Piaggio & Mean Ex-Girlfriends
By David Harrington
‘M’ was gorgeous, just stunning. She was one of those “way out of my class” girls that I approached expecting immediate and harsh rejection. As it happened, we went out, on and off, for some time. Frankly, she treated me like crap, but I kept going back because she was just so gorgeous. Over the past ten years or so, I’ve had a similar relationship with Piaggio.
Piaggio & Co. SpA is the company that makes Vespa scooters. They also make several models under the Piaggio, Vespa and Aprilia brand names. The Vespa and Aprilia probably don’t need much introduction or explanation, but not as many people are aware of the Piaggio scooters. While the Vespa have a metal monocoque chassis, the Piaggio have plastic body panels over metal frames.
Enrico Piaggio started the company in 1882 to manufacture naval supplies. They expanded into the railway sector and then in 1916 entered the aeronautic business. They manufactured airplanes for the Italians during WWII. After the war, Piaggio started making scooters.
Piaggio (and Vespa) built quite a presence in the North American marketplace in the 1950s, 60s & 70s and then abandoned us in the mid 1980s. Yes, they packed up and left us high and dry. They did come back in 2001, but faced questionable support – particularly in parts availability. Vespa was back with their metal-bodied scooters and Piaggio started to bring us machines like the Fly and Beverly (BV in North America).
I started reviewing scooters nearly ten years ago and was always glad to get my mits on just about anything. I looked at several Piaggio scooters, closely. I took every opportunity to be involved in the process of getting new scooters from the shipping crate to roadworthy. I rode as many as I could. Piaggio models in those days didn’t impress me. Don’t get me wrong, they were OK machines, they just didn’t measure up to what was coming to our shores from Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kymco and others – especially for the price. The fit of body panels was often mediocre and some of the engineering decisions Piaggio made really had me scratching my head.
Yet I couldn’t just walk away from them. Many models were just so good-looking. The BV250 – BV500 was a real, big-wheel, highway capable machine that was more attractive than the alternatives from Asia. Sure, one might wait months for a part and the build quality was questionable, but no matter how badly I was treated by Piaggio I kept coming back and TRYING to like them.
Then it was August of 2012. The wonderful guys at Scooterville had a new Paiggio BV for me to review. I rushed over and started ripping apart the crating. Everything went together without a hitch. The body panels were beautifully finished and the fit was as good as anything from Honda or Kymco. The factory windscreen mounted easily and was rock solid. The ergonomics were stellar and everything worked flawlessly.
A year later Scooterville had a new, fuel injected Paiggio Fly 150 for me to play with. Again, a wonderful machine. The “old” Paiggio Fly was pretty near the bottom of my list and now here was one that performed perfectly, was comfortable and gorgeous.
I may have to look up ‘M’ and see how she’s doing these days.
Twin Cities scooterist David Harrington operates JustGottaScoot.com