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Old 07-27-2012, 04:39 PM   #1
gumshoe4 OP
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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:

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

[IMG][/IMG]
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:

[IMG][/IMG]
Looking east toward the Crystal Range

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

[IMG][/IMG]
Union Valley Reservoir

[IMG][/IMG]
Stumpy Meadows, also known as Lake Edson

[IMG][/IMG]
Rear view of the BV at Stumpy Meadows

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

Bob

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Old 07-27-2012, 07:13 PM   #2
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Awesome scooter and spectacular views. Enjoy your new ride.
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Old 07-27-2012, 08:34 PM   #3
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Nice review. I have ridden a few miles on a Silverwing and really enjoyed it. I have not had a chance to ride any of the big wheeled scooters like the BV.
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Old 07-27-2012, 11:00 PM   #4
gogogordy
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Vespa to BV?

I've been riding Vespas for about 16 years, old school, new school. Presently have a nicely set-up GTS-250 which Ive toured on successfully, and comfortably.

Ive been eyeballing the BV for sometime, as I'm intrigued by and attracted to the smoother ride of the larger wheels.

My question to you is this...did your selection of the BV500 included consideration of the BV350, and if so what was the deciding factor? I was actually sitting on both today, at Motorsports Scooters in San Diego. $100 dollar price differential is all there was, as the BV500 was fairly well discounted. BTW-I havent rode either, but they both float my boat.

So, if you dont mind what swayed you towards the 500?

BTW-have relations in Willows and have ridden a bit up that way....some great riding!
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Old 07-27-2012, 11:20 PM   #5
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Good question. I looked at the one BV350 the dealer had in stock, but was not ready to buy at that time...I was still trying to see if I could get the BMW to work for me. One month later, I finally realized that the Beemer was just not going to happen. By that time, the BV350 was gone and the dealer has not gotten anymore, at least not yet.

The BV500 was there at the time I was looking over the BV350. As I recall, the 350 was about $1500 more (the 500 is NOS 2009, you will recall). The 350 was similar in design and features to the 500, but if I recall correctly, it had significantly more underseat storage, the valve clearance check interval was quite a bit longer...26K, maybe?...and the performance was supposed to be very similar to the 500.

I suspect the 350 would be a solid machine, like the 500...reviews in this section are very positive about the 350, so if you're willing to shell out the extra baksheesh, I don't think you'd be making mistake choosing the 350 over the 500...but the 500 is really a nice machine-at least considering that I've only ridden it 166 miles so far...your choice is going to come down to money and availability.

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Old 07-28-2012, 06:17 AM   #6
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Interesting comparison. I'm thinking about a Silverwing to replace my Reflex. I also have a bv series Piaggio, an '05 bv200. I'd buy a bv350 in a heartbeat but I can't get past the red seat (though I have not seen one in person to really make a true determination). In comparing the bv to the Silverwing mainly on ride quality, how "jarring" is the ride of the Silverwing? My bv rides like a luxury car compared to my Reflex which has a horrible choppy ride. You also stated that the riding position was somewhat similar between the Silverwing and the bv. The Silverwing has a seat height of 29.9 inches and the bv is somewhere around 30.5. Can you truly ride the Silverwing comfortably with your feet in the normal riding position like on the bv? On the reflex riding in that position locks my right hip up after a while. I have been riding it with my feet in the "cruiser" position and the hip is OK but I perfer riding in the upright position.

Any advice/help is appreciated!

Bob
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Old 07-28-2012, 01:10 PM   #7
gumshoe4 OP
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Sure, happy to comment.

I'd compare the ride quality on the BV to a motorcycle...the wheels are larger, the suspension components are of higher quality and more travel and I think they're better dampened as well. The SWing suspension always feels short on travel and "busy" to me...not bad, but definitely not as nice as the BV. HOWEVER, remember that we're sort of comparing a pack mule to a race horse...I load the SWing with all sorts of stuff, including tools, a book, my fanny pack, phone, handheld radio (2m/70cm...lots of repeaters where I ride and cell towers lacking...de W6LPH), a tire repair kit, air pump and so on and so forth...whereas storage space on the BV is much more limited, so I can't carry nearly as much. Overall, I prefer the BV ride, but I can live with the SWing because of its extra load carrying capacity.

