If this has been a hard year for scooters (sales are down in the category and there were but a few new models), it’s a harder year for me, the sole self-proclaimed scooter expert here at MO. I’ve ridden a lot of scooters – maybe too many – but if you ask me what’s the best scooter on the market, I’m going to try to find a gap in the conversation so I can slink unnoticed from the room. Editor Duke tried to spear me by demanding a direct answer – I responded with some wishy-washy gibberish about how great a job the Taiwanese scooter industry is doing in this market, so they should all get the prize, but he wants one specific scooter. This job was fun until it got hard.
It really is a fine line between open-minded and cheap, between hip and hopeless, betwixt trending and tanking … and if you ride a scooter, you ride the razor’s edge, my friend. Obviously one has to be secure in one’s man or womanhood to even begin; my male college kid won’t be seen in the same garage with any scooter for fear it will dilute his musk. At the cool end of the scale, there’s our photographer/filmmaker/ballet dancer friend Richard Wright, who also finds time to head up the Bevery Hills Scooter Club and tear up Latigo Canyon on his bored-out Aprilia 250. At the other end, well, there’s yours truly on the Kymco Downtown 300i. How’s that for segue?
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.