Fri May 28, 2021 7:28 am

Hooked
GTV300
Joined: 31 May 2012
Posts: 297
Location: New Mexico
 
Hooked
GTV300
Joined: 31 May 2012
Posts: 297
Location: New Mexico
Fri May 28, 2021 7:28 am linkquote
We had a pretty bad Vespa mechanic in the city where I live, (though, perhaps, he was just bad when he did work for me). At one point, I had to have my front fender replaced, (a dog ran out to attack the scooter while I was taking my daughter to school). When I picked up the scooter and rode off, the handlebars started twisting around - he had not tightened them back to the steering tube, (or whatever it's called on a Vespa). I took it back, and they tightened one side, which just resulted in the bolt spinning around. I had to tighten it myself once I got home.

That particular mechanic also told me that it was normal not to see any coolant in the coolant reservoir when the bike was brand new, and he was the mechanic for the dealer. (I added coolant.)

I've been doing all my own work since, and he's no longer an issue because he went out of business.

The thing is, I don't think of myself as a good mechanic, just better than him. I checked my valves last time it was scheduled, but at some point, I feel it might be worthwhile to have an actual mechanic take a look at them.

But I'm really wary of letting other people work on my Vespa now. We have motorcycle mechanics who claim they work on scooters in town. How do I know if there is one that is really good? I don't know anyone else, currently, who is riding a scooter. There is also one of those guys who works on scooters and sells them out of his garage, (the "Scooter Guru"). Should I ride an hour to the nearest big city with a Vespa dealer?

I'm basically looking for good stories, strategies, for finding a good mechanic for modern Vespas.
Fri May 28, 2021 8:02 am

Veni, Vidi, Posti
GTS 250
Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Posts: 9416
Location: KS USA
 
Veni, Vidi, Posti
GTS 250
Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Posts: 9416
Location: KS USA
Fri May 28, 2021 8:02 am linkquote
I find the best way in Kansas is to go to the dealer. I am lucky enough I have one in town. At the dealer you will find mechanics who are specialized in working on Vespas. That's not to say that other mechanics are not good. A good example would be the ones here on the Forum. Vespas are very finicky to work on and it takes quite a bit of know-how to fix them.
Fri May 28, 2021 8:47 am

Hooked
2020 GTS300 HPE "Whiskers"
Joined: 10 Nov 2020
Posts: 117
Location: Bama
 
Hooked
2020 GTS300 HPE "Whiskers"
Joined: 10 Nov 2020
Posts: 117
Location: Bama
Fri May 28, 2021 8:47 am linkquote
My experience honed from many bikes and several scoots is this: if I can do it myself - and enjoy doing it myself, I DO it myself. Even though it requires occasional tool purchases and time and patience.
I always sleep better knowing nothing was scratched, skipped, or stripped by the "professional". Many more not-so-good experiences than GOOD experiences with mechanics and dealers.
Only advice I can give for finding a good dealer or mechanic is look for reviews and references from fellow riders...
Fri May 28, 2021 9:20 am

Ossessionato
2013 Vespa 300 Super, 2007 Burgman 400
Joined: 30 Mar 2014
Posts: 2112
Location: Minneapolis USA
 
Ossessionato
2013 Vespa 300 Super, 2007 Burgman 400
Joined: 30 Mar 2014
Posts: 2112
Location: Minneapolis USA
Fri May 28, 2021 9:20 am linkquote
Gone With The Wind
God bless you folks. Individuals who can work on their own Scooters
are a rare and dying breed.

Miss Charlotte, I don't know nothing about working on scooters.

Bob Copeland
Cold today in Minnesota
Fri May 28, 2021 9:26 am

Hooked
GTV300
Joined: 31 May 2012
Posts: 297
Location: New Mexico
 
Hooked
GTV300
Joined: 31 May 2012
Posts: 297
Location: New Mexico
Fri May 28, 2021 9:26 am linkquote
One of my biggest issues is tires. I managed to get the tires off my scooter's rims last time, but I couldn't generate enough air pressure to get them to seal back on, even when I borrowed my friend's air compressor. The tire levers also seem to have the potential to scratch up the rims when I am trying to lever the tires off, though I think I got by with minimal damage when I did it.

