2015 Piaggio BV350 i.e.

Editor Score: 80.00%
Engine 16.0/20
Suspension/Handling 11.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 10.0/10
Brakes 8.0/10
Instruments/Controls3.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.0/10
Appearance/Quality 8.5/10
Desirability 7.0/10
Value 7.5/10
Overall Score80/100

As far as scooters go, the Piaggio BV350 i.e. had me pretty excited. The reasoning is simple: its 330cc engine is the largest in this class (I don’t include the Suzuki Burgman 400 due to its maxi-scoot size and price), and Piaggio’s marketing materials highlighted it as being the best of both words – having the power of a bigger scoot with the maneuverability of a smaller one. If I may make this stretch of a comparison, the BV350 has a similar charm as the Suzuki GSX-R750 in that it feels like a hot-rodded version of a smaller bike without the restraint required on a bigger one.

Once I hopped on the BV, my anticipation was only partially justified. First off, the BV’s engine definitely met expectations. Despite being labeled a 350, the displacement is really only 330cc. Still, the 4-valve, SOHC, liquid-cooled Single has more guts than the recently reviewed Kymco Downtown 300i, Honda Forza or SYM CityCom 300i. The difference is something you feel from the saddle. Piaggio says the BV makes 32.8 horses and 23.8 lb-ft. at the crank. Both are respectable numbers in this class.

Our BV350 tester came from Piaggio with the “NYPD setup” that didn’t include the windscreen as delivered standard. For 2015, BV350s are available in Nero Carbonio (matte black) and Bianco Stella.

Our BV350 tester came from Piaggio with the “NYPD setup” that didn’t include the windscreen as usually delivered standard. For 2015, BV350s are available in Nero Carbonio (matte black) and Bianco Stella.

Piaggio claims the BV has a top speed of 86 mph; I only had enough California freeway available to reach an indicated 83 mph. That’s plenty of power to hold your own on the highway, but considering the time it takes to get there, maintaining momentum is key. I had hoped for a little more top-end punch, but with 330cc and 400-plus pounds, that was a bit unrealistic.

2014 Kymco Downtown 300i Review

When cruising at these speeds, it’s best to leave the aggression behind and just enjoy the ride since passing power is limited. Our particular tester was outfitted in NYPD trim, meaning it lacked a windscreen and got the all-black treatment. While that may look stealth and work for police duty, the missing screen meant freeway blasts – something NYPD doesn’t have to deal with – were kept to a minimum. To their credit, the 110/70-16 front, 150/70-14 rear tires track fairly well, without the tendency to follow grooves in the road.

A single 300mm disc and two-piston caliper takes care of stopping duties in the front. Braking power feels strong enough, and combined with the 240mm rear disc, brings the BV to a stop quickly.

A single 300mm disc and two-piston caliper takes care of stopping duties in the front. Braking power feels strong enough, and combined with the 240mm rear disc, brings the BV to a stop quickly.

A fine errand runner, the BV hits its stride when the tasks involve zipping around town. A 31-inch seat height is fairly tall, but the reach to the ground isn’t bad thanks to a seat design that narrows towards the front. The 2015 seat is re-contoured slightly from the 2014 and eliminates the back pad not seen in our NYPD-trimmed tester. Once opened, the hinged seat flips toward the front – as opposed to being raised via a strut – making the underseat storage area easily accessible. If you’ve a small head, then your full-face lid may fit under there (assuming it doesn’t have any oddly shaped vents or such). Otherwise, the space is best left for ¾ helmets or less. There’s also room to toss your jacket or handbag under there as well. Considering there are other scoots in this class with more underseat room, this is a small drawback to the BV.

2015 Honda Forza Review

In an urban environment, the BV becomes really useful. Its plentiful bottom-end power makes it easy to zip away from traffic at stop lights, and its narrow profile allows lane filtering without hesitation. Ride quality is geared toward the comfort side of the equation via a 35mm fork and twin shocks, the latter adjustable for preload.

Despite a lack of feel from the front end, that doesn’t stop the BV350 from being a great city scooter.

The best engine in its class helps propel the BV350 into a great city scooter. Pun intended.

Moving the Piaggio where you want it is easy enough, as the bars provide decent leverage, and the tall-ish seat means a rider’s body weight has a big influence on the bike’s handling response. Then again, the BV350 is definitely not a sportbike and never claims to be.

2015 SYM Citycom 300i Review

The BV350 doesn’t feature a traditional step-through design as, say, its sister brand Vespa, but it’s close. There’s still a neatly integrated bag hook in the leg shield, adding to the scoot’s versatility, and if you key on the ignition and then give the key a firm push down again, it opens a massive cubby space just below the bag hook. In it, there are two large storage compartments, including one with a 12-volt power outlet. Between the two is a smaller pocket, ideal for keys, wallets, phones, etc.

A front-hinging seat makes the storage compartment readily accessible. There’s only room for one helmet, but note the little pouch underneath the seat itself (above the green sticker). That’s a waterproof cover for the seat, another nice detail that helps separate the BV350 from the rest.

A front-hinging seat makes the storage compartment readily accessible. There’s only room for one helmet, but note the little pouch underneath the seat itself (above the green sticker). That’s a waterproof cover for the seat, another nice detail that helps separate the BV350 from the rest.

It’s this attention to detail that makes the BV350 an impressive scoot in the class. At first glance, it appears like a featureless scooter that relies on the power of its engine to please its rider. Storage space isn’t immediately visible like it is on Piaggio’s Asian scootering counterparts, but once you push buttons and turn keys, it becomes apparent that in fact these features are included. In fact, they’re integrated in a much cleaner fashion than that of the Honda, Kymco or SYM mentioned earlier.

