2009 Piaggio BV250 Tourer – Day 5 – Likes and Dislikes

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

Overview of the Piaggio BV250 Tourer

 

nice, beefy front disc on 16 inch tire.

nice, beefy front disc on 16 inch tire.

The Piaggio BV250 Tourer occupies a very nice space among two-wheeled transport.  The BV is not a small urban scooter, but also not a big, long-distance mega-cc Maxi Scooter as well.  It doesn’t try to be a motorcycle, yet has many motorcycle-like characteristics.  It’s definitely a scooter for the modern, sprawling United States City, more so than the smaller-tired, smaller engined and more compact traditional scooter.  For someone looking for storage, light weight, comfortable seating and weather protection that scooters provide, but freeway power and distance-eating capability, it is a viable, almost obvious choice over smaller scooters and the small-displacement motorcycle:

 

  1. It doesn’t weigh much, and the riding position is extremely tolerable for long distance.  On a motorcycle, you’re going to be in a very different position, with various degrees of weather protection and any storage or carrying capacity will probably need to be added on and in some cases might not be available.
  2. Traditional motorcycles have different maintenance needs.  Oiling chains, adjustments, and maintenance seem to be more intensive.  The Piaggio shows itself as relatively maintenance-free, with little to do but check air pressures, oil levels and go.   Maintenance should be cheaper.
  3. Smaller traditional motorcycles require a lot of sawing through the gearbox to keep them at highway speeds, especially when topography is added.  The BV250’s CVT transmission is just “twist” and “go”.  No thinking needed.  This may not be appealing to some, but real city conditions are not re-enactment opportunities of the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca.  Living on a day-to-day basis, it’s nice to have more attention to put towards the input given to you by your surroundings.  The BV keeps it simple and allows for this.
  4. The Piaggio’s 250 engine allows for easy cruising, and the 16-inch tires make it extremely stable at freeway speeds.  I commuted 80 miles each way to my job three times, and found the trip downright relaxing.  The big windscreen channelled the weather around me to the point that I was more relaxed than on some of the big-bore cruisers I had run over the same roads.  
  5. The lightness of the bike, the low center of gravity and amazing brakes breed tremendous confidence in the rider.  Bikes require a different mind-set in traffic than the Piaggio.  The upright, high sitting position of the scooter with it’s divine chassis means safety in traffic.  
  6. Up until this point I’ve never mentioned visibility off the BV250 Touring.  The mirrors on this bike are the best I’ve ever seen.  I can read an eye-chart with them at full speed.  Just no vibration whatsoever. Big and convex in the “right” way, you can create complete situational awareness around you at all times.
  7. The Piaggio is built to be urban transport.  It’s meant to take a rider to the store and back and hold “stuff”.  It’s the world’s smallest pickup, and the designers created a platform that allows someone to travel up to 200 miles round trip, enjoy the day and bring back souvenirs, and if need be, groceries. 
  8. City acceleration is amazing.  Zero-to-thirty in, uh, NOW. You’ll need a Porsche 917 to beat me across an intersection.

A few nits to pick

I looked long and hard to find things that I really didn’t like about the Piaggio.  Frankly there are a few that I’m calling out here, but it’s more like buying a house and  deciding that you don’t like the welcome mat or the doorknobs in the bathroom.  Most certainly not deal-killers and more than likely things that are overlooked with time (which I did, easily), or fixed by adding the right accessory.

  1. The speedometer reads about 10mph optimistically.  I tested this time and time again, and while it’s close at lower speeds, once you’re over 50mph it’s about 10mph too fast.  You’re not going to get around this by purchasing another Italian ride.  They all do this from Ducatis to Moto Guzzis to Vespas, etc.  Even the early 60’s Maseratis I restored did this.  I’ve come to the conclusion that they don’t have a high degree of importance in Italy.  I just do as the Italians would — “eh, I’m going about 70. Close enough”.
  2. The fuel gauge isn’t very linear.  I fill up, drive 10 miles, then it shows 3/4 tank.  It stays between 3/4 and 1/4 forever.  Then it slowly descends to empty.  The reserve light comes on correctly and is very lenient. “eh, abbastanza vicino.
  3. I also have a love-hate relationship with the fuel filler.  It was obviously made for regions without vapor traps on fuel lines. The low placement in front is nice in that it is away from the storage compartments and spills just vent to the ground, but then again, I’m never sure if I’ve filled the tank all the way up (see above).
  4. The US vapor trap is the size of a beer can. It is under the seat, and a panel has been inserted in the compartment to cover it, taking up about 25% of the under-seat space and diminishing the carrying capacity.  If I actually owned this bike I would probably take the panel off and just live with the trap exposed, giving me more room under the seat.  A pox on the engineers for not doing a better job here.  Not a deal breaker again.  just a “meh” — I get it; the rest of the world doesn’t use vapor traps so this is a border condition.

