April 19, 2011

The Ego Scooter with its new, beefed-up suspension

Over the course the last few months, as much as I’ve enjoyed scooting around on an increasingly powerful and nimble bike, one thing that always bugged me was the shaky and bone-jarring ride quality. Some of the road  surfaces in my neighbourhood are in a pretty dismal state of repair, and it seemed that every bump, crevice and pothole would make the bike shake or lurch around drunkenly. The suspension always struck me as limp and wallowy, and yet – oddly – it also did a good job of transmitting road vibration through the handlebars, up my arms and through my teeth. Finally weary of this I took a look at the rather feeble shocks on the bike and considered that, though adequate for pootling along at 25 mph with the smaller, 48V battery bank, it might not be up to the job of charging around at nearly 50 mph with 48 kilograms of batteries on board.

So as I passed my local bike shop recently, I thought I’d drop in and ask the staff there what my options were regarding upgrading the spindly looking affairs currently there with something a bit more substantial. The guy from the bike shop duly came out to take a look at it for me. He asked for the keys, unlocked it, bounced the bike up and down a bit and declared the rear shocks to be knackered. Only the springs seemed to do anything, the hydraulic-type piston didn’t seem to have any discernible effect at all. When I told him that that’s the way they’d been from new, he just said they were obviously rubbish, then, which I had no problem believing given the manufacturer’s tendency to keep prices rock bottom by using the cheapest parts they could get their hands on.

The Scoota’s original shocks – not really up to the job anymore

This said he said he could order a decent set fo £50. I knew I could probably get them cheaper if I researched them and spent a while trawling the internet, but I have less time nowadays and a bit more cash, so I thought I’d just leave it to him.

A none too swift ten days later, I was the proud owner of a new set of MDI brand shock-absorbers. They werereassuringly beefy looking, with a sparkly, chrome and gloss-black finish. They didn’t look much like the one pictured on the box’s lid, but I wasn’t at all bothered about this because I much preferred the on that was actually in it.

The box with its almost-nothing-like-it photo

As you can see below, the new shocks are quite a bit more substantial, with a solid, thick, hydraulic slider that is in stark contrast to the spindly assembly it replaces.

The new MDI shock absorber, next to the original, factory unit

One minor difference that I had to accommodate, though, was the fact that the bushes in the rubber mounts both had wider, thinner sided bores that would require a thicker bolt. For a brief, disappointed moment I thought that this would be a show-stopper for fitting these, as the bore on the corresponding bike brackets needs the original bolt-size. However I quickly realised that the bushes – with a little help – would pop right out of the thick, rubber gaskets surrounding them. Lo and behold, the ones from the original suspension would slide snuggly back in in their place, leaving me with a perfect fit for my bolts! 🙂

The new, larger bushes can just be slid out,and replaced by the smaller bore, thicker ones that came with the original suspension

It was only a half-hour job to remove the old ones and fit the new ones. They’re attached – top and bottom – to the frame by a simple, thick nut and bolt, and my ratchet socket set plus a spanner made short work of it.

All done, and looks great!

As soon as the bike had finished it’s home-from-work recharge, I eagerly hopped on board. Straight away I noticed a differencein that the whole bike didn’t simply flop three inches onto its soggy springs. It sat firm, and with its rear an inch or so higher  – another boon since the ride height was all the better for my six foot frame!

Taking it for a spin over some of the less hospitable surrounding roads, I was delighted to see that it’s handling was much more steady and firm. I was concerned that the stiffer suspension might make the vibration even worse, but clearly the “ISO 9001 certificate” that the box proudly announced did actually mean something, as the ride quality was substantially improved. It had a more solid, ‘big bike’ feel now, was much more sure of itself over uneven surfaces, and the wallowing and lurching was all but gone. Road vibrations, were much softer now, and the lack of bone-jarring harshness to its protests as it negotiated the rougher patches was a blessed relief!

I really couldn’t be happier with this upgrade, and think it’s worth every penny of the money I spent on it. If your suspension pistons are as rubbish as the ones that originally came with my own Scoota, then I’d strongly recommend taking care of this if you plan to upgrade – or already have upgraded – to 72V and/or a more powerful controller. The original suspension, I think, was barely fit for purpose for the bike in its 48V form. With the added weight incurred by an upgrade, and the higher speeds it has to contend with, I’d almost call this upgrade a “must”.

For the benefit of anyone looking for these, it’s been brought to my attention that they are available at the time of writing (and cheaper) from here, where they are referred to as “chrome shock absorbers Suzuki A50 Moped 71-76“.

However make sure that they give you the right size! – The length you need for the Ego Scoota should be 310mm., however an owner of the UK Eco Scooter (which is very similar) reports needing 335mm ones. It’s best to measure these to make sure your replacements match the originals (you take the measurement from the middle of one hole to the middle of the other).

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