Piaggio BV250 Tourer – Day 6 – Scootering has made me a better rider.

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

You should be never too conceited to go “small”

Scooters are shorter in wheelbase, have smaller tires, less power than most bikes, and have a completely different riding position.  They serve a very different purpose than a traditional motorcycle of any type.  Scooters are meant to be city-dwellers, errand-runners, mate-catchers and general, casual, “just get me where I want to go with a dash of fun” conveyances.  

What I didn’t expect to happen during the time with my Piaggio BV250 Tourer, was, well, uh, I didn’t expect to learn anything about riding, or why I ride.

What I learned about riding:

Scooters normally operate at city-level.  They must be comfortable riding up and down small, narrow places with tight turns.  You should be able to U-turn in a phone booth.  You need to accelerate to street speed quickly.  You need to have visibility because you’re small and there are some really big dinosaurs out there that will step on you and not realize it or care.

The first thing I learned is the Piaggio rides quick, but obviously the street speeds are lower.  It has agressive steering geometry for a motorcycle, but forgiving for most scooters.  The smaller front tire means that there’s not much trail, and it has a very upright rake — although it seems less than Vespas with even smaller tires.  The movement across the axis as it transitions from right-handers to left hand turns can be alarming the first time you actually do it, but you realize that it’s just the nature and characteristic of the chassis.  You learn to use this trait to your advantage. 

The CVT takes shifting away from you, and that’s a good thing (what?).  Yes, a good thing.  If you aren’t sawing through a gearbox thinking about what gear to be in, you can concentrate completely and wholly on your entrance and exit, and really feel the right braking points, lean angles, etc.  The size and weight of the BV250 combined with the seating position that keeps you from trying to move all over it like Valentino Rossi on Dancing with the Stars makes you move the bike quietly, smoothly, and with feeling.

You create an intense relationship with the g-forces at work on your turn, and the product of this exercise is an increased awareness of what to look for on bigger bikes with more speed, vibration, bumps and G’s knocking you around.

Then there’s a safety aspect.  The size of a scooter makes you intimate with traffic.  You sometimes feel like a fly in a room full of fly-swatters, and concentration increases proportionally.  I’ve found my levels of hubris dropping; covering brakes as I approach blind intersections, more aware as I venture through green lights if I’m first in line, and definitely studied as I split lanes through traffic.  I can’t say that it’s slowed me down or made me completely stop doing things — it’s just made me very aware of the things that I do, and I’ve injected a higher safety aspect into my muscle memory.

What I learned about why I ride:

I almost approached this assignment as a “hey, a free bike for a few days, I’ll give it a shot, but I’m not really a scooter guy”.  I was completely wrong.  I don’t know if I qualify as a “scooter guy”, and I could care less.  I love scooters, and in this process of falling in love, I discovered I just like two-wheeled transport and riding anything on two wheels anywhere I can.  Piaggio has been wonderful enough to allow me to put nearly 800 miles on a brand new bike, and in the process of living with the BV250 Touring, I discovered more about myself.  

It was a great week.

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12 thoughts on “Piaggio BV250 Tourer – Day 6 – Scootering has made me a better rider.

  1. What exactly is “alarming” during the transition from left to right lean? Does it stutter at the mid point?

  2. Heavens no. Alarming in this case means that the bike transitions so much quicker than the bikes I owned at the time. The V7 Classic that I have now has similar characteristics. Once you get used to it, it’s inspiring.

  3. Danilo, at the risk of creating that I have absolutely no life, I must confess that I devoured your BV250 treatise not once but twice. Like you, I have always been a motorcycle guy and have had everything from spritely on-off road 250s to a Vrod. I am 48 and bought a little 49cc Lambretta for “fun” last year, and BOY did I not understand just how much fun it would be.

    Commuting on the little Lambretta has been great but the best part has been the Sunday brunches- to which you referred — with the fiancee. She loves the damn thing, while motorcycles stress her out.

