Given a free scooter - let's ride!

Discussion in 'Battle Scooters' started by Dirk_Gently, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. Dirk_Gently

    Dirk_Gently n00b

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    Hello scooterists!

    Is that the right term? I don’t even know honestly. I’ve never had a scooter before, though I’ve looked at them once or twice since they seemed like they might be fun. I’ve always been a motorcycle guy and have had a handful of those two wheeled toys over the years. Now though, thanks to some friends, I’ve added a scooter to the ranks.

    How did that happen? Well, a friend of mine bought his wife a scooter a few years ago so she would have a way of getting around without having to add a second car. Sadly, while her enthusiasm was high her courage was not. Nothing could convince her to do more than putter up and down the street in front of her house. The little scooter was parked and covered outside the garage and has sat since about 2010. Recently, I bought my 1st house and the scooter couple comes by and says I should have it since I’m a two-wheeled kind of guy. So, as a house warming gift I received a 2010 Hammerhead La Vita scooter.

    Now, I’ve done some research and while there isn’t much out there on the little La Vita, it does seem to have had a pretty short lived life. And, obviously, I’m aware that Chinese scooters aren’t held in very high regard. But, I thought I would give my early impressions of the new toy since there don’t seem to be too many owners out there. Anyone who can chime in with anything useful, please do!

    I’m amazed at how good of condition it’s in, considering it was stored outside under a cover and didn’t move for in the neighborhood of 3 years. Some light, spotty rust on a bit of the chrome trim, but other than that it still looks brand new. The body is plastic, but the bolt heads are clean and the engine/exhaust isn’t rusted. I think it might be of a decent quality actually.

    With 3 year old gas in it, it started on the 3rd kick (I can’t help it, I like a kick start) once the battery was charged up. That shocked me. Idles smoothly seems to top out at about 80KPH/50MPH. Which seems a bit slow for a 150cc to me, but like I said I have very little experience with scooters. Maybe it still needs to break in a little. It only has something like 65 miles on it. Or maybe that’s all it will do.

    Front and rear hydraulic disk brakes work like a charm

    I’ve scooted around the local area a little and I can say that 10 inch wheels and skinny tires are a little harrowing, but it’s super fun! I even like the pseudo-Vespa look of the Vita.

    Alright, I’ve written a book here. :D

    It seems like a decent little scooter, we'll see how long that impression lasts. :rofl
    #1
  2. TrashCan

    TrashCan Scary Jerry

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    Well, the price is sure right.
    Most people that have good luck with the Chinese scoots all seem to do the same thing right off the bat.

    Service everything on the scooter now. All fluids, oil, brake fluid and lube the cables.



    Have fun with the new ride.:thumb
    #2
  3. Dirk_Gently

    Dirk_Gently n00b

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    Do you guys finish the break-in period or just dump everything? I have DOT 3 in the garage and picked up engine and gear oil to change everything, but I was waiting until I got to at least 300 KM, the recommended service interval. (Oh, everything's in metric... I already miss MPH. I'm going to have write it all in or something)

    I checked the oil when I picked it up from their house and it's clean and honey colored and the break fluid is clear and full. Would you still ditch what's in there? I mean, I wouldn't think it would be cheapo fluid, it was setup at a local scooter shop when they bought it new. Of course, it has been sitting outside and might have water condensed in it I suppose.
    #3
  4. cdwise

    cdwise Long timer

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    The LaVita scooters are a better quality Chinese scoot since the US importer does try to exert some quality control so if you are going to go Chinese you could do a lot worse.

    Most of the Chinese scoots I've ridden with (there are a few in the local scooter group) have a lower top end than the Japanese, Taiwanese and Italian/European scoots of the same displacement. Generally they have a lower top speed than the Indian ones as well. Most do very poorly when it comes to riding in windy conditions. On a not too long ago ride we had a pair of 150cc Chinese scoots and with the wind out that day they had a problem maintaining over 38mph but the owners have blinged out those little scoots with homemade top cases, flags and other stuff which I'm sure hasn't help its capabilities.

