Building a Race Scooter
Building a race scooter is one of the fun and exciting things you will need to do, if you want to get into the world of scooter racing. You can’t simply ride your street legal scooter to the track and get right to racing it.
It’s perfectly fine to race your street legal scooter, but you will have to modify it, and when you start giving a bit more thought to what that means, you might wisely decide it’s time to be building a racing scooter dedicated for the purpose.
Before your race scooter can go out on the track, steps must be taken to protect the track from your scooter. Yes, indeed, you read that correctly!
You are required as a bare minimum when building a race scooter to protect the track you’ll be racing on from gouges and slicks. You’re not allowed to have any sharp corners, bolts or anything sticking out that could dig holes in the surface.
You also need to either remove your lights and anything else that could break and be a hazard on the track, or tape them up to prevent them from becoming a hazard if they break. Remember that when you’re racing, you’re going to be doing some really wild cornering that your little scooter never dreamed it would be doing!
The basic rule for building a race scooter (by now you’ve decided on a dedicated race scooter, right?), is to start by removing everything you don’t need. Remove baskets, mirrors, horns, flags, backrests, drink holders, etc. You get the idea. Take everything off that could break, adds weight or could wreck the track.
The Art of Building a Winning Race Scooter
Building a race scooter, will depend on your budget and experience. The less the experience the higher costs. A good option is to attend local races and speak with the mechanics and racers, often they can answer your questions and provide advice. They might also own a shop in your area which can assist with your build. Join a club or an online racing community. Find a qualified mechanic who will be more interested in your build than your wallet.
IMPORTANT: The following list of modifications and upgrades are only recommendations. We accept no responsibility for incorrect or illegal use of the recommendations.
Reducing the scooters weight will help improve top end speed, but any marked increase in your race scooters, quickness, speed, and power will come from two areas. An increase the RPM of the engine, making the engine work harder and a change in the drive ratio. The relationship between revolutions of the transmission (gears) and the revolution of the wheels.
ALTERING THE DRIVE RATIO
Regardless of the engine size or the power the engine produces, changing the drive ration will increase speed. The right modification can be the deal maker in winning races by providing your scooter with a quick take off and higher maximum speed.
The transmission, (drive train) includes the Clutch, Belt, Reduction Gear and Variator. Often overlooked is the reduction gear which is the link between the rotation of the clutch bell with the rear wheel.
Modification and adjustment to the drive train can be an out of a box kit, but the more involved the upgrade the better the results. The latter is best preformed by a skilled mechanic or experience racer.
Nonetheless modifications to the drive train such as changing in the clutch or oversizing the transmission will marked impact on the acceleration and top speed of your scooter. This is a good place to start your build.
INCREASING THE ENGINE COMPRESSION
The higher the compression ratio the more power the engine will extract from a given mass of air-fuel mixture.
Compression simply is the relationship in the volume of the cylinder and the combustion chamber as the the piston pushes the volume of fuel and air. The maximum piston volume to the minimum compressed volume is called the compression ratio.
Increased compression is achieved by modifying the inner parts of the engine, for example, bore out the block and fit oversize pistons, machine the cylinder head, thinner or shorter head gasket,…
Kits are available which increase compression. These kits are designed fand built for specific engine models which makes them easier to install and adjust. Lits are cheaper alternative to having the inner engine modification preformed by a talented and qualified mechanic.
BURNING THE FUEL
Similar to an athlete, the better the engine breathes and ‘eats’ (burns fuel), the more power it will produce. Swapping for a high performance carburetor will increase the air and fuel in the motor. Advancing the timing will also improve fuel burn by making the spark plug ignite the fuel earlier.
INCREASE AIR INTAKE
Engines require air to burn fuel, upgrading the standard air filter to a high performance or free flow filter will help to increase performance by increasing the air-fuel ratio.
TURBO OR SUPERCHARGE THE ENGINE
Supercharging an engine involves forcing more air into it through mechanical means. This can be achieved by adding a turbo or supercharger to the engine. Increasing the efficiency of the engine at drawing in air will boost performance. Kits are available nonetheless this remains a fairly complex modification.
DERESTRICT THE ELECTRONIC CONTROLS
Electrical chips or modules often place restrictions on the maximum engine revolutions or top speed. When building a race scooter the chips or models need to be derestricted or reprogrammed to improve performance.
The stock CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition) which limits the engine revving, is mostly found on 50cc scooters and will need to be replaced with an unrestricted CDI.
The stock ECU (Electronic Control Unit) can also restrict a scooters performance. Stock ECU programming can be reprogramed often refereed to as “flashing” or installing “Maps”, a set of instructions.
UPGRADE THE EXHAUST
The easiest modification is the installation of a performance (racing) exhaust which will increase horsepower at either low or high RPM, depending on the calibration with the clutch, transmission and carburetor.
BRAKES, TIRES AND SUSPENSION
Brakes, tires and suspension allow the rider to transfer the race scooters power onto the track. Without quality tires and a fine tuned racing suspension, the rider will be unable to bring out the best of the race scooter.
MAINTENANCE AND YOU RACE SCOOTER
Without proper maintenance and fine tuning, even the best race parts won’t help you to win races. Successful is when all the scooter parts are in sync and work together as one unit.
PROTECTING THE SCOOTER
Unless you want to spend a lot of time with a hammer taking dents out, it’s a good idea to put sliders anywhere you scooter could make contact with mother earth in the event of a spill. Lots of racers use teflon cutting boards. They’re cheap, easy to cut up, drill well, and can be wired or screwed on. Some people actually put skateboard wheels on their race scooter, which is actually a pretty good idea, especially on the ends of pegs or axle bolts.
OIL AND FUEL
When your get into the pack on race day, you’re going to pretty much have your throttle pinned all the time, so use the expensive synthetic oil and higher octane fuel than you would run on the street. Both are cheap insurance and frankly, just plain being nice to that little power-plant that’s working so hard for you.
Bring lots of spare parts with you. Bring whatever you can think of. The best rule of thumb is, if it can break, it probably will.
Don’t forget your numbers. They need to be highly visible from 50 feet away, on the front and each side.
The Malossi Trofei, is a large European race series featuring hundreds of bikes and riders drawing large crowds.
Want to race scooters, read the ‘Becoming A Scooter Racer‘.