Well another winter almost over. A few warm days gave me the incentive to get my scooter started up again. It’s been stored over the winter with gas in the tank (stabilizer added of course). The battery is pretty weak (cheap chinese battery) so while trying to start the scooter I had to recharge it a few times. Eventually I got tired of this and so I gave it a jump start from my car (with the car engine NOT running). It took maybe 10 to 20 tries to get it to start but eventually it “coughed” a few times and shortly thereafter it started up OK. Ran a little rough for a few seconds but then picked up.
I checked the tire pressures were OK (some air had leaked out over the winter) and then took it out for a run. It ran surprisingly well once it had warmed up. It pulled strongly up hills and the idle was stable.
Some rust spots have developed on some of the chrome parts and some aluminum components had dulled and had a while powdery covering, but most of that cleaned off quite easily. Overall, despite being a chinese scooter it’s holding up well. As I said the battery is getting a bit weak, but starts the scooter OK as long as it hasn’t been standing for more than a week. Keeping on a trickle charger is probably a good idea at this point, but putting in a new battery might be the longer term solution.
Well, another day above 45F, so I took the scooter out for a run. Starting was difficult as expected. The engine would start, but immediately die within less than 1 second. I guess it did this about 8-10 times before it finally caught at which point it stumbled for a few seconds and then came to life. From that point on it was pretty much OK.
If you do start up your scooter, make sure to take it out for a ride of at least 5-10 miles to make sure everything comes up to full operating temperature. If you just start it and run it for a few minutes, you may not get everything hot and that may result in water being formed and condensing in the engine or exhaust, which can lead to corrosion.
Probably the most useful things I’ve done were to add the digital speedometer, which is far more accurate and reliable than the standard analog speedometer (which is way optimistic) and putting in a slightly larger main jet, which has significantly improved the scooter performance. The audible turn signal indicator has also been useful, so I no longer ride with the turn signal flashing after I’ve made a turn!
The scooter is now at around 1000 miles, with average fuel consumption in the 75-80 mpg region. It cruises nicely at 45-50mph and will just get up to 60mph given time and a tailwind!
Since it now pretty cold and there are 6″ of snow on the ground outside, I’m not riding much at the moment, but I do try to take the scooter out for a trip whenever the temperature gets up above the mid-40s. I haven’t given up yet, though I suspect there won’t be too many such days in the next couple of months! I have noticed that if I don’t ride for a week and the temperature is low, the scooter is significantly more difficult to start. It may take 3 or 4 tries before it fire up and dies after a few seconds. Then a couple more tries and it starts up and the engine stumbles along for a few seconds before it comes to life. Once it’s been running for minute or so, it seems just fine.
Now at 550 miles, with 85mpg over the last 70 miles. I changed the engine oil again, and since I was doing that I aso changed the transmission oil (it only takes a couple of minutes). I probably didn’t need to change the transmission oil, but it only takes about 100cc, so it costs almost nothing and it certainly can’t hurt to do it.
The engine oil was dark, but I didn’t see any sign of metal particles in the filter.
The scooter seems to be running well. I did open it up briefly and it got up to a true 55mph as measured by my GPS unit. The speedometer was a bit optimistic, showing just over 60mph. I think there was a little more speed to be had, but I didn’t push it all the way up to the limit. It doesn’t feel really happy at 55mph (or maybe it was me that wasn’t feeling happy). At 45 it cruises along quite smoothly, but at 55 it felt a little stressed.
I said earlier that the Iridium tipped plug didn’t make any difference to how the scooter ran. Now I’m not so sure. After a few more miles I think it is running a little more smoothly, especially at speed. The difference isn’t huge, but I think it’s there.
I also removed the rear wheel yesterday to take a look at the brakes. It wasn’t too difficult. I had to remove one rear shock, the exhaust and muffler and a bracket from the frame. The wheel nut wasn’t difficult to lossen (using a 12″ extension on a 1/2″ socket) and the wheel came off easily. There was lots of dust in the brake drum which I vacuumed out and I roughened the shoes with a little sandpaper (taking care not to breath the dust which could contain asbestos - they are Chinese). The rear brake seems a little better now.
