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Old 07-27-2012, 03:39 PM   #1
gumshoe4 OP
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Joined: Feb 2007
Oddometer: 819
Comparison: Piaggio BV500 and Honda Silverwing

-Greetings. You may or may not know that I recently traded in my BMW for a new 2009 Piaggio BV500. This is not my first scooter, as I have also owned a Honda Silverwing for about a year and a half and have ridden it pretty extensively here in northern California.

Today, I did a shakedown of the BV500 by riding it from my residence near Folsom, up Salmon Falls Road to 49, then 193 to Georgetown and out Wentworth Springs Road past Stumpy Meadows and Uncle Tom's Cabin to Ice House Road. Took a quick sidestep to Big Hill, then back to Ice House down to Interstate 50 into Placerville and back into town via Green Valley and the new Folsom Dam Bridge.

I put 166 miles on the BV today and thought I might share some observations in comparing it with the Silverwing, so here goes:

ENGINE-TRANSMISSION/PERFORMANCE: The BV is a swingarm-mounted 500cc single cylinder design, what we in the "old days" used to call a "thumper". Thumpers, at least as used on motorcycles, generally don't rev real high. They make a lot of torque at the low end and run out of steam the harder you rev them. The SWing has a frame-mounted parallel twin which revs quite well, but also has pretty good low end power. Both bikes have fairly standard CVT transmissions.

There is no question in my mind that the SWing is much faster than the BV. Both bikes will go 90+ without major effort. The SWing will get there pretty quickly. I had the BV at 85 indicated today...it had more if I'd wanted it, but it took awhile getting there...it's not bad, it's just more leisurely due to the different engine design and power output characteristics. Interestingly, the BV's thumper engine did not seem strained at that speed...it just chugged along without complaint. Both bikes will sustain freeway speeds, lugging my pretty large self and my stuff without difficulty.

I should comment here that I do not normally run around with my hair on fire on motorbikes, but I do want to know something about their performance envelopes...I do the speed runs on long, deserted stretches of road and for very short times only as a learning tool...then generally don't do it again.

With regard to fuel economy, I topped off the BV's tank for the first time in Georgetown. The dealer did not fill it up all the way, so the fuel gauge was showing about 3/4 full with the trip odo at about 45 miles. I put in just under a gallon of fuel and the BV holds 2.8 gallons. After I filled up, I reset the trip odo to zero. The tank was topped off and the fuel gauge was all the way full, but the indicator dropped rather precipitously to 3/4 full after 24 miles, then held for a long time between 3/4 and 1/2. It's currently showing 115 miles and about 3/8 of a tank. I don't think the fuel gauge is very accurate, at least when full, but the machine seems pretty frugal with fuel, particularly compared to the SWing. If I run at 70-75 on the SWing keeping up with freeway traffic, fuel milleage is about 42. I suspect the BV will be better than that.

With regard to servicing and maintenance, both seem to be pretty simple machines to work on...I'll do the basics, but won't tackle valve clearance checks and so on...will gladly let a competent person to do those...

ERGONOMICS/COMFORT: The BV's seat is, to me, more comfortable than the SWing's seat. After I've been on the SWing for about 3-4 hours (stopping and resting periodically, of course), terminal monkeybutt starts setting in and I really have to get off the bike for awhile and allow a reset. I recently bought a set of bicycling gelshorts and I wore them today on the BV. I had no huge discomfort issues on the BV at all today and I think that's due, in part, to the seat design which I think is superior to the SWing, but some may also be attributed to the gelshorts. I'll try those on the SWing and see if they help there also.

The seating positions on both machines are pretty similar. You sit straight up, with your knees more or less at 90 degrees and your feet slightly forward. The BV pretty much locks you into this position, but to me, it's not a problem...I like it and find it comfortable. It's also comfortable on the SWing, but the SWing also allows you to slide your feet forward if you wish...similar to the foot positioning on a cruiser with forward controls or pegs. It's nice to be able to move your feet a little bit, but for me, it's not critical. I also find that the SWing handles better with my feet in the normal position, so I reserve the forward foot position on the SWing for those times when there aren't many curves, stops or traffic and you're just going down a straight or mildly curvy road.

With regard to wind protection, the SWing's stock windshield sucks on ice, so I put a Givi Airflow on the SWing and it really works well both winter and summer...it is easily adjustable for height and it eliminates all buffeting while still allowing you to look over the top of the screen, which is what I prefer. The BV has a very short windscreen...in fact, I'd actually call it a deflector rather than a screen. I was fully expecting to get the hooey knocked out of me by the wind because I was sure that the deflector would do little or nothing. I was, in fact, dead wrong. The deflector worked really well...the wind flow hits me about chin level or so, but the stream is VERY smooth and there is NO buffeting at all. I really was quite shocked by how effective the BV's deflector was for me. I'm perfectly happy leaving it on for the summer, but in the winter, I'll have to come up with an alternate plan to block more wind, so it doesn't cut through me.

HANDLING: The SWing, having a frame-mounted engine and pretty low center of gravity, actually handles fairly well, although not as well as a regular motorcycle, in my opinion. Despite the fact that the BV has a swingarm-mounted engine, I found that the BV handled significantly better than the SWing, more like a motorcycle. I attribute this to the fact that the BV uses large wheels and tires and this seems to enhance handling. I can live with the SWing's handling, but I think the BV has it beat in this area.

QUALITY CONTROL: This is really an unfair comparison, because I bought the SWing used and the BV is new. The SWing has presented me with zero issues during the entire time I've owned it. In the short run today, the BV demonstrated no major issues except that the right rear turn signal kept coming off its mount and hung by its wires. I find that kind of annoying. I imagine the fix is very simple...

Anyway, hope this is of use. Here are some photos:

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View of the SWing showing the Givi Airflow windshield. At the top of Carson Pass, Highway 88

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Here's the BV at the Big Hill helitack base showing the very small, but effective, wind deflector.

Some other photos from today's shakedown cruise:

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Looking east toward the Crystal Range

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Big Hill helitack base showing the helo strip, the fire lookout tower and several radio repeater antenna structures (hi hi de W6LPH)

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Union Valley Reservoir

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Stumpy Meadows, also known as Lake Edson

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Rear view of the BV at Stumpy Meadows

Hope you had a great day today...I definitely did...

Bob
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gumshoe4 screwed with this post 07-27-2012 at 03:46 PM
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