We all love our scooters, especially when they are new and shiny and perform well. However, over time the performance of a scooter will decrease and we might up with a broken scooter if we don’t maintain it regularly. Here are some tips that should help you maintain a scooter and keep it in great shape! This guides is meant for 50cc 2-Stroke scooters but is generally true for 4-Stroke and Maxi Scooters as well.
Keep Your Scooter Clean
The number one rule for every vehicle should be to keep your ride clean. Sure you can polish and wax it but that should not be a regularly task to do. However, keeping it clean is essential to avoid corrosion and other nasty build up on your scoot. All you need is a water hose and some soap. Make sure to clean it as thoroughly as possible (on the outside) and avoid watering engine elements like the airfilter, etc. too much. One of the most important aspects of cleaning is: Take a ride after you’re done! This is often forgotten but an essential aspect when cleaning at home. When hosing down your scooter, water ends up in the weirdest parts of your scooter. By taking a ride the fresh air helps to evaporate that water and prevents rust on the frame and engine.
Check Your Tire Pressure
Tire pressure is important for your safety, but also helps to reduce fuel consumption and tire wear. The tire pressure needs to be applied in relation to the weight of your scooter but also your body weight and potential additional load. You can refer to your scooters manual for the correct pressure but common on 50cc scooters is 2-2.2 bar of pressure.
Replace Your Brake Pads
This should go without saying. Always make sure the your pads / shoes are in good condition and not below 1.5mm. Check every 5000km and more often depending on your riding style!
Maintain Your Air Filter
The air filter ensure that your engine is fed the correct amount of air and also helps to keep this air clean. Nearly all air filters use a special filter oil to keep that dust out of your engine. Make sure to rinse your air filter regularly and apply filter oil if necessary. Usual intervals recommend every 12 months or 5000 km’s. However, I’d recommend to do this every 6 weeks, depending if you are living in a dusty and dry area. Note: If you run a metal mesh tuning air filter, oil does not need to be applied. However, keep in mind to clean these mesh air filter very regularly using alcohol and soapy water. Damaged mesh air filters should be replaced!
Clean And Replace Your Spark Plug Regularly
The spark plug in a two stroke engine is a high performance part, especially when running a tuned engine it need to ignite often more than 10.000 times per minute. Make sure to check your spark plug regularly (every 500-1000km) and clean it using a metal brush. I recommend replacement of the spark plug on tuned engines every 1000-1500km for standard ones, and every 2500-4000km for high grade (platinum/silver) spark plugs. When checking your spark plug look out for oily tips as this means your carburator needs adjustment. Another indicator of e.g. a too lean running engine is a whiteish tip. The perfect spark plug tip should be dry and hazelnut brown.
Check Your Gaskets
All those gaskets are applied for a reason. We scooterists especially tend to loose the gasket of the variator cover. This is no problem if you open and clean the engine housing regularly but if you don’t make sure to always keep a few spare gaskets. Other gaskets to regularly check are the cylinder head gasket (replace every 1-2000km on a sport cylinder kit) and the exhaust gasket.
Check Your Liquids
Liquids include transmission oil, !engine! oil, cooling liquid, brake and battery fluid. Make sure to check these regularly. Transmission oil does not need too much attention, as it usually has no contact to the environment. Still, especially on tuned engines with replaced gears, the oil contaminates with metal abrasive. Make sure to change the oil after 6 months or 5000km and then every 1-2 years.
Clean Your Carburetor
Depending on the state of your air filter you should regularly clean your carburetor. There is special carburetor cleaner available but you can also use soapy water and some alcohol. Don’t use lemon acid or similar, as this dries out the cast and causes it to break!
Apply Grease To Your Variator Rollers and Rear Pulley
This goes for both tuning and stock variators. I know that all manufacturers state, that it is not necessary to grease their rollers (Polini, Malossi, etc). However, over the years I have simply noticed that the rollers just last longer when they are greased. Use special roller grease like the Malossi MRG grease. Be accurate and don’t use too much grease, as this will only mess up the engine housing. Make sure to keep the drive belt clean, when applying the grease! I recommend greasing when necessary (usually every 2-2500km on tuned engines). Make sure to apply LocTite (medium strength) to the variator and clutch female screw and tighten with the right torque (45NM for 50cc!)
Check Your Drive Belt
The drive belt wears off and along with the width, the transmission ratio slightly changes. Over time this will reduce your top speed! Refer to the manual for the drive belt minimum width (usually something like 17.5mm).
Replace Exposed Screws
This goes especially if you ride your scooter in bad weather conditions. The screws that are exposed to the elements tend to corrode. Especially the screws used for fenders, etc. tend to be cheap ass shit! Make sure to replace these at some point in time. If you don’t you will need to drill them out after a few years. If you love your scooter invest a few $’s and get some quality screws. The more you replace, the better, tho engine screws, or those used for the brakes are of a high quality already and tend not to corrode so easily.
Get Some High Quality Suspension
The stock shock absorbers tends to wear out rather quick (especially on cheap China scooters). Thus it is recommended to replace your scooters suspension with some aftermarket parts, the sooner the better. You won’t believe how much of a difference it makes!
Consider Derestricting Your Engine
Tho, illegal in most countries I recommend derestricting your scooter’s engine if you want to increase its lifespan. Restrictions are applied after the design of the engine and alter its performance negatively. Additional parts are being installed which hinder the engine to work as expected. Some of the common restrictions like, e.g. the variator ring actually damage the variator over time. Have a look at our derestriction article to read more about this topic!
Replace Your Reed Valve Membranes With Carbon Fibre Ones
Stock engines ship with metal reed valve membranes. If these membranes fail (break), they usually severe damage to the engine. Better replace them with cheap carbon or kevlar fibre membranes. Not only are these less likely to break, but if they do so, they usually don’t cause any damage!
Consider Replacing The Stock Crankshaft with a Tuning Crankshaft
The stock crankshaft usually lasts several thousands of kilometers and can also handle slighlty tuned engines. However if you want to run your scooter for several ten thousand kilometers I recommend to replace the stock crankshaft with a tuning crankshaft. A full circle crankshaft requires a bit more engine power to get up to speed but on the other hand runs much smoother (thus taking stress from the bearings). When you replace the crankshaft, make sure to replace the bearings with high quality ones as well (NTN from Japan, or SKF from France).
Tuned Engines Require Increased Maintenance
One of the downsides of tuning is that the increased performance also requires increased maintenance. Especially aspects like the brakes and tires should be controlled regularly when riding a tuned scooter. Also the wear in the transmission increases, especially for the drive belt and the variator rollers, thus make sure to check them regularly (my given intervals already reflect the maintenance efforts for slightly tuned engines). Another thing to regularly replace on a tuned engine with a bigger cylinder are the piston rings. Make sure to replace the piston rings on a sport cylinder every 1500-2500 km to keep compression levels high!
As you can see, maintain a scooter is actually not so hard. I hope these tips help you enjoy your scooter for longer. Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments!