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Old 12-21-2013, 09:39 PM   #1
chazbird OP
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250cc commute impressions

I have had a 250cc Piaggio BV250 for a few years and I love it. I don't have a car and it is pretty much my only bike, excepting a Honda C70 Passport. I use it for most anything, around town, some touring, short commutes. I recently did a month long stint for a temporary work thing, 50 miles each way on a hard core freeway. I use the diamond lane, but I often ended up lane splitting in that, splitting up to 35 mph or so. It was great there. But I noticed what I call here in California compensation commuting. People will go 75-83 or more to make up for their jammed up slow periods. I stayed in the fast lane to avoid the bad merging, and the Piaggio couldn't cut it. I could do an indicated 85, probably about 81 corrected. Sometimes I'd have to pull to the right to let the jackasses pass (speed limit is 65). While the scooter was perfectly stable it wasn't just the tapping out on the speed that was the issue. It seemed that over 70 for extended periods the whole ergonomics of the bike started to fall apart. Under that speed it is sublime. The wind of course played on the neck, (I had removed windshield because of terrible helmet buffeting) but it was everything that was good about a scooter suddenly became worse. My wrists ached, the seat bumper stop was now too close, whereas before those extended speeds it all seemed fine.

I felt that a motorcycle, perish the thought, would, under these circumstances, would make more sense. The sitting in a chair scooter style, after a certain speed, just became a new torture rack. My question is, and there is a question in all of this, has anyone else come up against this? What have they done to solve it? I saw my usual mpg go from 68 down to 57, so I was flogging the
bike for sure.

Does a Burgman cure this? A BV350? TMAX? Or is it simply that there is a limit to the effective comfortable cruising speed of a scooter? What about the BMW C600 scooters, can they do the 80 mph cruising? I know those engines can do the speed, but is the sit up position just not going to work at higher speeds? It isn't a commute speed I need to repeat, so it seems a moot point now, but for the future I'd be interested if there are scooters that can do this sort of thing without puffing out and at the same time not beating you up.
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Old 12-21-2013, 09:50 PM   #2
GREY.HOUND
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Good call. I have the Sportcity 250 and I feel the same way when riding on the freeway as well. As for speed, if the BV is as accurate as my SC, then it's almost 14% optimistic, so an indicatied 80 is really just under 70mph; and at that speed my bike is pretty unnerving even with the new tires I just put on.

As to your answer about the burgman, I just recently started this thread: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=942415

Others will chime in.
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Old 12-22-2013, 12:37 AM   #3
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Hmnn - interesting question, made me think back a bit. I had a 250 Reflex, a TMax and an MP3 400 concurrently a few years ago.

No contest, I could ride the TMax at higher speeds all day (and did) while cruising at similar speeds on the Reflex for any length of time was a chore. (The MP3 was okay, just the seat positively sucked).

My certainly inexpert opinion is that running any scooter at the upper end of its speed range is pushing its inherent dynamics close to its "edge". In addition, the fundamental physics of the weight differences combined with wind pressure plays into the ride comfort overall as well. Obviously, windshield specifics have something to do with that issue too.

Its a whole lot more comfortable to do 70MPH+ on a TMax (or my even heavier current Silverwing) than wringing that out on the Reflex.

JMHO, even the best of the newest 250s just don't have the guts to be really comfortable when you're talking 70s+, especially for any length of time. They just aren't really designed for it. Like I said - JMHO based on my limited experience.

PS - the other factor that inclined me to go "bigger is better" is that sub-400cc class scoots don't seem to have the juice at 70s+ speeds if you really need to get out of Dodge quickly. (Note: I've no knowledge or experience with the 350 BVs).

While most of my riding is on lower speed backroads, I do need to traverse the slabs getting there. I found that I'm not comfortable on any major highway if I'm not riding a TMax/SW or similar performance class scoot. Thats just my preference.

Its actually a very current topic for me because I'm thinking about downsizing weight-wise. My old back gets touchy muscling my 551# SW around and the hand writing is on the wall. I've been considering how to downsize to a lighter weight scooter and still resolve the slab issue.

I doubt that I'll find a perfect solution. I'm probably going to alter my riding areas to skip the slabs, which is likely a good idea in any event. Ride safe.

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Old 12-22-2013, 02:55 AM   #4
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Givi makes a windshield for that bike that is sweet at road speed. Covers your hands and smooths out your pocket everywhere. It makes those high speed runs as comfy as the low speed ones.

