#21: Parts is Parts
May 12, 2010
Today’s question for Dr. Buzz (his “panel of experts” has become more trouble than it’s worth) comes from Joe W. in Philly:
Does anybody there know how to contact ******** or whatever their corporate identity is this month? Their website lists a “dealer” in Westchester PA who had never sold one, never worked on one. I took my scooter there and unfortunately it needs parts. The dealer is unable to get anybody to sell him parts. The phone number is a secret so nobody can call, I get a grumpy response from some of the other dealers on their list – maybe it’s the same situation…
(updated 5/14 with more details)
Dr. Buzz: First off, Joe, I blanked out the name of the importer in question, because no matter how dead they look on paper, as soon as I call a scooter importer “defunct” on 2strokebuzz, I get an angry email insisting the company is “doing great.” (At least three people who just read that sentence are positive I’m talking about them specifically!). Also, this is the third “why can’t I find parts for…” email this week, and each featured a different company, so I’m hoping to address all these inquiries with this post.
Joe, the company you named was actually one of the BETTER Chinese scooter importers of the last decade. That’s maybe not much of a compliment, but there were plenty of even bigger bastards out there. So remember, this post addresses folks like you, with scooters that are, like yours, reparable and worth repairing. Sadly, that can’t be said of some of the junk that’s been sold in the past few years.
Even though the root of the problem is that your importer/distributor is gone, (or on life support, or “doing great”), there’s the additional problem that your dealer either doesn’t want to bother with it, or is too inexperienced to know where to start.
Don’t hold it against the dealer that they’re listed on the years-out-of-date manufacturer’s site, some of those importers would put any name they could find on those lists. And in this economy, it’s hard times for scooter dealers, so chances are they’d really like to take your money and fix your scooter. That said, the dealer should either fix it, or send you on your way. There’s no reason a dealer should be sitting on the bike and asking YOU to track down parts. If they don’t want to deal with a certain manufacturer, that’s their choice, but they shouldn’t string you along. If they send you away telling you it’s not worth fixing, that may very well be true, though it’s maybe worth a second opinion. On the other hand, if the dealer needs money, they’re just as likely to take the bike and try to fix it even if they don’t know what they’re doing, or where to start. A Chinese scooter with major issues can be a cash cow for them, and a money pit for you, ha. So it’s a fine line, and critical to find a dealer you can trust, that really knows their stuff.
As far as actually tracking down parts, most chinese scooters have similar engines (many of them use a knockoff or variant of the Honda GY6 engine). For that matter, many models are knockoffs of other chinese and/or Japanese scooters, and different importers sold bikes from the same manufacturer with different names. For this reason, few Asian twist-and-go parts are model- or distributor-specific. These days, there are many parts distributors selling chinese scooter parts both wholesale and retail. Quality and specifications vary, so it’s a bit tricky to be sure you’re getting exactly what you need, but it’s often not necessary to find the exact OEM part. In many cases, an aftermarket (or performance) part may be better than the original, though that’s not always the case.
Some of the traditionally-vintage parts dealers, notably Scooterworks, have really built up their Chinese parts supply lately, and even mainstream motorcycle parts middlemen like Tucker Rocky and Parts Unlimited have started stocking common GY6 replacement parts through their online and offline dealers. Partsforscooters.com is another good source, as is MASRA racing sponsor Scootertronics, a specialist in GY6, CN250, Morini, and Linhai engines and performance parts.
A Google search for “Chinese Scooter Parts” brings up a dozen more companies (with decreasingly attractive web design) who could maybe help you.
For OEM parts, check out Martin Racing Performance. MRP sells only direct to dealers, so they suggest finding the part number in their online collection of manuals and parts books then contacting your local shop or one of their dealers. MRP distributes OEM parts for TNG, CF Moto, Keeway Southeast, CPI Taiwan, PSF/Benelli/Andretti, Diamo, Cubik (matches OEM Vento part numbers), as well as QJ and ZNEN (who manufacture bikes for a variety of scooter importers). You can find a full list on their site.
Do you have a question for our so-called experts? Email Dr. Buzz! Your confidentiality is guaranteed, to the degree that we’ll spell your last name with one letter.
Note: Dr. Buzz is an unlicensed, mostly-fictional doctor. Take his advice, and that of his team of experts, with a grain of salt.