vespa dead, please help

i dragged my vespa out today and rode it to my office. all was fine; a beautiful warm winter day w/ clear roads and the feeling of mopeding again.

but when i left the office, the vespa wouldn't start. i think the clutch is dead or something like that. the vespa has a dry clutch that engages automatically; you release compression w/ the clutch lever on the left. well, the clutch wasn't engaging at all, so the engine wouldn't turn over. i checked to make sure it was not in bicycle mode ... but it was the clutch.

now i can tell that it's just a wee bit tighter than in bicycle mode (it was easier to pedal/push anyhow). but the clutch is not engaging and letting the engine turn over to get spark. everything seems fine; so i think it's some internal.

however .... i'm still very new to vespa. can anyone help me out here. how do i fix this problem? what do i do? thanks.

Re: vespa dead, please help

The small lever on the left handle bar is the decompression lever and is not part of the clutch system. It's purpose is to relieve some of the compression pressure so it makes it easier to turn the engine when you are trying to start it. If you trace the cable down you will see that it is hooked to a small lever next to the spark plug and opens a small valve in the head.

Need to know what model Vespa you have before we can trouble shoot the clutch problem. The Ciao model came in single and variable speed so each had a slightly different clutch configuration.

Use WD40 on the free wheeling button shaft and push it in and out several times to make sure it is popping out all the way. Pull it out with your fingers to make sure it is out. Then turn the pedals with the bike on the center stand and the rear wheel off the ground. You should hear it the gears click in and engage.

If this doesn't fix it we need to know if you have a singleor varibale speed.

Re: vespa dead, please help

One more thing, while you're back there poking around with the free wheeling button, check the tranny to see if it has any gear oil in it. There should be a screw or bolt head next to the button that you can open. If oil runs out it is OK, if not put in 80-90 weight gear oil until it runs out of the hole and then put the screw back in.

Re: vespa dead, please help

the vespa is a 1984 vespa grande. can't tell you much more about it.

i'll check on the oil and poke around back there asap. i sort of knew (or forgot) the thing about the "clutch lever" but it's the best way i know to describe it. ;-) sorry for sounding dumb.

didn't know vespa needed oil in the back (was told it didn't by the previous owner). so maybe it's really low ... or out? if it had no oil, would simply putting oil in there fix it? i sure hope it's not broken and my last working moped is down for a long time.

thanks for the help, though. any other info/advice ... please let me know. thanks!

Re: vespa dead, please help

XBrandon EdgeX /

mine kinda does the same thing. the clutch will engage one minute and then after rolling it backwards or something, it acts like the pedal function is employed. I have to either pedal it a lot until it catches or I hit the disengage button and then the engage lever and it's fine. That's about all I know.

Re: vespa dead, please help


It could also be a problem with the starting shoes in the clutch. If they are stuck and not kicking in, it will behave as you describe. If you take the clutch hub off (after you unbolt it and take it off, don't lose the woodruff key in the drive shaft), you can then look inside of it and see the two starting shoes. They should be greased at the pivot points and the springs should be checked to see that they are intact and functioning.


Re: vespa dead, please help

OK a Grande, variable speed. Try the simple things first that I suggested in the earlier post.

Maybe the tranny is bone dry and the gears are stuck. Check the tranny and fill it if it is dry or low, use 80-90 weight gear oil. You can it in plastic bottles taht have a tapered spout that makes filling the tranny a bit easier.

Try turning the centrifical clutch by hand to hopefully lubricate the gears. Maybe you're lucky and it will fix the problem. Also push the bike around a bit to get the gears turning.

If that doesn't fix it try turning the pedals with the ped setting on the center stand, rear wheel off the ground. Have the side covers off. When you pedal (with free wheeling off) does the centrifical clutch turn?

If not, it could be small or large clutch shoes are not spinning outward because of rusty or gunked up springs. Another remote possibility is that the woodruff key that holds the clutch on the shaft may be broken or the clutch cover slot may have broken off so the clutch cover no longer engages the woodruff key.

Most likely stuck clutch shoes.

Re: vespa dead, please help

i think your idea of the stuck shoes is it. i've never even checked the oil level, and i have a feeling the previous owner didn't either. i can't imagine anything more serious, since it ran fine only an hour earlier.

also, i can't do any tests on the center stand, since my center stand is in really rough shape (i have to push start it every time since both wheels are always on the ground).

Re: vespa dead, please help

I just had one of the starter clutch springs break on me recently. It did the opposite, leaving the starter clutch engaged at all times.

Check it out like Zippy suggests. It probably isn't anything serious.


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