Tuesday, October 28, 2008

U.S. Scooter trends

There is a dearth of variety when it comes to scooters from what are called "the big four" motorsports manufacturers. The big four consists of Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki. Here is a list of each company's current scooter offerings here in the U.S.A.:

  • Honda: Metropolitan, 50cc; Ruckus, 50cc; Silverwing, 600cc; and Silverwing ABS, 600cc with ABS (duh!).
  • Yamaha: Vino Classic, 50cc; Zuma, 50cc two-stroke; C3, 50cc Cushman look-alike; Vino 125, 125cc; Zuma 125, 125cc; Majesty, 400cc maxi scoot; T-Max, 500cc sport scoot.
  • Suzuki: Burgman; available in 400cc and 650cc with or without ABS and extras. Considered by many to be the epitome of what a scooter should be.
  • Kawasaki: Nothing, absolutely nothing! They do not currently offer any scooters in the U.S. nor in the U.K. nor Australia.
I've been seeing a lot of conversation on the various web forums about this subject, and have come to a conclusion of my own. Here in the United states, most states do not require one to have a motorcycle license in order to operate a 50cc scooter. This is true for Pennsylvania, and this is, I believe, the reason that Honda and Yamaha offer 50cc scooters for sale here. However, at this point in time, the market for 50cc scooters that cost over $2000 does not seem to be attractive enough to force these companies to bring some of the scooters they offer in other countries here to the States. Suzuki doesn't have any 50cc offerings here, though they sell them in other countries.

A quick look at Honda's U.K. website shows another interesting trend. This trend is toward 125cc scooters. Honda only offers one 50cc scoot in Britain at the moment, that being the Ruckus, or "Zoomer" as they label it there. I believe, again, that this has a lot to do with licensing regulations. In Britain, as I understand it, one must take an initial test to ride a motorbike which authorises them to ride anything up to 125cc's. To ride anything larger than that, they must pass an additional test. Yamaha's U.K. website seems to bear this out as well, with multiple 125cc offerings, though they also have at least 8 50cc scoots available there. If it weren't so cost prohibitive, one would be tempted to buy one of the U.K. offered scoots and ship it over here. The only problem with that would be getting used to riding with the handlebars on the wrong side (Ha Ha).

Looking at Honda Australia, they seem to have a wider variety of engine sizes available, similarly to Yamaha Australia. They actually have what looks like a 100cc version of the Zuma in Australia called the "Bee-Wee."

I'm not even going to bother looking at Suzuki's offerings since it would just be more of the same trend, so it's not really worth our time at this point.

Now, I've gone into all that, to say this; It appears that these companies are abandoning the middle ground of scooter sales in the U.S.. At least in Britain, if one takes their second test, they have a few options to choose from. Here in the U.S., Honda, has nothing to offer to someone who wants to upgrade from a 50cc to a slightly larger scoot. Suzuki has a 400cc maxi scooter that is very high quality, but nothing for the 125 - 300cc crowd. Yamaha does a little better, but there's still a gaping hole between 125 and 400cc. The thought seems to be, if someone is going to upgrade from a 50cc, they will most likely go for a motorcycle, and while that may be true for some, or even possibly most, it is not so for many.

Personally, I like scooters. I like the design and the fact that I don't have to worry about a manual tranny. I could deal with one, and might eventually get a regular motorcycle, but there's enough I have to worry about on the road without fiddling with a manual tranny. It comes down to a style thing.

Thankfully, despite this abandonment by the "big four" there are other companies from Taiwan and Korea that have stepped up to the plate. Kymco, Genuine, and SYM to name a few, are good brands with reasonable pricing. Of course, there are the Italian brands as well, but they tend to come with a hefty price tag. I do have to hand it to Piaggio though. They have certainly maintained a good variety of Engine sizes and scooter styles even as the Japanese manufacturers abandon us.

And of course, there are tons of Chinese scooters available; however, as I've said before, I wouldn't recommend going that route.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Rain in Spain...

