Spidermax Files: The Dr. Colt Conversion

2014-02-24 2 years with the Dr. Pulley sliders
2012-10-25 the 19 gram 2.5 mm mod is just great

2012-09-01 500 km with the 19 gram 2.5 mm mod

2012-08-23 changed to a 2.5 mm washer for some extra acceleration
2012-08-19 comments about my 19 gram slider mod
2012-07-16 new test with four 19 gram sliders and the standard 2mm washer
2012-07-04 5000 km with the Dr. Colt Conversion and the switch to a 2.5 mm washer
2012-03-17 Dr. Colt 1000 km results and first conclusion.
2012-02-15 Some thoughts about the bad Dr. Pulley photo faking.
2012-02-14  Dr. Colt steep hill climbing test
2012-02-13  Dr. Colt high speed test
2012-02-09 installation Dr. Pulley sliders
2012-02-03 initial post

If you have been a good boy (or girl) and have read through my blog you might remember that before I started my "let´s see how many rollers we can remove conversions" I was thinking of getting light Dr.Pulley sliders and see how they would work out. Sadly Dr. Pulley sliders have to be mail ordered from overseas and even that proves a challenge because of the limited weights at that time and virtually no dealers.

Now some years later and with 2 sets of the once reliable Piaggio rollers failing horrible it is time to look for safe alternatives. As it happens I stumbled across a Dr.Pulley seller in Germany who has a lot of different weight sliders from the original 21 gram down to 14 gram and you can even  order 13 gram.

After some considerations I decided against the 8x13 gram and will see how my favorite Colt Conversion works with Dr. Pulley sliders.
I ordered the 2517 8-21 for the quite steep price of 45 Euros ($60) plus a moderate 3.50 for shipping.

This will be a long-term test to see if they are as good and reliable (37000 km) as the original Piaggio rollers once were. (In case you are not familiar, nearly every European scooter has an engine made by Piaggio and the OEM parts like belt and rollers are also all from Piaggio.)


Malaguti Spidermax - how long do parts last

2012-12-19 Rear Tire
2012-10-24 Brake pads
2012-08-30 Spark plug
2012-08-23 exhaust seal
2012-04-20 Valves

2012-04-12 Front Tire
2012-03-14 Rear Tire
2012-02-09 Rollers
2012-02-02 Belt
2012-01-26 Rollers
Exhaust seal
After 50000 km the Spidermax exhaust was getting louder and louder.
As it turned out, every time the rear tire gets changed the exhaust seal gets more damaged by re-inserting the exhaust into the seal. I tried to do a quick and dirty job with replacing the seal with some exhaust sealing tape but that did not work. So I had to pay the 35 Euro for this little piece of carbon seal.


4 Years with the Malaguti Spidermax 500GT

Time sure flies if you are having fun.
My Malaguti Spidermax has now 65000 km on the meter, I am running on 4 21 gram Dr. Pulley sliders what have been reduced to 19 gram and the 2 mm distance washer has been replaced with a 2.5 mm key ring.  This is the near optimal setting for my very hilly environment and the 2 persons the Spidermax has to carry.
With this high RPM setting I switched back to full synthetic oil.
The leaking water pump seal has more or less fixed itself and my consumption is between 5 and 5.5 liter per 100 km but mostly in the 5.5 area since I just love to be in the 6-7000 RPM band.
The bike needs to be resprayed since the permanent sun takes its toll on my couple layer spray can paint job.
After discovering and replacing the worn out exhaust seal what was responsible for a loud engine, the Piaggio 500cc MASTER engine runs nearly as quite as new. The seal gets damaged every time the rear tire is changed since it is a very delicate and easy to damage material.
So far the Spidermax is in good shape and with a rear spare tire in the garage (the last took 2 months to get to me) I´m on the safe side.
Thanks to my 4 roller conversion what got rid of the Belt Flapping, Paint Shaker and screaming Sea Lion my second belt still looks like nearly new and shows little sign of aging.
After my short experience with a Burgman K8 I am looking toward many more kilometers I will have fun with the so much better handling Malaguti Spidermax.


