Some positive press for the BV350

Discussion in 'Battle Scooters' started by Bueller, Aug 21, 2018.

  1. Bueller

    Bueller Cashin? Super Supporter

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    Between this place and Modern Vespa it seems most of the posts I see about the BV350 are about figuring out how to fix something or solve a problem. As far as I know it's not thought of as a bad choice in scooters. Quite the opposite actually, due to the power and all day highway capability in a mid-sized platform. But I don't see a lot of folks talking about traveling on them, and I really don't see a lot of posts in general. So I thought I would post my experiences based on my now 5 years of ownership.

    I bought mine in July of 2013, driven mostly by severe tendonitis that was getting further aggravated by the operation of motorcycle clutches. I figured the BV would allow me to keep riding on those days when operating a clutch wasn't possible. I found that I really enjoyed the light weight and maneuverability, and found myself riding it more than I originally expected.

    In 2014 I decided to see what traveling on a Scooter would be like, and I took the BV on a 4 day trip from my home in Southeastern Ohio down to the mountains of TN and NC. I traveled with two friends who both rode Electra-Glides and were comfortable with the fact that I was going to travel at a max of 70 - 72 mph. We had a great trip covering about 1200 miles across the well-known roads of the area, and traveled about half of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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    After that trip I continued to use the BV for commuting to work, and some shorter rides around Ohio. But the newness wore off, I had other motorcycles, and I reached a point where I just wasn't riding a lot in general. We then got into RV'ing and I found a new purpose for the BV, taking it with us on trips for secondary transportation because it was easy to load on a trailer. But still it didn't see very many miles. Though I put over 5000 miles on it the first year, by the time it was 4.5 years old it hadn't broken 10,000 miles.

    This year I've been considering selling the last of my motorcycles and just keeping the scooter. And then recently I found a nice deal on an MP3 400 that I purchased, which revived my interest in single cylinder riding. I really wanted to see once again what traveling on a scooter would be like. These days any two wheel travel for me is further complicated by some chronic health issues that cause a lot of pain. But I had to try it and see what happened. I planned another trip to the mountains with a friend, but bad weather in the area changed our plans. We went North instead of South, overnighting the first night in Grand Rapids. The next day we toured the west side of Michigan - partially on the coast, partially inland. We passed the Dunes, rode north through a desolate section with no gas stations, and rode through the "tunnel of trees". Ultimately we crossed into Canada at "the Soo" and got a hotel.

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    I had done some reading and came across a description of Ontario's "tail of the dragon". The road is also numbered "129", just as the much more famous U.S. counterpart. Four Kilometers in we stopped at the Little Rapids General Store for some gas and snacks. One of the things I've learned about the BV is when traveling in desolate areas get gas when you find it. The fuel light pops on after 120 miles at 75 mph, or about 140 - 150 miles when traveling less than 60 mph. I've pushed 180 miles and gotten just about 3 gallons into what is labeled a 3.2 gallon tank, so I figure much beyond that I'd be walking. We filled up and got back on 129, following it north as it meandered back & forth following the bends of the Mississagi River. The scenery was absolutely beautiful, and I was surprised by the amount of elevation change.

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    To be continued...
    #1
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  2. minimac

    minimac Been here awhile

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    Great- now that you've posted about the great there, it will get crowded. That's one of the best things about riding western Mi., the Soo, and Canada-the lack of traffic on some great roads.
    #2
  3. Bueller

    Bueller Cashin? Super Supporter

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    The ride up 129 is part of a ~400 mile loop that goes north to Chapleau, then turns West on 101 to Wawa, then South back to Sault St. Marie, ON. Unfortunately we did not have time to ride the whole loop, so we rode north to Black Creek Outfitters:

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    After a brief stop we had to turn back South. We made a brief stop at the duty free store and crossed back into the U.S. While I was being interviewed by the Customs agent (I'd say he was in his 30's) he asked me several questions about the BV, including top speed, comfortable cruising speed, etc. After answering the questions we continued our southerly trek, crossing back over the Mackinaw bridge and overnighting in central Michigan. The next day we finished the trip.

