First Ride: 2006 Piaggio X8 250

Tabloid journo Keith Jackson on the PIAGGIO X8 250

JUST because someone says you can do something - it doesn't always mean you actually should.

I'm sure that I read or was told that the Piaggio X8 was a scooter of such elegance, class and style - and, more importantly, such luggage capacity - that you could even take it to your local golf club.

And indeed you can, if you leave the golf bag and your woods at home - or send them ahead by taxi.

Storage space ... but no room for golf clubs

But I did get a few short irons and my golf shoes (actually an old pair of cricket boots) in the boot of the scoot and bimbled off to the very elegant, classy and stylish East Sussex National course.

In the car park, BMW's X5 was well represented - but it appeared I was the only X8.

Too embarrassed to walk in with my token selection of clubs, kept together by a small bungee cord, and Asda carrier bag of balls and tees - I left for the relative sanctuary of a municipal hackers course elsewhere.

But the journey across the gentle Sussex countryside, with a wide variety of A and B-roads, offered a fine opportunity to examine the Piaggio's qualities.

I will admit to a bit of a soft spot for large capacity executive scoots. And I like the fact that each tends to have a little gizmo that tickles my fancy.

Whether it's an electronic centre-stand, a power-boost button or even a steering damper, a neat extra touch can make my day.

The Piaggio X8 is no exception. It's not as fancy a gimmick as some - but the pop-up boot lid, operated from the handle bar, is the sort of quirky addition I approve of.

As a commuter tool, you could certainly pack a hefty office load of gear into the 56-litre boot - or a full holdall of sports kit if exercise is your bag.

The X8 is aimed at the pinstriped-suited rider rather than the track-suited scooter 'boi' - but it has more to offer than just practicality and responsible styling.

Yes, the tall screen offers great wind protection. Yes, there is front-fairing storage, 12V plug for mobile phone recharging and elegant chrome trim.

But the X8 also houses a 244.3cc single-cylinder, 4-stroke electronic injection engine that pumps out a respectable 22bhp.

Flat out ... X8 shows 90mph on the clocks

Tucked in, throttle at the stop on a long downhill straight, the easy-to-read speedo registered 90mph - although the spec sheet says the X8 actually does 78mph flat out. But I bet Piaggio's test track isn't as long or hilly as the A23.

The X8 is quick enough off the line to get you away from the lights ahead of most traffic, and it's nimble enough to flick from side to side as you negotiate the urban flow or rural curves.

About the only downside I experienced was low-speed manoeuvrability. To me, the X8 felt a little top-heavy and out of balance. The seat isn't that tall at 785mm, but for some reason I was dabbing my foot down far more than usual for this sort of scoot. However, above walking pace, balance was restored and everything was fine. I've not heard any similar complaints so I haven't ruled out rider error!

New, the Piaggio X8 costs £3,249 OTR and comes with a two-year warranty, free immobiliser and one-year roadside recovery.