Actually, I wish the rain we are getting at the moment would go to Spain instead. It's not as bad as I had originally expected, in fact the rain is much more bearable on my current scoot compared to the Vino. The Kymco is taller, so the windshield sits higher, and there is less space between the fairing and the bottom of the shield on the new scoot. Surprisingly enough, even with the more narrow fairing of the Kymco, my legs do not get nearly as wet as they did with the Yamaha.

My heavy canvas jacket and heavy leather driving gloves keep my chest and hands nice and dry, and a hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up under my helmet keeps my neck warm and dry.

I suppose proper rain gear would be more highly recommended, but what I have works very well and I haven't found any reason to change just yet.

Wind, rain, and cold I can handle, but I draw the line at snow and ice. When the snow flies, I think I will use my car and stick a tender on my scoot's battery. When the roads are clear, I'll ride the scoot. Otherwise, I think I'll play it safe.

Now, if I could rig a pair of snowmobile skis to the front fork of the scoot...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Slipstreamer Scoot 30 Windshield

A recent commenter asked where I purchased my windshield. It is a Slipstreamer Scoot 30, and I purchased it from B&B Yamaha in Salunga, PA. I purchased the shield for my previous scooter, and moved it to the Kymco when I traded up.

The windshield attaches to the scooter at the mirrors using a pair of post risers and a pair of extenders. It took a fair amount of adjustment, as well as some lock-tite to keep the screws in the various connections from coming loose from the scooter's vibrations.

The Slipstreamer shield is tall enough to keep the wind off my chest (I am 5'10"), but not off my face, so a helmet with a face shield is recommended. Slipstreamer does offer two taller shields, but the smaller shield fit my needs better.

Despite the initial issues with the connectors loosening, this windshield has been a great addition to my scoot. It will certainly make my winter commutes more bearable.

A quick search of the manufacturer's website will reveal some brick and mortar locations where their windshields may be purchased, and a Google search for "Slipstreamer Scoot 30 Windshield" will reveal some web resources where the shields may be purchased.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


It's that time of year again. For a few days now I've gone out to my scoot to find a thin layer of frost on the windshield, seat, and instrument panel. Once the frost is removed and the scoot warms up for a minute or so, I put up the hood on my sweatshirt, don my gloves, zip my coat up to my chin, and putter off down the road.

After a few minutes of riding, my nose and chin no longer feel the cold and my fingers have taken on a familiar numb sensation as frostbite begins to set in. after about ten minutes or so, I start to hear a tinkling sound as frozen body parts fall off and shatter on the pavement behind me.

In reality, cold weather riding is not as bad as I remember it being back in the spring, but then, I did not yet have a windshield, so I noticed the cold a little more. I also did not always remember to wear my nice gloves. They are not armored, but they are heavy leather (suede too, so I can maintain the look of a well educated gentleman scooting around the countryside, despite the fact that most well educated gentlemen are smart enough not to do so), and even though my fingers get a little chilled, it's not all that bad. My coat is heavy canvas, and while it is not leather, it does a great job of keeping me warm and the weave is so heavy that I feel it would serve as well as leather if I were to be in an accident.

I will break out my scarf soon and my winter boots and my winter scooting ensemble will be complete.

Some would say I'm crazy, and I suppose I may be, but I can't see the point in using a gas guzzling, multi-passenger vehicle to commute to work when my fuel sipping scooter will get me there. So, unless it snows, I'll be on the scoot enjoying the brisk weather and listening to the tinkle of shattering body parts.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One month later

It's been almost a month since I purchased my Kymco People 150. After some initial hiccups which turned out to be fuel related (for which I am most thankful to the Almighty), the scooter has shown itself to be reliable and trouble free.

As mentioned in a previous blog entry, the issues I had on my road trip three weeks ago were apparently due to fuel starvation. A bit of fuel cleaner and all was resolved.

