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Scooter Review

Yourban, BV 350, X10 500 Review

Three new models covering three different segments. The official launch of the new X10 500, Yourban 300 and BV 350.

Allen Drysdale

Despite some rather sombre scooter sales across Europe, Piaggio is pressing ahead, developing a host of new models for the companies future. This was certainly the impression imposed when Piaggio Australia recently held a multi-model launch in northern NSW.

 


Piaggio Yourban 300 - Less is more.

From the time Piaggio's MP3 250 was first released we were soon singing the virtues of 3 wheels. The addition of a 3rd wheel provided exceptional stability across all surfaces, wet or dry. Under heavy braking, having three contact patches and 3 disc brakes becomes a massive bonus.

The Yourban is Piaggio's shortish take on the longer wheelbase MP3. The Yourban is not only shorter, it's more importantly 20 kilo's lighter. This means the Yourban is far more manoeuvrable and a shed-load more exciting to ride. Picture the Yourban as an urban commuter and you'd be travelling down the right path. The Yourban's natural habitat is the city, yet it still has a nice set of motorway legs if required.

The Yourban's engine is Piaggio's - class leading - 278 cc Quasar, as shared in other Piaggio/Vespa products. Smooth off the line, the Yourban is much faster than its predecessor could ever hope to be, feels it anyway. Piaggio's "ride by wire" has been replaced by an "all in one" Marelli unit that incorporates both ECU and throttle body. Piaggio say this has helped with initial acceleration response and mid-range performance. It also keeps things simple. Top speed is somewhere near the 130 km/h mark.

Wheel size finds itself increased from 12 to 13 inch on the front. The rear remains 14 inch, though the wheel pattern itself, is an all new 5-spoke design. Even though the wheelbase has shortened, storage is still fairly hefty, the Yourban will consume two open face helmets plus more. Further storage comes via the flip-out bag hook above the front legshield, and if you're still wanting more storage you can add the optional top box.   

Running through some of the other key features. The circular dash configuration looks classy. The switchgear is traditional scooter, except for the locking mechanism switch on the right-hand bar. The handgrips are now thicker, nicer to grip. The seat opens manually from the ignition and the centrally mounted fuel tank cover is operated in the same way. The seat itself is a two tiered item with lumbar support for the rider. The passenger gets their own set of integrated footpegs. The small screen shows off the Yourban's city intent. The front headlights feature a cool pair of LED running lights.  

The launch route had us negotiating a few potholed, fairly fast corners. Here is where the Yourban makes sense. Pick a line, any line, and the Yourban remains composed. No matter how hard you try to get some kind of jolt back through the bars, it never comes. Fast straights would see the Yourban fall a short way behind the others, hit the corners and it was soon back in the hunt. The test route was mainly fast flowing country roads, and the riding was, let's say - brisk. Normal conditions, city streets, motorway speeds, the Yourban will easily cater for ones needs.    

On the day, and compared with the other two, the Yourban easily wins "best handling" for me. It's not the most powerful here and it's certainly not everyone's cup of tea in the looks department. In practical everyday terms, the Yourban makes a whole lot of sense. The saving of over 20 kilos has made a significant impact. You feel this immediately on the road, or better still, when stationary and having to move the Yourban with the motor off.

Pricing remains at $9,990 plus on road costs. For me, the Yourban maintains the benefits of 3-wheels, injects some excitement and maintains its day to day convenience. In the case of the Yourban, less is definitely more.   

BV 350 - A hint towards Piaggio's future.

Next is a scooter that points heavily towards Piaggio's future, mostly thanks to the technical advances made in key areas. The newly developed 350 class engine/transmission package is a cracker and a clear class above anything else on the market right now. The BV features dry sump lubrication, an all-new fully enclosed wet clutch and benefits from major improvements around servicing. The Australian BV 350 also features ABS and traction control standard. As far as scooters go, these are big advances.  

The BV produces 400 cc levels of power with 300 cc levels of refinement and smoothness. Power is rated at 24.5 Kw, and torque whilst not at 400 cc levels, it's still a respectable 32.3 Nm. The BV is quick off the line and it feels like the quickest scooter here by far. The BV has a real world top speed of 145 km/h and long distance touring becomes not only an option, it's a reality. For the traffic light warriors this would be the scooter of choice.   

The road manners are fairly predictable. The suspension is dual adjustable shocks on the rear, the front is standard scooter affair, 35 mm telescopic forks. In comparison to the Yourban, the BV tends to bounce around a little and this can make for a lively ride over bumpy, choppy surfaces. On smoother predictable road surfaces the BV is well mannered and it's here that it really does shine.

The key feature list is long. The new integrated bag hook is a really nice touch. It's the same with the integrated pillion pegs. The underseat storage compartment is massive and this opens electronically via the dash. The glovebox will store a few smaller loose items, here you will also find a manual seat release and 12 volt charger.  

The dash combines three main analogue elements with a digital readout for time, odo and ambient temp. There's also a switch to turn traction control on or off. The standard screen conjures up mixed reactions. Too small for some, just right for others. The seat itself has two tiers, the riders gets a small lumber support, the passenger gets a wider, broader platform. Fit and finish on the BV is impressive, especially when you look at the detail. The seat and dash trims differ from those on the body, you can see some extra thought has gone into the styling.

Fuel is housed low and central. The tank holding a large 13 litre capacity. The BV runs a big 16 inch wheel on the front and a 14 inch on the rear, standard fitment tyres are by Michelin. Braking is courtesy of a 300 mm disc on the front and a 240 mm disc on the rear. As mentioned in our opening, anti-lock brakes brakes come standard and so does the switchable traction control. It's pure peace of mind on a scooter with this much performance.