That’s all I found after 10 days and nearly 800 miles.  I spent hours at a time on this bike and found it to be perfect for the sprawling city.  If you live more than 20 miles from work, this is your ride — I would choose it over a small-bore motorcycle instantly.  If you like to go to an adjacent city that may be 80 miles away, this is just absolutely perfect for that.  If you ride two-up, there’s plenty of power.  If you’re big, like me, this bike will not disappoint.  This is a Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Denver bike. This is the bike you buy to ride from Oakland or further out into the San Francisco daily.  You get around on the PIaggio BV250 Touring.

And you can Tour.  From LA I have no hesitation to bop down to Orange County.  I would go to San Diego, or I might see if it can handle the trip to Big Bear.  Get on it and just go somewhere on the weekend.  Stick your swimsuit, a towel and some flip-flops under the seat and hit the beach.

Don’t forget a few things

Accessorize.  Get the back box, especially if you have a laptop to tote around.  The rear luggage point is not good enough to haul anything on, and frankly, the rear box is big, handy and nice, giving more storage and capacity.

Wear proper gear.  Don’t be fooled by the fact that “it’s just a scooter”.  If you fall off this thing at speed without good clothing on, you’re not going to walk away unscathed.  Most likely you’re not going to be riding like Valentino Rossi, so skip the full leathers.  A nice protective leather jacket, good motorcycle  gloves, competent shoes and a full-face helmet were perfect for me.

If you’ve never ridden before and considering this bike, I’m telling you it’s a great idea.  Now get some training from MSF and get one.  Seriously, don’t forget this step.

Ride it.  Just get out and ride.  The more you ride the Piaggio, the more you want to ride it.  It will sit in your garage or driveway, always on standby, ready to bow to your wishes and needs.  Think of the lowered carbon footprint, the insane mileage, and the fact that it’s got the very latest pollution-reducing gear integrated beautifully into the system.  Ride happy, ride clean, and well, just a little smug…

How’s the weather where you live?

The rainy “season” hit LA while riding the Piaggio around.  The tires slice through wet road conditions with no issues.  Weather protection meant that I really didn’t need to crawl into a hefty bag to stay dry — but LA isn’t exactly monsoonal. The bike itself isn’t going to get in trouble parked outside, and Piaggio thoughtfully includes a seat cover to keep your tushy dry.  Nice in all conditions.

800 miles of observation reveals…

The BV250 Tourer is an extended-range scooter.

The BV250 Tourer is an extended-range scooter.

The PIaggio BV250 is a great scooter, urban/suburban transport, mate-magnet and grocery-getter.  I would highly recommend it as a first scooter for someone that hasn’t ridden much.  The big tires and brakes allow for a novice rider to build confidence and muscle memory quickly and safely, and there’s enough power to keep oneself out of trouble in their first few thousand miles, but not enough power to get into trouble, either.  You can go the distance, then just whip through traffic like a blender chopping avocados.  The swiss-army knife of urban motion.

The cornering characteristics and steering geometry are more motorcycle-like, so if a rider wants to transition into something more substantial, there’s a clean path to do so.  I believe that even with a big bike, you’ll still find the Piaggio in the garage for the short trips and less demanding excursions.  It’s not so small that you’ll get tired of it, and just so damned practical that you’ll never want to be without it, either.