I've ridden the scoot almost every day and have caught myself trying to find excuses to go riding or extend my route once I was already out. Of course, I was already doing that with my Vino, but I was limited in how far I could ride due to the lower speed. The last month has given me a clearer impression of the scoot, so here goes. Bear in mind that some of this will have been covered in previous blogs, but for the sake of continuity, I'd like to put it all together.

The Kymco People 150 is a very classy looking scooter with euro styling that looks very much like it could have come out of the early days of motorcycle and automobile manufacture, until you get up close and note that the body panels are all plastic. Its slender lines and delicate appearance belie the power of the 152cc engine. It's a beautiful machine both inside and out.

The seat is large enough to comfortably seat my son and I with plenty of room for both of us. It is also comfortable for long rides and the scooter will maintain 55 mph tolerably well. She tops out at around 63 (70 on the speedometer), but the engine is screaming at that point so it's definitely not recommended to ride at that speed for long.

The fairing is rather narrow and does not seem to protect from the wind as well as the Vino's did. Additionally, the floorboard is not very large. My size 11 feet just fit with no room to spare, yet the scooter's height is such that it would be uncomfortable for anyone much shorter than I, and there are very few tall people with dinky feet. There are foot rests for the rear passenger that jacknife outward, but they do not lock in place, which means that if the passenger does not maintain a constant forward pressure on them, they may close.

The rear rack is a decent size, but is more designed to be stylish rather than utilitarian. I was able to install a top box on it, but only after drilling holes in the heavy plastic. It would have been nice if the rack were better designed.

On the other hand, the scooter handles really well. It accelerates from a dead stop like a rocket. I've left several cars in the dust without really intending to do so. Of course, if the driver is agressive enough, they catch up to me eventually, but still.

The handling around curves is very smooth. The scooter feels like it is planted on the road. Even at higher speeds the stability is fantastic, though the wind can be problematic.

Maintenance has its pluses and minuses. Oil changes are easy, but checking the air filter requires a philips head screwdriver with a bent shaft for getting up under the side panel, unless you are able to take the side panels off. Accessing the spark plug is accomplished through a portal at the front of the engine compartment right by where the rider's heels would be. One screw holds it closed, so it's easy to get at. Battery access is also very easy. Accessing the Carb and idle screw is accomplished through a portal under the seat. Just loosen a large thumbscrew and pop off the cover. At this point, I'll leave the more difficult maintenance to the dealer, but once I find a service manual, that will change.

Since it's in the 150cc class, it's not intended as a highway commuter. What it is intended for is 35 to 50 mph riding, which it does very well. It's exactly what I wanted, with enough room left over at the top end to accomplish the occasional brief foray onto the highway.

After nearly one month and over 1200 miles, the Kymco People 150 lives up to its stellar reputation.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lancaster County Scooter Dealers

Here's a list of the dealers I've had experience with in the county. I've given them one to five stars depending on the experience I've had with them, and will qualify my experience with each with a brief commentary. In shopping for scooters and accessories, I've seen both good and bad, but more of the former and less of the latter, which is nice. Bear in mind that this is not a comprehensive list of dealers in the county, but rather, a list of those I've had some experience with. Some of the opinions listed in this particular posting vary from previous impressions, but only because my experiences with certain dealers changed over time.

Dealer Name: B&B Yamaha
Location: Salunga, PA
Brands available: Yamaha, Schwinn, Sachs/Tomberlin
Stars: ***
Commentary: I have mixed feelings about this particular dealer. on the one hand, I purchased my first scooter there. On the other, they ripped me off with dealer fees, and after I made the first purchase, I've gotten less than stellar customer service from them. After I traded my Vino for a Kymco, they've been somewhat cold toward me. I still purchased a top case from them and got really good service from their parts dept.. So, as I said, I have mixed feelings. One visitor to this blog mentioned recieving poor service from B&B and I've begun to see some of that myself.