I think I took them down to the big-box type motor sports store to get the tires installed, but they didn't seem happy about it. They always seem like a surly and not very trustworthy crew in that service department.
Fri May 28, 2021 9:38 am

Ossessionato
Looking for the next one, probably electric
Joined: 10 Jan 2008
Posts: 3437
Location: Babcock Ranch, Florida
 
Ossessionato
Looking for the next one, probably electric
Joined: 10 Jan 2008
Posts: 3437
Location: Babcock Ranch, Florida
Fri May 28, 2021 9:38 am linkquote
Re: Gone With The Wind
Bob Copeland wrote:
God bless you folks. Individuals who can work on their own Scooters
are a rare and dying breed.

Miss Charlotte, I don't know nothing about working on scooters.

Bob Copeland
Cold today in Minnesota
That would be "Miss Scarlett."
Fri May 28, 2021 5:57 pm

Hooked
Genuine Buddy 125, Piaggio BV 250
Joined: 29 Apr 2021
Posts: 146
Location: NE CT
 
Hooked
Genuine Buddy 125, Piaggio BV 250
Joined: 29 Apr 2021
Posts: 146
Location: NE CT
Fri May 28, 2021 5:57 pm linkquote
pbcoole wrote:
I think I took them down to the big-box type motor sports store to get the tires installed, but they didn't seem happy about it. They always seem like a surly and not very trustworthy crew in that service department.
I won't even buy a helmet in one of those places! The couple of times I've been in one they act as if I'm bothering them because I'm not an 18 year old guy riding a crotch rocket.
Fri May 28, 2021 7:12 pm

Addicted
2019 Piaggio Liberty 150
Joined: 20 Feb 2019
Posts: 593
Location: Norfolk, VA
 
Addicted
2019 Piaggio Liberty 150
Joined: 20 Feb 2019
Posts: 593
Location: Norfolk, VA
Fri May 28, 2021 7:12 pm linkquote
I've watched so many Robot videos that I have confidence tackling jobs that I normally would never try. I feel like I should buy him a lunch, beers or both. I learn more from his videos than from the crazy factory service/shop manuals from Piaggio.
Fri May 28, 2021 8:52 pm

Enthusiast
'06 GTS 250; '18 GTS 300
Joined: 21 Jan 2018
Posts: 62
Location: Oregon
 
Enthusiast
'06 GTS 250; '18 GTS 300
Joined: 21 Jan 2018
Posts: 62
Location: Oregon
Fri May 28, 2021 8:52 pm linkquote
I agree on the tires, I bought a mechanical setup to change tires thinking it would pay for itself after a few years and I just absolutely hate it (and did all kinds of cosmetic damage to my scoot and moto rims).

I found a mom/pop moto shop that will change my tires for a small fee and I just let them do it now. Cost of business and I insist on having good tires (maybe the best safety feature all told). Cycle-gear etc. places are more $$ for tires/install so I just checked around till I found someone that seemed reasonable.

Plugs, filters, rollers, belt I'll do, when I need anything major its going to a real wrench. I also purchased a second scoot so when one is down for work the other is ridable. 2 vespas one rider gotta have your priorities!
Sat May 29, 2021 1:35 am

Enthusiast
Yellow GTS 300 Super, Black GTS 300 Super Sport
Joined: 14 Aug 2020
Posts: 91
Location: London
 
Enthusiast
Yellow GTS 300 Super, Black GTS 300 Super Sport
Joined: 14 Aug 2020
Posts: 91
Location: London
Sat May 29, 2021 1:35 am linkquote
Here in London the dealers (there are a few to choose from) are pretty reliable for servicing especially during the warranty periods.

It became more a cost vs value of the bike issue when the bikes get older for major rebuild work so like many I have become an avid viewer of Robot videos.

The local dealers put on tyres I had ordered off one of the big online stores and charged a reasonable price for the 15 - 30 minutes of labour it takes to do a pair with balancing.
Sat May 29, 2021 5:12 am

Ossessionato
2016 Vespa GTS300ie abs/asr/ess Settantesimo '70'
Joined: 11 Jun 2011
Posts: 3437
Location: East Anglia, a dryer region of the UK than Israel
 
Ossessionato
2016 Vespa GTS300ie abs/asr/ess Settantesimo '70'
Joined: 11 Jun 2011
Posts: 3437
Location: East Anglia, a dryer region of the UK than Israel
Sat May 29, 2021 5:12 am linkquote
Having worked on so many different bikes and scooters over the years, I will say Vespas are the sweetest of bikes to work on. The average diy'er can competently keep his or her steed in fine condition for years and years. And it won't let you down either if you stay on top of the maintenance. It'll practically last for ever.

