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Old 08-04-2013, 06:23 PM   #1
Escaped OP
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Scooters without Automatic transmissions

I hope this is not a dumb question, but are their scooters that do not have automatic transmissions?

I always wanted to try out riding a scooter so a couple of weeks ago, while on vacation in Maui, I rented a Blur 220. I had fun riding it but I really did not like the whole automatic transmission thing.

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Old 08-04-2013, 06:36 PM   #2
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I'm confused, you had fun riding it but.........

What else do you want from a scooter? Storage space, check. Fuel economy, check. Affordable, check. Yes there are some late model scooter like options that you can shift, mainly from Honda. Feel free to do a little work on our own.
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Old 08-04-2013, 07:32 PM   #3
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The only manual shift scooters I know of are some vintage scooters and the Genuine Stella which a more recently manufactured copy of a vintage Vespa. Like you I prefer manual transmissions in general but I have found that the CVT transmissions found in almost all scooters have their advantages too. I have 2 scooters and 2 motorcycles. It's the scooters I ride the most. Around town I prefer the CVT although out on the mountain roads I really love to ride, the CVT just doesn't work as well as a manual.

My advice is to get a small scooter for running around town and enjoy it for what it is. Keep your motorcycle too so you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
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Old 08-04-2013, 07:42 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by klaviator View Post
The only manual shift scooters I know of are some vintage scooters and the Genuine Stella which a more recently manufactured copy of a vintage Vespa. Like you I prefer manual transmissions in general but I have found that the CVT transmissions found in almost all scooters have their advantages too. I have 2 scooters and 2 motorcycles. It's the scooters I ride the most. Around town I prefer the CVT although out on the mountain roads I really love to ride, the CVT just doesn't work as well as a manual.

My advice is to get a small scooter for running around town and enjoy it for what it is. Keep your motorcycle too so you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
Sounds good, the not shifting of the CVT was fine, I just did not like the take off - needing to rev it up before engine engaged. I sure I could get used to it. Maybe the scoot I rented had a problem
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Old 08-04-2013, 08:09 PM   #5
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Sounds good, the not shifting of the CVT was fine, I just did not like the take off - needing to rev it up before engine engaged. I sure I could get used to it. Maybe the scoot I rented had a problem
Not all CVTs work the same. If you don't like the way the CVT works, it can be modified. Modifying the CVTs on scooters are a very common mod. You can change the rollers with different weight rollers or sliders. Changing the springs in the clutch will change how it engages. Long before buying my first scooter I rented a Riva 125 ( in Hawaii) and also rode a friends Reflex. Both were really slow off the line and I just assumed that all scooters where like that. They aren't.

As for revving the engine before takeoff. These scooters have a centrifugal clutch which requires the engine to be revved a certain amount before engaging. I can't say if the scooter you rode was working properly. I recommend riding a few more scooters. I'm sure you will find one or more that you like.

Another thing to consider, with no clutch or shifter, the controls on a scooter are simplified. Throttle and two brake levers. The Riva I rented had a brake pedal on the floorboards. It was a PITA to use. I do like having both brakes controlled by hand levers. One thing you may want to consider if you get a scooter is that many come with linked brakes. All Hondas and some others have their brakes linked so that you can not use the rear brake independently. Some people like this feature but I think it is industrial strength stupid. I'll let you make up your own mind.
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Old 08-04-2013, 08:51 PM   #6
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If you want a gearshift, you'd probably be better off with a small cycle.

It sounds to me like you either had a scoot with some problem with the clutch (grease on it, maybe) or worn; or maybe a design. Now, some revving to get it moving is part of the package; you don't want an engagement at slow speed. Otherwise, the clutch will be dragging as the engine idles; and you'll be replacing shoes forever.

Keep in mind, the design of some scoots. Now, I have a Burgman 650...big machine. But the transmission and clutch seem designed to keep the engine at around 3000-4000 RPM. Open the throttle, engine speed increases; then the transmission adjusts and revs drop. Speed increased.