Dealer Name: Bachman's Auto Sales
Location: Ephrata, PA
Brands available: Wildfire (Chinese Make)
Stars: ****
Commentary: I've not made a purchase from Bachman, but I've watched him. He treats his customers well and seems to go over the scooters he sells with a fine tooth comb before they leave his shop. He charges a fair price for oil change and is honest about the quality level of the Chinese scoots not being up to the same standards of others. I give him four stars because of his honesty and low prices, but can't give him five stars since the scooters he sells aren't exactly top drawer.

Dealer Name: Ephrata Honda
Location: Ephrata, PA
Brands available: Honda (what a surprise)
Stars: **
Commentary: Every time I've gone in to Ephrata Honda they've been a bit less than friendly. The times I've had a salesman approach me, they've shown obvious annoyance when I mentioned I was looking for a scooter. They have a good amount of stock (when they aren't sold out), but the level of customer service I've received has been less than stellar. To be fair, I've spoken to folks who've said they received good service from this dealer. I suppose your mileage will vary, so to speak.

Dealer Name: Miller's Cycle Sales
Location: Leola, PA
Brands available: Various, mostly used
Stars: ***
Commentary: I know very little about this dealer, so I could not give them high marks; however, they seem like good folk. I believe it's two brothers that run the place and they seem to know their bikes. The place has the friendly feel that any neighborhood cycle shop should and they seem to handle lots of Chinese scoots, which is good because we've got tons of them rolling around the county. Once downside I did notice is that they seem to have very little inventory. A positive I noted was the few mopeds and "no-peds" they have which apparently run and seem to be in rather good condition. I believe they will also service them should that become necessary.

Dealer Name: Lancaster Honda
Location: East Petersburg, PA
Brands available: Honda (and possibly a Chinese brand soon)
Stars: *****
Commentary: I've not purchased a vehicle from them, but they have treated me very well every time I've gone there, despite the fact that I've never made a "big" purchase from them. I go there to get AMSOIL since that's the only place I've found it close-by to my home. They have given me excellent service, even allowing me to buy a quart of oil 10 minutes after they'd officially closed one night. That's what I call customer service.

Dealer Name: Trans-Am Cycle Sales
Location: Lititz, PA
Brands available: Suzuki, Kymco
Stars: ****
Commentary: I've had only one poor experience with this dealer, and that was with a younger member of their parts dept who wasn't willing to discuss the virtues of their 150-200cc scooters because I didn't yet have my M class permit (though I was in the process and was researching). Despite that poor experience, I was treated well by both their sales dept and their service dept. They did not try to nail me with dealer fees when I purchased my People 150 from them, and they have been very patient with my tendency to ask tons of questions.

As I wander around the county, I'll keep my eye out for other dealers, and as I find them, I will list them along with my impressions.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Riding with the big dogs!

Today's ride was a great success. Thank you to Gerry at Scoot Lancaster for organizing the ride! We had five scooters and one sport/touring bike (Gerry's). We went down by the Conestoga River all the way to the Susquehanna to a nice little overlook down near Holtwood. We then scooted back toward Lancaster and stopped for Lunch at Cactus Willie's off of Rohrerstown Road.

My son rode with me and he had an absolute blast (though he said his face got pretty chilly).

I was very impressed with how the People 150 kept up with the other scoots and the street bike. The other four scoots were 400cc and 650cc Suzuki Burgmans, so I was pleased with my scooter's ability. It had some trouble on one or two of the hills, but otherwise, it handled extremely well.

Here are some pics of the day's ride:

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Top Case

I picked up an SMS Cargo Box C1700 this evening at B&B Yamaha for $50. They sell them as an accessory for Schwinn scooters, but I was able to adapt the luggage rack on my Kymco People 150 to accept the base.

Let's start with the luggage rack. I had to drill four holes in the plastic rack, which wasn't at all difficult. The only caution here is to not use too much pressure nor to use too long of a bit since the bit will pop through rather abruptly and might cause damage to the tail light casing or body panels.

Once the base was secured to the rack, it was a simple matter to attach the case to it. The box includes plenty of hardware for various modes of attachment. The instructions are limited to several pictures, and are somewhat obtuse, but with a little ingenuity and a bit of luck, you don't really need to follow them anyway. In the end, I didn't use the directions and just used the hardware in a way that it would work best for my setup.

