Lucrezia is back in the shop waiting on another new coolant hose this week. I asked my mechanic buddy to take off the Prima crash bars and throw them in the trash.

Last week, I had a few times when the scoot wouldn’t start – but when it did start, it ran fine. Then on Wednesday, it started idling really rough as I waited at a light. Died. Turned right back on, died a few seconds later. Turned right back on as the light went green and I headed up a hill. I gave her some gas and she sounded great for a few seconds until the engine completely shut off. I had enough momentum to get to the top of the hill and cruise onto a flat side street, thank goodness. I’m no mechanic, but nothing under the pet carrier looked obviously amiss, and the battery was fine. With some helpful pushes, we got over the next hill and down to Flying Tiger Motorcycles.

One of their guys – also not a mechanic – dug around a bit in the engine and showed me that the vacuum line had begun to melt near the clamp. No suction, no go. He trimmed off the melted end and produced a new clamp. With that clipped back on, she started right up again and purred all the way home.

I wondered why it had melted, and on Friday I found out.

I was changing out the kneepads with a kit to install a phone charger (which, by the way, is awesome and super-easy) when I noticed that my coolant appeared low. REALLY low. I called Moto Europa and asked what I could grab at the auto parts store down the street, and Nick told me to just bring her in and he’d top her off with the Piaggio-approved stuff. Be right there, I said.

And then she wouldn’t start.

This time I knew what to look for, and sure enough, the vacuum line had melted again. What the heck? I trimmed off the end and re-clipped it just like the guy from Flying Tiger did, and got the bike started. I was stuck in crosstown rush hour traffic when I looked down at my temperature gauge, and oh my goodness. I didn’t think the needle went ABOVE the “H,” but there you are. I was only a mile from the shop but with hills and stoplights I got really worried that I wasn’t going to make it. I took it super easy on the gas (much to the chagrin of the drivers around me) and stayed to the right in case I needed to stop. I cruised into the Moto Europa lot with my heart in my throat, wondering how badly the ride had damaged it.

Smoke poured out from under the pet carrier when I removed it, and my repaired vacuum line had melted again. Nick was freaking out trying to figure out how I’d lost all that coolant in a week. He figured that was why my engine ran so hot and melted the hoses, but WHY? We had the bike up on the center stand and checked the hoses, and sure enough, the one he’d just replaced had a little crack.

It made no sense. We could see that the bracket was far enough from the hose, it couldn’t be hitting it….

“Wait a minute,” he said. “I wonder…”

He took the bike off the stand and let the weight fall to the rear wheel. Gave it an experimental bounce. BOOM. Bracket to hose, again.

Because Moto Europa and my mechanic are very awesome, they’re doing the repair at no charge. I’m still scootless for another week, which is frustrating, but I’m glad we seem to have sorted out the problem. I told Nick to trash the bars and not even bother trying to re-bend the bracket. It’s just not worth it.

That night, I wrote a detailed email to Scooterworks about the issues I had experienced due to the crash bars not fitting. A product designed and marketed for my exact scooter should not require jerry-rigging or structural changes, I said, and the fit issues led to dangerous and expensive damage to the bike. Well, bless them. I received an email this morning from one of their managers, offering me a free set of replacement bars from another manufacturer (I chose these Cuppini bars because they mount outside the fairing, well away from the hoses) as well as a nice amount in store credit to compensate for the money spent on my repairs. That was a 100% perfect response from their team, so despite the mess I am a satisfied Scooterworks customer. And with that gift card, I see a little luggage in my future.

Lessons Learned:

  • When anything melts, check your coolant
  • Have extra coolant on hand at home to top off so you don’t have to burn the engine getting to the shop (ordered!)
  • What and where the vacuum line is, and how to clamp it
  • Complain politely, with documentation, to yield the best customer service response