In the UK we tend to have very competent dealers with techs that know what they are doing. Most are very reasonable with their charges to carry out work and most of the techs have completed Vespa/Piaggio factory courses to allow them to work on different bikes in the range. And that is the crucial difference between the independent guys (who may still be very competent) and the Vespa dealer techs. You know the dealer techs are fully conversant with your type of Vespa, whatever model it is and they will know any common issues to look out for and what best practice is during carrying out any work. They also have access to the latest and greatest ECU updates which are free during a service. The independent guys have to charge for these.

In the States it's definitely harder to find Piaggio/Vespa dealers in some parts so it comes down to just trying to find that competent guy. Ask around on the net if you can to find the best one near you. Oh...wait! that's what you are doing...lol.
Sat May 29, 2021 11:36 am

Hooked
Genuine Buddy 125, Piaggio BV 250
Joined: 29 Apr 2021
Posts: 146
Location: NE CT
 
Hooked
Genuine Buddy 125, Piaggio BV 250
Joined: 29 Apr 2021
Posts: 146
Location: NE CT
Sat May 29, 2021 11:36 am linkquote
sc00ter wrote:
I've watched so many Robot videos that I have confidence tackling jobs that I normally would never try. I feel like I should buy him a lunch, beers or both. I learn more from his videos than from the crazy factory service/shop manuals from Piaggio.
Robot is the best!
Sun May 30, 2021 12:29 am

Member
Honda Integra 750
Joined: 25 Aug 2018
Posts: 31

 
Member
Honda Integra 750
Joined: 25 Aug 2018
Posts: 31

Sun May 30, 2021 12:29 am linkquote
Stromrider wrote:
...In the UK we tend to have very competent dealers with techs that know what they are doing....
I'm sure this is correct for hopefully most of the main dealers, but when I booked my HPE in for it's first service, I booked a day off work only to get a phone call the morning of the service to say they didn't have an oil filter!

I rebooked it for a few days later then when I picked it up I checked the engine and hub oil and both were too full.

That was the last they saw of me - I bought a Honda.

John
Sun May 30, 2021 10:44 am

Hooked
GTV300
Joined: 31 May 2012
Posts: 297
Location: New Mexico
 
Hooked
GTV300
Joined: 31 May 2012
Posts: 297
Location: New Mexico
Sun May 30, 2021 10:44 am linkquote
Thanks everyone. I'll search around for a better place to get my tires switched out. I think I always wait too long on the tires.

I have not, to my knowledge, seen the Robot videos. I'll do a search. I think mostly what comes up for me are the ScooterWest videos, but maybe it's the same.

I think I'll try to develop a greater feeling of competence about adjusting the valves. I've done work on valve clearances on many different vehicles. I think I got a little spoiled back when I owned a VW bus. It's a cinch to access those valves rather than to do the whole rotating of the engine on a Vespa.

For what it's worth, the first time I did it, I had the bright idea to hang a ratchet strap from the roof of my porch and wrap it around the body of the Vespa and try to raise it that way.

That DID NOT work. Don't try it. It bent the body of the scooter inward as it lifted, so now those little plastic pieces below the metal bodywork don't really sit as flush as they should. Occasionally I give the metal a little yank, and I seem to be succeeding at pulling it back into something like its original shape.

I had to borrow this contraption a friend of mine who rides Ducatis made, to hold the front wheel in place, and used a floor jack like you are supposed to.
Sun May 30, 2021 11:39 am

Sponsor
Granturismo 218
Joined: 04 Feb 2013
Posts: 6726
Location: NWAOK
 
Sponsor
Granturismo 218
Joined: 04 Feb 2013
Posts: 6726
Location: NWAOK
Sun May 30, 2021 11:39 am linkquote
pbcoole wrote:
One of my biggest issues is tires. I managed to get the tires off my scooter's rims last time, but I couldn't generate enough air pressure to get them to seal back on, even when I borrowed my friend's air compressor. The tire levers also seem to have the potential to scratch up the rims when I am trying to lever the tires off, though I think I got by with minimal damage when I did it.

As luck would have it, I just mounted the front tire on my Cannonball scooter yesterday and encountered the same issue. Here's how you can solve it.
Next time, make sure both sides of the tire are out of the drop zone where the valve stem is, and the valve stem is between the sides of the tire. Get one of these. Remove the valve stem. Try to bead the tire by pushing this into the valve stem and pulling the trigger. If that doesn't work, get a ratchet type tie down strap, and wrap it around the tire, tighten it as much as you can. Get dish soap and put it down into the rim anywhere the tire isn't tight against the rim. Do the thing with the blow gun in the valve stem again. Once the tire is up and pressed against the rim all the way around, you can remove the tie down, and keep applying air until the bead pops in place on both sides. You may hear a pop, but if you don't, make sure the bead is seated all the way around. If it's not, keep putting in air until it is. Reinsert the valve stem, and make sure the tire pressure is correct. then install the tire on the bike.



