Easiest touring scooter to maintain?

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Shillelagh
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Easiest touring scooter to maintain?

Post by Shillelagh »

Fit geezer noob question coming. I hadn't been on a motorized 2 wheel vehicle for 50 years, but within the last month picked up a 2007 Vino 125 10 k mi and a 1987 Elite 250 12 k mi. The Vino is great around town, the Elite good for day trips, but has poor storage. i tore into the Vino for oil and air filters, tranny oil, plug, etc., Which prompts the question -
If I sell the Elite and look for a true touring scoot, which would be recommended as the easiest to maintain in campgrounds and motel parking lots on a long, long trip - 10 - 15,000 miles?
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Re: Easiest touring scooter to maintain?

Post by KiloSSK »

Okay, dumb question coming in... how do you do long trips on a scooter? You're limited in terms of what you can carry along with you; if you're going during the warmer season, at least, you're saving on clothes, but what about electronics, hygiene products, maintenance tools?
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Re: Easiest touring scooter to maintain?

Post by flybd5_juan »

KiloSSK wrote: Fri Jul 31, 2020 10:30 am Okay, dumb question coming in... how do you do long trips on a scooter? You're limited in terms of what you can carry along with you; if you're going during the warmer season, at least, you're saving on clothes, but what about electronics, hygiene products, maintenance tools?
Seriously??!! You take a smartphone in your pocket, put anything else in a light backpack, including tools, and use the little soap bars at the motels where you stop along the way. Not rocket science.
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Re: Easiest touring scooter to maintain?

Post by Shillelagh »

As a backpacker, one learns to only take necessities and emergency supplies. Weight and volume aren't really the issues, reliability and ease of maintenance are.

There are some YouTube videos of an guy on a Vespa touring every Province, State, and S. American country, overloading and roughly abusing his machine for hundreds of thousands of kilometers. He had to totally rebuild the motor and frame several times. Guinness record seeking is NOT my gig.

I have little experience, but from what I have it seems some of Honda's models were successfully designed with both the above issues in mind.

But I know others may have not just different opinions, based on experience and observation, but wiser ones. :o
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Re: Easiest touring scooter to maintain?

Post by flybd5_juan »

The bottom line is not what you want to hear. Scooters are not made for long cross-country trips, they are made for putt-putting around town. The phrase "touring scooter" is a marketing term designed to separate you from your money on the basis of an illusion you create in your own mind. You have to get into the 400+cc world (a.k.a. motorcycles who claim they are scooters because of the way the plastic hangs on the frame) to get the kind of long distance reliability required for unpredictable long distance driving. Of course you will always find people who want to push the envelope, but as you have already stated, the envelope has a way of pushing back, often painfully.

The question to be answered is the same one I asked of people who were building homebuilt aircraft kits -- do you want to build, or do you want to fly? In the scooter world the question is do you want to ride, or do you want to spend your days fixing things?

Get a vehicle appropriate for your intended use. You'll enjoy it a lot more.
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Re: Easiest touring scooter to maintain?

Post by Shillelagh »

So in that class, realizing there are lemons and gems in all things, any reccommended? Or to be avoided?
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Re: Easiest touring scooter to maintain?

Post by flybd5_juan »

Shillelagh wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:00 am So in that class, realizing there are lemons and gems in all things, any reccommended? Or to be avoided?
I bought a BMW touring bike for that purpose. A 1995 K1100LT Special Edition. In good condition it can be had for about 1/4 of what it will cost you for a 400cc überscooter like the Piaggios. Relatively easy to maintain and reliable, but you need long legs and good upper body strength, because the BMW K-bikes are all top-heavy.
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Re: Easiest touring scooter to maintain?

