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A very cool design from Master Automobile and Bike Designer Justyn Norek of Italy.
So, it was time for my scoot’s 7500 mile service. The bike’s been a real joy to own and ride, gives virtually no trouble and has “mucho cojones” for a scooter.
My mechanic went over the bike and found a small coolant leak at the water pump seal joint. Shouldn’t be any problem to find a replacement seal for a 2006 bike, right? Wrong!
Here’s the deal. Piaggio made an engine change in the BV500 for Model Year 2006. Alas, they had about 20 engines left over from Model Year 2005, and my bike was one of the “lucky ones” that got one of the 2005 engines. Yup, even though it’s a 2006 scooter, it’s “really” got an ’05 engine. Oh well…
That’s “okay,” I guess — 500cc is 500cc; just don’t tell me about all the improvements and refinements I missed out on — but Piaggio ALSO did something tricky and incorrect; they cross-referenced all the part numbers up and over from the earlier engine to the new engine, so that when a dealer looks up parts for the older engine, all they see are parts for the new engine. Problem is, the engines and the parts are different!
So when my dealer ordered the water pump seal, it wouldn’t fit — because it was a water pump seal for the newer engine only!
The parts for the older motor are still sitting there in Piaggio’s warehouse(s), thank God, but the problem is finding the right part numbers, since Piaggio’s dealer information is wrong and the part numbers for the earlier engine have vanished into a black hole. My dealer struggled with this for weeks and weeks, making very little progress, until one day, on a whim, I sent him a parts manual (.PDF) for my scooter that I’d found on the internet somewhere.
Thankfully, the parts manual I sent was for MY ENGINE, and with the correct part number in hand (finally), the dealer simply ordered the seal using the correct part number, and that did the trick. A few days later, I’m riding again.
What happened was obvious and there’s no point scolding Piaggio — everyone makes mistakes. But it just goes to show that The Lord of Italian Motorcycles (and Scooters) Helps Those Who Help Themselves.
Here are some photos I recently took of my Benelli Mini, please feel free to use them on your website or blog.
Long ago (in the seventies and eighties) it was permitted to ride this mini with two people (both without helmets) on board. At that time we have had a lot of fun with it.
At that time I purchased in Milan, Italy, some spare parts shown in one of the photos. I got these parts from a Benelli dealer who wanted to buy the bike to add to his collection! That surprised me.
At this moment the bike is still in good condition, after 25 years, in my garage.
Thanks for the quick response and perhaps there are more owners of this model ???
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But seriously, it’s a great magazine, don’t miss it!
“Into the Sunset”
In Which (After A Few Bumps In The Road) The Author Falls In Love With His Brand New Piaggio BV500 Maxi-Scooter
The time had come. I’d been reading Scootering magazine for years, and when I finished each new issue I’d pick up the old ones and start in on those. Perpetual entertainment. My head was swimming with images of Vespas and Lambrettas in a rainbow of colors and styles. When the fever ran hottest, I’d have grabbed anything with two strokes and two wheels.
A fellow down the street was selling a yellow 1980 PX200E with sidecar (so much for two wheels), and though the price was high, I rang him up and arranged a test drive. When I showed up, the engine was warm; he’d already driven the thing.
“Bad sign,” I thought, “must be hard to start.”
I took the little trike around the block, but the handling with the sidecar was pretty wonky, and all I remember were gleaming new Land Rovers and Hummers and Nissan Muranos climbing up my tail, looking like they wanted to eat the little Vespa – with me on board – as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre.
I thought, “if I ever get one of these things, it’s got to have some power.” And then the proverbial light-bulb went off: why not a new Piaggio Auto?
I dialed up Piaggio on the web, and the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. The top-of-the-line BV500 was the bike for me.
Proudly-mounted round halogen headlamp. Gorgeous scalloped front leg shield — like the Venus clamshell in that famous picture — with a cool vertical chrome stripe, a necktie for the scoot, very executive and professional (can you say “tax write off?”). A big round exhaust can, real naked bike.
And best of all, a 500cc motor. Zowee, I’ve owned cars with engines that size! “There’s no replacement for displacement,” as my friend Ricky says.
I was due up in Denver, Colorado for some family function; Erico Motorsports, an authorized Piaggio/Vespa dealer, was in the same city, with a full line of Vespas and Piaggios. Determined to keep an open mind, I nevertheless made sure they had a new BV500 ready to go in Burgundy…
Best of all, they took American Express. “Buy first, ask questions later” – that’s always been my motto. Can you really charge a brand new $ 6,000 scooter? I was ready and willing to find out.