Here is a scooter that offers pretty much everything and it's no wonder sales have been fairly strong since its mid-year arrival. Ownership would form the perfect blend of performance and practicality, especially when you take into account servicing. The BV runs standard intervals of 10,000 km's, but here's the catch. Valve clearances are down for "inspection only" at every 40,000 km's. The transmission is "inspection only" at every 20,000 km's. Compare that with any other scooter on the market. The technical advances made here will help equate to cheaper overall servicing costs.  

Out of the three scooters on the day, everybody was levitating back to the BV. It all comes back to the package. I recently used the BV 350 to navigate my way around San Diego over two days (thanks Vespa Motorsport), this was two up and the roads there were much faster than ours. The BV was fitted with Piaggio's top box and tall screen option. I doubt you could find a better overall package for a combination of daily commuting and light touring.

When first released in June, the BV 350 was retailing at around $8,000 ride away. Recently we've seen currency movements that have taken the BV 350 to around $9000 on the road. So not cheap, but factor in the technology advances and service benefits and it'll soon make good sense. 

 

 

Piaggio X10 500 ABS/ASR - Style for the interstate.

Last ride for me was the new X10 500 with ABS and traction control. Stepping off both BV and Yourban, you immediately notice the size and weight differential of the X10 versus the other two. The X10 is Piaggio's new executive cruiser. Available in Europe as a 125, a 350 and a 500, we get the 500 only here in Australia. The styling is fresh, very European and overall, very attractive.

Just by looking at the X10 the intentions are clear. Here is a scooter that could make your daily commute a comfortable one. Yet the ability to cover long interstate distances in comfort is a given. Big screen and tons of thought has gone into the front-end styling, making sure weather and wind protection is at a premium.

The features list is extensive. Firstly, on the X10 500, the rear suspension is electronically controlled from the dash. This feature is "on the move" and the feeling or level of change can be significant. Firm it up and turn-in improves dramatically and ride quality lessons. Loosen things up and things go the other way, comfortable for touring and not so good in corners. You soon find your sweet spot.  

The X10 also features anti-lock brakes and traction control standard. Like the BV, switch it on or off as needed. Again, traction control becomes a purely peace of mind feature, ABS on the other hand is now becoming a must have. Brakes themselves are dual 300 mm discs on the front with a 240 mm disc on the rear. The rear also features a secondary brake when the sidestand is applied.

The X10 is filled with tons of little techy bits and pieces. Like the dash switches for example. Everything is uniquely backlit. There are buttons for opening the fuel tank, turning the traction on/off or opening the seat. A mode switch toggles through various functions on the dash and don't forget the suspension adjustment buttons. The dash also houses two large storage pockets, in one we have a USB charging port. A secondary 12 volt charging port resides in the glovebox. The X10 500 can also be fitted with Piaggio's new multimedia platform (PMP). See more about the platform here.

The lighting is fairly impressive and does form a big part of the front end styling. The central projector headlight is used for high beam only. The X10 also features a central LED running light. The rear tail looks very impressive, again it's the design of the rear lights that helps it stand out. Worth noting the access panels in the underseat storage area, no panel removal required to change rear tail bulbs.

Underseat storage is massive, hard to imagine needing any more space. A top box is an option and would provide a nice backrest for the passenger. The seat itself is fairly large and comes with lumber support for the rider. Given the X10's style, the rider has the option of stretching the legs or planting the feet firmly flat. It's always nice to have this option on longer trips. It's worth mentioning the fixed rear passenger footrests, would have been nice if an integrated option existed like on the BV and Yourban.

Ride quality on the X10 comes down to the settings dialled in on the rear suspension. Setting the spring at half way is pretty much "best of both worlds" territory. And because it's a simple push of the button, ride quality is pretty much up to the rider. I wouldn't call the X10 nimble, yet for it's 229 kg weight, it's comfortable.

Firing the X10 up for the first time and the engine feels lumpy and even a little agricultural, especially when compared with the smooth 278 cc Quasar or Piaggio's new 330 cc offering. Power is rated at 30 kw's and the overall performance is adequate. The X10 is more about taking advantage of the available torque on offer. This is no more apparent than out on the open road, here the X10 feels relaxed and vibe free.

The X10 will appeal to a large cross section of the scootering public. Firstly, the X10 will tour and tour convincingly. Fantastic levels of storage standard, expansive levels of frontal weather protection and a big torquey single cylinder engine that will sit on 110 km/h - all day long. Next will be those that are into their gadgets, the X10 has more buttons than the space shuttle. Add in things like backlit controls, USB charging ports and Piaggio's Multimedia Platform and the technology aspect of the X10 is appealing. Lastly, those that are drawn by the unique flowing style. Out of all three scooters, the X10 certainly gets heads turning the most. There's something unique in all those curves.

The X10 500 ABS/ASR retails for $11,990 plus on road costs, that's about 13 grand total.

Summary

There you have it. Piaggio continues to launch some very innovative products. Each of these models is uniquely special. The Yourban takes Piaggio's 3 wheel innovation to a new level. It's now far more exciting to ride, and far easier to manage on a day to day basis. The BV 350 takes practicality and performance to a new level. The innovations and benefits behind the new engine/transmission package should see Piaggio/Vespa well into the future. Lastly, Piaggio's X10, probably let down a little by the long serving master engine, yet the thought, style and technology in this package is impressive. Add Vespa's new 946 into the equation and Piaggio is certainly looking towards the future, whilst never forgetting the past.

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published 17/09/2013

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