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Old 12-22-2013, 04:48 AM   #5
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I would agree with all the comments here. I downsized from a 750cc cruiser to a 279cc Honda Forza scooter, and found that though the scooter is comfortable on the freeway at speed, that lack of weight and extra hp's are really missed. It is a 'sit-in' type of scoot, so comfort wise, the beast is OK, and getting to 75/80 is not the problem. But it feels the road a lot more that a heavy bike, and the nimble handling of the scoot isn't what I desire at speed. People actually complain that the Forza is too heavy, but on slabs, its lack of weight is a problem. I wouldn't change my ride for anything right now because my commute is only about 30 miles each way, and there are a lot of back-roads that support 60mph. But if I had to run slabs again, as Pilgrim stated, I think I would also want to move up the food chain for more stability and weight. (But I would keep the Forza ; on twisties it is a blast )

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Old 12-22-2013, 05:16 AM   #6
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A 500 + lb bike with an old Vetter Windjammer fairing is my favorite for freeway riding. On that fairing you need a windshield of the right height for comfort and relief from buffeting. An upright seating position with a backrest tall enough for good back support also makes a big difference.
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Old 12-22-2013, 06:29 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chazbird View Post
. But I noticed what I call here in California compensation commuting. People will go 75-83 or more to make up for their jammed up slow periods.
Good point. Many of us in CA can directly relate to what you're saying here. If traffic "crawls" ALL the time, we'd be fine on our small cc bikes. My commute is about 15 mi of 405 fwy, the SYM and KLX gets me in that 'compensation' area, and it sucks. You feel that your gunna get flattened!

An attitude of f%#k 'em, I'm doing the speed limit is fine, BUT,...

I don't want to ride my RT, cause it's just too much 'work' splitting with this. I'm not trained CHP. My old r100, is just that, it's not a daily commuter.

Thus, I'm currently, looking at the Honda CB 500x. Light weight, twin cyl, blah, blah, blah. It probably weighs no more than you BV.

As far as BMW scoots, you'd better do some studying on this one. Get over on BMW MOA site, they've got a scooter section. There is alot of negatives in there, and at $10k, there should be NO negatives.

Great topic Chazbird!
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Old 12-22-2013, 08:33 AM   #8
chazbird OP
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I am happy the BV250 did as well as it did. It is a testament to how well designed and executed it is. I had thought that with this modern scooter I had reached a new breakthrough on the long road to the (to me) "perfect vehicle".

The indicated speedo is about 7% optimistic, so my 83 was in the upper 70's.
It must weigh around 400 lbs, so the weight didn't seem too light. The stability was fine, no skitty activity. It handles windy conditions as well or better than most motorcycles I've owned. It's smooth, about as smooth as either of my previous two BMW K75.

And yet, above a real 70 mph it became a bit of chore, and eventually fatiguing. It's like there was a ergonomic rev limiter, go above this set point and you're going to start feeling/pay for it. I have toured on this before, 300 miles a day, no problems, splendid, doing 45-65. I would think that being on the freeway should not be a problem, but I am also thinking that there might be a physical/physio/physics interaction going on here. The bike is pushing itself, or is beginning to, the physics of the wind with a sit up seating position is coming into play, and the added mental workload of riding in heavy, but fast California traffic completes the total workload equation.Basically, any one of those components, or even two of them, might be easily adaptable to, but with three of them is where the negative interaction occurs.

As I mentioned, I am a total scooter convert these days. But if I had to regularly do this commute ( thankfully I don't and I pity those who do) I feel I'd have to fix one of those factors.

PS. I looked at the GIVI USA website for after market windshields for the BV350 or a universal mount version. No luck. Mine is a '06, so it has the lower headlight than later versions. I have the windshield off and all mapped out for cutting it down by about 45%, so maybe that will help.
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Old 12-22-2013, 05:28 PM   #9
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I might offer an extra bit here. I ride a scoot down the highway in between grain trucks and V8 utes on my commute.

The Sportcity One 125 was only really good for 90kph cruise average, too small unfortunately.

The Sportcity 250 I borrowed for a few weeks was excellent, would sit happily on 110kph all day. At first I leaned forwards into the wind, but that became a pain, so I put the Puig Touring screen (with laminar lip to reduce buffeting) I had on the SC One onto the SC 250, beautiful! The 15" tyres were even very capable on the dirt. It would pull 130kph indicated to pass trucks, just, but it preferred 110kph.

I now have a Piaggio X8 250ie. I had always wanted the X-Evo 400 version after a weekend test ride, but this came up dirt cheap so I grabbed it. Same drivetrain as the SC 250, so again, 110kph is the comfy cruise speed. I know from the 400 though (basically the same except for a bigger engine and back tyre), that the bigger maxi's can cruise easily at 130kph - 140kph all day. The bigger engine has that extra margin of power and top speed that the 250s simply lack.

I rekn either stay happy at 65-70mph and whistle away the world, or get a 400 maxi (Burgman, Majesty, X-Evo) and enjoy the extra speed and protection.

