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4000 miles already?

April 13, 2007

Dang! I was hoping to pull up to Big People Scooters with exactly 4000 miles showing on the odometer. It displayed 4001.

No big. It’s not like I seriously neglected the maintenance schedule. It’s odd that the second maintenance visit comes at 4000 miles, while the third takes place at 6000. Subsequent service comes every 3000 miles.

Raindrops are fallin’ on my head as I ride south on Airport Way. It rained when I did the 600-mile service, too.

I’m early, they’re ready for me, so I hand over the key and ask Joe if there’s a place that sells books and magazines nearby (I had a book I was going to bring, but I left it on the breakfast bar). No bookstores, says Joe. This being Georgetown, there are lots of bars, however.

No, it’s a bit early for alcohol, so I walk down the side street and end up at the intersection of Michigan and Corson. There’s a Starbucks in the strip mall; they have the New York Times. On Fridays, the NYT is pretty thick, so that should keep me occupied for the hour or so the work will take.

By the time I got to the Op-Ed page (I tend to read newspapers from the inside sections out), large raindrops were coming down pretty steadily. That’s what the weather forecast said would happen… luckily the rain gear was packed in the top case.

The rain came down harder as I got closer to Big People. Within sight of the building, the cell phone rings. I don’t answer, figuring it’s Joe, saying the bike’s ready. On crossing the street, I see it parked on the sidewalk.

Eighty-five dollars and some change later, I pull on the raingear and head north on Airport Way. I quickly realize just how much slack the control cables can develop over 3400 miles. The shifter and clutch are tight as a drum, and the rear brake only needs a touch to bring the bike to a stop.

The lesson is clear: whether you do it yourself or have someone do it for you, don’t skip the scheduled maintenance. Even if it means getting rained on. Favicon

  1. April 13, 2007 6:54 pm

    I always feel better after leaving from my scheduled maint. visits. Except for the scratch that I left in their till. It’s all part of the fun though.

    Have fn,

  2. April 14, 2007 5:12 am


    Thanks for the advice. Actually – can you (or other readers) tell me: what’s the average life expectancy of a decent 150cc scooter, assuming that you do get it serviced every 2000-3000 miles? I can’t seem to find out anywhere!

  3. April 14, 2007 7:52 am

    Michael, I don’t think there is an average.

    How long the engine lives will vary due to so many different factors. Piaggio says its LEADER and QUASAR engines can run up to 100,000 miles if you change the oil and adjust the valves at the intervals they recommend. OTOH, you might be lucky if the Chinese knock-off is still running after a year. And a kitted-out engine is going to die much sooner than a stock one. I think the lesson from auto racing definitely applies: don’t run your engine any harder than the situation calls for. The PX gets flogged without mercy on group rides because I need to stay with the group, but riding to breakfast on a Sunday morning, I have it in top gear pretty quickly because the route has a 30 mph speed limit, and there’s almost no traffic.

    As for the rest of the bike, again it depends on where you keep it and how you use it. Vespas are good, solid pieces made of high-quality steel, while the Chinese knock-off is made of… what? When I went shopping for a scooter, I noticed the Honda Metropolitan and Yamaha Vino cost only $1800, vs. $4000 for the Vespa ET4. I asked the guy at the dealer why, and he replied, “the Metropolitan and Vino are made of recycled orange juice jugs.” Or at least the bodies are, and they’re attached to a kinda spindly-looking tubular frame. Parking your bike indoors or under cover will surely enhance its longevity, as will avoiding motocross-style jumps and really rough roads.

    In conclusion, the best thing to do to get the most possible use out of your bike is don’t abuse it, maintain it as the manufacturer recommends, and if something is wrong, deal with it sooner rather than later.

    And for gosh sakes, ride the thing!

  4. April 15, 2007 2:32 am

    Wow! Thanks Orin!

    Yeah – it’s amazing how getting a scoot I now feel rather paternal about its upkeep. I never cared much at all about my old car!


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