Now at 400 miles, with an average 80mpg over the last 100 miles or so. No more problems. I did change the spark plug for an iridium tip version. Doesn’t seem to have made any difference, but I wanted a spare anyway so I thought I’d try the iridum tiped plus and keep the original as the spare.
I did fix a problem with one of the turn signals in the mirror that has been there ever since I received the scooter. It’s an LED and there was a bad soldered joint. Easy to fix but it took about an hour to figure out how to take the mirror apart to get at the wiring. All the decorative “chrome” (plastic) trim had to be removed from the mirror. The plasic used is pretty brittle, so it’s very hard to get off without breaking the plastic “clips” that hold it in place. Luckliy it stays put even with one of the clips broken off. The quality of the wiring job wan’t very impressive and I’m not surprised that one of the soldered joints failed. The wires weren’t twisted together before soldering, just laid side by side.
Well, we’re at 300 miles no with no new problems. Over the last 75 miles the scooter achieved just over 80 mpg. Routine checks showed no bolts loosening and no visible oil consumption.
I did remove the spark plug to check its condition. It was an NGK plug, which is s good sign (better than a Chinese plug of unknown origin anyway!). The electrode was light tan in color with no obvious deposits, indicating that the engine is running well. Black deposits would indicate a rich mixture, a glazed insulator would indicate overheating. Various other color deposits, errosion, corrosion, all indicate problems from oil buring to incorrect fuel/air ratios.
I also removed the CVT cover to take a look at the belt and drive system. All seemed good. The belt was maufactured by Gates, a well known drive belt supplier and looked new (as it should after only 300 miles.
I’ve now taken the scooter to an indicted 50mph on a couple of occasions, which is probably closer to 45mph in reality. All seemed stable. I’m still not using full throttle at any time and I’m normally keeping the speed to an indicted 40 mph or less, since the scooter is still “breaking in”. Once I pass 500m I may open it up a little more.
Having finally (after almost a month) got the scooter legally registered I checked the oil levels, filled the gas tank and too it out for a ride. It rode for 25 miles over a couple of days, keeping the speed down to the 25-30mph region. Using a GPS unit I found that the speedometer was about 10% optimistic (when it read 30mph the true speed was 27mph), but the oddometer was quite accurate and calibrated in miles. I’ve read some reports of oddometers calibrated in km, but mine wasn’t.
After 25 miles I changed the oil in both the engine and transmission. Who know what type of oil was put in at the factory. It may be good or it may be bad, but an oil change on a scooter is so cheap and easy that there’s no reason not to do an early oil change. I used Castrol GTX 10-30W in the engine and Castrol Hypoid Gear Oil EP80W-90 in the transmission. After 200 miles I did a second oil change. During the break-in period there is additional wear on the engine and scooters like mine don’t have an oil filter like car does. They have a mesh screen filter which will catch large chunks of metal and metal shavings OK, but which won’t remove suspended metalic particulates which are generated as the engine goes through the break-in process of smoothing out the moving surfaces. An oil change on a scooter takes under 5 minutes and costs about $3. Why not do it often.
There are many schools of thought on how to break and engine in. Some recommend the very slow and lengthy approach (20 mph for the first 100 miles, 25 mph for the next hundred, 30 mph for the next 300 miles and 40 mph for the next 500 miles). Few, if any, riders have that much patience!
There’s also a school of thought that says you get better rusults with a very fast break-in, in which you run the engine very hard as described here http://www.mototuneusa.com/break_in_secrets.htm. I’m not so sure that would be a good idea with a scooter, and I certainly didn’t feel like testing it out on mine.
What I did was to keep the speed low (30 mph) for the first 100 miles, with no rapid acceleration, no “wide open throttle” and varying the speed (no constant speed cruising). Over the next 100 miles I’ve been keeping the speed below 40 mph and again trying not to hold a contant speed for more than a few minutes. I’m still using Castrol GTX 10-30W. It’s an oil I’ve used for many years in all sorts of engines including highly tuned turbos. I would not use synthetic oil in a scooter, especially during the break in period. Once the engine is broken in properly (after around 1000 miles) I may go to a synthetic blend oil. However changing the oil frequently is probably much more important for engine life then exactly what brand of oil you use.