the current boom in scooter sales it's safe to say that many scooter
riders are new riders, and many new riders don't do all that they
should do for their bikes. To get the best life out of your scooter
you need to keep it well-maintained. If you ignore your scooter's
needs for too long you will have more trouble with it than not.
Following are some answers to a variety of questions about routine
maintenance I've received.
and Maintaining Tires
thing I should point out is that you need to make sure your tires
are filled to the correct psi, and the second thing I should point
out is that the correct psi is not the number printed on the
side of your tire!! That number is the MAXIMUM psi those tires
can take before failing. If you keep your tires filled based on
what's written there you are going to have problems. So STOP DOING
correct psi is noted in your owner's manual, and the numbers will
be different for each tire (front and back) and will probably also
be different depending upon whether or not you ride with a passenger.
This is an important step in keeping your bike roadworthy. The amount
of air in the tires impacts how much of the tread comes in contact
with the road, too much pressure will decrease the amount of tread
that comes in contact with the surface of the road, and not enough
pressure will give your tires equally bad performance. Another side-effect
of incorrectly inflated tires is uneven wear on the tread, which
will require your changing them sooner than you had hoped. Always
have a tire pressure gauge and check your tires periodically to
make sure they are inflated correctly.
scooter tires are small enough that you can inflate them using a
standard collapseable bicycle pump - which is good, because you
can pack that item with you and won't need to stop at a gas station
to fill your tires. If you are using the air hose at the gas station,
be very careful if you have smaller tires. These hoses are designed
for use by cars and trucks, and the air will come out a lot faster
than you may expect, and if you don't pay attention you stand a
chance of damaging (or even exploding) the tires on your scooter.
If you are using these hoses fill it a very little at a time.
tires are not permanent attachments, and they will eventually need
changing. Check the condition of your tread periodically to keep
abreast of your tires' health. If there is significant wear, or
damage to the tires such as dry rot (noticeable if you have cracks
running along the side of the tire), you will want to change the
tires. You should also think about rotating the tires after a certain
amount of use (your manual will have recommendations as to how many
miles you should do this at). Since the front tire is most instrumental
in how well your scooter takes turns, it will take the most amount
of wear usually. After so many miles you should swap the front and
rear tires (and be sure to change the tire pressure accordingly).
If your scooter carries a spare tire (such as with a Vespa, Lambretta,
Stella or Bajaj), I suggest you put this tire onto your front, the
front onto your rear, and the rear back onto the spare carrier.
battery (if your bike has a battery) will also require regular maintenance,
and prolonged interuptions in routine maintenance will greatly diminish
the lifespan of said battery. The first thing to look at are the
levels of electrolytes in your battery. Place your battery so that
it is level, either in the scooter or (most likely) while removed
from the scooter. There are two lines marked on the side of your
battery, these indicate fluid levels. If your electrolytes are lower
than the bottom line you'll need to refill each cell with distilled
water (not spring water, not mineral water, not tap water - distilled
water). This is done by opening up each cell (unscrewing the small
plastic stoppers on top of the battery - there will be either 6
or 12 of these), and then slowly and carefully adding the distilled
water to these (using a small funnel might help). Once filled up
the the top line, give the battery a little tap on the table or
floor to coax all the air bubbles to the surface.
battery doesn't so much store electricity as it stores the ability
to create electricity. This is done by a reaction of the movement
of electrons between two plates, the positive plate gives up electrons
and the negative plate gains them in equal numbers, thereby creating
a potential difference between the two plates. As your battery is
used, these electrons go from the positive side to the negative
and will stay there until the battery is recharged. While in use,
your scooter's electrical system will then convert those negative
electrons back to positive at a certain RPM. However, if you take
a series of short hops there will be less conversion of these electrons
and your battery won't get a full charge. For better battery life
it's adviseable to put the battery on a trickle charger from time
to time to give it a full charge, because over time these electrons
will tend to "stick" to the positive plate if left for
long periods without a full charge.
more thing on the subject of batteries, when you disconnect it from
the bike or the charger, be sure to remove the ground (black) lead
FIRST, and then the positive (red) one, making sure the black lead
is held someplace where it won't ground-out. When you re-connect
it to the tender or the bike, be sure to connect the positive terminal
first, and then the ground. That way you are less likely to become
the ground and get a painful zap. Think of it this way: if there's
going to be only one wire connected to the battery at any one time,
make sure it's the red one.
