2015 - 2017 Piaggio BV 350 ABS
Piaggio’s Sport-Touring Scooterby Allyn Hinton, on
The BV 350, dubbed Beverly, from Piaggio is win-win as far as scooters go. With a big 16-inch wheel up front, monster-size brakes usually seen on full-size motorcycles, an assortment of tech acronyms, and an ample touring windscreen, the Beverly is a downright proper little touring scooter. As a commuter in the city or suburbs or for your weekend getaway, the BV 350 fits right into the niche that Piaggio intended. With a lively throttle response and plenty of power and torque to back it up, the Beverly puts “sport-touring” into scooter vernacular.
Continue reading for my review of the Piaggio BV 350 ABS.
2015 - 2017 Piaggio BV 350 ABS
Top Speed:86 mph
The Beverly is an Italian scooter and it looks like it. The graceful lines mean lots of aerodynamics. LED running lights molded into the fairing and LED taillights molded into the fender mean a nice, clean flow over the body panels without interruption by light stand-offs.
The Beverly is an Italian scooter and it looks like it. The graceful lines mean lots of aerodynamics.
If you’ve ever fueled up a scooter and spilled gas on your gear, you’ll appreciate that the fuel filler is between the feet on the Beverly. The downside is that you lose the flat step-through that frequently doubles as a between-the-feet storage platform.
On that note, let’s talk about storage. The BV 350 has a nice big glove box up front that has a charging station in it so you can stow your electronics and charge them up while you ride. The front tower has a pull-out bag hook to hang your handbag, man-bag or grocery bag and the under-seat storage is big enough to stash two open face helmets or a big modular skull bucket and there’s plenty of room for a backpack, book bag or briefcase, depending on what you’re carrying.
Instrumentation is ample. The scooter has a nice big instrument cluster with large analog gauges. I like dials better than a digital display since my ol’ lady eyes can take in the info at a glance. Younger folks may prefer a digital display; it’s a personal preference so you can decide for yourself if the instrumentation is a hit or a miss for you. The cluster has an LCD display for the fancy techno stuff.
The two-up seating is wide and comfortable — wide enough to support even an ample derriere, but the front of the seat narrows enough that short folks like me can scoot forward and put our feet down at stops. Big grab handles and pull-out passenger footpegs will keep your pillion-person secure and comfortable and the big rear rack offers plenty of room to bungee some gear or mount a top case from the accessories catalog.
If there’s a negative to report, it’ll be for tall folks who might have a problem with foot room. The curve of the lowers prevents you from putting your feet forward on the floorboards. Being a short person, I was okay because I had to really reach for that curve, but you tall folks might not be as comfortable with your foot position.
The little BV 350 sports a massive 300 mm front brake disc, larger than some full-size bikes out there, with a 240 mm disc in back...
Although the body shape and high-rise tunnel in the step-through suggest a monocoque chassis, Piaggio runs a proper, double-cradle frame made of high-tensile steel tubing instead of going the “stressed-skin” route. This feature makes the scooter somewhat more durable since damaged body panels can be replaced, and the scooter saved, in the event of a wreck where a unibody might be looking at a “totaled” classification. Plus, the shop can repair said damage without touching any cutting or welding equipment, and that’s a bonus in my book.
Frame construction leaves us with a 31-inch seat height, and the 35 mm, telescopic front forks push the wheel out for a 61.4-inch wheelbase and 83.1-inch total length. Dual, coil-over shocks spring off the swing-mount motor assembly, and they come with a four-position preload adjuster so you have a little bit of adaptability for changing conditions and variable cargo and passenger loads.
Piaggio didn’t mess around with any of the teeny-tiny, lawn-cart wheels we see all too frequently on little rides, but instead used a full-size, 110/70-16 front hoop and a still-bigger-than-usual 150/70-14 in back. Not too shabby for a scooter, and the wheels certainly inspire more highway confidence than the usual 10- to 12-inch fare.
Speaking of confidence, the brakes certainly inspire loads of it, and I ain’t kidding. The little BV 350 sports a massive 300 mm front brake disc, larger than some full-size bikes out there, with a 240 mm disc in back, equal to same. This represents quite a bit of braking power, perhaps a little much for a ride with a 390-pound dry weight, but a standard ABS feature prevents loss of traction due to overbraking, so you can use those big ’ol brakes with confidence.
In spite of its name, the 78 mm bore, 69 mm stroke and combustion-chamber volume actually add up to a total displacement of 330 cc. The factory managed to shoehorn four valves into the head, run by a SOHC system, and liquid cooling carries off the waste heat. Dyno numbers speak to a fun little ride with a claimed 32.8 horsepower at 8,250 rpm, and 23.8 pound-feet of torque at 6,250 rpm, sufficient for a lively ride around town or for short hops up the highway.
Piaggio stuck in a few features that are interesting, indeed. First, it used the data from the ABS wheel speed sensor to feed an anti-slip regulation (ASR) function that brings big-bike traction control to the scooter world. Next up, we have the centrifugal clutch that drives the continuously-variable transmission (CVT). Nothing unusual in that, but the factory used its multi-disc centrifuge that runs in an oil bath for an improvement over the old style clutch. Nice touch and something to note when price-shopping scooters.
