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.
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