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23 thoughts on “2009 Piaggio BV250 Tourer – Day 5 – Likes and Dislikes

  1. Hello… I found your posts and have enjoyed reading about the Guzzi California and the BV250, two bikes that you have really brought alive for me.
    I am curious about the model of Piaggio that you have. You describe it as a 2009 Touring and you show it with a headlight mounted on the handlebars and a “demi” windscreen. This is interesting, as the BVs that I have seen have frame-mounted headlights and a rather large integral windscreen. Is the Touring something brand-new?
    Fine reading… Thank you.
    Best, Brandt

  2. Yes. The Tourer is brand-spanking new for this year. I love the retro look of the front end and how everything integrates.

    Thanks or the compliments

  3. Pingback: Piaggio BV250 Tourer - Day 6 - Scootering has made me a better rider. « As the dude abides…

  4. I was 90% there in deciding whether or not this bike was for me. I am a novice, so i need a good first scoot. After reading your review, I am now 100% decided that i will buy the BV 250 tourer!

  5. I’ve owned one of these since August. It’s an easy-to-ride and amazingly versatile scoot that I’ve ridden almost every day since I got it (except for the week we had a foot of snow around Christmas time). The *only* nits I have are:

    1. The under-seat storage won’t hold a full-face helmet.
    2. The top case I ordered (see #1 above) has been on back-order for three months.
    3. The sidestand has a built-in engine cut-off. That means that when I have to stop, I can’t put the sidestand down without stopping the engine.

    Other than that, this thing is just about perfect!

    Brant, if the headline is mounted lower (on the frame), the model you’re looking at is not the Tourer.

  6. The Tourer is an ’09 model, they changed the look dramatically, and in my opinion, did a great job. I think you could get a full-face in there if that vapor capture system required by the US wasn’t in place.

  7. This reveiw was beautifully writen and a very intresting and enlightnening read, Its confirmed my decision to purchase a bv250, thanks for sharing:)

  8. I agree with everything in this write up expect the acceleration part. It has good torque but the CVT slowly lauches out of the hole. I bought a J. Costa Variator, along with removing the factory air filter and replaced it with a K&N cone, added the high flow muffler, and tunned it with a Super Corsa Racing Power Boster Piaggio Fuel Injector. It now runs with the BV 500s.
    mpg are in the 50’s now, but accelerates like a 500cc

  9. I’m going to buy my first scooter, what would you get?
    Piaggio BV250 or a Burgman 400 ?

  10. Try them both. I think Piaggio is upgrading many of it’s mounts to 300’s as well. Finally, I’ve seen in the reviews that as nice as the Burghman is, and it IS very nice, the Piaggio is lighter on its feet and many say that the storage is better. I think it’s important to sit on all of them and find out what fits. Get a test ride and feel the difference, ask questions of owners and get information. It’s much easier to really know what you want if you take a step back and do the research instead of just plowing ahead. You don’t want to be 6 months into ownership thinking that you might have been happier with the other one.

  11. My wife and father-in-law share an ’06 BV500. At the time of purchase, we complained about the space taken up by the vapor cannister and the dealer stated that some folks delete it, creating a great deal more space in the storage area. I’ve seen the result of this mod…it works if your conscience can take the guilt.

  12. Well said. I have a Goldwing and I studied for literally a year before getting a scooter and the BV 250 was the best choice for what I wanted. A scooter that can do around 80 out of the box with me (200lbs) and gets 70 mpg. I considered going bigger but the gas mileage falls off rapidly….I considered going smaller but decided I’d get run over by the 7:45 get there on time crowd. So I went with the 250. But there was something I didn’t realize….

    This little scoot is just plum bad. I mean its a blast….an incredibly refined ride that really rivals my Goldwing in smoothness all the way to top speed which is errrrrrrr…..85mph as I’ve added a Polini variator, Leo Vince Pipe (with baffle), and Super Corsa power booster cpu for the fuel injection. I still get 70mpg when I’m behaving and delight in passing Harleys on the highway with the sound of maniacal laughter coming from my lips. If I ever fall over on this scooter….just remember that the last sound I made was that maniacal laughter. If you have a big bike but long for the thrill of a two-wheel surfboard, then get this bike.

  13. 9,000 mile review.

