Honda Ruckus Essential Tools

Many people go buy a Honda Ruckus scooter and take it to the dealer for repairs or service to find out that dealer just charged them $90-110/hr for labor. That wallet shock has lead to many scooter riders to become scooter experts when it comes to their repair and service needs. Unfortunately they also find out the hard way on what tools they really need. This guide will take you through some of the Ruckus parts and tools you really need to make sure your next service doesn’t cost you much money or much time waiting on parts. Not only will you be able to work on your Ruckus, but you’ll become more familiar with it, too.
One of the very first things you should pickup is a Honda Ruckus service manual for your year Ruckus, though most manuals go from 2003 to present Ruckus scooters. You will want to get the Honda made service manual, the very same one Honda Motorcycle technicians use. Typically, most aftermarket manuals can miss a detail or two that can be required to know. This isn’t always the case, but it is always better to have the factory manual. These can be purchased at your local Honda Motorcycle dealer or at some of your local scooter stores. What is really nice about the Honda Factory manual is that it will show you the proper way to route cables so that it not only goes back in the factory position, but they will also be easier to deal with.
The next thing to make sure you have is a decent set of hand tools, which include socket wrenches, open-end/box-end wrenches (the wrench most people typically think of when you say “wrench”), screw drivers, pliers, and an adjustable wrench. When you do pick up your socket and open/box wrenches be sure they go from 8mm to 17mm, as these are the typical sizes of bolts and nuts on your Ruckus. A quarter inch drive socket set is a great starting point and will usually have socket sets in the 8mm to 21mm sizes. It’s big enough for good torque, but small enough to reach most anything on the Ruckus. However, if you are not careful it can still break a bolt or stud if you over tighten them. An eighth inch drive socket wrench is great for smaller bolts and nuts and tighter places, but there isn’t much on tight spaces on the Ruckus considering how open it is. You don’t have to necessarily splurge on Mac or Snap-On hand tools, as ones from Craftsman, Northern Tool, and Harbor Freight are of very good quality, too. Most all hand tools carry a lifetime warranty on them as well, so if they break, you can get them replaced.

There are a couple of final tool types to have that can be essential, the torque wrench and a good digital volt and ohm meter (also known as the DVOM). These are two tools that you should spend on getting excellent quality and will be something you want a name brand on. However, just like many things, price does not always guarantee quality but it is a good reference. You want to try and get two different torque wrenches: the inch-pound and the foot-pound. You’ll use the inch-pound on the smaller bolts and nuts while you will use the foot-pound on larger ones. The DVOM is essential to have because of the electrical parts you can run into on the Ruckus. You’ll want to also be sure that your DVOM can do AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current) power. Alternating current will come from your stator and charging system. Direct Current will come from your battery. The DVOM will allow you to check for things like open circuits (broken electrical wires or blown fuses), resistance, current, and voltage. Also learn about voltage drop as that can solve a majority of electrical issues on your Ruckus battery, especially on things like battery drain on a parked scooter.

The Engine: What Route Should I Go on my Honda Ruckus?

Everyone wants to go faster but the 49cc GET engine in the Honda Ruckus just isn’t fast enough. Sure it can get you to 40-43MPH, but that isn’t fast enough to keep up with traffic in most cases! That’s just not safe, especially with the increase in distracted driving cases and motorcycle crashes. So, what can we do? How can we pick up more speed after maxing out what the variator, CVT, and gearing changes did? Luckily, there are a couple of Honda Ruckus parts on the table and we’ll discuss them today!

The Honda Ruckus is quickly becoming the scooter to have to try and push to 50+MPH. The Honda reliability in the chassis and engine beckon tinkerers to make it faster. While not very common, increasing the bore of the Ruckus is starting to become popular; it offers great gains, but has some tradeoffs. The first tradeoff is time. The GET is a water-cooled engine and you have to take the cylinder off of the bike and take it down to a machine shop to bore out the cylinder to the size you need. Many machine shops are not capable of this because of how small the bore of the Ruckus is.