    Modern quality 150cc scoots should be able to manage 65 and comfortably cruise in the 55mph range all day long. Our Genuine Buddy 125 has managed low 70s in the right conditions and will cruise around 60 pretty much all day long depending on rider weight. There does seem to be an improvement in top end most of the time after around 500 miles but it wouldn't surprise me if your LaVita never makes it much over 50mph. The Stella, aka LML Star (Indian) doesn't get much over 50 with its 150cc engine but its using technology more or less from the 1970s since the factory producing them was a Piaggio India factory that was sold when Piaggio pulled out of India in the mid/late 70s.

    We've never been particularly careful about break in periods typically just varying speed frequently not coddling the engine particularly but how well that works with a Chinese scoot I couldn't say.

    Remember the strength of a small scoot like the one you got a deal on is running around in urban areas where it should be quick off the mark and very flickable so don't expect miracles of speed. Enjoy your new ride.
    #4
  5. k3ith

    k3ith Been here awhile

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    I don't know anything about a LaVita, but you can't complain about the price!

    50mph seems a little low, but it might pick up a bit after the break in period. If the first maintenance is at 300KM, I'd just wait till then to change all the fluids. Just don't try any long distance runs and try to keep the speed and acceleration under control in the mean time. (also helps to make friends with the guy accross the street with a pickup.)

    Tiny 10 inch wheels were the scariest thing about scooters to me when I got mine; avoid roads under construction or that need construction as the potholes, cracks, roughed up concrete, etc. will pull the bike to one side or another.
    #5
  6. Dirk_Gently

    Dirk_Gently n00b

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    Oh, no doubt. It's been quite able to keep up with traffic going to work on local streets and I headed across the city last night to go to dinner and it worked admirably. A little extra speed would be nice on certain roads - when the limit is 45 and everyone is going 55 you hate to be stuck at 50. But, even if this is it it's enough for what I'll do with it.

    It's hard to beat the price I paid, and I think it's a cool little ride.
    #6
  7. DougFromKentucky

    DougFromKentucky Just a good 'ole boy

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    You are in better shape with your Chinese scooter than I was back in the late 90's with a Sundiro I bought new back then. The thing was a piece of crap and every time I ordered a part for it I had to get them from a Lawn Mower supply company who in turn had to order them from China. After I had put 6000 km on it someone did me a favor and swiped it. Things are now much better in the US for people who own Chinese scooters. Parts are more readily available for one. There is also the Battle Scooters section of ADVrider for another. I would for sure consider buying a Sym if I was in the market for another Chinese scoot but for now I will keep riding my Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive. I know, I know, the Burgie is big, heavy and fat but I do love it.

    Oh, and congratulations on your new to you scooter. Take care of it and it should last you a while. They are a hoot to ride.

    Namaste'
    Doug in Kentucky
    #7
  8. Dirk_Gently

    Dirk_Gently n00b

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    Thanks Doug! I'm hoping to get a lot of enjoyment out of this little guy. Now, if only I could get the 2 part seat I've seen in photos. How universal are the bits and bobs on Vespa knock-offs?
    #8
  9. WheelsnKeels

    WheelsnKeels Bikes n Boats

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    I lived in Indy about 15 years ago, and a scooter should be a lot of fun there. I was just west of Meridian near Holliday Park and worked over in Broad Ripple, a scoot would have been ideal for that kind of commute, and some neighborhood cruising...

    With the way the streets are laid out in a big grid there, you should be able to ride it all over the place during Paving season, avoiding the worst traffic without too much in the way of detours. Too bad that they don't allow engines on the Monon Trail. :D
    #9
  10. TrashCan

    TrashCan Scary Jerry

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    This is from different internet boards, so use your own judgement.

    The fluids used are from China. The dealer usually puts the bikes together and that is all.

    When you put your fluids in, you know what is going on, otherwise :dunno.