The salesman at Erico, a lanky, ear ringed hipster about half my age, was helpful and patient, and he let me test drive a variety of scoots. The Vespas were smooth and lovely, but it wasn’t so much checking them out as checking them off, so I could drive the BV500 and make sure there wasn’t anything about it I didn’t like.
There wasn’t; “it rocked.”
One twist of the throttle and the surge of raw power and raspy exhaust note sold me. The brakes were terrific, too, as you might hope for on a 110MPH scooter (the factory claims 100mph, but it’ll go beyond that, given sufficient time and space). It really is a Vespa on steroids, with 100% authentic Piaggio DNA, made in Pontedera, like the Paperino of sixty years ago.
I still get a kick out of the sales manager running the card and handing me the approved charge slip to sign, all casual, like I’d bought a bag of groceries or something. $ 6,400.00!!! Plastic scooter, plastic payment, right. But I was happy.
The plan was to drive from Denver to my home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a distance of 425 miles, through beautiful mixed terrain, mountains and agricultural flatlands…
…in one day.
Because it was late September, I needed some warm clothing, and with the charge card still smoking, I was introduced to a very charming and captivating young woman in the accessories department.
She must have worked some kind of voodoo love-magic on me, because I ended up with $1,000 worth of clothing and accessories, a mixed bag of brands no less (Triumph jacket, Ducati pants, Moto Guzzi gloves). Stuff I didn’t even know I needed. If I froze my pants off, at least they’d be proper pants.
After a cozy night at Denver’s historic Brown Palace Hotel, I set off early. Extant photos show me wearing a worried rather than exuberant expression, because even with all the clothing, it was damned cold. I had a long way to go, and I’d never driven more than a few miles on a scooter before. I was in a strange, densely-populated city. And I had no idea what I’d do if I broke down.
I managed to get out of Denver all right. Just barely. At the base of a very long, very steep hill, the red light on the BV’s dashboard starting flashing and the motor cut out. I pulled to the side of the road, voiced some expletives to the uncaring Scooter Gods, and wondered, “what the hell am I going to do now?”
This wasn’t my first Italian vehicle, after all. A wave of dread came over me as memory opened the door to decades of youthful but nightmarish breakdown experiences with Latin transport. “Why, oh why, didn’t I just buy a rice burner? There’s a Honda called the ‘Venice,’ looks like a Vespa but half the price, probably dead reliable…”
Well, it didn’t get that bad, but it might have, had my mind been idle. Instead, I did the only thing I could think of to do, which was to push that 416.6 pound (30 stone) beast up that long, long hill (we’re talking Rocky Mountains here). It was hard work (great exercise), but I was ultimately rewarded with signs of commercial life atop the hill, some kind of construction firm.
A full hour later – I could only push the bike about 10 feet at a time before stopping to rest – I was sitting at somebody’s desk, sipping coffee, warming my toes by a radiator, and helping myself to no-cost hospitality, kindly offered by the friendly folks to whom I explained my desperate plight.
I made some calls – to loved ones (what can we do?), the dealership (closed on Mondays, sorry!), and finally, to Piaggio in New York City. They told me exactly how to remove the underseat battery cover and check the connections – sure enough, one was loose, inadequately tightened at the dealership – and soon I was on my way, much time lost but deeply relieved.
Erico Motorsports, if you’re listening: flog that mechanic to within an inch of his life, then sack him!
Happily, the Piaggio gave no further trouble. Like some latter-day American cattleman (“Suburban Cowboy?”), I reached the end of the dusty Santa Fe Trail just as the sun was setting. I tucked my trusty new steed into the garage, after patting its flanks and murmuring some soothing words.
One year and 2,500 miles later, the Piaggio continues to please. It’s tough as nails and reliable as the tides. I love roaring past polite suburban types in Asian-made hybrid cars (and tattooed tough guys on Harleys, even).
To those purists out there who won’t even consider riding (not to mention buying) an Auto: the BV500 is fantastic! Remember, today’s new scooters are tomorrow’s vintage machines.
# # #
Then you might want to take this golden opportunity to buy my entire Benelli collection, lock, stock, and smoking exhaust pipe barrel, before I place it on E-Bay, which I plan to do this summer.
This collection includes the following bikes:
1974 Benelli Dynamo 65cc, Restored, Strong Motor, Nice Bike, Thousands Invested, Very Good Condition.
1972 Benelli Cougar 65cc — Cosmetically excellent, starts and runs easily and smoothly, everything totally intact and original, but lacks power and needs some attention (engine seals?). Easy fix for somebody who knows what they’re doing, fun and very rare. Has a very rare NOS seat and a spare NOS seat as well!