Post by Scooter_Jedi »

This response has expanded from my first intentions and so now covers scooters available in the US in general because there are varying sizes and types of scooters and some have more or less capability with intended use... whatever that intended use may be. This is a scooter guide forum, so here are some of my views on selecting a "touring scooter". (hope the size of it is not a problem)

Scooters of all sizes and types can and have been used as "touring scooters" with success to some degree. There have been folks who have gone coast to coast in the US (Scooter CannonBall Run for example) as well as cross country in countries other than the US on 50cc scooters. 150/200cc class scooters have been making inroads as well. Maxiscooters (250cc and larger) have been all over the place. Honda scooters, among other Japanese scooters and Italian scooters (Piaggio's modern Vespas for example) have proven to be pretty reliable. I wouldn't ever trust a Chinese scooter though. A lot of them have an extensive history of being poorly built and designed and fail with some regularity. (though mostly cheaper to fix... but who wants to be stranded in the middle of nowhere and to be nickle and dimed to death for parts and wrenching on it ALL the time?)

A few main points about selection:

Intended use -
Touring you say... = high mileage, extended, generally continuous runs over 200 or more miles at a time on various road conditions and weather though not necessarily always at highway speeds. (50cc scooters obviously can't do expressway speeds) Newer (designs 15 years old or less) and bigger (250cc and larger) Japanese, Italian or German scooters are going to make it more likely to be more comfortable and trouble free than other scooters.

initial cost -
Modern Japanese and Italian scooters probably most commonly used for touring are going to cost more than Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese or scooters from other countries of origin. (with the exception of German/Austrian scooters... BMW for example, which exact a premium for their state of the art designs) That pretty much holds true for older and used scooters as well. Again, Japanese, Italian and German scooters generally command a premium over other scooters whether new or used.

Cost for parts, but more importantly the availability of parts -
Generally speaking, same as in initial cost above. Newer scooters usually have parts easily available, but availability for lesser popular and much older scooters can be problematic. So vintage scooters would be less than ideal as a choice for "touring". However, Some older designs (like the Honda Helix for example) still have most parts still available since it still has a following and demand for parts.

Some replacement parts for some scooters have been made by after market manufacturers since some OEM parts are no longer made. And, some of the more popular, plentiful designs, though they be older, often still have parts available from salvage.

Newer scooters can have some quite expensive parts due to complexity. (electronics; computer control; fuel injection and drive line parts like the proprietary variator on the Burgman 650 for example)

Reliability and ease of maintenance -
Again, sounding like a broken record (which is becoming an old fashioned cliche) The top 3: Japanese, Italian and German scooters have the best history of reliability. But as far as ease of maintenance goes, you would need to research your choices individually for opinions and reports by owners. There is generally no shortage of reviews pro and con. Answers can be found on various scooter forums and from videos on YouTube.

As in above, concerning some complex expensive parts, they don't lend themselves well to repair by the average home mechanic... (replacement maybe, but actual repair? Nope, not likely.) That being said, those kinds of parts are mostly reliable and don't often fail... but when they do, whoo boy! they can cost.

Older scooters may have carburetors instead of fuel injection. (most often electronically controlled) Carburetors may need more attention than fuel injection, but can be maintained by the average home mechanic. (Again, YouTube videos are abundant and can be very helpful with repairs and maintenance on your scooter.)

Hydraulic disc brakes often found on newer scooters, perform better and generally require less attention and maintenance/adjustment than drum brakes. But when needed, disc brake maintenance is more complex than it is for drum brakes... but can still be done by owners with adequate mechanical aptitude and generally available standard mechanics tools.

Ergonomics and comfort -
Bigger scooters often, but not always = better as far as ergo's and comfort go... It might take an actual "sit on it and see how it fits" to really know. You may find opinions from owners with similar stature to your own if you can't sit on or test ride a prospective scooter yourself.

Engine type and size -
Larger engines could be considered generally more reliable and have more power to climb inclines, push through the wind without loosing speed and may have enough power for passing more quickly and safely. Naturally they usually use more fuel per mile than smaller engines. A bigger engine usually means a bigger scooter with larger tires and other consumable parts... which are also usually more expensive than for smaller scooters. Bigger often means heavier as well and likely not as easy to move around power off as smaller, lighter scooters.