I don' think I'd want to deal with a manual clutch with a variator transmission.
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Old 08-04-2013, 10:01 PM   #7
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You can change the springs on the clutch to change the rpm it picks up at. The burgman 650 has pseudo semi manual gears. If honda bring their 700cc scooterbikething over here it has dct which might be closer to what you want. You will likely get used to a cvt, maybe just trying a scooter with more power might help? Not that the blur is underpowered.
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We have the same trouble here. What I don't understand is If it's called tourist season, why can't I shoot them
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Old 08-05-2013, 04:50 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Escaped View Post
I hope this is not a dumb question, but are their scooters that do not have automatic transmissions?
I only know LML to still produce scooters with traditional manual clutch/gear.
More common are the underbones with automatic clutch and manual shifting. But I can't recall a small scooter with this semi automatic. (Burgman650 and Integra already mentioned.)
Quote:
I just did not like the take off - needing to rev it up before engine engaged.
How do you expect the small engine to take off with i.e. 1500 rpm? The automatic clutch doesn't know about pillion and/or uphill, it must stay on the safe side and provide a reasonable compromise.

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Old 08-05-2013, 07:34 AM   #9
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I would suggest the OP to try a similar displacement dual purpose bike and see how much you need to rev it when you take off.

Also it could be argued that this is not a true 'automatic' transmission, it's a CVT, which doesn't have the inherent torque converter slip and loss of efficiency of an automotive auto-trans.

It's a 200 cc bike, most small engines need to rev up some to produce enough torque and power to make good acceleration, that includes manual transmissioned bikes.
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Old 08-05-2013, 08:24 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Escaped View Post
I hope this is not a dumb question, but are their scooters that do not have automatic transmissions?
I'm not sure if you would be willing to consider a Honda Super Cub or its available clone (US) the SYM Symba?

They do have 4 speed semi-automatic transmission (no clutch lever on the left grip). The body design, however, is more motorcycle than a scooter with their 17 inch wheels.
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Old 08-05-2013, 08:32 AM   #11
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Another option is a MadAss 125. 4 speed and manual shift. They have a pit bike type engine and are pretty easy to replace if something goes wrong or you want a bigger engine. You can put a top case on it and set it up like a scooter. It it really more of a tiny motorcycle though.
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Old 08-05-2013, 08:51 AM   #12
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Another option is a MadAss 125. 4 speed and manual shift. They have a pit bike type engine and are pretty easy to replace if something goes wrong or you want a bigger engine. You can put a top case on it and set it up like a scooter. It it really more of a tiny motorcycle though.
Madass is a fun machine; real head-turner. Four speed, kick start as well as electric, can do about 57 mph stock; plenty of kits out there to make it go faster. DMV does consider it a motorcycle. I've added a Givi topbox to mine.

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Old 08-05-2013, 09:35 AM   #13
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I too would love to have a manual transmission scooter. I do have one actually, an '09 2 stroke Genuine Stella. But it is not reliable enough to actually go very far on. I just got it going again after having to wait over a month for parts.

The reason I want a manual shift scooter is not because I love to shift so much. I just want a scooter with a lower gear. My Stella is geared WAY lower than my Vino 125 and Zuma 125. And it is actually the slowest of the three. But it will climb. It will climb anything, without lugging the engine, because first gear is so low that I can keep the engine speed up on pretty much any hill that could be climbed on such a bike without flipping over backwards.


The CVTs on the Vino and Zuma have a very limited gear range. They work fine on a flat road, or a very light grade, but try to climb a real hill with them, and it's like trying to do so on a small motorcycle about 2 gears to high. The engine just bogs, the rpms won't go up, and they lug the engine like crazy. There are no modifications that will correct this. In order to give them a wider gear range, you would need pulleys that are to big to fit in the CVT housing.

I seem to have trouble trying to make people understand this. It's about the same as if you took a manual shift motorcycle, and eliminated the 2 lowest gears. These scooters take off fairly well on level ground, though not nearly as fast as a 125cc motorcycle, but that is fine with me. I used a clip on inductive tachometer to check engine rpm at top speed on a flat level road. I then tried to climb a fairly steep grade, which puts a lot more of a load on the engine than cruising on a level road, and found that the rpms were just a little above HALF what they were while at top speed on a level road. They should have been close to the same, and would have been in the Stella, or any manual shift motorcycle, in the right gear.


So while small CVT scooters work fine on fairly level surfaces, they are no good for riding in the mountains.

