Ultimate MotorCycling QuickShift Review
There seems to be something of a scooter boom in the United States. Sales are good, many of the purchasers are new to two-wheels, and a large number are also women.
The 2013 Piaggio BV 350 takes the ease-of-use/light cargo-carrying scooter concept one step farther by adding the power to compete on the freeway. This is an appealingly practical package that anyone, regardless of gender, can appreciate.
The BV 350 has an all-new fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, four-valve, SOHC motor, built with the goal of offering 400cc power in a package the size and weight of a 300. On all counts, Piaggio has succeeded.
The short-stroke 330cc motor has impressive acceleration, putting out over 33 horses at 8250 rpm and 24 ft/lbs of torque at 6250 (there’s no tach or shifting, of course). Getting up to speed and keeping up with traffic on an urban freeway – even one with a 65 mph speed limit – is not a problem, and the 350’s top speed is enough to get you a nasty ticket from the Highway Patrol. Once you’re running with the cars, you will notice the helpful visibility from mirrors and good fairing protection for your legs.
Braking at high speeds is not up to motorcycle strength, so be sure to use the combined braking offered by the left lever. At street speeds, the braking is excellent. The story is the same with the suspension – perfectly capable in town, but pushed to the limit on poorly maintained freeways.
As conditions get crowded, the BV 350 has excellent manners in street traffic. It is deft enough to split lanes smoothly (drivers don’t get cranky when a scooter slips by) and the 16-/14-inch wheel pairing provides confidence.
The throttle/transmission unit is smooth and responsive, with a nice amount of engine braking when you roll off. It takes some finessing at very slow speeds, as you are less in control with the automatic belt-drive transmission and no access to a clutch.
It is a complete blast to run around town on the Piaggio BV 350 in my half-helmet. It takes me back to a more carefree, casual time when it didn’t seem like the world was in such a hurry. It’s like taking a vacation in a Tuscan hill town where they don’t rush around like Americans. Ah, to be a coed at the Universita di Pisa.