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I can now go to the grocery store!

February 22, 2007

Steve from Vespa Seattle was on the phone. “Your top case is here,” he said. Oh, yeah, the top case.

Part of the lowball financing deal that enabled me to acquire the PX was a free top case. The top case is the bubble-like containter you often see on scooters, and to a lesser extent, motorcycles. You carry stuff in it. You don’t carry pets in it, as Piaggio’s famous warning stickers remind.

Unlike most modern scooters, the PX in all its iterations is rather lacking in cargo space. The glove box is more generous (and generally more useful) than the ones in ETs or LXs, but that’s pretty much all you get in the way of carrying capacity. There are lots of racks for the front and back, but keep in mind many of them require drilling holes in the body.

The rack and top case I got in this deal require no drilling, just removing some bolts, fitting the rack, and adding the top case, which is removable.

First order of business was to stop at a self-serve car wash and shoot some hi-pressure water up into the body to get rid of six months’ worth of dirt. There wasn’t a whole lot, but a clean bike is more pleasant to work on.

Rack Installaition 2

Your box will include a plastic bag with a d-ring screw and matching washer, and four black plastic plugs. The plugs go into the exposed ends of the tubing on each side of the rack. Really, they do. You get ’em in with a hammer! Set the rack down where it’s stable, with the end of the tube pointing vertically. I did this on my living room floor, which is carpeted. You might want a helper to hold the rack; hold the plug centered in the hole and drive it in like it’s a nail. This will be nearly impossible to do once the rack is attached to the bike, so do it now and get it over with.

Back in the garage, the first thing to do is loosen the license plate bracket, which is pretty much the opposite of installing it. It’s easiest to remove the screws from the top and run the nut all the way out to the ends of the ones on the bottom, so the bracket kinda flops backward. The bottom part of the rack is going to be attached to the body by the same screws that go through the upper part of the license plate bracket. See the picture.

Patience is the key here; the license plate bracket is kind of a Chinese puzzle by itself, and adding the rack into the mix doesn’t make things any easier.

Next, you’ll want to remove the two bolts on top of the body, along with the striker for the seat. See the pix here. Luckily, these just come out, and thread right back in again.

Rack installation 3

It’s best not to tighten anything until you have the rack all on, and know everything is going to line up. Once you do, tighten away. A Philips screwdriver and 7 mm box-end wrench will take care of the license plate bracket; a 13 mm socket on a ratchet tightens the bolts, and the striker has flats for an open-end wrench (I’m guessing 15 mm, but I used a large adjustable wrench).

As I said, the rack can be used separately if you wish. A plastic milk crate should be pretty secure if you thread a couple of bungee cords through it; attach one end to one side of the rack, thread through the sides or bottom, and attach the other end to the opposite side of the rack. The other cord should be the mirror image of this one.

Putting the case on is easy.

There are two fingers on the bottom of the case that slide into corresponding blades on the rack. In the middle of the case is a hole for the d-ring screw, which threads into a little platform between the blades. The case is made of injection-molded plastic and it’s identical to the one for an LX, so if you have one of those, you could swap the case back and forth between bikes. If you want.

The blades are a bit thick for the fingers, so it would be wise to remove a bit of material from one or the other. Choose the one that’s easiest… lacking a die grinder, I opted to remove some material from the case fingers. Once done, slide the case on, and line up the hole in the bottom with the threaded hole in the rack. Thread in the d-ring screw with the smaller layer of the washer down, and turn it ’til it won’t turn any more. You want this thing solidly mounted, for the sake of your cargo, and especially the sake of a passenger who might be using the case as a backrest.

Top case installed

Here it is, all mounted and ready to go. I’m ready to go to the grocery store! The case is big enough to hold a couple of plastic grocery bags, an extra helmet, or some extra clothes. Unlike the glove box, this case seals up nice and tight, and should keep your stuff dry.

Unfortunately, now I can no longer talk myself out of the impulse to grab a box of Ding-Dongs at the grocery store by telling myself the bike doesn’t have room for it. Favicon

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