The next trade off is loss of reliability. With any upgrade, there is a risk of losing all reliability and it is especially so with the big bore upgrade to the GET engine. The final tradeoff is heat. With the big bore making the cylinder walls thinner, there is less area to shed heat from the cylinder, even with water-cooling. The oil also begins to heat up more, thus causing many failures in the engine.

If that puts you off of the big bore upgrade, there is good news in the engine swap arena. The Ruckus frame just begs to have something else in it. It is such a piece me together bike, it is no wonder people ask if you made it yourself. This is what makes the engine swap possible and slightly easier in the Ruckus versus other scooters. The most common is the Ruckus GY6 Swap, as the engine is cheap and plentiful. It is used in so many Chinese built scooters, you can find it anywhere. Even brand new, the GY6 is still inexpensive to purchase with most going for less than $500 out the door (but still would require a wheel made for the GY6). If you want the best wheel choices, you’ll want to get a long CVT case engine as it will allow for up to a 13” wheel with low profile tires.

Once you get the GY6 engine, you’ll have to choose how to mount it. There are many companies that offer GY6 swap mounts that range from inexpensive, normal tire weld-in mounts to completely bolt in 8” + fatty tire mounts. It’s really up to you which direction you’d want to go. As with anything, there are some tradeoffs that must be considered.

The first is that this is a Chinese built engine. This isn’t to knock everything Chinese made, but their reputation isn’t exactly great. Reliability may be an issue on a used engine and a little less so on a new one. Second, this will not bolt into the OEM GET engine mounts or even aftermarket GET mounts. It looks similar, but it is not the same as it is wider. Third, the GY6 engine, even the 50cc short-case version, will not hook up to the GET wiring harness without modification or a new harness. Finally, there may be some legal issues with a swap. If you have to smog test your scooter, then a GY6 swap may not pass as most of the GY6 swaps involve the 125cc and 150cc versions. The short case 50cc GY6 could possibly pass, but you will not be gaining anything in that swap other than an air-cooled engine.

However, don’t let this put you off of doing a GY6 engine or even big boring the GET engine. While each has negative tradeoffs, there is one positive tradeoff that overshadows them. That is the power you gain from a big bore or engine swap. The 125cc and 150cc GY6 engines are nearly capable of 60MPH out of the box and big bore GETs have shown anywhere from 55-60MPH. Whichever way you go, you will have a bike capable of beating most traffic on those surface streets.

The Finish Line!

 I have officially finished my core classes and now I need a job or some business (I’ll take either…I’m not picky). I do however need another 200 hundred hours of practicum either at a job or at school before I receive my certificate. Yea me!

So, what is a girl to do? I am starting the application process with the usual suspects: Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, Harley, Vespa…Vespa? Yes, you read right and why not? It was what I trained for, after all.

Chillax…my logo is still in the developmental stage…I’ll keep you all posted!


Almost Finished!

After all this time, I can see the finish line and I’m frigging excited!

Last night we reviewed for the Final and Monday night is the test. After that, I need 230 practicum hours and I’m done! Woohoo!

Speaking of, you wouldn’t know of anyone hiring at this time, would you? I need to jump start my mechanic’s career ASAP. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely willing to work on your bike or scooter (moped) just give me a call or drop me a line.

Here’s a few updates:

I took down the pinup girl I had up because I found out she was copyrighted – BUMMER, right? Well, I have someone working on replacing the image. Soon, hopefully.

The 1989 Virago 1100 is coming along nicely. Frank (another student and someone I consider a friend) and I have teamed up to get this thing up and running so the owner can enjoy her.

We troubleshot and repaired the electrical last night. The headlight and instrument panel wouldn’t come on. Turned out to be a faulty starter switch. Yes, starter switch. Apparently Yamaha ran the power for the headlight and panel through the starter switch. ARG!!!

Tires (both front and back) and fork seals and oil were replaced. Next semester for our practicum, we’re going to tackle the carbs. The gas smells nasty and she’s been sitting for over a year. Hopefully very soon, we’ll get her done, out of the shop and onto the road where she belongs.

Oh yeah! Remember that Honda Ruckus I repaired? The one night I missed class the owner brought in a huge tray of cookies, as a token of his esteem, and the guys didn’t save me a single crumb. Jerks! LOL

Until next time,
MCM :0)