Malaguti Spidermax - Personal Log

After some playing with new colors including yellow and red with fluorescent green I found a cherry red what is more berry red and I liked it quite well. But I wanted something more to look at, it should be sporty and elegant at the same time. I remembered the first corvette who was available in red and white. My "new" Spidermax might have a white stripe from front to end.

In August 2012 I decided to try a Burgman K8 to see if  we would like her as a Spidermax replacement. It took less than 5 minutes to notice the unstable low speed handling, the horrible slow acceleration, I had the feeling that my knees were under my chin (compared to the Spidermax sitting position) and the back seat did not like the short test at all. I guess with the 16" wheels, the awesome low and crawl speed handling and my transmission conversion I am just too spoiled...


weep hole and water pump seal


You know the smell of a hot engine after a nice long ride - if that smell changes from oily metal to burnt sweet it is time to check out the area around the water pump.
Seeing water drops coming out of the hot engine and then being vaporized is a bit unsettling at first since I had no idea there was a hole in the engine with just the job to leak water or oil.

meet the weep hole, your indicator that a seal is leaking

In this post you will learn a bit about what keeps your engine cool, where the weak points of the system are and maybe how to fix the problem.


Oh, the night is my world - City light painted girl

(LAURA BRANIGAN - Self Control) lyrics
How the right color for your bike makes a world of a difference
2012 playing with a new color scheme
original posting


Malaguti Spidermax - I want a Radio

2012-03-24 this time I try a car power plug MP3 player with a steering wheel remote
It is nice to ride around with a little MP3 player and some ear buds, but I want a big bike stereo!
Sadly the Malaguti engineers forgot about that option. We have a couple speaker grill lookalikes, but there is no room behind to install  speakers.


CVT Roller weight and you

The modification of roller weights has a huge impact on how your CVT automatic behaves. But not every modification works for every person and situation.

Let´s take for example a 500cc bike what has around 220 kg (500 pound) weight ready to roll. Now add a single young rider with 60 kg (140 pound) and a mostly flat and high speed capable terrain. Compare that with 2 older riders and some add on´s with 160 kg (350 pound) who ride into the mountains a lot where are extreme steep hairpin turns which require a lot of torque at 20 km/h (12 mph).
While in the first case the original roller setup might work quite well and only a 10 to 15% reduction in roller weight will make a huge impact in the second case you need a setup what is capable in bringing up the rpm from near stand still. Because with the original setup the clutch will squeal at every hairpin turn and the belt will flap itself silly and to an early end, see belt section from how long do parts last

Here is a example from a Honda Big Ruckus and an owner who was even more into weight testing than me.
Effects of  Changing Roller Weights  on a Honda PS-250

Keep in mind that in case of the Piaggio MASTER engine a  5000 km test  was done with the 172 gram 8 roller setup and also a   5000 km test was done with the 86 gram 4 roller setup with very interesting results.

It is also important to know that there is a big difference in 86 gram in 4 rollers and 86 gram in 8 rollers. While the first works absolutely brilliant ( Colt Conversion ) the second one  Woody and Steel  was a total bust.
 I just saw that Dr.Pulley is offering now  13 gram  sliders for the MASTER 400/500cc engines. This would make 104 gram total. Sure could be interesting to test how that works out.


WARNING! bad Piaggio rollers batch

2012-01-28 why the new rollers fail
2012-01-26 another set of early failing Piaggio rollers
2011-09-22 initial post early failing Piaggio rollers

2011-09-22 early failing Piaggio rollers

My first original factory installed rollers lasted 37000 km and looked better than this original Piaggio rollers batch no: 102829 after the 120000 km they should last without defect . (For more info on the old rollers see: inside cvt belt and rollers)


Colt Conversion Warning

Avoid Piaggio rollers! Do not use them for the Colt Conversion!
I am looking for a more durable and reliable solution and will keep you informed here.

