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A simple guide to springtime scooter start-ups Featured

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It's time to blow the dust off your scooter and take to the streets but the thing has been sitting idle for months. Unless you have taken all the proper steps to insure an easy spring start-up (such as keeping the battery on a Battery Tender, stabilizing the fuel and starting the scooter regularly) it's going to take a little bit of doin' to get it back on the road. There's nothing to fear, though. In many cases few simple steps can return your machine to its operational glory.


There are two primary reasons that your scooter will not start after a period of storage. A dead battery is one; stale fuel is the other. Each of these circumstances could have been avoided but let's face it - we all have plenty of other priorities. It's easy to neglect our scooters in the winter time, causing them to be tricky to fire up in the spring. We're not here to judge. We refer to the malady a stored scooter develops as "sitting disease" and it is extremely common. There's every possibility that you can overcome sitting disease without bringing your scooter into the shop.


The first step is to attempt to charge the battery with your Battery Tender Junior ($40). Keep it on a charge for a good three to four hours or until the charge light on your Tender switched from red to green - indicating that the battery is charged fully. If after a few hours the light never becomes green you may need to pop in and purchase a new battery for your scooter (average cost around $45). Batteries that have been allowed to fall in voltage and remain depleted will eventually go bad to the extent that they cannot be recharged. If you do come in for a new battery you can bring your old one in for us to have properly recycled. To remove your old battery you'll usually only need a phillips screwdriver. Hopefully your old one will take a charge but if it doesn't we have one on the shelf. Once you have a fully charged battery installed in your scooter you can operate the electric starter - but that doesn't mean it's going to start.


Gasoline begins to break down within about 20 days. In other words, the fuel sitting in your stored scooter starts to separate into components pretty quickly. Think of your gas like it's salad dressing in a jar on a shelf. Over time the heaviest elements settle to the bottom and the lightest float to the top. When this happens the gas becomes no longer flammable and your scooter will refuse to fire up. So ... once you have a fully charged battery it's time to "stir" your gasoline. No, not with a wire whisk - but by shaking it up inside the fuel tank. Sit on your scooter with it off its center stand and lean it over to the left and over to the right repeatedly, causing the fuel to slosh back and forth. This will re-mix the fuel and cause some of it to become flammable vapor which is more easily ignitable and more likely to cause your engine to start.

Once you have a fully charged battery and your fuel has been stirred you'll want to "prime" the carb (this does not apply to fuel injected machines). How you do this depends on what kind of scooter you have.

For 2-cycle models you'll want to restrict air flow to the carb by blocking the intake opening on the air box OR squirt a small amount of ether (starting fluid) into the air intake box. On four-cycle models the trick is to repeatedly open the throttle and snap it shut dozens of times. Just grab that sucker and flick it to full throttle over and over again with the objective of pumping an extra bit of fuel into the carb. This process would "flood" a scooter that wasn't suffering from sitting disease but can often help wake one that is.

Your goal when trying to overcome sitting disease is to get some clean flammable gasoline to the spark plug through some extra urging. It won't always work, though. Sometime the gas is just too old and too "rotten". The heaviest parts of the gasoline have settled and have become a viscus kind of "gum" that prevents fuel from flowing properly. In this case the fuel system must be purged. We charge $135 to remove all the fuel from your scoot, remove the carb, clean the carb in our ultrasonic tank, replace it and tune it properly. Also, you may remove your carb and bring it to us for a bath in our tank for $45. You'll get some nasty old smelly gas on yourself if you choose the DIY route, though. Trust us ... it's gross.


Assuming your scooter ran when you parked it for the winter it will run again with a fully charged battery, decent "stirred" gasoline and a carb that's gunk free. Once you get it fired up you're ready to ride it to the nearest air machine to re-air your tires. They lose pressure over the winter with the changes in temperature and air density. Most models require both tires to be inflated to around 30psi. Some call for slightly less inflation in the front tire than in the rear. Under-inflation is dangerous and it leads to premature wear so it's very important to air up first thing in the spring and to check your pressures at least once a month throughout the summer.  

Whew. You got your scooter started and aired up your tires. Now it's time to head down to Sportique for a spring tune-up so that your scooter will be primed for riding season. We will check all your fluids, adjust your cables, inspect your brakes, belt and rollers, swap out your plug and make sure everything is tip-top.

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