Sun May 30, 2021 2:30 pm

Ossessionato
2006 Vespa GT (Rocket): 2005 Vespa GT (Razzo): 2007 Vespa GT (Vanessa): 2009 Yamaha Zuma 125 (Zoom): 2018 Yamaha Xmax (Max),
Joined: 26 Sep 2006
Posts: 4534
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
 
Ossessionato
2006 Vespa GT (Rocket): 2005 Vespa GT (Razzo): 2007 Vespa GT (Vanessa): 2009 Yamaha Zuma 125 (Zoom): 2018 Yamaha Xmax (Max),
Joined: 26 Sep 2006
Posts: 4534
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Sun May 30, 2021 2:30 pm linkquote
While I do all of the basic maintenance on my scooters, I do have a mechanic for the big stuff.

Chris had a business, ACE, Vintage Motorcycle Specialists, with business partner Alex for years but the partnership soured and they now have separate shops.

Both proved to be very good at working on scooters. They provided almost all of the service needs for at least twenty of our scooter club members.

For tire changes, I take them off the scooters and to another motorcycle shop, where their magical machine can change a tire in around five minutes, without damaging the rim.

You just have to ask around until you find the right shop.

Bill
Mon May 31, 2021 1:23 pm

Hooked
2020 GTS 300 hpe Touring
Joined: 31 May 2021
Posts: 168
Location: SC
 
Hooked
2020 GTS 300 hpe Touring
Joined: 31 May 2021
Posts: 168
Location: SC
Mon May 31, 2021 1:23 pm linkquote
Robot is head of the service dept. at the Vespa dealer that runs the Scooterwest website. He is a master mechanic. Watch this video

At around 54m 30s, he starts to adjust the valves and explains EXACTLY how to do it. I think if you follow his directions, you can feel confident in your work.
Tue Jun 01, 2021 12:57 am

Ossessionato
2016 Vespa GTS300ie abs/asr/ess Settantesimo '70'
Joined: 11 Jun 2011
Posts: 3437
Location: East Anglia, a dryer region of the UK than Israel
 
Ossessionato
2016 Vespa GTS300ie abs/asr/ess Settantesimo '70'
Joined: 11 Jun 2011
Posts: 3437
Location: East Anglia, a dryer region of the UK than Israel
Tue Jun 01, 2021 12:57 am linkquote
Scooter John wrote:
I'm sure this is correct for hopefully most of the main dealers, but when I booked my HPE in for it's first service, I booked a day off work only to get a phone call the morning of the service to say they didn't have an oil filter!

I rebooked it for a few days later then when I picked it up I checked the engine and hub oil and both were too full.

That was the last they saw of me - I bought a Honda.

John
You did exactly the right thing by checking your oils. Walking away from that dealer can be the right thing to do too. However, I would urge folks to raise the issue with their dealer if this happens. It's either a genuine mistake, or just plain sloppy of a tech to do that. It can however underline a more basic problem with the the tech that did the work and the dealer will want to know. It's the best way to get better dealers, by letting them know something is wrong. A good dealer will welcome any feedback.
Tue Jun 01, 2021 2:27 am

Ossessionato
Triumph Street Scrambler 2018, Suzuki VanVan200 (sold), 2015 Sprint 125 (sold)
Joined: 12 Apr 2015
Posts: 2617
Location: Finland
 
Ossessionato
Triumph Street Scrambler 2018, Suzuki VanVan200 (sold), 2015 Sprint 125 (sold)
Joined: 12 Apr 2015
Posts: 2617
Location: Finland
Tue Jun 01, 2021 2:27 am linkquote
To the original question:

I've had one Vespa among many 'traditional' motorcycles.

