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.