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    For this trip I was gone three days and 6 hours, and covered 1662 miles. The BV was *almost* flawless on this trip (the rear brake caliper started to rattle at low speeds, but it wasn't anything serious). Comparing this to motorcycle travel is a bit tough. The touring, sport touring and adventure bikes I've had definitely had better suspension and a more comfortable ride, though many of them had less comfortable stock seats. There is no comparison in heat management. This is where the scooter architecture really wins. Traveling on the BV in 90 degrees feels like traveling on my R1200 RT in 80 degrees. As I get older this makes a difference. I have the large Piaggio top case, and combined with the underseat storage I'm always amazed at just how much stuff it can carry.

    I completed the 12,000 mile service and replaced the belt & rollers before I left, so I wasn't expecting to have any issues. But at the same time I showed the scooter no mercy. I traveled at 80 - 85 indicated (+10% actual speed) for hours on end up rt 23 and I-75. The only thing that suffered at those speeds was the mileage. Even though the BV is supposed to have super unleaded, in those places where all I could get was 87 octane it didn't run any different and at no time did I ever hear any detonation - though mileage did deteriorate slightly.

    During my 5 + years of ownership and almost 14,000 miles I have mostly done only routine maintenance, with a couple of exceptions. I did have to have a software update to fix stalling and high idle issues when it was fairly new. It came with a lumpy rear tire that I had to replace at 1000 miles. Michelin supplied the tire, but the dickhead Service Manager wanted to charge me labor to replace it even though I purchased the scooter from that dealer and it was only a month old at the time. I took the tire home and did it myself. Also, I found that Piaggio is really stingy with grease when it comes to greasing steering head bearings. After greasing and adjusting them I was able to get rid of a deceleration wobble that showed up after the front tire had accumulated some wear. More recently I changed the fork oil from the factory recommended 7.5 weight to a 5 weight Bel-Ray, which made a significant difference in helping to soften the ride over sharp bumps. Perhaps the most disappointing quality issue was a core plug in the cylinder head that literally rusted out. Piaggio doesn't offer a replacement and instead requires replacement of the cylinder head. I saw several instances where they were taking care of this for owners well out of warranty, but I didn't want my engine torn apart over a $2.00 plug. I measured the bore, found a plug that would press in properly, and fixed it myself. Details are here:

    http://modernvespa.com/forum/topic154029?highlight=saved+bv350

    The second most disappointing failure was the center stand breaking in half and letting go while I was traveling at about 50 mph. I was able to find the pieces and weld it back together and it's been fine since.

    Other than that the only item I consider to be a repeated hassle because it is poorly engineered is the fuel tank filler. It is almost impossible to fill the tank without overflowing/splashing fuel all over the filler area.

    Combining all factors I would give the BV a solid 8.5 out of 10 in terms of long term ownership. It's been a great machine overall and will go just about as fast as you would want to go on a scooter, but Piaggio could do a better job with assembly and could stand to improve the quality of certain components. If this one was stolen today I'd probably buy another one tomorrow, but a later model with ABS (personal preference). I am going to go through with my plan to sell my R1200 RT, and will use the BV for those times I want to take a two wheeled trip.
    #3
  4. BMWBUD

    BMWBUD I couldn't hack it. Back on two wheels.

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    Very comprehensive long term review!:clap
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  5. Wentwest

    Wentwest How's that work?

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    Thanks for the review. I recently "adopted" a 2007 BV250 and I'm surprised by how capable it is at freeway speeds I did not expect. The ways they adapted to American legal requirements are just as slap dash as every other maker, so I guess I shouldn't complain, but I hoped the giant Italian company would try to inject a bit of style into it. The turn signals are just bolted on and look it, and the anti-evap system for the gas tank could not be more stupidly installed in the underseat box, sucking up a lot of space. Otherwise it rides very comfortably and makes me feel confident it can handle lots of miles. The seat is good (for me). I'm not crazy about the windshield, but I have never found one I like, so that could be me. I'll probably just take it off.