Now, let's look at the case itself. It's not terribly big, but has enough space to hold my 3/4 helmet with room to spare around it. The box claims it will hold a full face helmet, but it is barely tall enough to fit the 3/4 so I doubt that claim. It will easily fit my heavy winter jacket or all of my pistols and several bricks of ammo for trips to the range. There is a plastic light fixture with a red lens, and slots for four LED's, but no wiring and no LED's. I can easily remedy that myself, and it certainly explains, at least in part, the lower cost of the case.

There is a built in back rest, which will be nice for my son when he rides two up, though I have cautioned him not to lean on it too heavily due to the weak plastic of the back rack. It also came with three keys, though one would hope it would come with keys since it's hard to open a lock without them.

As far as quality goes, the plastic seems pretty good and the hinges seem solid. It doe not feel at all wobbly, nor poorly put together. It may not be a GIVI, but I think it will do just fine. It actually seems on par with the top box that Honda sells for the Metropolitan and it's a bit wider.

My plan is to paint the top half silver. I also plan to pick up some wiring and LED's from Radio shack and wire the light on the back.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rolling along nicely

Well, it's been almost a week and my scoot seems to be running like a top. The fixes the dealer suggested seem to have done the trick and I'm noticing none of the problems I had previously written about.

The Silver Streak is proving herself to be a very capable machine. She seems most comfortable between 40 and 45 mph, which is not surprising. The Flying Cranberry was similar in having a sweet spot at about 60-75% of maximum speed. While the Silver streak will attain a top speed of around 60 - 65 mph (reported as around 70 on the speedometer), she really shines under 50 mph, and for the roads I ride, that's absolutely perfect! I rarely need to go faster than 45, so the scoot has it where it counts, with more than a little wiggle room at the top end.

Here is my theory on scooter selection based on two factors.

#1) Will the scooter meet the needs of the rider?
#2) Will the scooter exceed the needs of the rider?

If you are considering the purchase of a scooter, it should fall under both criteria.

For instance, a resident of Lancaster City who will only be using the scooter within the city with no plans for ever taking it outside the city limits might find that a used Honda Metropolitan 2 with a top speed of 25mph will meet his or her needs; however, it will not exceed those needs as it is not capable of getting out of the way of traffic that might be moving at 30mph (very possible in the city despite the 25mph speed limit). A standard 50cc scooter with a top speed of 35 to 40 mph should exceed the rider's needs and allow them a very comfortable commute.

A second scenario would be my own. I commute 12 miles to and from work each day on country roads. Along these roads, the speed limit varies from 25 mph to 40 mph and there are several hills. I purchased the 50cc Yamaha Vino expecting that it would be "all I really need." Unfortunately for me, I learned the hard way that I actually needed some wiggle room at the top end so I could more effectively evade traffic. a 125cc or 150cc scooter is much more adequately suited to these roads as it does not bog down on the mild slopes of the hills I face each day and is able to accelerate out of the way of cell phone wielding soccer moms in their Hummer H3's. This type of riding would also be suitable for a 200 or 250cc scooter.

And yet a third basic scenario. Our third prospective rider has a 20 mile commute from Eden to Reading. This commute requires highway riding on route 222. A 150cc scooter is capable of maintaining 55mph on a highway without too much trouble, but the speed limit along 222 is 65mph, and the majority of drivers on that road exceed that speed by more than a small margin. In this situation, an engine capacity of at least 250cc is highly recommended. A 150cc scooter pretty much tops out at 65, and running the small engine at that speed for prolonged periods of time isn't going to help extend the engine's life. A 250cc engine has enough oomph to travel at 80 mph, but may travel more comfortably around 60mph. even this smaller engine may not be beefy enough to handle the job, and then there's the size of the scooter itself. Wind resistance really pulls on a rider at high speeds (I was nearly blown off the Silver Streak a week and a half ago). A larger maxi-scooter is really recommended 65 mph roads simply due to the greater wind protection and larger wheelbase. There are some maxi-scooters available in 250cc variants, but due to the larger size, 400cc and up would be the recommended engine size for these scoots.