At $5,899, Piaggio’s BV350 i.e. is only $300 more expensive than the Honda Forza and Kymco Downtown 300i. While it lacks some of the storage space of the other two, it makes up for those faults with greater power and a clean, thoughtful design of its components. If you’re shopping in this category, it’d behoove you to consider spending those three extra Benjamins, plus a little extra on a top case, for the ultimate in city scootering.

+ Highs

  • Most powerful engine in its class
  • Cleverly thought-out components
  • The 16-inch front tire less prone to following grooves in road
– Sighs

  • Not a true step-through, if you care about such things
  • Don’t even try fitting two helmets under the seat
  • Seat a little tall for the short-legged
2015 Piaggio BV350 i.e. Specs
MSRP $5,899
Engine Type Four-stroke, liquid-cooled Single
Engine Capacity 330cc
Compression N/A
Fuel System EFI
Transmission CVT
Front Suspension 35mm Telescopic fork
Rear Suspension Dual shocks, preload adjustable
Front Brakes Two-piston caliper, 300mm disc
Rear Brakes One-piston caliper, 240mm disc
Front Tire 110/70-16
Rear Tire 150/70-16
Seat Height 31.0 inches
Wheelbase 61.4 inches
Dry Weight 390.0 lbs
Fuel Capacity 3.4 gal

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  • Craig Hoffman

    Bigger wheels, more power, higher seat (which gives better sightlines) and a pleasing design. This one looks to be worth the extra money and the perfect blend of handy and not to big, and yet capable. Maxi scoots do not really appeal to me. I have motorcycles for that.

    Funny how mid sized these scooters interest me. I am not in the market for one, but imagine I will be when I retire someday and need an easy to use runabout to park alongside the touring/bagger cross country rig and of course the FZ1, which I will ride until it disintegrates. That will not be for quite awhile, but might as well start thinking ahead :)

    • TroySiahaan

      Don’t be embarrassed about liking scooters, Craig. The way I see it, motorcycles are for having fun above the speed limit. Scooters let you have fun below it. Not to mention they’re incredibly practical.

      • Colonel Matumbo

        Mr. Siahaan, I consider myself Behooved. As an old timing dude i’m liking Scooters more all the time. They seem to be everywhere out here in Southern Colorado.

        • TroySiahaan

          Scooters are great. If it’s a nice day outside and I have errands to run, I’d much rather hop on a scoot than in my car.

      • GearDrivenCam

        And small displacement motorcycles allow you to have even more fun than scooters under the speed limit, albeit with less storage than a scooter.

        • Craig Hoffman

          It is psychological I suppose, riding even a small motorcycle feels more like an “event” while getting on a scooter is a “jump on it and go” sort of affair. Add in the storage flexibility and I get it. Will eventually get one :)

          • Colonel Matumbo

            Agree, a scooter is just more convenient. Glad to see more reviews too.

        • TroySiahaan

          Maybe this is a sign of me getting older and more, uh… mature(?), but as much fun as the Honda Grom is (and other small displacement bikes like it), the storage available in a scooter is a wonderful thing to have. You can even hold your latte in your left hand! :)

  • Mike Morrill

    I live in Italy and have a Ducati Multistrada for two-up trips around Europe and a Piaggio 250cc Beverly that I use for around town and commuting. I had never owned a scooter prior to moving here 18 months ago. The Beverly is a fantastic ride and extremely useful for day to day life. I will definitely get the BV350 when I return to the US. Thanks for the review.

  • Old MOron

    Hey, Trizzle…

    Here are the topic sentences of your first two paragraphs:

    “As far as scooters go, the Piaggio BV350 i.e. had me pretty excited.”
    “Once I hopped on the BV, my anticipation was only partially justified.”

    Your review was so positive that several readers seem to be clamoring for this BV. So what part of your anticipation was not justified? Just curious. (And for the record, I think scooters are cool.)

    • TroySiahaan

      Good question. The part that wasn’t justified was mainly the underseat storage area. Some of the other scoots in this category can fit two lids, even if one is only a 3/4. The way the BV underseat is shaped, you can’t (or at least I couldn’t) do that. Piaggio branded the BV as the best of a big scoot and little one. I guess I was hoping for big scoot storage, too. Though the hidden compartment under the bag hook is really nice.

      • Captain Obvious

        If that’s the case, then your paragraph transition is a non sequitur. In your opening paragraph you set up the expectations around performance, using the appealing GSXR 750 analogy. You do sort of pan it for not having enough fwy passing power, while praising the in-town off-the-line zippiness, so that could account for your partial anticipation justification. Although if that were the case, you had unrealistic expectations of a naked 330cc centrifugal clutch, nearly 400 lb machine. Overall, I think the review would be much more clear if this sentence were left out: “Once I hopped on the BV, my anticipation was only partially justified.”

        If the partial expectation referred to the lack of storage, then it should be rewritten: “Before I hopped on the BV, my anticipation was only partially justified.” Storage capacity isn’t a concern after hopping on.

        This might seem nit picky, but that sentence really sets the tone, but doesn’t justify it, and could leave the reader with a conclusion different than you intended.

        Overall a nice write up, which nudges me ever so closer to considering adding one of these kind to my stable for zipping around town.

  • Jon Londrezos

    The only true competitor for this bike is the Honda SH300i.

    They are both EXCELLENT bikes.

    I have owned both – so here is what it comes down to:
    – The SH has better brakes and better handling.
    – The BV accelerates a little faster and can store a helmet without needing a top-box.

    That is it. There are no other differences that can sway you one way or another.

    For the record, I kept the SH and I will be upgrading to the 2017 model with the hybrid electric engine (when Honda releases it)