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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.
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