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    #5
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  6. CaptnJim

    CaptnJim Scooter Pilot

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    Good to read this. Now that I have a bit more top end speed, the Blonde is considering another scoot. She is not a fan of my Vespa, but she has been looking around the internet at some BVs... we'll see if anything comes of this, but she is the one who said we should consider a stop at AF1 Racing on the way home. :ricky
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  7. Bar None

    Bar None Long timer Supporter

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    Bueller,
    Great BV350 review.
    What make is the top box on your BV350?
    #7
  8. Bueller

    Bueller Cashin? Super Supporter

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    Careful, she'll run away from you :lol3

    Before I changed the belt and rollers I buried the speedo (100 mph) before finally hitting the rev limiter. I've confirmed the speedo is 10% optimistic, so it does at least 90 with a worn belt. That's faster than it was when it was new, but not surprisingly it has gained a couple mph after getting good and broken in.
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  9. Bueller

    Bueller Cashin? Super Supporter

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    I got it from Piaggio. I don't know if it's made by Shad or someone else. I considered it to be a bit flimsy when I first bought it, but after the SO dropped the BV off of the loading ramp to the P/U bed (about 4 feet off the ground) and it landed on the top case without breaking it, I retract my former opinion :lol3
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  10. Bueller

    Bueller Cashin? Super Supporter

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    Scenic riding, but not what I would call "great" riding. The tunnel of trees was beautiful, but remote enough (and not technical enough) that it will never be crowded by the two wheeled community. 129 fell far short of the write up in terms of technical challenge or even entertainment, but it was beautiful for a leisurely ride. There is almost no one and nothing to be found much north of 17 (the southern end of 129). Hell, there isn't enough gas available up there for it to get crowded :lol3 And as for the Soo, it is a town of 75,000 yet at 9:00 on a Friday the last 10 people who were awake were all at the casino. I couldn't believe that just about everything else was closed by 9.

    I think your secret's safe :lol3
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  11. Wentwest

    Wentwest How's that work?

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    I was near the Soo many years ago (1973) on a drive across the continent through Canada, and we stopped off on St. Joseph's Island, on the Canadian side. There was one small village, Richard's Landing, with a combination Chinese restaurant and pool hall, and a lot of abandoned Victorian era looking hotel buildings in the countryside. The only road was dirt. I guess it was a hot spot during prohibition in the US, but when that ended no one showed up. It looked like heaven after living in a university community what with the Vietnam war and Nixon and a decade of assassinations and just generally all hell breaking loose. Nonetheless, we kept on going west, across the prairie to the Rockies and back into the US at Glacier National Park. We found a tiny smoke hut at the end of a home made pier somewhere west of there along the Canada shore of Lake Superior and bought a piece of the best tasting smoked white fish I have ever eaten. Ever.

    Wow, that was a long time ago.
    #11
  12. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    I was taking a hard look at the BV350 a few years ago before I bought my Vespa in 2016. The now defunct Lexington, KY Vespa/Piaggio dealer had the exact same one as Bueller's, color and all. I sat on it and found my short legs & arms not the best fit compared to a 300 Vespa. There's a bunch of them on CT now and prices compare well to a 300 Vespa.It has performance specs that easily match the new BMW C 400X mid-size scoot, engine wise.
    Ontario, Canada: We have already made plans for our next fishing trip north. The spot is to the end of the road, 527, above Thunder Bay @ Armstrong, Ontario then a bit further to the end of the gravel road. In my Canada travels I see little danger in those areas becoming crowded in my lifetime. Mostly indigenous peoples living near there. Ours will be an RV trip and fishing, no PTW's. The latter part of the same trip will be upper penninsula, MI and bicycles.

    Bueller, my CTS release surgeries gave me a new chapter in my MC/scoot riding career. I had one hand done 1st year, then the other the next , both in winter after the holidays to stay active when weather broke. Mine still work great (sort of:lol2) but for how much longer-that remains to be seen? "Trigger finger" is my latest hand thing to deal with and about to need a 3rd shot or a surgical fix.
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  13. Dan V.

