an unstable crust to create bumps, ridges, pot holes, divots and gaps that outpaces a deficit-riddled state economy.  Thank God for the 16 inch tires and compliant suspension.  Even in the fastest sweepers, flat out, the Piaggio “takes a set” and just holds beautifully.  Wind blast from other cars is noticeable but not a nuisance.  I ride with the visor on my full-face helmet quite open with no issues as the windscreen directs the air at the top of my helmet.

Santa Barbara is made for scooters. The streets have many intersections and are often one-way, and parking is definitely a premium cost.  Bikes park in most lots for free, so the scoot allows me to zoom around economically and efficiently from the beach to State Street faster than any other form of transport.  The weather of course, just makes this even more enjoyable.

After work I looked forward to the ride back.  About 2/3 of the way down from Santa Barbara, I found myself diverting to Highway 1 for a more relaxed ride just off the beach.  I’ve gone down this road more than 150 times in the last year, and the first time I even thought about taking this trip is today.  The sun began to set along the ocean, and I decided to stop, watch the sunset and take some pictures…

 

Bliss.

Bliss.

The next post will address the scooter culture, and how the Piaggio BV250 Tourer fits in.

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11 thoughts on “2009 Piaggio BV250 Tourer – Day 3 – The Big Commute

  1. Pingback: 2009 Piaggio BV250 Tourer - Day 4 - Scooter Culture « As the dude abides…

  2. Pingback: 2009 Piaggio BV250 Tourer-Day 2-Streetfighter in Couture « As the dude abides…

  3. I bought a Vespa LXV 150 last June. I really enjoy riding it around town, mainly for casual rides on the weekends. But when i was forced to ride three mailes on a heavy and fast higheway. Did I realize how much fun it was on the REAL roadways. With just 150cc’s and a top spedd of 59mph. I realized I needed or should I say I wanted more power and more speed. I was looking at the Vespa GTS 250, until I saw the Piaggio BV 250. I simply fell in love with it. But didn’t want to jump the gun, like I did when I bought my little small frame. I thought I would check and read about what other BV 250 owners thought about their machines. I really like what you wrote about your comute. I am planning on test riding a BV 250 this coming week.

    Thanks for the EXCELLANT review!

    Tad

  4. I’ve restored a few vintage Hondas over the years. Currently, my wife rides a ’81 c70 Passport, and I’m on a badass 1979 CT90, the veritable Honda Trail 90.

    Because of the limitations of small, old bikes, we tend to be Sunday Morning Cruisers….and I long to own a pair of larger, more reliable scoots.

    You’re doing a helluva job convincing me that the BV250 should be my next ride….!

  5. That’s my scoot!
    I have now about 1200 miles on a blue 2009 BV250. Just an awesome machine.
    It fires right up, takes to the road with aplomb, and returns over 75 miles to the gallon.
    I purchased the rear case and am really enjoying it. One can fit quite a bit into that.
    The windscreen was not quite as protective as I liked, so I installed a “booster” Saeng. Some extra mirrors, too. Have you seen Quadrophenia?
    No long trips yet, but the autumn is just around the corner.
    Maybe I’ll install a “scooter skirt” and take it to Labrador.
    Best from Ol’ Kaintuck…

  6. Danilo,
    I have been looking at the BV250 and the BV500. I used to ride motorcycles 35 or 40 years ago (last bike was a BMW R60). I thought a BV looked like a good easy ride for a 60 year old to ride to the grocery store and do some nice rides in the country on the weekends (I live on the Oregon coast – Hiway 101, two lanes). Have you ridden the BV500? How does it compare to the BV250? More weight and less agile? More power to keep you out of trouble with cars – or more power to get you in trouble?

  7. Question that I can’t seem to find answered anywhere else. Can a rider sit behind the driver on this scooter, or is the seat too small?

  8. I’ve ridden two-up on this bike — Yes — had me and another 200+ pounder on the bike in the city.

  9. Sweet, that’s awesome.
    I’ve been comparing a bunch of these and this one seems to be the best. It’s cheaper than the similar cc vespa and has bigger tires than any vespa (which i’d think would be almost necessary since it can go over 70mph)

  10. I just joined the scooter world last year with a Genuine Rattler 110. I’m hooked! You nail all the great reasons why I love to scoot. The BV250 is my next purchase to allow longer trips (But Im keeping the Rattler which is super fun to throw around town.)

    Great write up all – Safe scooting all!

    -MJ

  11. Just bought an ’07 bv250, used, with 4500 orig miles, and absolutely love it! Didn’t expect the ride to be so smooth. I did most of my MC riding in my 20’s and 30’s, and my most recent bike was a BMW R850R that I sold a couple of years ago. But now I’m just into my 60’s and wanted something that is easier to move around in the garage, and this bike is that and more! It gets great mileage, but still exceeds 75mph — which is a better safety feature than the smaller ‘cc’ bikes. I looked at the Vespa also, but agree with another letter here, that the 16″ wheels make the Piaggio a better buy, and my research applauds the durability. Very happy to be a ‘scooter rooter’! — TM, Waddell, AZ

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