So base your purchasing decisions less on "all I really need" and more on "a bit more than I really need." You'll find that the scooter you choose will serve you much better if it's best suited for all your needs and then some.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I was following a thread on the local newspaper's forums this evening, and it caused me to feel nostalgic. Here is some of what I wrote there, with some editing.

I grew up in Western Massachusetts, amongst the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. Russell and Westfield to be exact. To be even more exact, though I was born in Springfield, we moved to Woronoco (a village within Russell, MA), when I was one year old, so my dad could teach in a seminary that used the old community building there (right next door to our house), which was torn down when I was eight or nine years old.

Directly accross the street from where the community building once stood, stands Strathmore Paper company's Woronoco Mill #2. Mill #1 is on the other side of the Westfield river across an old stone and cement bridge which has been condemned since I was ten years old. Both mills are closed at this point though I think Mill #1 is used for storage. At one time, there was some talk of turning the #1 mill into apartments. It is an old brick building with a lot of character.

Across the street from the house where I spent 12 of my first 13 years, there now sits an old abandoned parking lot, overrun with weeds and sumach trees (the lovely poison kind), beyond which runs the old Conrail east/west line from Boston, MA to Albany, NY. Beyond the tracks Mount Tekoa rises from the Westfield River valley. Wikipedia gives one history of the mountain, but there's more to it than that. What my dad told me is that the original name in the Woronoak Indian language was Tko, not Tekoa, and tko was Woronoak for rattlesnake. A rather appropriate name for the mountain as it is infested with timber rattlers. I saw several growing up. Most likely, the Puritan settlers missunderstood the name and used the word Tekoa instead thinking it more appropriate at the time.

Those mountains are beautiful and I miss them terribly. Next year I plan to fulfill my goal of traveling to Massachusetts on my scooter, at which time I will take special care to travel through the area in which I spent much of my childhood. I want to hike up Mount Tekoa once again, as I did with my father and sister when I was a child. I'll just need to watch out for those rattlesnakes.

Here you can see a picture of the Westfield River Valley, as seen from the back yard of my childhood home.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

October 18th fall foliage ride route set!

Gerry over at Scoot Lancaster has finalized route details for the Fall Foliage ride next Saturday! I plan to be there, and several others have mentioned that they will be.

I don't want to steal his thunder, so check his blog for the meeting time, and so on.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Scooter boom...fizzles...

During the summer, scooter sales rose to record highs due to gas exceeding $4.00 a gallon for regular unleaded. Powersports dealers and hole in the wall cycle shops couldn't keep them in stock. Even the more expensive brands were selling like the proverbial hotcakes.

The Summer riding season has passed. Autumn is here with cooler temps and gas prices have now dipped below $3.00 a gallon. Sales of 50cc scooters seem to have stalled. The 125's and larger seem to be selling for dealers, but Trans-Am Cycle Sales in Lititz has had the same three Kymco 50cc scoots on their floor for the last month, not to mention the little Yamaha Vino they've had for two weeks (I shed a bitter tear).

Lancaster Honda has three Rucks for sale and four Mets. They've been sitting there for the last several weeks as well.

I stopped at Miller's cycle shop today in Leola and he has some chinese scoots sitting out by the road looking for owners, not to mention a couple older mopeds and a Vino 125 sitting outside the doors to his shop.

It truly seems the scooter boom has died down for this year, but this is good news. It means those looking for a 50cc scoot have a better chance of getting a bargain. The odds of getting a bargain are increased by the number of folks who, just like me, purchased a 50cc scoot and realized fairly quickly that they needed something with a bit more oomph.

So, if you're looking to get a scooter, now's a good time!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Can one be a hypocondriac about one's vehicles?

