by Kevin Kocur
SYM (SanYang Motors) can’t seem to catch a break. While they manufacture wonderful scooters, their U.S. distribution has remained sketchy for well over a year. In July of 2010, a fire destroyed the Carter Brothers’ (U.S. distributor for SYM) main headquarters, along with many unsold scooters. SYM of Canada claimed that they would take over parts distribution for the U.S. but American dealers were already abandoning ship. In March, Alliance Powersports (distributor for Lance) announced a partnership with SYM for the western region of the U.S. with possible expansion across the country.
So far, SYM has only announced the return of the Fiddle 125 and the HD200, as well as the Honda Cub clone, the Symba. No wee 50s were announced for us in the States, prompting a big “WTF?” from yours truly. Currently, there are no distributors in the Twin Cities or Minnesota.
An Ounce Of Prevention…
As much as we don’t want it to be, it’s inevitable that Old Man Winter is coming and the scoots will be parked for the duration of his stay. While it’s true that there are a few brave souls that will stick it out and ride whenever they get the chance, many riders will have tucked theirs away long before the first snowflake falls.
Many riders don’t perform the proper maintenance to ensure that their scooter fires right up when its winter nap has ended. By following some simple tips, you will happily be riding your scooter as opposed to cursing at it. Ask any dealer what percentage of their spring business involves reviving scooters that were ignored for the winter.
Without further adieu, here is MMM’s “DO’s and DON’Ts of Winter Scooter Storage”
DO remove your battery and put it on a battery maintenance charger, such as a Battery Tender®. Even removing the battery and storing it in the basement is better than doing nothing. You can always throw a charger on it in the spring, when you’re ready to ride it again.
DON’T forget to treat the gas. Modern gasolines have a more-than-desirable amount of Ethanol in them, along with other additives that don’t have a very good shelf life. Modern gas tends to break down in a matter of weeks. To make things worse, Ethanol absorbs water and that’s something you really don’t want in your fuel system. If you have a plastic gas tank, it gets even worse. I highly suggest using non-oxygenated gas for winter storage. A fuel stabilizer such as Sta-Bil® or Sea Foam will help your scooter start faster when riding season starts up again. Even if you can’t find non-oxy, at least add the stabilizer and let the scoot run for a couple minutes. Make sure to completely FILL your tank, especially if it’s metal. A full tank will have less room for condensation, which leads to corrosion.
DO try to cover it. Scooters are smaller, so they often get shoved to a side or corner of the garage. An inexpensive cover will help keep a winter’s worth of dust off of it, as well as scratches–like that time you accidentally dragged a snow shovel across one of the cowls. If you’re cheap like me, (don’t get us started. Ed.) an old bed sheet works great. If you can, park the scoot on a large sheet of cardboard to help prevent condensation. This is especially important to help prevent rust on metal-framed scooters, as well as making things easier on your tires. Stop by any appliance store and ask for a side from a refrigerator box.
DON’T forget to renew your tabs. Technically, it has nothing to do with winter maintenance, but as long as we’re talking about being able to get back on the road ASAP…A winter trip to the DMV really won’t take that long. Throw on your favourite Mod parka and make certain to watch Quadrophenia, for the kajillionth time, when you get home.
DO change your four-stroke’s oil. Even if you haven’t hit 3,000 miles since the last change, acid builds up in oil between changes. Parked all winter, that acid can now slowly eat away at metal and non-metal surfaces. Plus, you’ve now got a fresh oil change, so all you’ll need to do in the spring is throw the battery back in there and fire that sucker up. And if you have liquid-cooling, check your antifreeze.
If money is no object, many local shops offer winter scooter storage where you simply drop it off before winter and pick it up in the spring. Everything else is handled for you. Going this route will, no doubt, leave more time for watching Ready, Steady, Go! on Youtube.