Skip to content

This is why I got a PX, revision C

September 11, 2007

I’m taking the left turn from Nickerson onto the Fremont Bridge. The PX feels unstable, like the rear tire is going flat.

I’m pretty much committed to maintaining my course toward Café Racer, so I figure I can get to Stone Way, where there’s nice, wide street parking on new asphalt.

I pull in behind a Toyota pickup, and sure enough, the tire is quite soft. Dang! This is why you (should) check this stuff before you leave home. In my defense, I must say everything was fine this morning. I was able to run my errands, and when I parked the PX on the sidewalk outside the building, it seemed okay.

Well, I guess I won’t be making the Vespa Club meeting tonight.

I’ve been carrying an air pump of the kind you can attach to your bicycle for the longest time. I’ve never tested it to see if it would actually do the job of pumping up a 3.50 x 10 Michelin S83 scooter tire. This would be a good time; if it works, I can ride home and change the tire in the comfort of the basement garage.

Well, it didn’t work. It was unable to get a connection to the valve stem that would cause it to move air into the tire. About all it did was evacuate the air that remained, leaving the tire well and truly flat. I bought the pump at the Wal-Mart in Bend, Ore., and it will soon be part of a statistic I read some time ago, which says half the stuff sold at Wal-Mart ends up in a landfill within six months. (To the folks in Bentonville, I don’t know if this statistic is true, and the publication in which I read it did say that it included packaging… I quote it here for its narrative value. Don’t sue me, okay? 🙂 )

Okay, I’m going to have to change the tire. Since there’s no soft grassy place to lay the bike on its side, I decide to walk home, where I can grab the tool kit and load my floor jack into the Escape, and drive back.

The higher you can lift the rear of a P or PX, the easier removing and replacing the wheel/tire assembly is. I ran across a pair of ¾ inch thick plywood squares that used to be required at race tracks to prevent jack stands from digging divots in the paddock pavement. Place these under the feet on the center stand, and you can get the back of the bike up a good two inches higher than if the center stand is merely resting on the ground.

You know the picture in the original post, where I have the jack under the rear bumper? Well, I’ve since discovered you can do that about three times before the pinch fasteners that hold the thing on are weakened enough to cause the bumper to pop off. Lift the back of the bike on the transmission case, right where the guy in the video puts the juice can.

This works beautifully, and I guess I have done this enough times that I know all the moves. The bike is back on the ground in about five minutes, even after having taken time to chat with the owner of the pickup, who was nice enough to ask if I needed any tools or other assistance.

The logistical gymnastics begin in earnest as I strap on my helmet and pull on my gloves. First, I’ll ride the PX home and stash it in the garage. Then, I’ll walk back here and collect the Escape, into which I’ve loaded the jack and the other stuff.

As I approach the Fremont Bridge, my heart sinks as I see one of the two drawspans in the air, the approach blocked by a pickup truck with a bunch of flashing lights. This is the not-quite finished stuff that seems to be taking freakin’ forever to wrap up.

Actually, this is not a problem at all… I was going to go to Fred Meyer tomorrow morning before dropping the PX at Big People for its 9,000-mile service, but I can do that errand now.

Back home, the PX snug in its basement parking space, I turn my attention to getting across the Ship Canal. It’s actually against the law to swim in the Ship Canal, so you’ve gotta take a bridge. It’s not far to a place where you can see the raised drawspans, so I head over there on the chance the bridge might be open to traffic (and pedestrians) again.

It is! I fetch the Escape, and after swinging by the drive-thru at the Ballard Wendy’s, I head for home.

In a little over a week, I’m riding to Tri-Cities. What have we learned, grasshopper? A better hand pump would be a good find; bicycle shops have these CO2 cartridges, which are fine for tires with an internal volume measured in cubic millimeters, but they probably won’t do the trick on a scooter tire.

More importantly, something compact and lightweight to lift the rear of the bike would be worth its (hopefully light) weight in gold. The floor jack just ain’t gonna work on the road. Bajaj Chetaks came with a jack. If anyone has an extra one, lemme know. Favicon

  1. Eric Link permalink
    September 12, 2007 5:44 am

    Or, roll up an air mattress so you can blow that up and lay the bike on it’s side 😉 Hmm… would work!

  2. September 12, 2007 8:12 am

    An excellent suggestion, Eric!

  3. September 12, 2007 4:57 pm

    You will probably need to pack at least four CO2 cartridges for each scooter-tire repair(see instructions). They work extremely well when you’ve got tubeless tires and a plug-kit (or inner tubes and a patch-kit). So glad that you were OK and very nice of you to share the handy tire-change video with everyone! Scoot Happy!!

  4. September 13, 2007 11:38 am

    I used to carry a multipurpose rag folded under the seat, a small towel that could be used to wipe down the dew, collect spilled fuel or wipe one’s hands. Or, folded under the cowl with the scooter laid on its side, after first removing the spare wheel. It takes a bit of a wiggle but the spare will slide right in after you’ve taken the deflated tire off the axle. Using the rag as a cushion the scooter gets no scratches and one doesn’t miss appointments. The tube can be replaced later at home by simply splitting the rim. Very cool!
    I do miss the spare on my GTS, but I do like tubeless tires as well. Especially at 80mph.

Comments are closed.