1972 Benelli Volcano — Terrific ORIGINAL condition, cosmetically and mechanically excellent, needs nothing, a blast! World’s ultimate mini-bike, very rare, one of only 200 made.
1966 Benelli Nuovo Leoncino — Full Restoration, down to nuts and bolts, many rare and original NOS Parts, looks like new, totally classic vintage bike. 6K Invested.
AND — a huge, and I mean massive, collection of Benelli parts, boxes and boxes of them, too numerous to mention. Thousands and Thousands of dollars worth of rare and precious parts, for everything from the Dynamo to the 650CC Tornado.
PRICE FOR ALL BIKES AND ALL PARTS: $ 10,000.00. Price is firm. Shipping is extra; pickup probably best (rent a big truck and take everything away).
Easily 20K invested.
SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY PLEASE!
E-Mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
You’ve caught me at the tail end of my interest in the Benelli Marque, I’m into Moto Guzzi’s now. This summer I’m going to sell my entire collection (four bikes — Dynamo, Volcano, Cougar, Nuovo Leoncino) and a massive collection of parts as well. I’ll ask around 10K; probably cost me closer to 20K — yikes!
Nobody said Benelli’s were any kind of good investment!
My enthusiasm for Benelli was also dampened when I was ripped off to the tune of 1,500 hard-earned dollars by Claudio Catania of CFM Motorcycles, a business associate of Joe Purshock of Vintage Cosmo, both working out of the same building in Hatfield, Pennsylvania.
The trouble actually started with Joe, who urged me to buy an Aermacchi bike from Catania and have him restore it.
Apparently, Catania’s ditzy wife had spent monies he had set aside for immigration fees or something like that (Catania and his Wife are Italian Immigrants); the upshot being that if he didn’t get some money fast he would get thrown out of the country.
This would have been a good thing, as it turned out, but I didn’t know that back then. In response to Joe’s incessant pleading, and to Catania’s promises that he would build me a beautiful bike; we made an agreement in writing that I would send $ 1500 to Catania to have him begin the project, that he’d have the bike complete, restored, and ready to pick up by April 1st, 2009, and that I would send him another $1500 upon completion for a total of $3000.
I triple-checked with him to make sure these terms were fully understood by and fully agreeable to him (which they were), and then I sent him the money…
…after which he proceeded to work on the project barely at all, went to Italy one summer with my money, and basically sat on his duff and hardly worked on the project. When the deadline passed, and the bike was still literally in pieces and not even close to completion, I reminded him that an agreement was an agreement, and demanded a refund, but he decided then that he would assume the fictitious mantle of victim instead of the actual role as perpetrator. That way he wouldn’t have to refund the money he took from me!
Tricky, huh? Of course, his arguments were meaningless and ridiculous and false and completely without merit. I made polite demands for the money (my $1500), and over time the demands became less and less polite, as one might expect. In fact, he just finished the bike in 2010 (!!!), sold it to somebody else, and still to this day has never paid me my money. Nor does he intend to, standing on his pride and taking offense for being called the thief and dishonest unreliable and untrustworthy person that he is. What a Prince, huh?
Although Joe Purshock isn’t really the one who ripped me off, I consider him an Accomplice in this crime — with a small a if not a large one. First off, Joe repeatedly urged me to “do the right thing” and “help Claudio out” and all that B.S. Later, when he saw what happened, he said that people like Claudio were unreliable and that I shouldn’t have done it and that the theft would be a good lesson for ME!
Thanks, Joe! But if you knew that about Claudio, as you say you did, then why did you talk me into it?
Second, Joe continued to employ Claudio as an E-Bay seller for a time, continued to offer him a space in his building (rent-free at first), continued to rely on him for help in pulling apart bikes and other miscellaneous projects so he could sell the parts, and so on.
In other words, Joe profited in many ways by continuing to keep Claudio around as a helper and tenant. Joe did speak to Claudio in my behalf, but talk is cheap as they say (free, in fact), and never got tough with him — which would have meant saying something like: “Claudio, send Salemi his money by the end of the month or you are out on the street, and I mean it. You may think it’s smart to screw your best customers, but I won’t have you screwing mine.”
He never did this, though, or anything close. I would have done the same for him, back then, without a second thought, but you know…character and integrity are, apparently, rare things.
If this seems like hyperbole, reflect: $1,500.00 is a lot of money, and I work very hard for mine, believe me. How would you like it if Mr. Catania (with Mr. Purshock, cheerleading) reached into YOUR pocket and stole such a large amount of money?
But I firmly believe in the law of Karma, so hopefully Joe and Claudio will get the respective lessons that they obviously need.