Have you heard of the “Vespa Wobble”? It is a slight wobble or feeling of a lack of tightness at slow speeds on the front wheel. The suspension of the Vespa dates back to that of the original Piaggio suspension used on airplanes on their front landing wheels.
I have that wobble or wiggly feeling so I am about to get down and dirty and solve it.
The first thing I did was remove the front wheel, or should I say tried to do…
The last time this bike was serviced in the front was at Wheel Sport Click here for Maintenance Records whereby they had changed some parts in the front hub. But what it seems they also did without mentioning on the bill was to install one of the Hub bolts on an angle and my guess is that they just used their air powered impact wrench to drive the bolt in crooked. That bolt obviously did not come out and as I was attempting to undo the bolt using a ratchet the bolt was coming out crooked and bent. Finally it snapped. I looked at the threaded hole and realized that:
- I repair the thread using a Helli-coil like I did on the transmission housing Click Here , or
- Purchase a new Hub.
I guess there is a third option but I did not consider it (sell the damn Vespa). The Heli-Coil may work but if at the end of everything there would still be a wobble then I may blame it on an un-balanced Hub, so I decided to order a new hub. I also figured that Wheel Sport probably missed something else and/or that the bearings may or may not be good so for the extra pennies I decided to add all of those small extra parts in the case I need them. Scooter West seemed to think that the slight movement on the wheel could be due to a missing washer.
So I ordered the parts:
Scooterwest are GREAT People and on the Friday they put together the list of parts I wanted and shipped it to my USA Address Priority Mail (2-Days Service) Thanks Guys at Scooterwest!!!
So while I wait for the parts I decided to read through my Haynes Manual and prepare for the job. During that relaxing time (not so relaxing due to mechanical anxiety) I came across yet another source of a possible wobble. The Steering Head Bearings were said to cause a wobble and to my surprise they are to be inspected, cleaned, re-torqued and/or replaced every 10,000 Km or 2-Years. Well, six years later and at approximately 16,000 Km I decided that I should Inspect them.
So Sunday evening I proceeded to dismantle the top of my Vespa which at first seemed rather scary. I removed the complete speedometer case and instrumentation and got down to the handle bars. I proceeded to remove the handlebars to expose these bearings.
To my surprise, the bearing dust cover was cracked and broken in parts. Again this was probably done by another dealer who had replaced the Speedometer under warranty in 2012. Additionally there were two screws missing when disassembling the instrumentation unit. Up here in Canada it is almost impossible to find a Good (not great, just good) Vespa mechanic simply because they don’t sell many and the Vespa dealers are just a part of a bigger bike dealership.
I used my c-spanner for the Malossi shocks since it fit to tighten the bearing holder. It had turned almost a quarter turn.
The problem here is how tight is too tight or too loose? There is a torque specification but it requires a tool. So I ordered one on e-bay (link) and it will be here in three days. Additionally, that area looked at bit rusty and the bearings a bit old so again for the extra pennies I decided to order a new Dust Cover Cap and a bearing assembly. So the first batch of parts would be here first therefore I decided to re-assemble the top part since once have done it the first time, the second time will be a snap. In doing so I snapped the unique spacer bolt holding my front rack carrier on. I added that part to the order as well.
So, the next and final thing to do is to take my front wheel to a balancing shop to confirm that it is not bent which also would be a cause for wobble. Today is Tuesday May 22nd, 2018. All parts and tools will be in my Garage on May 24th, 2018.
What I did notice is that there were no step-by-step videos on checking or replacing the front head bearings nor are there any instructions on how to change the bearings in the front hub, including changing the hub. So, I will take out my video lights, camera and tripods and will make these two videos while I do the work.
If after all of this there still is a wobble then the only thing left is to replace the complete steering column with the bottom bearings attached or sell the bike. But I am dreaming pleasant and positive thoughts as I subconsciously plan out the job ahead of me.
Stay Tuned for the Videos, Coming Soon…
How Many Vespa Riders Check their Bearings?
David Reese said:
I recently had my Vespa 250 serviced (at 23,000 miles), and asked that the steering be checked, since it was becoming tighter to steer. When I got the invoice for the work performed, it did not specifically mention the front head bearings so I assume that was not performed. I was told only that the front fork had been “lubricated.”
The Vespa owner’s manual mentions at various mileage intervals “Steering – check up”, but there is never any mention of “Steering Head Bearings inspection, cleaning, re-torquing.”
So it is left up to Vespa service personnel to know they are to clean and re-torque the steering head bearings when the owner’s manual specifies “steering check-up.”
My guess is that the required service on the steering head bearings is often overlooked.
How much did they charge for that? Iblive in nyc and the shop wants to charge noth of $300 just check bearings. I have a vespa primaver 150 from 2016 with 8,500 miles.
Also, which manual specifies the type of service needed and when. I feel at the mercy of the shop.
Peter Sanderson said:
The Haynes manual is very good with the service schedule. I did the work myself. Not sure what a shop would charge.
Hans van der Post said:
I have a vespa sprint 150 MY 2017 with only 4000 km’s, but have a serious wobble going on. So they recommended me to replace the bearings and so I started the works.. Top bearing won’t be a problem, but a bit scared for the bottom one.
Any chance you get the videos up soon??? 🙂
Peter Sanderson said:
No sorry. I have sold my Vespa.
Steve Liew said:
Excellent write-up. Thank you!