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Book review: How to Repair Your Scooter

August 17, 2012

Did you buy a scooter from a dealer that went out of business? Or one imported (or built) by a company that went out of business?

More importantly, did you try to take it to a motorcycle repair place only to have the guy behind the counter laugh at you and say, “we only work on REAL bikes!”? Or is there a place that will work on your scooter that is several hours away from your home?

Is that what’s buggin’ you, Boo-boo (or if you’re a Genuine Buddy owner, BuBu)?

In the U.S. and Canada, scooters have always been a niche market, and a small niche at that. Many brands (Derbi and Malaguti come to mind, as does the La Vita) have come and gone, and one can never know how long the ones that remain will stick around. It’s best to prepare for the possibility that you will one day be on your own when it comes to service and repairs.


How to Repair Your Scooter
by James Manning Michels
159 pages. Motorbooks. $24.99 U.S.

When that day comes, you will want a copy of James Manning Michels’ How to Repair Your Scooter.

The book is a concise, well-organized, and most importantly, comprehensively illustrated instruction manual that covers every possible maintenance item or repair one might need to make. It begins with a discussion of maintenance vs. repair; if you are conscientious about maintenance, says the author, you will minimize the need for repairs.

There are color-coded sections for electrical, exhaust, suspension and other vehicle systems. There are also separate sections covering 2- and 4-stroke engines, with comprehensive troubleshooting guides for each.

Each color-coded section begins with a brief explanation of how that system works, along with its strengths and weaknesses. Illustrations are clear and easy to understand.

Best of all, each specific operation is called a project, beginning with a header that contains the (estimated) time, tools and talent (mostly 1 or 2, on a scale of 3) required, the cost expressed as one or more dollar signs ($), parts needed, and the benefit of performing the operation.

Each and every step of each operation is illustrated with big, clear color photos accompanied by captions containing pertinent details.

While there are many pictures of old-skool scoots, the book is oriented toward modern scooters. After all, there are many more of those on the road. Besides, there are excellent service and repair books specifically for old-skool Vespas and Lambrettas. How to Repair Your Scooter is not the book for that audience.

I would suggest this book is a worthwhile investment for someone who doesn’t own a scooter, but is thinking about getting one. Knowing how a scooter works is valuable if you’ve never owned one—even if you decide not to tackle maintenance or repairs yourself, you’ll have an excellent picture of what the repair shop is doing. Or should be.

Quibbles: the chapter on swapping a blackwall tire for a whitewall—a tire-mounting machine is not something most readers of this book are likely to have in their garage (though many places that sell tires for cars will mount a tire for you); an illustrated list of tools would be nice, especially one divided by essential vs. nice to have.

The $24.99 cover price makes How to Repair Your Scooter a book worth having, if for no other reason than it can pay for itself immediately. Available online, and at bricks-and-mortar bookstores. Hope you still have one of those. Favicon

  1. August 17, 2012 2:55 pm

    I’ll be buying this book -thanks for the info. I am indeed fortunate regarding a scooter mechanic. About two miles down the road is Cumberland County Choppers, a bike shop that sells Harley’s, Royal Enfields, Urals, and Genuine Buddy and Stella scooters. Run by Peter, Darrel, and Scot (Google the name for the website), these guys are wonderful in every area of service. And most important – not only do they know what they’re doing – they can be trusted! They have built a reputation of honest, plain-spoken dealing with customers, and in this day and age, that is rare.

    Back to the book: I’d like to be able to be more specific than, “The thing that turns that spinning thing under the seat is making a funny sound when I turn left… ”


  2. August 17, 2012 4:11 pm


    Thanks for the head’s up on the book. I just put my order in on Amazon and look forward to expanding my mechanical expertise. I have been looking at the Motorcycle Repair Technician online course from PennFoster. I have this dream of actually knowing what I am doing with a wrench. Maybe I’m too old.

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

  3. August 17, 2012 6:13 pm

    Steve, you’re never too old to learn something new! 😉

  4. August 19, 2012 8:55 am

    Better review the old school books next for those of us that scoot sans belt…

  5. August 19, 2012 12:40 pm

    conch, the Haynes Vespa P-series manual is the book you want:

    I had a copy when I had the PX. Great book, lotsa pix, lotsa diagrams.

  6. Jack Riepe permalink
    August 19, 2012 10:04 pm

    Dear Orin:

    Regarding the tire changing machine. They are a great investment for a club, that has space in a garage, enabling members to change their own tires without resorting to the tire iron war. However, this is based on the assimption that it is not hard to pull the wheel off a scooter. Maybe it is.

    Fondest regards,

  7. August 19, 2012 10:25 pm

    Removing the rear wheel from a Vespa GT/GTS/GTV entails removing several other pieces, but that’s not the case with most other modern scooters. There are chapters in the book showing how to remove front and rear wheels.

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