Water cooled scooters are often heavier than their equally sized air cooled counterparts and require more effort with maintenance, but they also seem to be more reliable IMO and less prone to problems from over heating.

Bikes with fuel injection seem to have less starting and running issues and automatically compensate for use at higher altitudes whereas carbureted engines would require adjustment to run as efficiently as it could at altitude.

BTW, I had a scooter (2006 Honda Silverwing 600ABS) that sat unused in my garage for 3 1/2 years. Even with gas in the tank that old, (half full tank) it remarkably started on first try after a bit of cranking. I was pleasantly surprised by that. I don't think a carbureted engine would have fared as well.

Other considerations -
There are also 3 wheel scooters; some that can tilt and others that don't lean in turns. The handling is obviously different with each. The ones that can lean handle more like the conventional 2 wheel types but the non-leaning types must go slower in tight flat turns to prevent tipping toward the outside of the turn. Also, the non-leaning scooters are almost exclusively 2 wheelers modified into 3 wheelers. (there are some Chinese manufactured non-leaning 3 wheel scooters but I don't include them in the list below.)

Depending on where the bike is based and/or the size of the engine, licensing and insurance requirements can vary.

Output from the alternator/stator/generator usually varies with the size of the engine. Larger engines can produce more output than smaller engines generally... important to know if the output will be adequate if you plan to add accessories so as to not overload the electrical system.

Storage space is a consideration and size and power of the scooter is a consideration if you plan on carrying a passenger, carrying a large load or pulling a small trailer.

Aesthetics - (how pleasing it looks... or not)
Less important as far as practicality is concerned in my view, but of course looks count for some... some like what may be considered ugly.

Brief list of scooters -
I haven't the time to list and describe all of the many models, types, sizes, and years of manufacture of scooters from all the manufacturers that may have candidates possibly appropriate for "touring" but will only present a brief partial list of some of the more popular Japanese, Italian and German scooters. (available to the North American market) Of course there are other makes of scooters but I'm not going to cover them, it is just an abbreviated list to start your search from.

Japanese scooters are mainly (in no particular order) Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha.
HONDA:
NPS50 Ruckus * (rather small for use as a touring scooter, but has been done more than once before so... included)
PCX150
CH250 Elite
CN250 Helix
NSS250 Reflex
PS250 Big Ruckus
NSS300 Forza
FSC600 Silverwing

Suzuki:
AN400 Burgman
AN600 Burgman

Yamaha:
XC155 SMAX
CP250 Morphous
CZD300 XMAX
YP400 Majesty
XP500 T MAX

Tricity 300 *** (tilting 3 wheeler. Newly released to US market (summer of 2020) has possibilities.
From bikewale.com " The most interesting bit is that the scooter can be ridden by anyone with a car license, in Europe as well as the USA.")

Italiain scooters
Piaggio:
Aprilia Scarabeo 250
Aprilia Scarabeo 500
Aprilia Atlantic 500

Vespa GTS250
Vespa GTS300

BV250
BV300
BV350
BV500

MP3 250 ** (tilting 3 wheeler)
MP3 400 ** (tilting 3 wheeler)
MP3 500 ** (tilting 3 wheeler)

German scooters
BMW:
C600
C650GT

In conclusion... sometimes you just have to do the homework "self directed" to get the clearest and broadest coverage of info you are seeking. Ask for opinions and boy howdy you'll get them. But opinions are not really what you are needing, it is the granules of practical information gathered from them that are useful to you and that you are truly seeking. So here's the the list as a starting point. Hit the various forums (where you can) and ask about the scooters that interest you. Ask of their EXPERIENCES good and bad... opinions tend to be biased and affected by emotions but still may have good info in there. Do the searching, and asking and you will end up finding a scooter that best fits your criteria, one that you will be most satisfied with, one that you will keep because it was a good choice you made in the first place without spending time and $$ trying out several others beforehand.
Good luck in your search.









howzat for a first post?
Mike B.
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