I took the scoot to the dealer today and they looked it over and took it for a spin. Apparently the issue I was having is not at all related to the front brakes, but rather to the natural way the scooter functions. The pulling or dragging sensation I was feeling is actually coming from the CVT and only really happens at higher speeds (40 +). It's a natural part of the engine function. The mechanic rolled the front tire and explained that with the type of brakes I have (something about a floating caliper or something like that), there will always be some resistance, but the amount of resistance I was seeing is normal.

Prior to going to the dealer, i decided to try to re-create my experience from last Friday. I took the Silver Streak to a local road where I could test it and it ran all the way up to 70 on the speedo just fine with no stalling. I wasn't able to get her any past that as she seemed to be at her limit. Apparently the fuel system cleaner did the trick. Again, the mechanic explained that if any of the jets or valves in the carb were gummed up, it could have caused the engine to be starved of gas at high speed, which would, in turn, adversely affect the operation of the vehicle.

I killed two stones with one bird apparently by using the fuel system cleaner.

At this point, I'm feeling quite relieved that those two scares are behind me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fall Foliage Ride reminder!

Only a bit more than a week remains until the fall foliage scooter ride. Gerry from Scoot Lancaster is heading this one up. The plan is that we will ride along the Susquehanna in the southwestern part of the county. Grab yer jacket and gloves, wrap a scarf around your neck, and come on out!

This will be a 50cc friendly ride, but all other scooters are welcome regardless of displacement.

If it's not one thing...

It's another.

Coming home from my weekend adventure, I noticed three things, in the order below.
  1. The first was some sluggish acceleration, and after draining some very black oil from my scooter and replacing it with clean oil of a light golden hue, she accelerates like a dream, but it didn't fix the next two problems.
  2. My People 150 wasn't starting up right away like it had originally and it seemed to be spluttering a little once started. I put some fuel system cleaner through it, and that seems to have cleared up. So now I move on to problem number three.
  3. The front end of the scoot seemed to be dragging. That's the only way I can describe the sensation. I did a little experimenting, and it seems the front disc brake is grabbing a little, with no pressure on the brake lever. This I haven't figured out how to fix yet and my manual has no helpful information.
So, once I figure out how to ease off the front brake just a little, I will, hopefully (crossing my fingers), have solved all of these little issues.

I think I need to get my hands on a service manual for my scoot. I will definitely give Yamaha the nod for better documentation than Kymco. The regular manual that came with my Vino even had some basic engine schematics. My Kymco's manual has little more than basic use instructions, and nothing that an amateur mechanic can use to really dig into the works with.

One thing I will say for Kymco, their manual is full of some wonderful Engrish!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rev Limiter? or something else?

This morning I changed the oil in my Kymco People 150. It was past 1000 klms on the odometer, and was acting a little sluggish. After the oil change, the sluggishness seemed to be greatly reduced. There was still some hesitation past 40 mph, but I was heading to the dealer to try to find out what the issue was with the rev limiter, if that was indeed what had caused my scooter to splutter and die on by trip north on Friday.

The technician at the dealer told me that there are two types of rev limiters. The first type cuts the ignition, which will cause the vehicle to stutter a little, but not die. The second type actually cuts the gas, and gives some kind of warning, much like what happened to me on Friday. The mechanic also wondered if the issue might not be due to bad gas. I tried to tell him I've been laying off the beans, but he wouldn't listen. *insert riotous laughter here*

He wasn't aware that the People 150 had a limiter like the second type mentioned, but said he'd do some research and give me a call. He did suggest that I try to avoid ethanol (which I already try to do, but that's almost impossible). He also suggested some fuel system cleaner.

I put some fuel cleaner in the tank and ran around for about 20 minutes. between the oil change and the fuel cleaner, it feels like the scooter is running a lot more smoothly, but I doubt that had anything to do with the sudden shutoff that occurred on Friday.