    A quart or two of oil and some brake fluid would be some cheap peace of mind.
    But that's just me.


    YMMV.
    #10
  11. Dirk_Gently

    Dirk_Gently n00b

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    Sounds reasonable. And you're right, it's not like a quart of oil is particularly expensive. Probably a good idea to flush it out and make sure it's not filled with a mixture of water and local soils or anything.
    #11
  12. TrashCan

    TrashCan Scary Jerry

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    A lot of the folks will flush it out before putting any miles on the bike.
    #12
  13. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    I would definitely change the engine and gear oil. The brake fluid should be ok if the system has remained sealed, and if is not dark. Aside from it being Chinese, the fact that it sat for 3 years bothers me. I can't believe it started on 3 year old gas. Around here (we have ethanol gas) we are lucky if the gas is still usable at 6 months old. I won't leave gas in a bike for over a month before draining it out. The ethanol does bad things to the fuel system.

    I would also check the tires, since it sat outside for so long. Assuming they were flat, they may have developed flat spots and will come apart on you after a short time. Look for cracks in the rubber. Also pretty sure it will need a new battery. Other than that, just go over it with a fine tooth comb, check and lube everything that moves, like levers and cables, and look for any problems. I might even replace the belt. It has set for 3 years outside wrapped around the pulleys, so it it is probably deformed and fail after a short time in use.


    EDIT: I just looked it up. That is a cool looking scooter. Looks almost like a vintage Vespa. Sounds like it is no longer available, so some parts might be hard to find. I'm assuming it has the standard GY6 engine, and probably several common Chinese scooter parts. I had never heard of this one before.
    #13
  14. fullmetalscooter

    fullmetalscooter Let me take this duck off

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    Dr pully slider will give you scooter a little boast. Don't know what engine clone it was so I can't tell you what to use. . Nice that you got it for free but the motorcyle tires should be replaced after 3 years no mater what . Beside most scooter tires run between 25 to 50 bucks. I hope it works out for you. If there isn't an inline fuel filter I would stick one on.
    #14
  15. Dirk_Gently

    Dirk_Gently n00b

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    The vaguely Vespa look is part of why I like it. On close (any) inspection it's pretty obviously not the same quality, but if you squint a bit it's surprisingly close in basic form. My neighbor even asked me about "the Vespa" I had acquired. :D

    Research has indicated it is a GY6 clone motor, which I gather is pretty standard operating procedure on the Chinese scooters. The major difference being fuel injection - which I think is the only reason it started with that old gas in it. I didn't think there was a hope it would start, given the state it was in, without draining the tank. I just thought I'd give it a couple kicks to see what happened with a fresh battery and lo and behold, life. Am running some fuel system cleaning in this tank to hopefully flush out the injectors.

    I think you're right that sourcing any scooter specific parts will be basically impossible. My hope is that most of the parts are interchangeable with other things. My biggest concerns are things relating to the fuel injection (since that doesn't seem to be very common) and the digital gauge cluster (which I have read was one of the most common problems with this scooter). Not sure a fault in either of those areas is fixable without getting hip deep in bodging.

    I'll have to look into the Dr. Pully deal. A little extra chutzpah would always be a bit helpful. I think doing anything else is probably not advisable. With FI rather than carb it's not like I can increase fuel flow on this thing in any reasonable way (I don't think). So, exhaust work of a freer flowing air filter or something would just lean it out even more.

    Tire wise, I'm right there with you. I had similar concerns so I ordered some white walls yesterday - might as well double down on the faux vintage look, right? :clap

    Fuel filter sounds like a good investment too.

    Ah, A whole new world of things to learn. CV transmissions and pulleys and weights and belts and.... It's just like a motorcycle, only totally different. =)
    #15
  16. Vertical C

    Vertical C Long timer

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    Make sure you go round regularly and tighten bolts. That is one of the things that get loose on these machines.

    +1 on changing fluids as cheap insurance.
    #16