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Tired of waiting

March 7, 2010

I finally got the Kenda K413 mounted on the GTS’ front wheel.

Kenda K413 scooter tire

As you may recall, I was forced to replace the GTS’ rear tire yet again, due to a puncture suffered during the Hamster Run in Bellingham. I went with the Kenda, not only because I’d heard good things about them, but because the price was really right (how’s 38 bucks sound?).

I’ve been very happy with the Kenda. The GTS carves corners more sharply, even with the worn-out Sava on the front, and wet traction is good.

Oh yeah. The Sava. BLEAH!!!

Piaggio fits Sava MC-30 tires as original equipment on Vespa GTS 250i.e.’s (GTS 300 Supers have Pirellis, but the MSRP is the same. What’s up with that?). I’ve said before, the only reason I can think of for this state of affairs to exist is Sava making Piaggio one hell of a deal, one which not only enabled Piaggio to hit the GTS’ $5,999 price point, but boosted the Slovenian tire company’s cred as an OEM supplier.

The GTS' front Sava

The Savas are the noisiest pneumatic tires I’ve ever ridden or driven on, drowning out the sound of the engine at 60 mph. Part of this is due to their angled-trapezoid tread pattern. But a funny thing happens as they wear—their shape goes from round to… decagonal. Or possibly dodecagonal. The little trapezoids turn into little ramps, which are wonderful amplifiers. Click on the picture to the left to see what I mean.

The rears didn’t have a chance to get really bad. But as far as I know, the GTS’ front tire is the one it was built with in June, 2006. Try to imagine riding on a circular saw blade. At 60 mph, it’s uncomfortable, if not dangerous.

It is supremely ironic that replacing a rear tire, which you’ll be doing every 4000 miles or so on a modern Vespa, requires partially disassembling and reassembling the bike, while replacing a front tire, which will more than likely rot off the rim before wearing out, is a piece o’ cake. You can do it yourself.

Removing the front wheel

If you know how to change a tire on a car, you can remove/replace the front wheel of a Vespa GTS.

You’ll need a 6mm Allen wrench to remove the wheel bolts. As you would when changing a car tire, loosen the bolts with the wheel on the ground. Breaking them loose can require a fair amount of force, especially if they haven’t ever been removed; you eliminate the possibility of knocking the bike off whatever you’ve used to raise the front wheel this way.

I raised the GTS by straddling the front wheel and lifting it by the hand grips while a helper slid a stack of 2x4s under the floorboard. A scissor-style jack from your car would work, too, but I didn’t have one handy. This will put the bike on its rear wheel, which combined with the center stand should be quite stable.

Like all modern scooters and motorcycles, the GTS’ tires are tubeless. You could mount them yourself, but this can be difficult. OTOH, some of the prices I was quoted for mounting the new tire were mind-boggling. Seventy-five to 80 dollars an hour? It would take two hours? Did I mention I’d be bringing the tire, not the scooter?

Cycle Gear on Stark said $20, since I bought the tire from them (Last September—thanks, Minions, for the coupon in the rally pack!). But they said it would be ready… Wednesday?

*SIGH!* O-kay. I suppose at that price I can be without the GTS for a short while. But a couple hours later, my phone rang. It was Cycle Gear. The tire’s mounted, and ready to pick up.

Under-promise and over-deliver. Nice. Favicon

Stay tuned for part 2!

  1. March 7, 2010 6:08 pm

    I’ve taken mine in and had them mounted at Discount Tire, I think even Les Schwab can do them as scooter tires aren’t like most motorcycle wheels and they bolt on instead of being held in a fork.

    It was about $25 when I had them dismount and mount two new tires. They can’t balance them, but they can mount them.

  2. March 8, 2010 6:54 am

    Always nice to put new tires on the scoot and glad you got your worn Sava off there finally. I know what the ramping-out-of-round front feels like. I think I had about 10 K on mine when I decided enough was enough.

    Good tip from Nate, though balancing is a pretty important thing to have done on those tires.

  3. March 8, 2010 10:05 am

    I find it interesting that Discount Tire can’t balance the wheel/tire—my first new car, a 1980 Honda Civic, had 12-inch diameter wheels (as does a Vespa GT or GTS), and there are still lots of old Geo Metros and Ford Festivas with the same size wheels. The wheel is attached to the balancing machine through a spindle that runs through the hole in the center, and the hole in the center of the Vespa wheel looks to me to be the same size.

    Whatever. I did consider going to Les Schwab, but they’re closed on Sundays…

  4. March 8, 2010 3:26 pm

    Kenda seems to get a bad rap, but the stock Kendas that came on my Kymco People 250 were pretty great. I felt I had to replace the front one after plugging it twice, and replaced it with a close-out Pirelli, but I got 14,000km out of the rear Kenda (and replaced it with same).

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