Well, at least for now I know not to try to run the scooter above 60 mph. That's alright though. I bought the scoot for safer navigation of 40 - 45 mph roads, and it is far more than adequate for that job.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Here's to returning home safely

Well, I'm home. The scoot got me here safe and sound and there were no further incidents like those that occurred on Friday.

I started out from Dubois, PA at around 11 am and worked my way down through the mountains. It was very chilly (about 4o degrees plus wind chill), but the views were spectacular. One in particular struck me as especially beautiful. The low lying clouds over the Susquehanna river through Clearfield were simply breathtaking.

The weather became much warmer as I came down out of the mountains. By the time I reached Harrisburg, I was scooting through 68 degree weather with bugs splattering against my windshield.

It was wonderful to finally arrive at home and rest my bottom, yet I was sad to leave my wife's family. They are wonderful people and my visits to their home are always pleasant.

I spent some time scooting around the hills of Clearfield and Jefferson counties. The new scoot really seems to fit well with the rural landscape. I also found it well suited to the windy mountain roads.

The foliage in that part of the state has already started to turn. On more than one occasion, I felt that I was traversing a tunnel of autumn colors.

The roads of rural Pennsylvania are some of the most beautiful. Perhaps that is what calls me out into nature, much like Thoreau.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Over the river and through the woods

Extended highway riding on a scooter is interesting. I've discovered that it's a bit scary to travel at 60mph and be buffeted by the wind.

I had a pleasant ride up through the hills of central Pennsylvania today. I went through Harrisburg rather than taking the bypass. The bypass is scary enough in a car, I don't think I'd want to try it on a 150cc scooter. I saw the capitol building, and a good portion of the city.

I then hopped across the Susquehanna to rt. 11/15 north and worked my way up to 322 West. I started up the mountain and was accellerating up to about 65 (the speedo reported 70, but it is 5mph fast), when suddenly the engine lost power and the right blinker came on. Thankfully there was nobody behind me, but that would have been pretty bad otherwise. I was a little panicked, but I pulled the scoot over to the side and the engine died. I was thinking "oh %^&#!" Well, I waited a couple moments, hit the starter and it purred to life. I decided I could either turn around and go home or continue on. Since I had a bit of a idea as to what had happened, I decided to continue on and kept my speed at 55 (60 on the speedo).

I made it safely all the way to State College, even up some pretty steep hills. The Kymco made it up the hills like a champ. It didn't have any troubles with it, and made my way through State College on Business 322. It was a great ride through a very pretty town.

I enjoyed the foliage, and made it back onto the main highway. I passed through Phillipsburg and then on to Clearfield where I stopped at Grice Gun Shop to purchase some ammo. I filled up at the Sheetz in town there and started up Clearfield mountain. Again, the Kymco handled the mountain like a champ with no signs of laboring. I took it easy on the throttle just in case, and when I came to the top of the mountain and turned onto a long stretch of road through a state park I can't remember the name of, and opened up the throttle to see if I could recreate the situation I'd had earlier. Sure enough, the scoot got to 65, the throttle turned to mush, and the right blinker came on. I pulled off the road and the engine died. It started up again without a problem, and I finished my trip.

I really had my suspicions at this point, so when I got to the in-laws' house, I called the dealer. Sure enough, the Kymco People 150 has a rev limiter. Once the engine is about to redline, the cycle goes limp. This is something I'm going to need to disable. I'll have to install a tachometer so I can monitor this myself, but I really don't think a rev limiter that shuts down the engine while on the highway is such a great (or safe) idea. I understand the point, but the limiter should "limit" the engine, not just shut it down.

In any event, now that I know the limiter is there, I'll be careful to never travel above 60mph so as not to set it off, but to all Kymco People 150 owners, now you know, this is not a high speed scooter so don't try to treat it like one.

Aside from that irritating aspect of the trip, the ride was fantastic and I was less saddlesore after 7 hours of riding than I would have been after 30 minutes on my old scooter. The Kymco's seat could use some more padding most definitely, but it's not horrible for long distance riding.

I've also discovered that I need to get another accessory: long underpants.