Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ride safe . . . away I go again

There is no reason to ride without protective gear. I spent $130 on both the helmet and the body armor jacket from the Motorcycle Superstore- actually it was my Christmas gift this year. It was a good deal. Of course, you can spend more if you like to, but I wanted to show all of you that money is not a reason to not ride without protective gear. most helmets cost more than what I paid for my jacket and helmet. Ride safely!

Bye again.

Oh and P.S. I have not stopped riding obviously.

I am now riding a 1979 Vespa P200. I wanted more power and speed and furthermore, the market is flooded with parts and the Italian-made parts seem to hold up much longer and the quality control in Italy is different than India. A beater commuter P200 can be found in the $1500 (Bajaj) range, but you should be comfortable with basic wrenching and the occasional maintenance (or hire someone). The P200 is considered the work horse of the scooter world and actually complete the Dakar Race and is now racing in Budapest-Bamako Race right now.

Slight Return (busted crank)

I have lost track of my black Bajaj Chetak. It resides in the East Bay (SF Bay Area) now. That's a lll I know. I have been lending a hand as-needed to the owner of my wife's yellow Chetak. At first the brand new battery crapped out as did it on the black Bajaj Chetak. The owner, Jon, of the yellow one recharged per my recommendation with a heavy duty motorcycle battery charger and the battery has been problem-free since then. I really like the look of white walls, but since then have learned that the walls (sides) of the tires are four times thinner = shorter life. Jon installed Continental Zippies on his Chetak and honestly that is one of the best tires to put on your bike. You can score good deals of them at Motorcycle Superstore. The last call I got from Jon was the engine is dead. He checked the spark plug and inspected the flywheel. He had the CDI and electrical tested. No problems there. He brought it in to Barry G. at SF Scooter Center and Barry found that the flywheel nut spun freely. He removed the flywheel and found a broken crank. This reminded me of a conversation I had with Steve of MotorSport Scooters years ago where he was rebuilding a lot of Bajaj engines due to broken cranks around mile 10,000. Jon does not even have 5,000 miles. A shop wanted $1000 for fix or to swap out a new engine for him. The ladder would be good so Jon could sell his engine for parts. Jon is a college student on a budget and has no garage, no tools, nor is he comfortable wrenching. I recommended parting the bike to him. I suspect his bike is worth more in parts. Many people on the Retro Bajaj list are looking for parts.

I also spoke to Kent, a mechanic former for Bajaj USA, and he said parts are no longer made and getting more and more scarce. Kent recommended walking away from the bike and moving on to a new one.

Jon needs the Chetak to run for one more year and he is on the college budget so Barry offered a weld solution. For $100 the flywheel was welded to the crank and should hold up for one more year at which time Jon will most likely sell. On some vintage bikes I have seen the farmer's weld has worked a long time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The end of this blog

Yesterday, I sold my wife's 2002 Bajaj Chetak. Last week I sold my 2003 Bajaj Chetak. She no longer was riding and has a fully restored 1967 Vespa SS180. I am in the process of restoring a 1962 Lambretta TV175. Without a doubt, the Bajaj Chetak was the perfect first scooter for us. Our bikes continue to run strong and who knows we may see them again in the future if we are lucky.

What I leave behind is hopefully some useful information for the newbie and novice Bajaj owner or a person considering entering the scooter world. This blog serves as the legacy of owning Bajaj Chetaks for nearly ten years.

The greatest wealth of help, information, and Bajaj family can be found at the Retro Bajaj Forum. The good folks there were my mentors and I owe them so many thank you's. They are friendly and loving like the Lambretta family -- not like Scoot BBS.

As you see in my binder, I have the parts catalog and maintenance manual. I recommend you download those now and create a binder and make notes. You can download those and more here at

I recognize that the Chetaks are not as popular as the Vespa Ps and Stella's, but arguably they are as good as a Stella. Hell they are both made in India for better or worse. A new 4-stroke Stella sells for $4200 from a dealer. I strongly encourage all Bajaj owners to recognize the value and reliability of their Bajaj scooters when selling and most importantly keep a fair price. A 30 year old original Vespa P200 in great condition still pulls $3000 with a lot of miles on them. There is no reason a good condition Bajaj should go for less than $2000 when it costs over twice as much for a new Stella 4 Stroke, which is a very similar bike.

I also stress to you that you purchase parts now that you think you will need in the future. And hold on to your old parts you replace. They may need to be repaired and used again in the future. There is a limited supply of parts available, what ever was left when Bajaj USA closed their doors. Used parts from busted bikes may be necessary some day.

Shops that may have parts:
San Francisco Scooter Centre (Barry G. is well stocked)
Scooter West (Steve)
Pride of Cleveland (Phil)

Take care of and your Bajaj. It is the perfect first scooter for those who appreciate the vintage culture.

I predict a long life for the Bajaj Chetak and know they will remain a steel workhorse in the scootering community.

Good bye "SCTx2" and "PUTx2" (our license plates on our Chetaks. All that is left of our bikes are the license plates, which hang in our shop and the fond memories and photos).

