2009 Piaggio BV250 Tourer-Day 2-Streetfighter in Couture

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

Beautiful looks and quality wrapped in a wiry, effortless package

Haute couture (French for “high sewing” or “high dressmaking”; pronounced [oːt kuˈtyʁ]) refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted fashions … In modern France, haute couture is a “protected name” that can be used only by firms that meet certain well-defined standards. However, the term is also used loosely to describe all high-fashion custom-fitted clothing, whether it is produced in Paris or in other fashion capitals … Haute couture is made to order for a specific customer, and it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques.” — from Wikipedia

 

Sunset on the Beach, 70 miles from home
Sunset on the Beach, 70 miles from home

I never cease to be amazed at how well-built the Piaggio BV250 Tourer scooter is, how much fun it is to ride, and how easy it is to just get wherever you need to go. You get there fast, you get there looking good, and no matter what the traffic is like, you get there with no effort.  It’s just easy to go places.

There are so many articles in the major motorcycle magazines addressing the “Ultimate Streetfighter”.  These are bikes that have had all the fairings stripped off, very aggressive-looking and very powerful.  They are evolved from the cafe racers that ran through the streets of London in the 1960s.   

At the risk of being flamed by my riding friends, I’m going to go out on a limb here.  What good is a stripped down, powerful and agressive-looking bike on the streets for actually getting places fast?  Through my experiences, getting around fast means being seen enough to be avoided, but not incurring people’s ire by telling them to avoid you.  It also means being wiry and quick, rather than big and fast.  

Getting through real traffic means getting through traffic. Ride thin, to pull between all the stopped cars at a light, and ride snappy, to get across an intersection when the light turns green.  Getting to 90mph in seconds is totally fun, but getting to 45mph faster than the car you’re stopped inches away from at an intersection is priceless. Continue reading 2009 Piaggio BV250 Tourer-Day 2-Streetfighter in Couture

"It's the Coolest Scooter I've Ever Seen."

This is the first in a series of postings that review living with and enjoying the PIaggio BV250 Beverly Tourer Scooter.

The Cruiser Group meets the Piaggio BV250 Tourer

Piaggio BV250, Rincon Beach
Piaggio BV250, Rincon Beach

Tough bunch, this group that I meet with on Friday nights.  The core of the group all ride Yamaha Star motorcycles; big Roadliners and the like.  When I pulled up on the Piaggio BV250 Tourer that I’ll be running through its paces over the next two weeks, the title of this post was the first comment from the guy that I pulled up next to:

“That is the coolest scooter I’ve ever seen!”

Well, that’s a good start, eh?

 I didn’t know what to think as I dropped off my big Moto Guzzi California Vintage and picked up this diminutive ride.  I hadn’t ridden a scooter since 1984, and although I had a bit of exposure to scootering when I investigated my return to riding, I really hadn’t thought seriously about riding one around after I purchased my Eldorado.

It really is a pretty ride.  Very light, with lots of plastic panels over a steel frame, yet rattle free and solid.  Nice color-contrasting seat, and a big headlight gives it kind of a “Lambretta-like”, tall stance, but with everything new and updated.  This is NOT your Roman-holiday Vespa.  This is a 250cc maxi scooter with 50 years’ development behind it. Continue reading "It's the Coolest Scooter I've Ever Seen."

Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Day 6 – Time to take 'er home.

This is the sixth in a series of articles about living with and riding a California Vintage from Moto Guzzi.  The previous one is here.

I knew this day would come…

Ok.  It’s not my bike.  I’ve shared that.  I had less time with it than the Breva 1200 Sport.  I took the Breva back, loving the bike, but I knew that it had to go on, eventually, to a happy owner.  This time it’s different.  The Guzzi got under my skin.  This bike is the “girl you take home to Mom”.  I wasn’t ready to let go.  

I woke up early and decided to take the bike from Northridge down to Newport Beach in Friday Morning Rush Hour to have lunch with a college buddy.  I hadn’t really experienced the center of Los Angeles in very heavy traffic, and I figured that I-5 at 9am would be a perfect crucible.

This isn’t a short trip.  Over 70 miles on LA’s inner city freeway into the heart of Orange County.  I would be traveling across areas that are some of the busiest in the US.  Names like East LA interchange, where the 110, 10, 5 and 60 all meet in a pasta bowl of roads, and further south, the “Orange Crush” near Disneyland beckoned.  I would definitely be doing some lane splittin’ today.  I hoped that the big, police-bike-inspired Guzzi was up to its heritage.

For a Cruiser, the Guzzi isn’t exceptionally wide.  The seat is pretty mellow, really, and the bags don’t stick out further than the handlebars, as far as I could tell.  The mirrors protrude slightly further, but not so much.  Ride height is perfect for heavy traffic.  You sit up high and can look all but the largest SUV drivers right in the eye.  When you’re in the canyons between them, this and a good set of headlights is definitely a plus.