    The scooter, for all the reasons on which you elaborate, is the right thing for our lifestyle: I live in Miami, in the industrial heart of the Miami River, and work mid-town. The Lambretta proved to be a wonderful vehicle except for the slow as sh*t factor. I decided to FINALLY go and get the Ducati Monster I’ve been wanting for a decade, sat on it and said “uh-uh”. The reality was that I am post-Ducati and as sweet as it felt, it wasn’t right. I read and read and read and bought a beautiful blue BV250.

    I found your article after I’d made the decision, and after loads of my “biker” buddies gave me a hard time about spending that much money on a scooter when I could get [insert cruiser of choice] as a great price. Bottom line: your review has been both education AND justification, and verbalizes so many of the reasons why I opted to upgrade scooters instead of getting what my buds call a “real” bike.

    Thank you, and if you find yourself in South Florida, let’s go for a scoot! Best, Jose

  4. Thanks for a thorough review. I’m nearly two of years late finding this article, but it’s still great to read. I’m considering purchasing a BV 250 this Summer. I live in Los Angeles and nearly all of my concerns about riding a scooter (particularly *this* scooter) in LA were answered by you.

    I will certainly be thinking about the things you said when I go on my first test ride. Fantastic job! Thanks again!

  5. Thanks Danilo,
    Your review is best post on the web for the BV 250, it inspired me to seek one out, despite that my wife (Italian) wanted me to get a Vespa. I recently picked up a Midnight Blue 2008 BV 250 for a great price and LOVE it. I’m new to two wheel riding and can’t get over how forgiving this scooter is (and my wife loves the styling). You mentioned in one of your earlier posts about MSF and I also highly recommend the taking the local Motorcycle Safety Foundation course if you are a new or even an experienced rider to learn and/or keep up with the best way to save you life out there on the street. I practice the basic skills all the time, just in case… Safe riding is the best riding! (I hear there are insurance and other discounts upon successful completion of their courses)

  6. Danilo, I thoroughly enjoyed your excellent 6-part review. I currently have a 1986 Honda Elite 250 scooter I’m thinking of replacing with a bigger-wheel scooter. Your review has convinced me the Piaggio BV250 is the right choice. Thanks again.

  7. I am a newbie to scooters and was settled on a 2009 Aprilia Sportcity 125, but after your review I tested a 2009 Piaggio BV 250 Tourer and I immediately placed a security deposit to hold one…I’m trading in an ATV and waiting for the title for it to clear (hopefully I can complete the sale next week); the wait is killing me…

    thanks for the in-depth and enlightening review

  8. Got my BV250ie in November of ’08 … Blue with tan seat … LOVE this bike … never a problem and a pure joy to ride in town and out in the country … LOVE IT !!!!

  9. Nice write-up! Like your style. But I must point out that when you write “I could care less” you mean “I couldn’t care less”. Otherwise you are saying that you actually *do* care. 😉

  10. Great review. Actually a great series of reviews. I realize I’m posting this a few years after you wrote it/them, but even after a few years, it’s fun to read.

    Have a question for you, Danilo. Two, actually.

    First – do you still have the BV 250? And if so – are you still riding it?

    Second – as I’m sure you know, Piaggio discontinued the BV250 a few years ago, replacing it with the newer, faster, and also larger (a little) and heavier (quite a bit) BV350. The BV 350 is a nice scooter too – but to my way of thinking, not quite as nimble as the 250. So the second part of my two-part question is – you wouldn’t have any idea where I could pick up a new or lightly used BV250…..would you?

    Thanks again for an eminently readable review!

    Miguel

  11. I haven’t ridden a bigger Piaggio yet, except for the MP3 models. There are plenty of leftover 250 models if you are looking for it, but I am sure that the new motors are wonderful.

  12. Just discovered your reviews of the BV250 Tourer. I rode Hondas of various sizes when much younger, up to the hallowed CB750… After many years away, I decided to try two wheels again, and bought a used ’09 BV250 Tourer. What a great bike! As you mentioned, it seems to do everything well and is a delight to ride. Thanks for the insightful review – I’ve met a lot of great scooter folk due to this bike, and I hope to enjoy it for years to come…

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