Based on this, three things come to my mind as potential handicaps for a non-Vespa workshop:
-spare and wear parts. Not likely to be on stock, mayby no contacts to the best sources
-special tools or known "Vespa tricks' to use common tools in a good way (not a biggy in basic maintenance, I'll guess? )
-experience on scoot/Vespa specific things. Variator comes to my mind first, a strange device if you've not worked with scoots before...small things like knowing how the exhaust gasket in Vespa behaves etc.
Tue Jun 01, 2021 5:40 am

Hooked
2006 250ie
Joined: 13 Jun 2012
Posts: 357
Location: Bellingham, WA
 
Hooked
2006 250ie
Joined: 13 Jun 2012
Posts: 357
Location: Bellingham, WA
Tue Jun 01, 2021 5:40 am linkquote
FWIW
pbcoole wrote:
One of my biggest issues is tires. I managed to get the tires off my scooter's rims last time, but I couldn't generate enough air pressure to get them to seal back on, even when I borrowed my friend's air compressor. The tire levers also seem to have the potential to scratch up the rims when I am trying to lever the tires off, though I think I got by with minimal damage when I did it.
Along with all the other suggestions, try to (mostly) seat one side of the tire by setting the rim, valve side up, on a wooden block and then pushing down on the sidewalls of the tire (or stand on the sidewalls if your balance is good). The non-valve side should then seat enough as to not be the source of any air escaping and you can focus your efforts of occlusion on the valve side. Also, pick up a pair of rim protectors.
Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:11 am

Veni, Vidi, Posti
Joined: 30 Jan 2007
Posts: 7358

 
Veni, Vidi, Posti
Joined: 30 Jan 2007
Posts: 7358

Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:11 am linkquote
I tend to go off word-of-mouth for finding a good mechanic. As long as they have some experience with a bike similar to whatever I have, are honest, and have a good reputation, I'm totally fine going to someone who primarily works on motorcycles.

Most of the very few mechanics I would trust with my life hardly touch scooters. I'd sooner go to a good motorcycle mechanic than a crappy Vespa mechanic. If they can't fix a major problem, they're far more likely to try and get you to someone who can than they are to pull one over on you or just ignore it altogether.

All that said, the lack of a local mechanic who's trained to deal with my bike has, in the past, been a very good incentive for me to learn as much of my own wrenching as I'm comfortable attempting.
Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:16 am

Enthusiast
2019 Vespa Primavera 150 "Redemption"
Joined: 06 Jan 2021
Posts: 61
Location: Plainview, NY, USA
 
Enthusiast
2019 Vespa Primavera 150 "Redemption"
Joined: 06 Jan 2021
Posts: 61
Location: Plainview, NY, USA
Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:16 am linkquote
Hey Scooter Witch! Long time! Good to see you scootin!
Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:09 pm

Hooked
2016 BV350 White
Joined: 01 May 2010
Posts: 417
Location: East LA County, CA, USA
 
Hooked
2016 BV350 White
Joined: 01 May 2010
Posts: 417
Location: East LA County, CA, USA
Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:09 pm linkquote
I have come to the conclusion that its worth paying someone else to mount my tires. I could do it myself, but for the cost its not worth it to me. I order my new tires a week in advance online from Cycle Gear and then go to the store in the morning and have them changed while I wait. Otherwise I drop them off and come back later. I remove the wheels from the scoot and save the labor rate by doing that my myself. The front is super easy and the back can be done in 15 mins once you have already done it once. Its a hand full of times over the life if the scooter. Cost is only $35.00 with them. However, you have to mark your rims with masking tape to ensure they aren't mounted backwards. And you need to double check that they were balanced correctly. And you have to check that there is a new dust cap on it if you care about having one. If you don't see new weights on, hand it back and tell them to do it right. Even if you paid more some place else, these are things you should always check every time unless you went to a dealer who would do all of this for you.
Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:03 am

Sergeant at Arms
Weird 80's Vespas & Cool Vintage Lambrettas
Joined: 21 Oct 2005
Posts: 9161
Location: The state of insanity, SoCal
 
Sergeant at Arms
Weird 80's Vespas & Cool Vintage Lambrettas
Joined: 21 Oct 2005
Posts: 9161
Location: The state of insanity, SoCal
Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:03 am linkquote
find somebody you trust and stick with them.

chances are, they'll be the only one at the other end of the phone when you break down on a sunday night in the middle of nowhere at the ass end of hard luck.
Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:40 am

Veni, Vidi, Posti
In garage: Yamaha Tricity 155 Urban 2019 - MV Agusta 125 RS 1956
Joined: 21 Jul 2007
Posts: 6608
Location: Latina (Italy)
 
Veni, Vidi, Posti
In garage: Yamaha Tricity 155 Urban 2019 - MV Agusta 125 RS 1956
Joined: 21 Jul 2007
Posts: 6608
Location: Latina (Italy)
Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:40 am linkquote
For every job it takes true passion, without that you will fail.
The money made from your work should be seen as a side effect and not the primary goal.
With the first you will also have the second.
Too easy? Yes, but it's a good starting point ... the rest is just good management.
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