Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Project report: Installing ScooterWest LED running lights and turn indicators on a 2010 Vespa GTS 300 i.e. Super

The Vespa GTS 300 i.e. Super is manufactured by Piaggio.

It's an iconic, high-end vehicle.  Its price reflects that.  For the price of a Vespa GTS or GTV you can get a very nice 650cc or 750cc motorcycle.

As with many things Italian, some choices the manufacturer makes leave you scratching your head.

My first Vespa was an LX 150.  From a visibility perspective, the LX has a great feature: dual running lights on the leg shield.  Those lights, along with the headlight, form a triangle pattern.
I remember when the commuter trains adopted the three-headlight triangular pattern.  It seemed to me that it made the approaching train unmistakable.  It might be because triangles don't normally occur much in nature and the human eye causes them to stand out more.  I Googled in an attempt to find some validation for the safety reasons for triangles.  Clearly the triangle dominates safety signalling.  But I came up dry.  Intuitively it seems to make sense.  At least it does to me.

The Vespa GTS has the same leg shield design as the LX.  It has the headset-mounted headlight, and the two light housings lower down on the leg shield.  Inexplicably, Piaggio only uses the leg shield light housings for turn indicators.  No running lights on the GTS.
Some GTS's have a light in the horncast, but it seems to be only decorative, and doesn't really make the scooter any more visible.

ScooterWest in San Diego has come to the rescue with an LED running light kit that is, by far, the easiest Vespa modification I have done to date.

The kit includes the wiring harness, a modular plug that snaps into the GTS alarm connector that lies waiting just inside the left knee pad panel, new sockets that snap into the existing turn indicator housings, and the LED combination amber and white bulbs.
The first step to doing this modification is to turn the garage into a scooter maintenance bay.  I have one of those multi-folding aluminum ladders that makes a great work bench.
I try to limit my choice of tools to those that I have in the roll bag tool case that lives in my underseat storage compartment (the one Vespa owners call the "pet carrier" owing to the ridiculous "no pets" warning sticker in the compartment).
The next step is to remove the left knee pad cover...
... the horncast....
... and the left and right turn indicator housings...
All these steps require nothing more than a Phillips screwdriver.

All you need to do is plug the ScooterWest wiring harness into the GTS alarm connector.
 
The next bit is simply removing the existing lamp sockets from the turn indicator housings, fishing the left and right LED sockets and bulbs through the leg shield and to the turn indicator housings, plugging the new sockets into the housings, and buttoning the lights, horncast and knee pad back up.

The only challenge I faced is that there was simply no way to thread the right-hand LED lamp and socket through from the horn enclosure to the right-hand turn indicator opening.  Removing the LED bulb from the socket didn't help.  Man, is it tight inside that leg shield.  The solution was to remove the glove compartment.  It was no big deal, because other modifications that were underway necessitated removing the glove compartment anyway.
And voilà!  Safety modification No. 1 up and running beautifully.
When you flick on the turn indicator, the running light switches off, and the amber LED turn indicator flashes.  When you cancel the turn indicator, the running light comes back on.  Exactly like the running lights on the 1990 Miata I used to own, pre-Vespas.

If my project report leaves anything to be desired, consider this: ScooterWest does not send instructions with the running light kit. What they do offer is a link to a YouTube video demonstrating the installation steps.

Everyone who cares about being seen by oncoming traffic when they ride their Vespa GTS or GTV should do this modification.

End of story.

6 comments:

  1. Looking good. I wonder if Vespa doesn't make the indicators into running lights as they are trying to keep it down at a certain price point? Or is that up to a certain price point?

    I have heard the triangle light/train bit before and I knew trains were that way, but I too have never heard why it was chosen to be three lights.

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    1. Trobairitz you are likely right about the pricing, it's already very steep. On the other hand, we're talking about maybe $50 worth of parts, max, likely much less. I think it's just a lack of imagination.

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  2. David:

    Great Job ! Now I will be able to see those light triangles as they get smaller in my rear view mirrors :)

    Why didn't you tell me to buy CGI stocks before they took off ? Then I could buy a Vespa too. Or would that be insider info ?

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

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  3. Bob, don't underestimate my GTS 300. I've clocked 125 km/h on the GPS. Yes, yes I know that either of your two bikes could easily leave in the dust, but... eventually I'd catch up and then...

    Oh, and yes, that would be inside information, as much as I like you, and really I do like you a lot, sharing a prison cell would really be just a tad much.

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    Replies
    1. David:

      I remember one time back around 1981 when I bought my new Suzuki GS1100, and my friend had a GS1000. Another person we knew bought a new GS750 and he thought his bike was a powerhouse of speed. Anyway, we decided to ride to Horseshoe Bay after breakfast and he wanted to tag along.

      We took that lower route to HB but on the way back we decided to take Hwy 1 (Freeway). It was a really windy day. We were just going cruising speed when my friend signaled me, and then off we went, we twisted our throttles all the way until it wouldn't move anymore and held it there. In a second he was a spec on the mirror.

      We left him behind and later that afternoon we went to our usual place for coffee and finally he showed up . . . he never spoke about how fast his bike was again.

      He said his bike was "Pinned" and we were still pulling away . . .

      bob
      Riding the Wet Coast

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    2. Bob, you guys were like Skywalker hightailing it out of Tatouine at light speed. Whooooosh!

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