The day started out warm and proceeded to heat up to the typical, Santa-Ana winded Indian Summer day that is famous in the region.  I can’t believe I moved from Phoenix for the cooler temperatures of Southern California only to find this.  If you’re off the beach, you’re in the desert.  Don’t let anyone fool you. A great test for the bike.  Stifling hot, heavy traffic and a big cruiser.  Not as much fun as canyon carving, but if you live in LA or any big city, considering the purchase of this wonderful, big Guzzi, you sure as heck want to know that it can live in traffic in tough conditions.

Off I go.  Once onto the 5 South, I cruise in comfort until I reach the northern reaches of downtown LA.  Traffic is backing up.  I began to weave between the well-spaced cars as they moved along at 45-55 mph.  Absolutely no problem.  If anything the front windscreen was too efficient in that it moved the air around me instead of through the vents in my jacket.  I continued as the traffic deepened and the myriad ramps of the East LA interchange approached, signaling that stopped traffic and real, slow-speed splitting was in my future. Continue reading Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Day 6 – Time to take 'er home.

Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Day 5 – The Mental Health Day.

This is the fifth in a series of articles about living with and riding a California Vintage from Moto Guzzi.  The previous one is here.

Beautiful day, well-worn leather jacket, full tank of gas.  Buddy, let's ride.
Beautiful day, well-worn leather jacket, full tank of gas.

Some work days are better than others…

I found myself halfway to Santa Barbara from my Northridge home, off Seaward Avenue at the Starbucks where I normally stopped and had a cup of coffee before continuing up the coast.  Some friends that I met in the morning were talking about their day, and I was sitting there thinking that I really didn’t want to go to work, but I knew if I went home, I would be painting, sawing or otherwise saddled with the responsibilities involved in fatherhood, matrimony or the restoration of a mid-century modern home that had already worn out my favorite table saw.

I’m sitting here smelling the ocean breeze, thinking about the ride up north to Santa Barbara and cranky about the fact that I had to turn the California Vintage back to the company in the next day.  This sucks.  I really have come to enjoy this bike and I wanted to take a couple more rides on a favorite stretch…

DUH.  Time for a Mental Health Day.

I said goodbye to my friends and decided to head south and get down to the PCH, and ride until I felt the need to be responsible again.  Would that get me to Ventura?  Who knows, maybe San Diego!  So the journey starts, on the perfect bike for this occasion, the Moto Guzzi California Vintage, with me at home on this wonderful machine and riding down the 101, taking Rice Road South with a full tank of gas, headed to the beach. Continue reading Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Day 5 – The Mental Health Day.

Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Day 4 – Vintage vs Harley Heritage Softail — A BARGAIN!

This is the fourth in a series of articles about living with and riding a California Vintage from Moto Guzzi.  The previous one is here.

Taking a mental health day and cruising the PCH -- Malibu.
Taking a mental health day and cruising the PCH -- Malibu.

 

 

A side-by-side comparison…

After riding the California Vintage around, I thought it would be nice to compare it to the “standard” of the group — The Harley Davidson Heritage Softail. I chose the softail because it has similar look and purpose.  It is a luxury touring bike with a clear windscreen, bags, etc.  It’s purpose is “retro”; cop-like, long miles, touch of retro and, as the name suggests, “Heritage”.  I think this is probably an accurate description of the big Guzzi as well. Continue reading Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Day 4 – Vintage vs Harley Heritage Softail — A BARGAIN!

Moto Guzzi California Vintage Day 3 — Cool vs. "Checkbook Cool"

This is the third in a series of articles about living with and riding a California Vintage from Moto Guzzi.  The previous one is here.

Looking for a Cool Cruiser or Big Bagger?  The California Vintage is “Seriously Cool”

Moto Guzzi California Vintage under the Hollywood sign.
Moto Guzzi California Vintage under the Hollywood sign.

Cool is Fonzi before the Shark Tank.  Cool is James Bond before Roger Lazenby.  Ford before the Pinto.  The Blues Brothers before Belushi died.

While it is most definitely true that some people that ride motorcycles from “The Motorcycle Company” are cool, it’s not because they own Harleys.  They are cool AND they chose to ride Harleys.  But there are people that are cool and they choose to ride Vespas.  The issue here is the great number of people that buy Harleys and other “lifestyle” motorcycles because it will make them cool.  This is “checkbook cool”. No work needed, just add money and you’re cool. Continue reading Moto Guzzi California Vintage Day 3 — Cool vs. "Checkbook Cool"

Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Commuting and First Impressions

Initial Impressions

 I Got up at 5 o’clock that Friday morning, knowing that I was going to ride the California Vintage to work. As stated in the last posting, I had to take the Breva in, but then it woujld be three hundred miles of riding on a real, honest-to-goodness sumbitchin made-for-the-long-road cruiser.