If you wish to learn where owning a Bajaj took me or you found this blog to be informative and you benefited from it you can see my restoration of a 1967 Vespa SS180 or the work in progress 1962 Lambretta TV175.

Tool kit

Don't go out and buy yourself a tool kit for $30. Print out a list of all the tools from the Bajaj Parts Catalog. Then post the tools you need to Freecycle in your area as well as watch Craigslist "Free Stuff." If you frequent garage sales, you can assemble a kit. If you are less patient, take you list to a flea market/swap meet and I pretty much can guarantee that for $10 you can assemble a Craftsman-quality tool kit and find yourself a nice bag to boot.

The tools in the scooter kits are poorly made.

On the other hand, if you are not or do not have access to a welder to make you the rear tire jack, spend the $8-10 to buy one. It's a good investment.

Tire gauges can be found too for cheap.

Build your scooter tool kit for 1/3 the price with quality that will out live you ten-fold.

2002 Bajaj Chetak sold

There was a second person who wished to look at my 2003 Bajaj Chetak scooter, but missed it. I gave him first dibs at it as well as a price cut, because he just missed my scooter. I sold my wife's scooter to him for $1700, which is a fair deal.

Below is the Craigslist listing. It sold in 24 hours.

2002 Bajaj Chetak w/ 4K miles &many upgrades - $1850

Before reading on, please note that this bike has a clutch and is a 4-speed on the handlebar - left handgrip and lever.

Two years ago my wife was 3 months pregnant and into the garage her 2002 Bajaj Chetak went and stayed except for a weekly ride around the block to keep the oil moving to reach the engine gaskets. Now with our daughter she is just not riding at all and the bike needs to go to new rider who will ride it often and proud.

My wife is the original and only owner. The bike has never been crashed. It did have a fallen motorcycle hit it while parked, but the damage is minimal and Barry G. of SF Scooter Center gave it a clean bill of health. It's beneath the floor matt and even when you see it you'll laugh at how small it is. Body is in really good shape, especially for the bike's age. It has always been garage stored. Less than normal wear for a bike its age.

Before you gawk at the price, consider that a brand new Stella 4-Stroke runs for $4200. This scooter is way less than half that price and has only 42XX miles on the ODO. Beyond that it will rally any Stella 4-Stroke all day long. If you wonder about the value of this Bajaj call Barry at SF Scooter Center and ask him. He has sold 1200 of these scooters and is very familiar with them. He would sell this scooter for over $2100. Title is clean and is registered as non-op since my wife wasn't riding it - to save us money (but you will have to register it anyways so no difference to the buyer).

History: about 500 miles ago, Kent L., who was the official mechanic for Bajaj USA, performed a comprehensive tune-up and safety check on this bike. It runs solidly and is extremely dependable. It is a first kick bike. It will easily pull you SF hills. Bike includes chrome rear luggage rack and chrome crash bars upgrade. The bike has received well over $350 in upgrades in order to ensure a long-hassle-free life for you, including new float bowl at gas tap, two brand new tires, spark plug resistor cap replaced with NGK one, new spark plug, brand new battery, halogen upgrade headlight bulb, battery regulator/rectifier (the 2002 ones broke down and did not recharge the battery properly) upgrade, and a 2003 Bajaj flywheel (the 2002 flywheels had a tendency to break). As of July 25th, 2011 oil was changed, new headlight bulb installed, and a new battery were put in.

To sweeten the deal, I'll thrown in a brand new "Cuppini (Italian-made) legshield trim" set, which you can install on the Bajaj to chrome it out more. Price it out and you'll see it's over $50 to buy and ship it to you.

With low-miles/similar condition, Bajaj Chetaks like this sell for around $1600 without the upgrades. Upgrades and recent tune-up is about $450 plus $50 for the legshield trim puts a fair value around $2100, but I'm letting this bike go for a lot less. If you buy a used scooter you are still going to have a tune-up and probably new tires, maybe a battery, etc. You don't need anything at all with this bike.

$1850 cash and it's your's. I have title and DMV bill-o-sale on hand.

Note: engine cover not on for Craigslist photos as I was riding without to let the new flywheel settle before I hit it again with the torque wrench.

Replacing tires

Sometimes the dang tire grabs on to your rim halves for dear life. You tried bead Dawn Soap along the tire and the rim, let it sit, and usually it works, but not this time... A little bit of heat from a heat gun will do the trick and make your job so much easier. Remember, I said, "a little."

How to replace hand lever on your scooter

It is wise to double nut or use a nylock nut after adjusting any cable on your scooter.

To adjust your throttle, clutch, or brakes you follow a similar approach with your 3rd hand tool plus a ratchet.

Note: often Vespa & Lambretta throttle cables are thicker and you need to score with a file or Dremel your 3rd hand tool so the cable can properly sit in the tool. Very easy to do.

Owning the proper thin spanners will make your clutch/gear box tune up so easy. You can bike these thin spanners online for bicycles.