Monday, July 03, 2017


     Yesterday, I finally spent more than mere minutes on my motor scooter.  It's the real deal, a Vespa-like Bajaj Chetak* with a 150cc 4-stroke one cylinder motor and a twist-to-shift four-speed manual transmission with a hand clutch:† big enough to get into trouble, small enough that you'd better have a plan for when you do.

     The scooter started right up with the pedal, just one tap and blup-blupblupblipblupblipblup....!  Tire pressure was okay and the oil--  It's a year old; it wants changing sooner rather than later.  (It's a fiddly job, more like working on a sewing machine.  So that's on my list.)

     I'd topped up the battery a few days earlier -- no one makes a sealed battery quite the right size for these -- and planned on a series of rides of increasing length to see if it was going to need replaced or not. Halfway through the longest trip (about a mile), I stopped to window-shop, and was able to use the electric start!

     So that's looking good.  I'm about due to replace the tires -- or get them replaced, as the wheels are two-piece and the tires are tubeless, so there may be a trick to it -- but with an oil change, I may be able to do some scooter commuting yet this year. 
*  Bajaj, an Indian company, apparently started out building licensed Vespa copies, then drifted farther and farther off-model, the four-stroke engine being the most obvious.  A late-model Chetak has very little parts commonality with a Vespa, despite a striking resemblance.  In the home market, these served the purpose of a second car in a middle-class American household.  With increasing prosperity came consumer desire for larger vehicles; Bajaj dropped their scooter line about 2006, kept their motorcycle range, and last I knew, had added small automobiles.  At the time, Bajaj was building the only California-legal motor scooter.  Competitor Star/LML just happened to be coming off a prolonged worker's strike at the time; their scooters were much close to the Vespa original and as production resumed, they quickly added a version with a four-stroke, low-emission engine and filled the vacancy the competitor had left.

 † Shifting a classic scooter takes some getting used to: the clutch lever and twist-shifter are both on the left grip. Tapping your toes will not help!  Same pattern as a motorcycle but finding the gears is a matter of practice.


JayNola said...

Glad to hear you had a good day. Little moto-blogging is always a good thing to read. Hope you have another good one.

Antibubba said...

There's nothing like a little scooter to brighten your life. I had a little 2-stroke (CA compliant, no less!) 49cc for a few years when I was too poor for a car. I won it in a drawing. 40 mph top speed with a special oil. There's really no better way to get around town.