Sunday, 20 November 2016

Hacking: Wintering on an Aprilia Mojito Retro

Bangernomics - it's the UMG way, surely? Maximum fun and efficient transport for £ spent.  I've had many successes before, but this is the first time I've managed to Run For A Ton! If you're a little prudent when purchasing, you too can pull this off.

The machine in question is an Aprilia Mojito Retro 125cc scooter. My commute to work is a round trip of 12 miles on country back roads, something this type of machine is eminently capable of succeeding at. As I write, winter is here - along with the heavily salted roads that accompany it - and, while I don't intend to hibernate, I don't want to expose my favourite machines to the worst that winter can throw up either.

I paid £75 for this device, but only after ascertaining certain facts; things that would help me to get on the road for under that magic hundred notes. Always check the consumables: it had a good front and a new rear tyre, as well as a new battery. On a machine like this, replacing these items will effectively double the purchase price. And make sure that it's all there - replacing items such as broken lights and shagged or missing batteries will cost you dear. This one had no rear light, but I knew I had a Honda item lying around that could be bodged on. A couple of panels were in the wrong colour, these would simply be rattle canned black to match the rest of the nail.

The seller had broken Rule Number One when it comes to re-commissioning old shitters that have lain idle in someone's garden for 7 years - make sure that it runs before spending money on the heap. He reckoned the fuel pump was knackered because he was able to get the scooter to run when petrol was funnelled into the carb, but not once the fuel line was connected. In fact the problem was much less complex than this; he'd attempted to start it using the (rank and stinking) crap that had remained in it from it's last foray onto the Queen's highway some seven years earlier - bad for him, very good for me!

In the end all I spent was £6.50 for new brake pads - it's a false economy to skimp on such things - and £15 for a second hand front mudguard to replace the snapped original. Once it had passed the MOT I bought a £20 NOS brake light, as the weight of the Honda item had broken the makeshift bracket I had fashioned for it. 

A few hundred miles later the vibes became so intrusive that I replaced the drive belt (£15), something I should really have done straight away. The original item had started to delaminate, and it would only have been a matter of time until it snapped, leaving me stranded, most likely somewhere inhospitable.

What's it like to live with? Very good, actually. Far better than I'm reasonably allowed to expect from a machine that cost less than an Argos push iron anyway. It's tiny frame and exceptionally good balance make it supremely agile when dealing with the odd stationary traffic we get round here, and acceleration up to about 50 (the speedo is broken, but there's no Gatsos here so who cares?) is excellent. There's very little after that, but that's all that's required & I wouldn't dream of roaming further afield on this thing - horses for courses and all that.

Fuel economy is decent: I get about 120 miles on a gallon and a half fill up, and I haven't managed to break my new steed so far. Road tax and insurance (it's on my rider policy) works out less than £2/month and depreciation... what depreciation? Come the spring I plan to sell it for at least three times what I paid for it. Best of all, though, is the satisfaction gained from getting a winter's enjoyable transportation for less than some of my workmates spend over a year on their daily cup of coffee. No buses for me - I'm out and about in whatever nature chooses to throw at me (ice and snow excepted, natch)... in the wind. Yeah baby.

A Rider

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