Oh, and Givi maxi screens on a 250 are a little TOO big in my opinion, they offer excellent protection, but knock 10kph off you top end and lose fuel economy.
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Old 12-22-2013, 06:03 PM   #10
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I went out today on one of my normal weekend rides. The road I often travel has a 65mph speed limit for a good 10 miles. It's a two lane country road/highway and traveling at 65, even up to 70mph is no issue. It is completely different then traveling on the slab.

I think it has a lot to do with faster traffic and changing road surfaces and poor quality of the road that makes the slab so difficult.
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Old 12-22-2013, 06:51 PM   #11
chazbird OP
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That's one of the thing about road test reviews, the few that are actually half-way in depth (even MCN) they simply, or generally don't explore a bike's, in this case a 250cc scoot, full potential use over a truly useful period of time. Is a reviewer going to ride in 30 degree temps 50 miles, half in the dark, in a real mix of hard core commuting and then write about it? Doubtful.

Which leaves me in a sort of a limbo. As said, I probably don't have to do this commute anymore, but it would be nice to know what could cut it if I actually had to. But of course, bikes are too expensive to buy in order to just check things like this out. I love this scooter, it's really great. I am glad I have it, and I suppose after a few years with it I am glad I have found it's (few) limitations. That it took me so long to find this admittedly outlier limitation after 15k miles is another testament to how good it is.

But, alas, it seems there may be no one perfect vehicle after all.
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Old 12-24-2013, 01:45 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chazbird View Post
I have had a 250cc Piaggio BV250 for a few years and I love it. I don't have a car and it is pretty much my only bike, excepting a Honda C70 Passport. I use it for most anything, around town, some touring, short commutes. I recently did a month long stint for a temporary work thing, 50 miles each way on a hard core freeway. I use the diamond lane, but I often ended up lane splitting in that, splitting up to 35 mph or so. It was great there. But I noticed what I call here in California compensation commuting. People will go 75-83 or more to make up for their jammed up slow periods. I stayed in the fast lane to avoid the bad merging, and the Piaggio couldn't cut it. I could do an indicated 85, probably about 81 corrected. Sometimes I'd have to pull to the right to let the jackasses pass (speed limit is 65). While the scooter was perfectly stable it wasn't just the tapping out on the speed that was the issue. It seemed that over 70 for extended periods the whole ergonomics of the bike started to fall apart. Under that speed it is sublime. The wind of course played on the neck, (I had removed windshield because of terrible helmet buffeting) but it was everything that was good about a scooter suddenly became worse. My wrists ached, the seat bumper stop was now too close, whereas before those extended speeds it all seemed fine.
What is a seat bumper stop? Sounds like you need to alter that seat to be flat, so you can slide back a little. http://www.flickr.com/photos/2982116...n/photostream/ This old style seat is far better than the new contoured kind that keeps you welded to one spot, usually on your tailbone. Instead of a new bike, get a good seat.
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Old 12-24-2013, 05:38 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by chazbird View Post

But, alas, it seems there may be no one perfect vehicle after all.
That is the conclusion I came to long ago. A MotoX bike on the freeway is suicide. A sportbike in the dirt is nuts. A Burgman 650 for popping back and forth between a house and the local 7/11 is stupid. It is impossible to find a mix that solves all problems; best thing is to find the bike that solves the majority of your riding needs while providing the largest grin - then just ride. I think that's why so many cyclists have more than one ride. We all come to that realization eventually.
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Old 12-24-2013, 03:23 PM   #14
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Was in same boat at OP, rode a SYM RV250 to work, which was mostly interstate and at times was intimidating if traffic heavy. Speed limit is 70mph in some areas, cars going 75+, I normally stayed in right lane and did my 65-70mph. My gas mileage took a big hit commuting 60+ down to low 50's on Interstate. I commute on my Goldwing now, get 40mpg and can leave the traffic in the dust if I want to, left lane all the way if need be. Right bike for the right task. Use the scooter for more leisurely riding. If I was to start over now, I think the new bikes like CTX 700 with 60+ mpg might be the best mix power and gas mileage for those who must commute via expressways at higher speeds.
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Old 12-24-2013, 05:07 PM   #15
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I thought a Honda NC700 with ABS-DCT could be a replacement for the BV250 and be a contender for this role, especially if it had a belt drive and hydraulic valves. OK, the way it is is good enough.

The real solution for a 250cc scooter in those conditions is people going the speed limit, 65 mph. The scooter was brilliant at 50 in heavy traffic, brilliant splitting lanes, and just fine at 65. But.....people have to obtain their perceived advantages, so when the traffic thins they feel they have to make up for it.

I think Austin has a belt way toll road where the speed limit is 85. Not a joy for scooters I bet.

The real utopian solution is to reorient our society away from such dreadful freeway commutes. The interstate is banal at best on, or in, just about any vehicle, but a 5 lane freeway, especially during heavy commute times, makes for a soul killing maschochistic existence.
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