What: LX chrome body panels – headset cover & horncover
How Much: $64.95 (headset cover), $39.95 horncover
Installation time: 1.5+ hours with U.S. DOT turn signal lamps installed, <1 hour without
Tools needed: flat head and Phillips screwdriver, small adjustable wrench, 4mm hex wrench, drill and brad point drill bits (if re-installing U.S. DOT turn signal lamps)
How do you make a modern day retro-classic even more retro-tastic and eye-catching? You pay for a custom paint job. How do you do it for less money? Toss on copious amounts of aftermarket chrome parts, of course! Ever since I’ve seen these panels installed on ET’s, I’ve been counting the days the aftermarket gods would get the official sales numbers back on the LX models for them to deem the market worthy of their blingalicious wares. To me, chrome just completes the look of the modern Vespas—like whip cream on a sundae, a black tux on James Bond or a low-cut black dress on Angelina Jolie. You know what I mean.
So of course I couldn’t pull my credit card out fast enough to order me up some sexy chrome plated plastic parts for my beloved plum-colored LX150 after discovering their existence! One day later, they were at my house (I’m a few hundred miles away from the vendor, Scooterwest, in San Diego, CA) and I was itching to break out the tools and get started right away—moonlight be damned!
Well, reality set in and I had to wait till the following Sunday afternoon before I had some uninterrupted time to focus on the project. In short, the installation as planned seemed pretty straightforward, a lot of “unscrewing, minor wrenching, pulling this and that off”, then the same in reverse. However, I did run into one major (minor, for some) hiccup along the way of which I’ll go into detail in the installation description below.
PART 1 – Take It Off, Baby
With a flathead screwdriver, careful not to scratch the paint, pry off the Piaggio badge via the insert space on the right side of the badge. After it pops out about a centimeter, I used my fingers to pull it off completely.
With a Phillips head screwdriver, release the screw underneath. With your hands, push up on the horncover in the direction of the headlamp above till you feel the cover unlatch. The cover lifts off easily after.
Under the headlamp, at the seam between the headset and front cowl, you’ll see a Phillps screw—unscrew it. In the back, driver-facing side, just under the starter button (right) and beam controls (left), are two more screws you need to release. Don’t worry, the headset cover won’t fall off at this point.
Unscrew the mirrors by turning them by the “stalks/arms” counter clockwise. To get the front headset cover off, you’ll need to reach into the hole where the mirrors go and gently pull on the cover away from the center console and towards the grips, then out and forward. The inner “pegs” will pop out of the holes on the rear headset cover. I found it handy to have the chrome headset cover handy to see exactly what the inside connection points were to figure this piece out.
Now, pull of the front cover, careful not to let go and have it hang by the electrical connections too much. For those of you wanting to change the DOT standard turn signal lamps, you’ll be happy to know that the connection point is a pretty basic bolt and nut assembly.
With one hand supporting the headlamp and front assembly, unplug the electrical connections connected to the headlamp and turn signals. The headset cover is now free of all connections from the bike.
Unscrew the mounting screws from the back of the headlamp and carefully pull the lamp from the headset. With a 4mm hex wrench, release the bolt under both of the signal light housings—you’ll need a wrench clamped onto the nut connected to it on the other side of the headset cover. Pull off the signals.
PART 2 – DOH!
So up to this point, the project was smooth sailing without any snags. Of course, that’s likely too good to be true with any project and reality hit like bird dropping on your shoulder. As it turns out, the vendor didn’t bother to mention the fact that the headset cover does not have holes drilled for the U.S. DOT turn signal assemblies. Yeah, that would have been nice to know ahead of time, eh? Granted, if I wasn’t so blindly optimistic to assume the “best”, I would have done a better visual inspection of the part before I started the project. I blame it on the bling of mirror-like chrome hypnosis. Whatever—I couldn’t stop now. My Vespa was in relative pieces and there was no turning back now. I certainly wouldn’t want to undue what had been done so far without my just reward of bling, so I quickly pulled out my drill and borrowed some drill bits with brad points. This is an important detail since the point on the tips is ideal for placement onto the plastic surface.
With a metric ruler, I carefully measured the size of the turn signal mounting holes on the original cover and with some best guess visual eye-balling, I drew the new holes onto blue masking tape on the new chrome cover. I used masking tape just to prevent any chipping of the chrome. After very slow and careful re-measuring and oh-so cautious drilling, I had holes for the turn signals. Patience is your friend for this entire project, but even more so with this part. Be patient. Go slow. There’s no going back when bit hits the plastic.
Well, I was about 2mm off with the distance between holes, but that was easily remedied with careful grinding using the drill. From this point on, it’s everything you’ve done so far with the de-installation of parts but in the reverse. The screws under the starter button and headlamp controls were a little stubborn going in, but I suspect that it’s because the holes they mount into weren’t pre-threaded on the new chrome headset cover. No big deal.
So, here’s how it looked in the end. Not bad. What am I saying? It’s AWESOME! I haven’t been this excited about my Vespa since the first time I visited a showroom. That said, there were some minor “blemishes” on the headset piece. One was a small place where the chrome had chipped off at the opening of the left mirror. The other is minor “dents” in the plastic that can’t really pick out until you stare at it long and carefully like the anal design person that I am. I could have returned it to Scooterwest and had it exchanged for another, but I was too anxious and the chip was “minor enough” that I could live with it—of course, only after touching it up with silver metallic paint. The painted chip is almost covered by the rubber cover of the mirror, plus I’m happily distracted by the overwhelming gleam of beautiful chrome. In the end, for me, I’m happy to live with it. It’s not a huge compromise by any means. My LX has some new threads and I’m happy to show it off.
PROS: Good looks, relatively non-messy, easy installation
CONS: No pre-drilled holes for the DOT standard signal lamps, minor finish aberrations
VERDICT: Nothing shines more deliciously than the front of my wasp. BLING!
Last edited by robotribe on Mon Jun 12, 2006 10:45 pm; edited 2 times in total