Another example. I used to have a class A CDL, (I lost it recently due to medical reasons) and have driven semi trucks. I'm sure you have come up behind a semi truck going about 15 mph while climbing a steep grade in first gear. Their road speed may have been really low, but the tachometer was near the top, which is where it should have been hauling a full load up the side of a mountain. Engines make the most power at higher rpms, that's why they have transmissions, to change the engine speed relative to road speed. But it is impossible to keep a CVT scooter engine at high rpms while climbing. You either need a large cc scooter, or one with a manual shift.

The problem is, I do not know of a manual shift scooter, or underbone, available in the U.S. that is capable of highway travel. I see this as a huge hole in the small scooter market. I love my Zuma 125, but it sure would be nice with either a manual transmission, or a DCT, a CVT with a MUCH lower gear range, or some kind of separate "low" range, like the CT90/110, specifically for hill climbing. Speaking of those bikes, why do you think they put the low range on them?
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Old 08-05-2013, 09:50 AM   #14
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Well you can throw a lot of money into a Honda clone engine and make a underbone go like stink, but their relative reliability goes out the door.

It's a shame that Lifan hason't pursued bringing some of their home market bikes and engines to the US. They had on their company website, in products, a 200cc and 250 cc inline twin with water cooling, with the cylinders laid down at near the same angle as the OHC Honda clone 'horizontals'.

Of course no mention of what bike this engine was for.

It was listed as a 5 speed transmission and the overall dimensions were not too wide either.
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Old 08-05-2013, 10:11 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by JerryH View Post
I too would love to have a manual transmission scooter. I do have one actually, an '09 2 stroke Genuine Stella. But it is not reliable enough to actually go very far on. I just got it going again after having to wait over a month for parts.

The reason I want a manual shift scooter is not because I love to shift so much. I just want a scooter with a lower gear. My Stella is geared WAY lower than my Vino 125 and Zuma 125. And it is actually the slowest of the three. But it will climb. It will climb anything, without lugging the engine, because first gear is so low that I can keep the engine speed up on pretty much any hill that could be climbed on such a bike without flipping over backwards.


The CVTs on the Vino and Zuma have a very limited gear range. They work fine on a flat road, or a very light grade, but try to climb a real hill with them, and it's like trying to do so on a small motorcycle about 2 gears to high. The engine just bogs, the rpms won't go up, and they lug the engine like crazy. There are no modifications that will correct this. In order to give them a wider gear range, you would need pulleys that are to big to fit in the CVT housing.

I seem to have trouble trying to make people understand this. It's about the same as if you took a manual shift motorcycle, and eliminated the 2 lowest gears. These scooters take off fairly well on level ground, though not nearly as fast as a 125cc motorcycle, but that is fine with me. I used a clip on inductive tachometer to check engine rpm at top speed on a flat level road. I then tried to climb a fairly steep grade, which puts a lot more of a load on the engine than cruising on a level road, and found that the rpms were just a little above HALF what they were while at top speed on a level road. They should have been close to the same, and would have been in the Stella, or any manual shift motorcycle, in the right gear.


So while small CVT scooters work fine on fairly level surfaces, they are no good for riding in the mountains.

Another example. I used to have a class A CDL, (I lost it recently due to medical reasons) and have driven semi trucks. I'm sure you have come up behind a semi truck going about 15 mph while climbing a steep grade in first gear. Their road speed may have been really low, but the tachometer was near the top, which is where it should have been hauling a full load up the side of a mountain. Engines make the most power at higher rpms, that's why they have transmissions, to change the engine speed relative to road speed. But it is impossible to keep a CVT scooter engine at high rpms while climbing. You either need a large cc scooter, or one with a manual shift.

The problem is, I do not know of a manual shift scooter, or underbone, available in the U.S. that is capable of highway travel. I see this as a huge hole in the small scooter market. I love my Zuma 125, but it sure would be nice with either a manual transmission, or a DCT, a CVT with a MUCH lower gear range, or some kind of separate "low" range, like the CT90/110, specifically for hill climbing. Speaking of those bikes, why do you think they put the low range on them?
Jerry, maybe the reason people have trouble understanding this is that they don't have this problem. My Super 8 150 climbs steep hills without any problems. It is only a 150 so it won't go 60 MPH up steep hills but it will climb them without any issues. My Sport city is more affected by hills but does OK as long as I'm not carrying a passenger. If I wanted better hill climbing ability I could install lighter rollers or sliders. It's a simple fix. I don't understand why you keep harping on this issue.

Does anyone else out there have the severe hill climbing issues that Jerry does?
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