Piaggio’s spacious, practical and well-equipped X8 was available as a 125cc, 250cc and 400cc from 2005, through to 2008 before being replaced by the Xevo but there are still a fair few on the used market. We’ll concentrate on the 399cc 400 though, which ran from 2006-2008.
The four valve single cylinder, fuel injected engine is an awesome power plant which will catapult the beefy 198kg machine into the horizon faster than the average maxi scoot and it’ll give its rider great pleasure whilst its at it. The X8 is a great all rounder and no matter which capacity you choose it’ll happily tour, commute and scratch with the best of ‘em.
Other than good looks and a potent engine, one of the X8’s main sales points was its useful and spacious underseat storage space and nifty remote operated boot. The X8 400 lost a few litres of storage space in order to accommodate the larger motor but it still has room for the contents of 24 large bottles of fizzy pop below the seat, don’t try it at home though folks because it makes a sticky mess and the pop will be flat before you get home! The seat and boot is accessed by pressing the buttons on the remote key fob, or by pushing one of the buttons located on the handlebars (as a safeguard the handlebar buttons can only be used when the steering lock is off). The rear boot makes the storage of longer items possible because it links to the underseat area and it can come in quite handy if you’re partial to the odd French stick, or if you’ve got a pet snake that needs taking to the vets. I found the remote to be a little bit too sensitive for my liking though which means you have to be careful what you do in the vicinity of the scooter, or you’ll inadvertently open the seat (or boot) whilst the key fob is in your pocket, do it by accident and it’ll mean the light under the seat and the warning light on the dash will be on until you return to the scoot, so there’s a chance you’ll have a flat battery if you’ve left it overnight.
The layout and styling of the scooter is pretty much the same as the other X8 models, which is no bad thing because it’s a pretty nice looking scooter anyway, so why change it? The well sculptured panels and angular front end still look modern, despite it being out of production for a few years and its only let down by a badly engineered front screen which makes it a noisy scooter to ride.Ear plugs mask the problem and I believe there’s a higher screen available as well, so unless you’re vertically challenged its worth finding a different screen to suit your height. Although the dash is pretty basic it still has all the info you need but it could have been presented in a nicer way (it wasn’t too exciting to look at when it was new so hasn’t improved with age). are no fancy computer screens on this scoot. The instruments are all fairly easy to read, day or night and alongside the speedo there’s a temperature gauge and clock as well as the usual warning lights. To the left of the cockpit there’s a 12v socket inside a small mobile phone compartment, so if you need some extra on board entertainment you can plug your TomTom in without having to connect it up to the battery. The back end is curvier than your average page three girl and has a huge high level wraparound light cluster, which helps you to be seen, in fact lighting is pretty good all round. The seating position is quite comfortable although the raised pillion part of the dual seat was a bit closer than I’d have liked and there’s not a lot of room to stretch your legs out in front either.
The X8 400 is an excellent scooter to ride, it handles exceptionally well and the twin front discs are very powerful, thankfully they’re not linked to the back brake either so you can ride the scooter like a sports scoot, even though it doesn’t really look like one. The X8 came with Michelin Gold Standard tyres and despite testing the scooter in the depths of winter they never gave me reason to worry, even on the fast and twisty trans Pennine ‘test track’ I often use. The 35mm forks provide enough damping to stop the front end diving whilst braking hard and the rear shocks are adjustable, so you can compensate for the extra weight of a passenger. The engine is a beauty, initially it pulls off steadily (thanks to the weight of the machine) but after a couple of seconds it gets into its stride and the speedo needle sweeps the dial almost as fast as a rev counter. The engine has more grunt than the orgy scene in a 70’s Swedish porn flick and mid range thrust is awesome, thanks to the torquey motor, which makes overtaking addictive and good fun. The power is there just waiting to be used. The X8 will happily reach the national speed limit in around ten seconds and will show more than three digits on the clock without too much effort. A good maxi scooter is as much fun as any bike, they handle perfectly and will keep the rider entertained on any type of road, but without having too much tempting power on tap to threaten your licence every time you get on to a fast stretch of road. Without riding the X8 400 back to back with a larger capacity scooter such as the Nexus 500 its hard to compare the two, but from memory I’d say the 400 may be a few mph slower at the top end than its larger cousin but it picks up quicker and is more fun to ride.
The 400cc MASTER engine is a great piece of kit; it makes 33bhp so riders with an A2 licence can legally ride the scooter. Maintenance schedules were reduced by Piaggio for the MASTER engine, the first service was at 10,000km. Fuel consumption is also very good thanks to the cleaner burning catalysed engine. To keep thieves away an engine immobiliser was fitted as standard and there’s a useful steel security loop to attach a chain. Expect to pay around £1900 for a ’56 plate X8 400. In my opinion it’s a lot of scooter for your money – try one, you might just be pleasantly surprised.