The Piaggio BV 350 @ Red Ember Cycles, Daytona Beach, FL
Just ask Justin Asher (BG), owner of Red Ember Cycles in Daytona Beach, FL. If the Daytona Beach city limits are too limiting, come to Red Ember Cycles, and try the Piaggio BV350 (or Beverley) Sport Touring scooter. Daytona will no longer be a boundary at all as this fine Italian machine will swallow miles with style and grace.
Piaggio is a massive Italian company that owns seven other brands including Aprilia, Vespa, Scarabeo, Derbi, Gilera and Moto Guzzi, and Red Ember Cycles is Central Floridas gateway for the buyer to owning any of these. Red Ember Cycles has the largest inventory of Vespa and Piaggio in all of central and north Florida.
This scooter benefits from the association with those companies with technologies such as ABS, traction control and motorcycle-style suspension and brakes. But first and foremost, it’s Italian, so it has plenty of style and grace. It’s not the conventional Vespa retro shape, but a more modern, aerodynamic design with a big windscreen providing plenty of protection, although there is a little buffeting for tall riders at highway speeds. Modern touches are the LED running lights up front and LED taillights down the back. The Piaggio’s cockpit is also very modern and stylish with three large dials for speedo, temperature and fuel which are all very easy to read. Inside the speedo is an LCD screen that has a big clock display plus odo, two trip meters, batter charge and ambient temperature which you can toggle through with the mode button on the right handlebar. There is also a passing switch on the bottom of the headlight switch.
The front cowl includes the ubiquitous scooter grocery (man bag) hook plus a large lockable glovebox where you can store gloves, coins and small items. It also houses a 12-volt outlet to power your phone and a seat latch. You can also unlock the seat via a button on the left handlebar. To lock the seat, switch the ignition key to the steering lock position. Riding position on the Piaggio is neutral; like sitting at a table with your hands resting on the top. The seat is high at 795mm, but it is narrow at the front so short riders can slide forward and put one or even two feet on the ground at the lights. Taller riders can shift back and prop their backside into the lumbar support.
In between your feet is a hump for the 13-litre fuel tank. It prevents your feet sliding around, but more importantly it keeps the centre of gravity low for greater stability and manoeuvrability. Many scooters have the fuel tank in the under-seat storage area which is inconvenient as fuel can spill over the contents. If you spill any fuel on the Piaggio it just dribbles into the footwell where you can easily wash it away. Lift the seat and a cargo light illuminates a large storage area big enough for a couple of open-face (or flip-up) helmets and gloves or a helmet and jacket. There is also a small tool kit, battery and a rain cover for the seat. Riders and pillions will enjoy the thick, contoured seat cushion which gets wider toward the back. Rear foot pegs fold away when not in use so the BV350 looks sleek when riding solo. There are wide grips on the rear rack for the pillion, but tying luggage to the rack is difficult. Instead, you should buy the optional top box which will also act as a pillion back support. The side stand is short, but very sturdy and is suitable for most applications. On downward slopes, you can easily deploy the center stand.
Like most scooters, it has a twist-and-go transmission with no gears to shift. Don’t be alarmed when I say it has a wet clutch. It’s still a continuously variable transmission (CVT) as found in many automatic cars these days, but the wet clutch just means the clutch plates are bathed in oil so it runs quieter and should give longer life and reliability. Open up the throttle and you will be surprised how quickly it leaps away at the lights. Once you hit 40km/h there is a surge of acceleration which hurtles you to 80km/h before you realise. On many occasions,The fuel-injected 330cc single is not only meaty with plenty of low and mid-range torque, but it is smooth and quiet. The single will also spin up to maximum power of 24.5kW at more than 8000 revs without a tingling or buzzing sensation.
Unlike many scooters, this scoot has engine braking, which means you wind off the throttle and it slows down without having to brake hard. It should help save on disc pads. The linked brakes are well up to the task of bringing the 177kg (dry) scooter to a halt thanks to a single 300mm disc up front and a 240mm disc in the rear. Squeeze the right lever and two of the three front calipers operate. Squeeze the left lever as well and the third caliper activates as well as the two pistons in the rear. Handling is similar to a motorcycle once you get used to not wrapping your legs around bodywork. Up front are 35mm telescopic forks like you’d expect on a motorcycle, rather than a leading-link set-up found on most scooters. Together with the wide handlebars, it provides a very positive feeling in the steering and rock-solid stability on the highway. Likewise, at the rear are motorcycle-style double shock absorbers with adjustable preload to take account of a passenger’s weight. Up front is a 16-inch wheel as has been used in Grand Prix races. It is shod with a high-profile tubeless tyres which the engineers have matched to the forks for a very competent front end. It also has quite a long wheelbase for a scooter which provides high-speed stability while the aerodynamic body shape means it isn’t shaken around by truck buffeting on the highway.
Warranty: 2 years unlimited km
Engine: fuel-injected 330cc single
Power: 24.5kW @ 8250rpm
Torque: 32.3Nm @ 6250rpm
Transmission CBT, wet clutch
Fuel: 13-litre tank, 3.9L/100km
Chassis: double cradle steel tube
Suspension: 35mm telescopic forks, twin coil shocks with dampening and adjustable preload
Brakes: linked 300mm/240mm discs, ABS
Tyres: 110/70-16; 150/70-14, tubeless
Dry weight: 177kg