My scooter as it sits today, waiting for warmer weather.

The plan was to buy a scooter in the Fall, park it in the garage, and have it ready to ride by the time Spring arrived. Winter in Pennsylvania isn’t really the best time to ride a scooter. A few months ago, I bought a 1987 Yamaha Riva 125Z. It was in pretty good shape other than needing tires. I didn’t expect to ride it much right away. As it turns out, I’ve managed to go on 7 (or 8) rides already, and only 3 of them involved riding it or from the shop. I’ve covered something like 50 miles, and used about half a tank of gas. According to Yamaha, the tank holds 1.8 gallons, so that’s not too bad.

The tires might be in rough shape, but look at those gold wheels!

The first ride was from my brother’s house (where the seller delivered it) to the shop. My brother did the riding for this portion of the trip, as he’s an experienced rider. The tires also needed to be replaced and he’s much lighter than I am, so it seemed like the safer bet (at least for me).

A set of fresh Pirelli tires set me back about $95
Getting the rear wheel off of a scooter is kind of a pain

With a fresh set of tires, it was my turn to ride it home, through a few suburbs and the city where I live. Just for reference, at this point my collective two wheeled vehicle experience was 3 hours on a 50cc scooter at the beach, and a 10 minute test ride of the 125Z. I’m pretty sure that I stayed under 40mph that day, but I was having a blast the whole time.


Once I got the scooter home, I figured that’s where it would sit until Spring. But as I described in an earlier post, I ended up going for a ride on Christmas Eve, one that left me stranded at a gas station.


One drawback of the 125Z’s design is that it turns on all of the light as soon as you turn the key. I had foolishly turned the key to on, spent 5 minutes getting ready, and then when I tried to start it, no luck. A quick Uber ride to the local Cycle Gear store and one booster pack purchase later, and I was able to scoot back home, feeling only slightly defeated. My hope was that the battery was only sightly dead, and that I could avoid this problem by starting the scooter as soon as I put the key in.

A week or two later, and I decided to go on a ride to enjoy the rare warm January weather. I actually needed the booster to get going, so I only went for a short ride around the neighborhood, trying to stay uphill from my house in case I needed to coast it home.

Scooting for the ‘gram

It survived the short trip, but I knew that something was not working properly in the charging system. A multimeter quickly confirmed that the battery voltage was dropping any time I’d rev the engine. Not ideal. The next weekend, I attempted to ride the scooter back to the shop. It was rough. The scooter nearly stalled out every time I stopped, and the power felt way down. I had to jump start it twice. Once back at the shop, my friend confirmed that it needed a new regulator. I ordered one from Part Shark, and it showed up about two weeks later. Not exactly overnight parts from Japan, but I’ll take it considering this scooter was manufactured in December 1986.

Remember to add a Warren G lyric here before hitting “Publish”

In addition to needing a new voltage regulator, we found the source of the stalling issues. The gas tank vent tube was being pinched shut, creating a vacuum in the system. The 125Z doesn’t use a fuel pump. Instead, the gas tank sits above the engine and gravity does the job. But without a vent, the tank develops a vacuum as the gas is used, which restricts the flow to the engine. It was an easy enough problem to fix.


At this point, I had to ride the scooter back across the city again but I was starting to feel more comfortable making that trip. I got the scooter home without any issues. On Saturday we got some heavy rain, which means that the roads were salt free on Sunday. I took the scooter for a short ride and everything seemed in order. Cold temperature and strong wind kept the ride pretty brief.

The scooter now sits in the garage, with the battery hooked up to a trickle charger. There’s a decent chance that I won’t get to ride it much for the next 8 weeks or so, but I’m glad that I got the chance to get a few miles in while I could. I expect that I’ll do a more thorough review of the scooter in the Spring, when it isn’t so cold that my hands go numb after 10 minutes of riding.

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