My Eldorado probably qualifies as a cruiser, but I think of it more as a “standard” because of the seating position and the usual lack of bags and windscreen.  My usual commuter is a Ducati ST2 Sport tourer since it’s all bagged up and will hold my 17″ Mac laptop. I had been riding around all last week on a Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport and having a blast.  But now it was time to cruise.

While the previous post put the California in context, this one is the “feel” post.  300 miles on the first day gave me a feel for the bike.  What I liked, didn’t like, etc.  Getting to ride through some diverse commuter roads gave me an impression of what the bike would be like when sitting on it day-to-day. Continue reading Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Commuting and First Impressions

Moto Guzzi California Vintage Review – Day 1 – Can't get off the bike!

Street Cred without the “wannabe”.

The Moto Guzzi California Vintage -- quintessential.
The Moto Guzzi California Vintage -- quintessential.

Moto Guzzi has more “cruiser street cred” than most people give it credit for. They’ve been around continuously since 1921; longer than anyone but Harley Davidson. But for Harley Davidson, Guzzi’s been building cruisers longer than anyone els — their first cruiser in the incarnation you see above coming out in 1967 with the V700.

Guzzi has always liked building “big” bikes, but we must adjust scale.  Italy, which was Guzzi’s biggest market for most of it’s life, had production street bikes with less than 100cc for decades — a bike above 300cc was considered “big”.  Guzzi was at the top of the heap early on, with production 500cc bikes that were reliable and sporting.  The 500cc Falcone of the 50s is an excellent example of this, a bike with incredible reliability, to the point where an American Guzzi Club member is an original owner of two, both ridden on close to a daily basis for more than 50 years!

The current “cruiser” platform is built around the laterally-mounted V-twin motor (originally 700cc, now 1100), running through an in-line, automobile-type transmission straight through to a drive shaft and bevel-drive final.  After more than 40 years, it’s a highly refined system.  The motor could best be described as a “two cylinder small-block, American V-8”.  This really isn’t a stretch.  The cam is in the vee, there is a conventional sump, it has a hemi-head with pushrods and rockers.  It also makes gobs and gobs of torque, is insanely easy to work on, and is dead-nuts reliable. Continue reading Moto Guzzi California Vintage Review – Day 1 – Can't get off the bike!

Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport — 1000 plus miles, back to the factory!

This is the ninth in a series of posts about the Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport. The previous posting is here.

Nine Days, 1080 miles

After nine days and more than 1000 miles, I possess a really good idea of what it’s like to live with the Breva 1200 Sport.  I’ve previously given reasons for why someone might want to purchase it, but I’d also like to give my observations with respect to what worked for me and how my riding style altered as I reeled in the miles.

1000 miles in less than 10 days, you're going to get some bugs!
1000 miles in less than 10 days, you

Not a “lean off” bike

On my Ducati ST2, I practice “lean off” turns from time to time as I ride it through some of the more aggressive stretches of roads in my area.  I know these roads well and remember their eccentricities to the point that I can work on my technique.  The big ST2 seat allows for movement of the rider around the bike. 

The Breva’s seat locked me in place.  Lean-offs were complex, and I found that I didn’t like the way that I upset the bike’s stance as I employed this technique.  For me, I made much quicker time by adopting a more “Hailwood” approach, keeping my body smooth and silent through the twisties.

The Breva “wants” to be ridden in it’s own way.  It’s good to know “how” a bike rides to decide if your “personalities” fit. I enjoy the diversity and investigation of different riding styles, so I don’t really have a dog in this hunt — but if you enjoy more focused techniques, I hope this helps you decide if the Breva 1200 Sport is for you.

Brakes and suspension tweaks really make it better

It makes a difference to adjust the brake/clutch levers to your style and hand size. Tweaking the suspension to your style/weight and road conditions makes the Breva a joy to ride.  Spending time reading the manual will make your ride happier.   Continue reading Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport — 1000 plus miles, back to the factory!

Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport – Day 8 – Why should I buy a Guzzi?

This is the eighth in a series of posts about the Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport.  The previous posting is here

1000 Miles, 8 days riding:  Do I still like the Breva 1200?

The Breva 1200 Sport, just north of Ventura off the 101, Sunset.
The Breva 1200 Sport, just north of Ventura off the 101, Sunset.

Yes.  Yes I do.  I lost a full day of riding when it rained, and two more when my wife told me to paint the house.  Still managed to get a few miles in though.  The average day of riding put me at about 200 miles each, and I felt like I really got a good idea about what it would be like to live with a Breva over the long-term.

So often one sees a bike advertised or reviewed by a magazine, then goes to their nearest dealer for a trip around the block.  The papers are out on the salesman’s desk at that point, and if you liked what you felt and the deal is right, then you buy.  But what influences really get you to “pull the trigger”?

Continue reading Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport – Day 8 – Why should I buy a Guzzi?