    I’ve had the BV 250 for almost two years now, and have been commuting on it for 18 months. Here are a few conclusions:

    The good:

    Mileage varies between about 70MPG (winter) and 75MPG (summer). I assume the CPU is making it run richer during colder weather. I put about 120 miles a week on this thing, and I fill up every seven or eight days. What’s not to like about that?

    Because the center of gravity is pretty low, going around corners is a lot of fun!

    The top case makes runs to the grocery store a lot easier (but it took 4 months to get). It’ll hold a six-pack and a roast chicken with ease.

    A laminar lip ended the mild turbulence issues I was having at 50MPH+.

    Because the seating position is so high, you can REALLY see all around you. And the mirrors are completely, 100% vibration-free. You gotta love that.

    (Knock on wood, but) I’ve never had anything go wrong. Because I ride every day, there have been no battery issues.

    My commute is partly in a subdivision, partly on highways, and partly on city streets, and the scooter handles all of them with ease.

    The not-so-good:

    I’m still not sure how accurate the speedometer is. I’m guessing it reads about 10% fast.

    Because the handlebars are lower than your elbows, when it’s raining hard, water runs down the sleeves of your waterproof jacket and into your waterproof gloves. You have to remember to put the gloves on first. I haven’t always remembered that.

    The seat. It may just be me (5’10”, 185), but I can only take about 45 minutes before the seams that connect the top of the seat to the sides start to get annoying, and only about 90 minutes before they actually get painful.

  14. Great review. If the storage is roomy, they must have really redesigned the cargo bin. I just bought a 2006 and the underseat takes a loaf of bread and some cheese. My Burgman 400 will take two old fashioned paper grocery bags with room to spare. It also has better lashing points for tying long objects to the side.
    With a 32″ inseam I can barely reach the ground flat-footed.
    On the plus side, even the old carbureted version is a snappy little commuter, and the balance of agility and stability seems about perfect. I’m looking forward to installing a windshield extension and hitting the highway.
    So now I have a big cargo freighter and a little traffic runner. The car-free life is good.

  15. Once upon a time, there was this bear. And it were grizz.

    What about comparing the BV250 to the Kymco People S 250?

  16. Somewhere, I saw video on removing pollution equipment from BV250.
    Can not find it and would like HELP!
    Thanks, Craig
    25cm@att.net

  17. I’ve owned the BV250 Tourer for almost a year, and about 2500 miles. The fuel emissions canister in the seatbox is easy to remove, and opens up the box tremendously. Videos/photos are available on on Youtube and on ModernVespa.com. I’ve removed mine…but it still cannot handle a full face helmet.
    So far, the BV has been flawless. It’s smooth, fast, and handles like a dream.
    I’d certainly recommend it to anyone, without reservations. I’ve ridden mine on all sorts of roads, including Interstate 95, for hundreds of miles. If true interstate riding is important to you, the BV may be too small/lightweight for you. I find it can keep up, but is subject to being battered/blown around a bit.
    It cannot be beat on country roads. No doubt, the newer 300/350’s will handle high speed highways better.
    There is a recall on Vespa/Piaggio fuel pumps, that does include many newer BV250s, including mine. My pump has worked fine, although I will have the dealer change it this winter.

  18. 2012/05/12 Saturday; For Sale 5,060 miles, Charlotte, NC, 120# grand daughter rode for 1 1/2 yrs. Moved up north (cold country) 704-654-6690

  19. Peace,

    This is a wonderful and timeless article. I went and put a deposit on a BV 250 today. I am wondering about storing my helmets I got the case but it fits just one the under the seat storage will not hold one. Any thoughts?

    What about mods such as seat and hand grip warmers?

    Are you going to test the new BMW 650 GT scooter?

  20. This article is the gift that keeps on giving. What is it, three+ years later and I just discovered it the other day, and bought a used (720 miles) 2009 BV 250 this morning! I couldn’t agree more with the impressions and I’m thrilled with the Piaggio.

    Any recommendations on saddle bags? I have the midnight blue model, with tan seat.

  21. Honda Dealer in Marysville Ohio has a bv250 with saddlebags check it out. They are factory bags

  22. Thanks! I actually ordered a set from Amazon that should arrive today. But I appreciate the lead, in case those ones don’t work out.

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