A week back on the BV before a problem strikes it low again. During the ride to the office on Friday, I was getting strange behavior from the Check Engine light. The Piaggio BV500 always starts with the Check Engine light on for 8-10 seconds, then once it settles into a normal idle, the light goes out. Friday, it worked like normal, until I was about halfway to the office. Then it came back on. That is unusual. As I came to the next stop however, off it goes. Traffic starts moving, and as I get up to speed the light is back on.
Fortunately, I am close enough to the office at this point that I just keep an eye on things and get there. Nothing audible to indicate a major failure, so I am not all that worried. Get to the office, check my references and start testing. I figure it is either something on the air intake side of the fuel system or it is electrical. I start with the electrical, because my instincts and the lack of any change in engine sound or performance says it probably isn't in the mechanical side of the works. Sure enough, at idle voltage across the battery is an even 12, but adding any throttle, the voltage is climbing up into the 14-17 range. That's not good, it's a voltage regulator. Fortunately, it's an easy fix, if you have the part. Unfortunately, it was friday, and though I could have gotten one locally friday, it would have meant paying a premium and patronizing a dealership that I refuse to do business with. So I called Floyd over at Vespa Marietta and asked him to get me one.
If there is one thing about using a scooter as a commuter that is inconvenient, it is the service conundrum. While you wait service is difficult. The BV hit 20k miles, so it was time for a big service. Belt, rollers, oil, valves & brakes. This is not an hour long service. All told, to have it done would be about $600+. I decided to do it myself. Fortunately, my brother had a bike sitting around largely unused as he does not like to ride in the heat of the summer, so I've had a loaner to work with for the last week or so while I have had the BV torn down.
The loaner for the week was a Ducati ST4s that has seen less miles than the BV500. Needless to say, short of both being of Italian origin, these two bikes could not be further apart in terms of the riding experience. It turns out, the differences are about more than the bikes themselves. Before I go too much further, let me preface this with some knowledge. Though I have ridden bikes with gears throughout the years, this is the first time I have spent time with a manual transmission as a commuter, so keep that in mind as you read the rest of my thoughts.