    Dan V. Been here awhile

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    Somehow I missed you when you were in Grand Rapids.......:lol3

    Yeah, there are some great roads on the West Michigan side along the lakeshore. Happy to hear you made the Tunnel of Trees. That is a marvelous stretch from there to the Bridge. Hope you stopped at the Good Hart General Store - great eats.

    That Ontario loop is inviting........
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  14. Bueller

    Bueller Cashin? Super Supporter

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    I reached the limit for shots years ago. Too much and it only causes more deterioration. The statistic for tendon release (to treat lateral epicondylitis) when I was looking into double elbow surgery was that there was a 30% chance I would wind up either worse off or have no improvement. I decided to pass. These days I'm better than I was then in terms of the tendonitis because I got out of a physical profession, but I've been more recently diagnosed with Fibro on top of a bunch of Osteo Arthritis. It's nothing that's going to kill me obviously, it's just going to make me hurt. My solution most of the time is to travel these days via RV, and put the BV in the bed of the pickup. But usually about once or twice a year I'll tough out a long weekend motorcycle trip, though I pay for it for days and sometimes weeks afterwards.
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  15. Bueller

    Bueller Cashin? Super Supporter

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    Grand Rapids was a 9:00 P.M. arrival on a Thursday night. We ate, slept, and left :lol3

    I did not stop at that store. I'll make a note of it for the next time :thumb
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  16. CaptnJim

    CaptnJim Scooter Pilot

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    When I got the scoots out of the trailer yesterday, the Blonde took a tape measure to the floor to see if a BV would fit the space. Apparently, someone would have to re-do the chock for that bike... and it would cut into the access/space at the side door. I told her she better at least sit on one before getting too invested.
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  17. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    A "working man" in Walmart told me his doc does the finger shot twice only, then surgery at base of finger where the tendon feeds through.
    At my recent 12 month hip replacement check ride , I asked his new to him PA about my knee which was the reason I'd been there last as it was swelled and more concern than my hip. That conversation turned toward my finger as I was trying to get most medicare bang for my buck. He felt the palm and ask how many shots so far? I said twice and last was 8 months ago. He told me that was not so often in his opinion, now I'm stuck with the first CTS hand doc dead & gone, the 2nd one switched to another place and going to a new hand doc as my hip guy is knees /hips only.
    Yes, my hands are worn out but usefull. I had much osteo in the 1st visit to my old hand surgeon ~1988. He asked WTH happened to your hands?
    Xrays were showing healed breaks all around-HS & college FB happened.
    Just got in for lunch break from a two tank chainsaw run on some big trees- my hands work still but very stiff. Beats lots of other stuff that gets you in the newspaper for free!:nod
    When I did admissions in tech school I had a constant parade of females with CTS and most were piece workers in sewing factories we had then. I guess the Mexicans all have CTS now or Asians as thats where those jobs went. One remains that I know of and they get military contracts that are USA focused.

    My mnt bike tends to bother my hands more than a MC or scoot as angle is different at wrist.

    Bueller, BTW, we are coming up into Ohiho for bicycle trails riding with our RV in September-as long as weather stays nice. Will be near West Liberty, OH first trip. Best park to stay in near there is???
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  18. Bueller

    Bueller Cashin? Super Supporter

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    I wish I could tell you - that’s two hours away from me on the flat side of Ohio!
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  19. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    They ski near there? Do they ski "in the flat"?:lol2
    I worked on the other side of the river in Maysville, KY for 10 years-one day a week, across from Ripley.
    I go up and ride the good roads in SE Ohio now and then, prefer weekdays as retired and less cell phones out, etc.. let me know if your up for a day trip?
    #19
  20. cdwise

    cdwise Long timer Supporter

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    BV is a good shower with the most common issue I've heard of being the demand break-in. I think they are all from the same model year so send like Piaggio got a bad batch.

    My son certainly has had no complaints.
    #20