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

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: Continue reading 2009 Piaggio BV250 Tourer – Day 5 – Likes and Dislikes

2009 Piaggio BV250 Tourer – Day 4 – Scooter Culture

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

A Two-Wheeled Caste System

park just about anywhere
park just about anywhere

There are quite a few two-wheeled cultures and subcultures. From Dirt Bikes to the fastest, Moto-GP-with-turn-signals motorcycle, and from Scooters to Cruisers, there are lines drawn in the sand that must be crossed with care. Within these groups, there are sub groups that prefer new to old, Japanese to European to American, etc.  Many of these cultures are brand and even brand/model specific. Groups are often exclusive of those that are “close but not quite the same”, or “so drastically different that there’s no connection whatsoever”.

I truly believe that as you age, you either become more tolerant of other people’s opinions, filtering out the stuff you don’t care about after listening to the argument, or you can become the “get off my lawn, you damned kids!” guy that just isn’t interested.  I’m more of the former — I have friends that are the latter, and that’s fine, too.  I just get to ride more and different iron.

I’m also not much of a “joiner”.  I fit into the ranks of the Moto Guzzi club very well because they’ve never demanded that I join and I’ve never done it.  Yet, they always welcome me to their events and I have many friends in the club.  I think that if they took PayPal I’d probably join, but mailing a check in is just something that keeps getting deferred and finally forgotten about.  

The nice thing about not being a joiner however, is that I keep my options and opinions wide open about what I should be riding, or what kind of rider I am.  I’ve decided that I’m a rider of anything on two wheels (ok, three if you count the MP3), and I’ll give each bike under my butt a fair shot and try to understand what the engineers were trying to accomplish by creating it.

 I’ll ride it like the engineers designed it, and explore the borderline conditions that “hopefully” they, too, had anticipated.  Finally, I like to explore the culture and people around my rides.  Motorcycling and Scootering are extremely social, more so than car clubs and almost any other daily activity, and it’s extremely important to understand the culture that you’re joining or signing up for when you mount your ride.  In this case, I’ve been exploring the culture of the BV250 Tourer. Continue reading 2009 Piaggio BV250 Tourer – Day 4 – Scooter Culture

2009 Piaggio BV250 Tourer – Day 3 – The Big Commute

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

 

Stopping for fresh parsley.
Stopping for fresh parsley.

 

 

The 160 mile commute

For a few more weeks I will be commuting from Northridge to Santa Barbara, California.  I’ve been at this job since mid-April, and the 80-mile-each-way ride has acted as a “firewall” between my family life and my work.  If I had to make this trip through the city streets and freeways of Los Angeles, it would definitely not be as much fun, but I get to ride Highway 118 through the farmlands of the Santa Paula Valley and then along the Ocean for about 30 miles on the 101 from Ventura to Santa Barbara.  Only about 12 miles of “regular freeway rush hour” traffic is encountered around my house along the freeway section of the 118 over the Santa Susanna pass and Simi Valley.  

The nice thing about this ride is I get to wring out the Piaggio BV250 Tourer in just about every commuter condition that could be encountered, along with a seriously long mile commute to judge just how practical it is to sit on this bike for more than 2 hours a day. Continue reading 2009 Piaggio BV250 Tourer – Day 3 – The Big Commute

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"