2015 Piaggio BV350 I.e. Review

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

Piaggio packs big scoot punch into small scoot package

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.

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
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.0/10
Appearance/Quality 8.5/10
Desirability 7.0/10
Value 7.5/10
Overall Score80/100

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 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 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.

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.

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
Engine TypeFour-stroke, liquid-cooled Single
Engine Capacity330cc
Fuel SystemEFI
Front Suspension35mm Telescopic fork
Rear SuspensionDual shocks, preload adjustable
Front BrakesTwo-piston caliper, 300mm disc
Rear BrakesOne-piston caliper, 240mm disc
Front Tire110/70-16
Rear Tire150/70-16
Seat Height31.0 inches
Wheelbase61.4 inches
Dry Weight390.0 lbs
Fuel Capacity3.4 gal
Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at Motorcycle.com in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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4 of 11 comments
  • Old MOron Old MOron on Feb 11, 2015

    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.)

    • See 1 previous
    • Captain Obvious Captain Obvious on Feb 12, 2015

      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 Jon Londrezos on Aug 14, 2016

    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)