January 2011, I purchased a 2001 Yamaha Majesty scooter to use as a city commuter and runabout. In its earlier life it has seen 10 years of service as a utility vehicle within the grounds of the Fawkner Crematorium and as such had never been road registered – and as you can see from my comments below – I suspect it had NEVER been serviced in its life!
Within days of acquisition I stripped it down for a thorough cleaning and service – 10 years of grime and possibly crematorium dust accumulated with the frame and bodywork of the scooter was removed and all was given a good wash and polish. Over the following weeks I performed a full service along with overhaul of the CVT transmission, replacement of the 10 year old tyres with new Pilot Sports, engine valve adjustment, oil changes, brake fluid changes, coolant changed, new battery, spark plug, etc. While the front brake disk and pads were in “as new” condition I did replace the front brake line with a new stainless steel braided line; the rear disk was worn way past its use by date as were the rear pads – so a new rear disk and pads were installed along with new front pads as well. I also chanced upon a brand new “old stock” G.P.R. slip on exhaust at a give away price so that was also fitted – more info here http://www.gpr.it/prodotti.htm . This left me with a scooter with a motor that ran well, looked like a million dollars and sounded great into the bargain. But not all was good out on the road!
This scooter handled like a sick wallowing pig. Under brakes the front suspension (sic!) did a complete nose dive and would bottom out. In even relatively slow corners the rear suspension would pogo and wallow so getting through a corner was more a series of micro turns where I had only limited control of the direction. This was barely acceptable at suburban speeds but once out on the “open” road the handling – if that’s what it could be called – was positively frightening. Something had to be done!
In 2000 Koni (http://www.koni.com/22.html ) decided to close its production of motorcycle shock absorbers; This decision lead to a special licence agreement being struck between Proven Products in Australia and Koni allowing Proven to make the (Koni) motorcycle shocks under its own name for the worldwide market. Today Proven is more commonly known as IKON Suspension and is based in Albury NSW. So I contacted IKON ( http://www.ikonsuspension.com/ ) to see if they had anything in their product range for my 10 year old scooter. Alas, the answer was no. There was a but however. If I could get my scooter to them Ikon would design and make suitable bits for me.
So a date was agreed on and at 5am one recent frosty morning I set off from Melbourne on my trust, but wobbly, scooter for Ikon in Albury. Stopped for coffee and an egg and bacon roll at Hides Bakery in Benalla on the way – for the record this has to be one of the premier bakeries in Australia. If you are in their area give them a try!
Around 10 am (5 hours later) I arrived at Ikon to be greeted by their Director, Geoffrey Lowe and his team. First things first they plied me with a warming mug of coffee then Geoff set 3 of his suspension specialists to work on my scooter. Those guy’s worked on my scooter almost straight thru till 4 pm when I left, on my transformed scoot, to return to Melbourne. I finally got home around 7-15 pm experiencing temperatures around Kilmore of just 2 degrees – and no – I did NOT have heated hand grips.
While the Ikon folks had my scooter they measured all the parameters of the existing tired 10 year old suspension (and also my weight) then built up a set of rear shocks with springs to suit. Once built they fitted them then test rode the scoot to verify the results. It took them 3 tries to get it almost right. With the 3rd rear suspension setup they built, it was agreed that the springs were right and the shocks were almost perfect but that they could do with just a bit less compression damping – so they rebuilt them there and then, adjusting the shocks valving to give a perfect result. Unfortunately there just was not enough time in the day for them to do the front springs as well however, as I said, they had taken all the measurements they needed to guide them re the front – all that remained was for them to actually get their hands on the actual original front springs.
Just before leaving IKON I settled my account with them and was surprised at the amount. IKON charged me for the list price of the suspension components – there was no charge for the time their 3 suspension specialists spent working on my scooter – and I estimate this as at least 12 man hours. When I asked about this I was told by Geoff that as far as they were concerned that was Research and Development effort as they now had the suspension “formula” for all future customers with scooters like mine.
On the way to Albury at every bump/dip in the road; and whenever I was passed by a truck the scooter would bump steer throwing it off my intended line – and this was when I was attempting to travel in a straight line! Because of this, according to my GPS, I was travelling just a whisker over 90 kph.
The ride from Albury back to Melbourne was a revelation. With the new IKON rear suspension fitted things were very different as all traces of bump steer had gone. The scooter was much more planted and stable, with the draft from passing trucks having little if any impact on me. On my return trip I had no trouble holding a cruse speed of 110 to 115 kph on the GPS simply because of the increased stability imparted by the new rear suspension. However with the original front suspension still in place, there was still significant nose dive under brakes and still some bump steering during “enthusiastic” cornering.
Once back home I again got to work on the scooter and removed the front forks and stripped them down. The original front springs were sent off to IKON as agreed so they could use them, along with the information they obtained during my visit, to manufacture new front springs that would hopefully resolve the front suspension issues. While I was waiting for IKON to send the new springs to me I removed and cleaned the damper mechanism in each front fork and also replaced the 10 year old fork oil seals and fork dust seals.
A few days later I received an email from IKON with the following information:
“My spring engineer has been tearing his hair out on the design constraints for the (front) springs. The catches seem to revolve around the amount of travel needed (100mm plus pre-load) and the desire to upgrade - strengthen - the overall rates. What we have settled on is a spring which is stronger, will have 100mm of travel without the pre-load so will have less than 100mm travel on the road, and is at the short end of the length range so as to help avoid the spring strength having the bike too nose up in stance. The only thing we are at all concerned about is potential harshness if the rate increase, which is a bit more than we would normally seek, proves to be too much.
To approach the explanation of the challenge a little differently, the original spring at 268mm free length and 3.7mm wire over 39.4 coils has just over 120mm travel. So by the time it is pre-loaded and uses its 100mm travel it is about to go solid. Not a very friendly situation when looking to upgrade things. So, in using the same space to create a stronger spring (ie same OD but either or both of thicker wire and less coils or if the wire thickness jump is too much then the same or perhaps more coils) the travel equation becomes problematic. Hopefully we have a design result that will work not withstanding our concerns. The springs are due to be made on Wednesday. We can stop the process if you want to. Either way I wanted you to be fully in the picture.”
WOW!! Talk about customer service and getting things just right. It seemed to me that I was in good hands and these folks really know what they were about – I called Geoff and gave him the green light to proceed.
After a further week the new front springs arrived by courier and I eagerly installed them in the forks with fresh 15W fork oil set to the levels specified by Yamaha in their factory workshop manual and then road tested the scooter. If the rear suspension alone was a vast improvement over the original setup, now the new front springs were in the rebuilt forks my scooter underwent another transformation. Under brakes there is now only minimal nose dive resulting in much surer braking. Bumps and dips in the road are now handled with aplomb, no harshness or wallowing , just pure control. And the scooter now corners like it’s on rails – now I’m not claiming it handles like an expensive sports bike but its handling and stability is now at least equal to that of my 2010 Suzuki V-Strom 650. Bloody Marvellous!
So now I have a truly resurrected 2001 Yamaha Majesty 250cc scooter that looks like new, performs like new and handles way way better than new.
Am I happy with the outcome? – You bet I am.
Would I do it again? You bet I would.
And in case you wondered - I have no financial or any other form of interest in IKON and I paid their regular list prices for the parts they supplied.