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Tired of waiting for youuuu

March 9, 2010
The GTS' new shoe

The GTS' new shoes, er, shoe (Orin O'Neill photo)

As Pablo and I came back from Cycle Gear on Monday, the sky turned dark gray, and it started hailing.

Yes, Portland is one of those places where if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. Or 10. The hail was expected, the result of a cold front pushing through. It was sunny when we left the store.

In our last episode, you’ll recall Cycle Gear was able to mount the new front tire about three days sooner than promised. It was sitting in my lap as we drove through the hail, which got more intense as we got closer to the house. I forgot to mention, 20 bucks (plus a small disposal fee) gets you mounting and balancing. There was one little bitty lead square glued to the inside of the wheel rim. At the kind of speeds a Vespa GTS can attain, you don’t want a wheel out of balance.

Installation of the front wheel is the reverse of removal. I had some WD-40 handy in case the threads of the bolts seemed reluctant to turn, but that wasn’t an issue. I was able to spin them off the hub (you make sure not to lose them that way), then spin them back on, quite easily.

Again, you don’t want to risk knocking the bike off whatever’s holding it up, so spin the bolts until they’re lightly tight, then put the wheel on the ground to finish the job. The shop manual sez the wheel bolts should be torqued to 20 to 25 Nm (that’s 15 to 18 ft-lbs), which is basically hand-tight. Don’t go using a big ol’ socket wrench or lever, a t-handled Allen wrench will do just fine.

And there it is! The tire was not grossly over-inflated; I only needed to bleed a couple pounds to reach the recommended 26 psi.

New tires have this coating that helps them pop out of the mold, and protects them while they’re in storage. Unfortunately, this stuff seriously compromises your wet traction. If you can’t avoid riding on a brand-new tire on wet pavement, just take it easy. Don’t go hanging off the saddle going around corners until the little colored stripes are gone, k?

Wouldn’t you know, the hail has stopped. The sun’s even coming out. But the test ride can wait.

It snowed overnight in many parts of the Portland metro area, but Northeast wasn’t one of them.

The cherry trees are confused

The cherry trees in Portland were a bit confused

It was just cold. Luckily, I haven’t put the winter gear away.

I noticed a difference just wheeling the GTS out of the garage. Where it used to feel like it was running over a washboard, it now glides.

Turning out onto Halsey, the GTS cuts a figure that would make Evan Lysacek envious. Doing the speed limit, the only noise comes from the engine. No more annoying whrrrrr from the front wheel.

At the Confluence, I make the left on Sandy Boulevard, then take the ramp to westbound I-84. The amount of throttle input that used to yield 60 mph now serves up 65. And the engine is still the only noise!

At the Lloyd Center exit, I notice I can lean further when cornering. The arcs are graceful, and more stable. The bike coasts further on closing the throttle.

Damn, I wish I could’ve done this sooner…

UPDATE, March 10, 2010: The sun was shining, and it was relatively warm, so it was time to perform the Hawthorne Bridge Grate Nibble Test. You may recall a similar test from my Keeway ARN 150 review. The ARN 150 comes from the factory with Kenda K413s as well.

Well, the Hawthorne Bridge is all grate, all the way across. I’m not sure of the exact length, but the grating is much, much longer than the Fremont Bridge’s drawspan. While there’s no nibble, the GTS was not exactly rock steady on this surface. But with the Sava on the front, it felt like I was gonna go down any second. So, the Kendas are a considerable improvement. Favicon

  1. March 11, 2010 6:07 pm

    Dear Orin:

    Nice post on a relatively painless tire change. Were you able to get that belt replaced yet? I have made arrangements with a buddy of mine to change the oil and the transmission fluid next week. I started doing some exercises to get my joints limber. I ride in thre days.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  2. March 11, 2010 6:17 pm

    The GTS gets a new drive belt tomorrow at Vespa Portland. Or Scooter King, or whatever the hell they’re calling the place this week. With that, it will be ready for spring, and whatever new adventures may come our way…

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