is another important maintenance step, keeping your gearbox oil
filled and keeping it clean. It's an easy step, but one that's Google-searched
frequently enough to justify adding a section on it here.
noted in the section on winterizing your scooter,
you should change the oil either before winterizing your bike (recommended),
or in the spring when you ready it for the road. To do this, heat
up your engine by riding around the block a few times (I usually
put a good 5 miles onto the motor to be sure) so that the oil viscosity
will thin out a bit, then turn it off, put a drip pan of some sort
underneath the motor, and remove the oil drain screw to bring a
nice pour of warm and dirty oil out and into your drip pan (I use
a larger cottage cheese container for this, it fits under my Vespa
motor better than my automotive drip pan does). Let the oil drip
out all the way (I'll walk off and have a cigarette while the motor
drips), then replace the oil drain bolt and a fresh drain
gasket. Next, remove your oil fill bolt and add the correct
oil with an oil syringe or a turkey baster (the hole is gonna
be small) until the gearbox is full. On a Vespa or Stella, for example,
you'll know it's full when the oil starts to ooze back out of the
hole. Let it ooze - you don't want an over-full gearbox. Then replace
the bolt and the gasket.
the motor is used the oil will thin out and drip out here and there
(I've not yet met a Vespa that didn't have a runny nose), so after
a lot of riding you may need to top-off the oil. Open the fill hole
and add a little oil until it's full (just a squirt or two probably).
spark plug is an important part of your bike. It creates the combustion,
after all. Chances are your bike only has one plug in it, so you
will want to check it often and probably replace it often. I'll
go through two or three spark plugs in a summer, just to be sure,
and I'll always have at least two or three spares (never just one,
because what if you discover that one spare plug is no good??).
Also I would recommend you use NGK plugs. Why? I've never had good
luck with Champion plugs, and I don't know many scooterists who
don't use NGK themselves.
sure you're using the correct plug for your motor, your manual will
tell you what to use. Along with plug size, the heat range is another
consideration. You might use, for example, an NGK B7S plug for riding
around town, but then for some long-distance trips (or if your piston
you might want to switch to the NGK B8S.
sure, before you replace the plug (or if you're just checking an
existing plug) that the plug is gapped correctly, because the size
of the gap in between the spark plug's contact points has a direct
affect on the plug's tip temperature. You can get a gapper at any
auto parts store, it looks like a coin and has a hole in one side,
and a gauge along the edge to measure the gap. Start with the lower
end of the gauge inserted into the gap and turn the "coin"
until it starts getting substantial friction. The corresponding
number on the gapper "coin" is how wide the gap is open.
If it's too wide you can close the gap by tapping the plug's contact
point on the ground a few times, measuring the gap periodically.
If the gap is too tight, use the hole in the gapper to pry back
the contact point a little bit, and measure. Repeat one or both
steps until the gap is correct (refer to your manual to know what
that gap is supposed to be, of course).
cables are in constant use. When you pull in your clutch you pull
on a cable. When you twist your throttle you pull on a cable. When
you shift, brake, choke, and when the speedometer is working, cables
are being pulled or twisted. Sooner or later, these cables are going
to fail. You'll be pulling in your clutch to take-off and "PING!"
the barrel-end will break off. Or worse - you'll step on your brake
and "PING!" you'll suddenly have an inclination to mess
these reasons you should always have a spare cable on hand for everything
in the bike that requires a cable, save for the speedometer which
you don't need in order to keep the bike safe and operational. Also
keep some type of cable lubricant on hand, or you could also pre-lubricate
these cables and put them into a ziplock bag. Check your cables
periodically for signs of wear and tear, and if you're in doubt,
replace the cable (especially if it's a brake cable). Your manual
will have instructions as to how this is done, so keep it handy
- your manual does you no good if it's sitting at home. Cables also
stretch over time, so you'll likely need to tighten these cables
the beginning of spring you should pull out each of your cables
and check for wear. You should also re-lubricate them, this can
be done by lubricating the cable itself a little bit at a time,
or by quick-burst sprays of some cable lubricant down into the cable
housing until it starts to drip out the other end.
Article by Kevin Montanaro