Unlike my 1971 Gerille Moped, modern scooters come equipped with electric starters powered by batteries, very much like a car. Actually one of my Vespas has a battery, but it is only 6 volts and only powers the brake light, horn, and parking light. No fancy electric starter on these old bikes.

Care of Scooter Batteries

We get a lot of calls from customers whose scooter won’t start. After making sure that the kill switch is set to on, we then ask how long it has been since the scooter was last ridden. If it is a long time, chances are high that the battery has discharged to the point that it 1) Doesn’t have enough power to run the starter and 2) Probably needs to be replaced. The lead-acid batteries used in scooters and motorcycles (usually) will not hold a charge if they are discharged too far.

Although scooter batteries are being constantly recharged while the engine is running, they are only receiving a ˜top up charge’. Scooter batteries are not rechargeable like mobile phone batteries, which run almost completely flat then can be recharged. Once a scooter battery drops below the level required to start the motor (usually around 12.4 volts), it means that the battery is starting to fail and is going to have to be replaced because it will no longer hold a charge. Unless you are a diehard scooterist who rides almost every day, you should get yourself a battery charger. We sell them, of course. A great one costs only about $30. The battery in your scooter will lose between 1/2% to 1% of its output PER DAY. The rate is very sensitive to temperature, too… The discharge rate at 95F is TWICE as fast as 77F and 130F is pretty much lethal. Our desert summer temperatures are very hard on batteries.

The best (and most fun) thing you can do to ensure a long life (up to 3 years) for your battery is to ride your scooter often. If you aren’t going to do that, your best bet is to get a battery maintainer.

Let’s Talk About Pressure

Tire pressure is the most important pre-ride inspection point. At the very least you should try to inspect and fill you tires every two weeks in the winter and monthly in the Summer. Low tire pressure can cause a loss of control, flat tires, poor gas mileage, and low performance. Standard tire pressure on most scooters is 25-35 psi in the front and 30-40 psi in the rear.

How do you know for sure what the right tire pressure is? Look in your owner’s manual or on the sticker on your scooter. Where not to look? At the side of your tire. The pressure on the tire is the maximum you want to ever put in the tire, not the right pressure. The owner’s manual and sticker pressures are calculated by the engineers who engineered your scooter and are chosen for the right combination of performance, comfort, and safety.

Pressure can be personalized for a softer or harder ride and the rear should be raised by 5psi when riding a passenger to maintain performance characteristics. You are always welcome stop by Solano Scooters for a FREE tire and pressure inspection. Compressed air can also be found at most gas stations and it is the same air hose your car uses. Unfortunately, they often charge for it and you will usually need an air pressure. We also offers a good selection of economy, performance, and whitewall tires to keep your scooter looking great, and performing well.Â

Problems with Ethanol fuels

Today thanks to federal and state programs most all fuel contains ethanol. Now my 2 cents—- who is really making the money from this– a shortage of food (corn) world wide and we make it a law or insintave to use it mixed with gasoline. Vehicles get less fuel economy hence use more fuel.  Does anyone find a problem with this other than me?? Although the signage will typically indicate “10% Ethanol”, in fact, that percentage can legally range from 8% to 13% in small engine carburation this represents a huge swing, potentially impacting performance.

Problem 1: Debris in Fuel
Gumming forms quickly in the fuel tank and delivery systems as ethanol fuel ages. But because ethanol is also a powerful solvent, this build up is stripped, dispersed and then moves back into the fuel as larger, “bogging” particles. This leads to clogged filters, injectors and carburetors.

Problem 2: Extra water in the fuel and phase separation
Ethanol attracts moisture from the atmosphere (think winter rains and monsoon weather esp.) which forms an ethanol/water solution mixed in the fuel. Although there is a suspension of the mixture with a functioning threshold, if additional moisture is present or the fuel cools quickly, that water/ethanol mix drops out of suspension (also known as phase separation). This separation causes a variety of aggravating symptoms and problems including: engines running rough, stalling, and potentially leading to internal damage to engine components. Ethanol is touted for providing a significant amount of the fuel’s octane, so when separation happens and the water/ethanol drop to the bottom of the tank, the remaining fuel mixture may not have enough octane to properly operate the engine.

Problem 3: Ethanol fuels break down rapidly
Over a short period of time (especially in the tiny amounts with motorcycle carbs, fuel pumps, and delivery systems) ethanol fuel begins to break down. As ethanol and other fuel components evaporate, the fuel loses octane. This causes hard starts, pinging and engine knocks…all of this is robbing your engine of power with potential for engine damage.

Problem 4: Altogether Ethanol causes lost power, reduced engine performance and decreased fuel economy
Ethanol fuel does not produce as much energy as traditional fuel. This results in inefficient combustion, decreased performance, reduced throttle response and lowered fuel economy.

The best defense I can offer is use good quality fuel from a major brand (Shell, Chevron ect). Use only the premium it”s just a little more expensive but will save you money in the long run ,ride your scooter often to keep the fuel from drying up in the carb.  Better than that—–ride your scooter a lot!!!

(This information was borrowed from ScootOver, Tucson Arizona.)