Yes, the seat heights are slightly different, but from a practical standpoint, I really don't sense the difference while on the bikes. I can really understand that hip-locking thing...that's one of the reasons I got rid of the Beemer...I couldn't ride it more than 10 miles without getting some hip-locking pain. The standard seating position with feet below and slightly forward is, for me, very comfortable on both bikes. The feet forward position on the SWing is OK for me, as I said, on long straight hauls just to be able to move my feet around a bit, but I really find that the bike handles better on twisty roads with my feet in the standard position. My suggestion would be to try them both out and see if that seating position will work for you.

I should state here that these opinions are based solely on my experiences with the named machines and they may or may not be applicable for you. If you need the feet forward position to keep from getting that rotten hip lock, if you can make do with a 250, you might want to look for a lightly used Yamaha Morphous. Also, I did some sitting on a Burgman 400 and really like it a lot...I think the seating position on the Burgman is superior to the SWing...it's comfortable in the standard position...more so than the SWing...and you can move your feet quite a bit forward, although not as much as the Morphous...

just some thoughts...
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Old 07-28-2012, 04:56 PM   #8
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Nice write up! Thanks for the information.

73

David
N2cnw
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Old 07-28-2012, 05:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gumshoe4 View Post
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...
The turn signal issue sounds like a dealer prep issue. It should have been caught there.

Sounds like the tmax has better seating position than the Burman we used to have. My problem with the tmax the only time I rode one (motorcycle show demo ride) was that the hump was so hight it was hard for my bad hip to clear it. Personally I prefer the BV or Scarabeo 500 to the maxis.
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Old 07-28-2012, 05:25 PM   #10
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Great write up !!
Especially for those of us who are still on motorcycles and seriously considering moving to a step through design.
Thank you
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Old 07-28-2012, 06:44 PM   #11
gumshoe4 OP
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Happy to help...hope some or all of this is of value to you all.

n2ncw, r, r, ur welcome 73 n2cnw de w6lph (are we scootin' hams or hamming scooterists???) Do you do echolink?
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Old 07-28-2012, 06:49 PM   #12
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You were close....N2CNW....

Sorry no echo link. Haven't been active in years.

73
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Old 07-28-2012, 08:04 PM   #13
gumshoe4 OP
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Too bad...was going to give you a holler...

And now we return to our regularly scheduled programming...
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Old 07-28-2012, 08:11 PM   #14
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gumshoe4[/B] Nice report, appreciate it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by [B
gizmo309
Quote:
Originally Posted by [B
;19231653]Interesting comparison. I'm thinking about a Silverwing to replace my Reflex. I also have a bv series Piaggio, an '05 bv200. I'd buy a bv350 in a heartbeat but I can't get past the red seat (though I have not seen one in person to really make a true determination). In comparing the bv to the Silverwing mainly on ride quality, how "jarring" is the ride of the Silverwing? My bv rides like a luxury car compared to my Reflex which has a horrible choppy ride. You also stated that the riding position was somewhat similar between the Silverwing and the bv. The Silverwing has a seat height of 29.9 inches and the bv is somewhere around 30.5. Can you truly ride the Silverwing comfortably with your feet in the normal riding position like on the bv? On the reflex riding in that position locks my right hip up after a while. I have been riding it with my feet in the "cruiser" position and the hip is OK but I perfer riding in the upright position.

Any advice/help is appreciated!

Bob


Bob, just sold my Reflex today. Traded in my Piaggio MP3 400 on a new '12 SW 2 months ago and recently sold my '09 TMAX (trying to free up some garage space (wives can be a bear about using garages for cars.)

My SW impressions, particularly versus the Reflex: Bottom line - no comparison, the Reflex is a very fine small bore maxi but lacks a lot in terms of general utility, especially in highway environments. Too little grunt and as you noted, can be a bit choppy.

The SW is a whole different breed of ride; smooth, lots of foot room for various positions (I'm 5'9" in my boots), perfectly capable in the curves, more power than I'll ever need, great on the slabs and quite functional in city riding. Its my keeper scoot for all around riding. I'd be happier with better MPG (generally getting mid-40s in mixed riding but other than that - its my choice until the Integra is available in the US.

Sorry I can't comment on the BVs, except my MP3 400 experience will be my one and only Piaggio. Dealer service is a b**** to get to in my area and God help you if you need fairing parts. Took 3.5 months to get mine fixed after a minor accident. Others with solid local Piaggio dealer availability will certainly have different opinions but I'm staying with the Japanese for my rides. JMO
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Old 07-28-2012, 09:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gumshoe4 View Post
I load the SWing with all sorts of stuff, including my fanny pack
Fanny Pack? Didn't you know those went out of style in the 80's?




Honestly, I love fanny packs. I would wear one if I could get away with it. I did wear on at Disney a couple of years ago though!
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