This mill comes EPA and CARB approved, and it drives the Beverly up to 86 mph with fuel consumption in the 65 to 70 mpg range.
MSRP on the BV 350 is $6,399 for 2017, up $200 from last year and up $500 from 2015. The colors available for 2017 are the same as last year: Nero Opaco Carbonio and Bianco Stella — that’s Matt Black Carbon and White Star for those of you whose Italian is a little rusty. Piaggio covers your ride with a two-year unlimited-mileage warranty and throws in one year of road side assistance for free.
Gotta love these big-wheel scooters, but it adds a whole dimension when looking for an apples-to-apples competitor. The Lance Soho 50 has 16-inch wheels, but the engine size is too small to go up against the BV 350. I might go with the GTV 300 from Vespa; but in this case, I’ll give it pass since they’re both under Piaggio. For this go-’round, I’ll look at the Forza from Honda. It doesn’t have quite 16-inch wheels, but the engine size is close enough for a look-see.
Visually, both rides display a certain grace and elegance. Usually I expect the Italian influence to win the beauty pageant, but this time Honda beats them, hands down. Instead of a handlebar-mounted windshield atop fixed leg fairings, the Forza sports a fixed, one-piece front fairing that more closely resembles a full-size sport-tourer with a somewhat chopped-down but broad windscreen. Honda also graces the Forza with a more generous seating area, but the tunnel almost completely blocks the step-through on the Forza, so the Beverly is certainly easier to mount.
All that extra body paneling adds up, and the Forza is a bit on the heavy side at 422 pounds wet. The Beverly weighs in at 390 pounds dry, for about a 20-pound difference once juiced up for the road. Honda stops short in the brakes department with a fairly typical 256 mm disc up front, much smaller than the 300 mm Piaggio uses, but I’m proud to see both scooters ditch the old drum brake and set up a proper disc on their rear-wheel drive units.
The BV 350 enjoys a slight displacement advantage with 330 cc versus the Forza with its 279 cc engine. Both run as four-cycle engines with water cooling and electronic ignition, but Piaggio gets the wizardry ribbon with its traction control system and wet centrifugal clutch. The size difference shows up in the performance numbers; unofficial-but-respected sources report 24.5 ponies and 19 pounds of grunt out of the Forza motor, a little shy of the 32.8 horsepower and 23.8 pounds of torque we see from the BV 350.
Honda pulls off a win in the price category with a $5,599 starting price, a full eight bills shy of the $6,399 Piaggio. Sure, traction control is nice, and I would be comfortable calling it much more than a novelty, but new riders on a budget might consider it an unnecessary expense, and they would be half-right. It is an expense, but one that could save your bacon one day.
My husband and fellow motorcycle writer, TJ Hinton, says, “I’ve ridden a few scooters, and not once in my life did I ever think it would be a good idea to actually hit the highway on one, primarily because of the rinky-dink wheels, with lack of power running a close second. The full-size wheels on this ride certainly inspire more confidence than usual. Of course, I know someone who had a Cushman Eagle that would do over 70, but I’m not convinced he was completely sane, and I’m not comfortable spinning up the bearings on tiny wheels that fast. Oh, and traction control on a scooter? Kudos Piaggio.”
“Doggone-it! Why didn’t I think of the People GT 300i from KYMCO? It has 16-inch wheels and a 298 cc engine. These big-wheel scooters are getting more plentiful, and honestly if you want to commute on any public artery with vehicles at speed, you really need the big wheels and plenty oomph to get you — and keep you — with traffic.”
|Engine Type:||Piaggio 4-stroke single cylinder|
|Cylinder Capacity:||330 cc|
|Bore x Stroke:||78 mm x 69 mm|
|Max Power at Shaft:||32.8 hp at 8,250 rpm|
|Max Torque:||32.3 Nm at 6,250 rpm|
|Max speed:||86 mph|
|Fuel tank capacity:||3.4|
|Gas mileage:||65-70 mpg|
|Distribution:||Single overhead camshaft SOHC with four valves|
|Gears:||CVT with torque server|
|Clutch:||Multi-disc centrifuge in oil bath|
|Chassis:||Twin cradle tubes in high tensile steel|
|Front Suspension:||Telescopic fork, 35 mm stanchions|
|Rear Suspension:||Dual hydraulic shock absorber, with 4 settings adjustable preload|
|Front Brake:||300 mm disc with combined ABS & ASR Traction Control|
|Rear Brake:||240 mm disc with combined ABS & ASR Traction Control|
|Front Tire:||110/70, 16"|
|Rear Tire:||150/70, 14"|
|Type Approval:||EPA and CARB|
|ABS:||ABS & ASR Traction Control|
|Colors:||Nero Opaco Carbonio, Bianco Stella|
|MSRP:||2016: $6,199, 2017: $6,399|