by Stephen Heller
Every fall I talk about prepping your scooter for the winter so you don’t need to do any unnecessary maintenance in the spring. But I have never talked about the scheduled service that is needed with a new scooter. Usually when buying a new scooter the salesperson will talk about when to bring the bike in to get its first adjustments and service. It’s usually at around 500 miles or after the engine has broken in.
If you are a new rider, it is important to have this service done by your dealer. Not only to satisfy your warranty, but also because a new scooter has new noises. Some of them are normal, but some are not. That whirring noise coming from the front wheel? It is probably normal and just the brake pads passing over the holes in the front disc. Or it could be something more serious like a faulty wheel bearing. The clicking noise coming from the CVT? It could just be just normal belt chatter, but it could also be a bad starter Bendix. All of these questions can be answered and resolved by your dealer during your first service, along with swapping the factory oil with some fresh stuff.
Why is the service expensive? I can get my car’s oil changed for 20 bucks! During the first service, yes, the engine oil and gear oil is changed, but that is only a part of what is done. For example, on my regular ride, the Vespa LX150, the first service includes changing the oil filter, checking the brakes (a little adjustment is usually necessary for the rear), adjusting the carb, checking the battery and electrical system, inflating the tires and checking fasteners. The bolts most likely to be loose are on the exhaust manifold and holding the silencer to the frame. But the engine mounting bolts and others are checked, too. Subsequent services check things like the variator belt and weights, clutch pads, spark plug, valves and air filter. If you are familiar with scooters, then you can do the work yourself. But I appreciate the fresh set of eyes when looking at a scooter. Riding the bike every day you may not notice the clutch cable on your Stella getting a bit loose.
What to do between services? A tire is the easiest item on your scooter to maintain. But, I often see them neglected. Regularly when scooters are in for service, the tires are under inflated or worn past their usefulness. Scooter tires wear faster, and deflate faster than car tires and should be inspected for tread wear and cracks, and inflated regularly. Worn and under-inflated tires is a major safety and performance issue. Check your oil level. 4-stroke scooters have an easily accessible dipstick and work the same way as a car. For 2-stroke scooters, treat the oil light like you would a car’s check engine light. When it starts to blink, stop and fill up the oil tank!
A Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) brings with it a few unique service items. The first being the belt; from use the belt wears it doesn’t stretch as much as the width of the belt decreases. Lower top speed or less power are a symptom and can be remedied by replacing the belt. There is nothing lubricating the CVT itself. Actually, any oil or grease will cause problems. Including belt and clutch slippage. What belt or clutch slip feels like is little to no throttle response, before it violently engages. Cleaning of the CVT usually fixes the problem.
Flat or worn roller weights will also decrease performance of a scooter. And a weak spring in the clutch will cause a delay in roll on acceleration. For an explanation of how a CVT works, go to the Random Scootering archives on MMM’s website motorbyte.com