Read About Life With a Vespa

Battery and 2000 Miles

By lem at 6:12 pm on October 10, 2006 | 1 Comment

Last Thursday I called to have my Vespa towed into the local service center. Since the towing is free (covered under warranty) I figured it was better to do it that way than risk another kick start. I had also just hit 2000 miles on my Vespa a few days before, which means it was time for another service.

The towing was fairly smooth. I called an 800 number, several hours later a guy met me at my house and used a ramp to put the Vespa in the back of his pickup truck. I gave him my information, and he was off to the service center. A few days later I hadn’t heard anything from the Vespa service center, so I called to find out how things were going.

Apparently my battery was fine, it was just not charged. My trips recently have been so short that the engine has been unable to keep it properly charged. They suggested either taking long rides on the weekend to help the battery recoup, or periodically using a Battery Tender to trickle charge the battery.

The tread of rear tire was also a bit worn, so they replaced it. They suggested that when carrying passengers a lot that it’s a good idea to add a few extra PSI’s of air to each tire. I also received the regular maintenance and oil change that happens at 2000 miles. I’m happy to report that my Vespa is back in excellent shape and running smoothly!

Filed under: Maintenance1 Comment »

How To Kick Start a Vespa

By lem at 9:02 am on September 28, 2006 | 36 Comments

After what happened last night, I decided to peruse Google in search of instructions for kick starting a Vespa LX 150. I was surprised that the results were fairly light, and other than a few warnings about possible damage to the engine casing, I didn’t find very much on the subject. Based on my own experiences, and the little scraps I found on Google, I have decided to write the definitive guide “HOWTO: Kick Start Your Vespa”.

What good would free advice be without a few caveats? First my Vespa is a 2006 model LX 150, so people with older models may have an entirely different experience. Second, I’m not an expert but am merely trying to provide some help to anyone who may be in need. Please keep the hate mail to a minimum! Third, I’ve been told my the Vespa service folks that the kick start is merely aesthetic and is mostly non-functional, especially in situations where the battery is dead or nearly dead. While I don’t disagree, my results obviously vary from theirs.

You’ll most likely need the assistance of a second person to make this happen. The reasons will become apparent soon enough. Without further delay, here goes:

  1. Turn the key to the on position so the headlight is illuminated.
  2. Make sure the Vespa is on the kickstand. Since the kick start and the kickstand are located in close proximity, it is physically impossible to have a successful kick start without the bike being on the stand.
  3. Have the person who will be using the kick start level (we’ll call him the “kicker” for now) stand on the side of the Vespa with the kick start and the “helper” (that second person I mentioned) on the side with the throttle.
  4. Unlike using the electric starter, DO NOT grasp the brake handles. The brakes must not be engaged.
  5. Have the kicker make complete movements of the kick start lever with their foot while at the same time the helper is gently opening the throttle (no more than halfway) to give the engine some gas.
  6. Continue to kick and open the throttle until the engine kicks over.

It may take several attempts to get the coordination just right, and the kicker’s kicking leg is sure to get tired and sore very quickly. But in a pinch, this can save you from an expensive tow. Of course, you’ll want to drive the Vespa immediately to a place where either you or a Vespa service person can diagnose the cause of the electric starter failure.

Please leave a comment if this has helped you, or if you have further insight to offer. I’d love to update these instructions as warranted!

Filed under: Maintenance,Tips and Tricks36 Comments »

Dead Battery?

By lem at 11:25 pm on September 27, 2006 | 6 Comments

I’ve noticed for the past few weeks that the electric starter on my Vespa LX 150 has been a little sluggish. I had to hold the button longer to get the engine to kick over properly. While I didn’t consider this to be normal behavior, I wasn’t sure if it was something worth making the drive out to the Vespa service center for.

And then tonight, my girlfriend and I were downtown picking up dinner at Lindy’s with a plan of taking it home to eat. When I went to start the Vespa, I noticed the headlight was considerably dimmer, and the starter was barely cranking. Immediately I recognized the problem: a nearly dead battery.

My girlfriend is an AAA member, and after waiting for over two hours for them to show up we decided to try kick starting the Vespa. When I first bought it, I read the instruction manual cover to cover (well, at least the English portions) and the only part about kick starting said something about why it was a bad idea. But I figured getting stranded downtown DC at 11 PM on a weeknight couldn’t be much of a better option. After several attempts, we figured out how to get the kick start to work properly and we were off.

I know that like cars, motorcycle batteries charge themselves while the engine is running. We drove around for a while and parked back at home. My hope is there will be enough charge to get the Vespa started in the morning. We’ll see how it goes in a few hours!

Filed under: Maintenance6 Comments »

First Maintenance

By lem at 2:11 pm on April 20, 2006 | No comments

Earlier this week I crossed the 625-mile mark on my odometer, and promptly called to the local Vespa dealership to make an appointment for the first servicing.

As Vespa enthusiasts themselves, the guys at the shop were interesting to chat with about everything from inspections to DC speeding cameras. I was happy to learn that my Vespa is in tip-top shape, and with fresh oil is good until 2000 miles.

Going into today’s servicing, I tried to do some research on the internet about how much services cost, what they do, and how long it takes. My complete service lasted 45 minutes and included a thorough checkup and oil change. The total cost was $143.15 including tax on the new oil filter. This must be a flat-rate charge, because I was actually charged for 1.4 hours of work (at $70/hr). The total of the oil filter and oil made up the rest, making that part of it comparable to an oil change on a car at a place like Jiffy Lube. Next time I go in I will be more mindful of the time, and perhaps raise the issue.

It’s a gorgeous day outside today, at about 80 now with a projected high of 83. The ride to and from the Service Center was very enjoyable, and I’m planning on getting out for a bit this afternoon too.

Filed under: Maintenance Leave A Comment »