If you made the 4 roller Colt Conversion be sure to check your rollers for wear and defects. Since some time Piaggio made the rollers much less durable and the outer plastic can break easy.

There is an easy way to spot failing rollers:
When the rollers are starting to wear the RPM increases and your bike is even more responsive and accelerates even a bit better. You will also notice, that on areas where you normally have 7500 RPM at 140 km/h on a light hill (just an example how I noticed it) you will see the RPM climbing to 7700 or higher. Also the RPM limiter will start earlier at high speed.

This is an indication that it is time to change the rollers now.
If you keep on going something like this can happen over time.


3 Years with the Malaguti Spidermax 500GT

What can I say - the Spidermax is a terrific bike. She is now driven like a sports bike with RPMs in the 6000 to 7500 (rpm-max is 8000) and the scraping of the center stand in curves does not bother me anymore...
To clarify the last sentence, this only happens when the bike if fully loaded with over 160 KG (350 pound) of passengers and cargo and in certain curves, mostly left ones.

Piaggio Master 500cc - 2 Years / 30000 km (19000 miles) with the 4 roller Colt conversion

I started my Colt conversion experiment 2009.8.10 with 19.000 km, now 2011.9.24 two years and at 49.000 km so 30.000 km (19.000 miles) later it is time to see how it worked out.


Malaguti Spidermax - replacing the seat cover

On the place where I sit the seat cover is starting to develop cracks. After putting a small duct tape patch over it new ones outside the patch began to emerge. Covering them too with a now bigger strip of black duct tape a new one outside the taped area appeared the next day.
That was when I realized it is time to look for a replacement.



The Canary Conversion - pushing the limits of sanity


( The conversion formerly known as the Colt 3 double Woody ;)

How to get the most acceleration for free by optimizing the amount and weight of the rollers and fine-tuning the distance between the driving pulley halves to optimize for your riding style and conditions.
This is an additional tuning of the already very efficient Colt Conversion.

Consumption Canary Conversion  start 2010-10-20

click on the buttons to go to the mileage logs
Spritmonitor.de Spritmonitor.de Spritmonitor.de
Spritmonitor.de Colt Conversion 5000 km test
Spritmonitor.de Factory Setup 5000 km test

Spidermax mostly with 2 persons ca 400 kg (900 lbs) total
Typical riding conditions are 20% mountains 20-60 km/h - 50% slightly hilly 40-90 km/h - 30% slightly hilly 100-145 km/h

You will notice that I get a lower millage than most people, but if you see my riding conditions above you will get an idea why. The Burgman 400 needed around 4.5 l and the Pegaso 650 6.5 l per 100 km. Both were ridden more conservatively than the Spidermax.

If you want to compare 250 other scooters to my numbers, check out:
MPG Guide: The Fuel Economy Of 250 Top Selling Scooters
To better understand what is going on, read The Colt 3 Conversion first.
Then check out the 7 links below to get an idea how this all developed.


Inside the CVT - Belt and Rollers

36000 Km / 22500 miles with the same belt and rollers in a Piaggio MASTER 500 cc engine

What did I learn from that?

First, the changing intervals are for worse case scenarios like you are in a very cold area and the belt gets frozen stiff and then rapidly flexed during warm up, or when the air is very dusty and the sand in it wears down the rollers fast.

Now my test was done 280 km west of the Sahara and because of the SAL, Calima and Scirocco we get lots of fine sand dust and sand here so for even this kind of extreme grinding air we have here, the rollers would have been good for at least 40.000 km.

If you take a look at your rollers and you see a little abrasion or tiny flat spots like this here.


Piaggio Master 500cc - 1 Year / 16000 km (10000 miles) with the 4 roller Colt conversion

I started my Colt conversion experiment 2009.8.10 with 19.000 km, now 2010.8.22 one Year and at nearly 35.000 km so 16.000 km (10.000 miles) later it is time to see how it worked out.

If you are new to my blog, here a short recap for you.


2 Years with the Malaguti Spidermax 500GT

I got her used with 18 months and 4000 km for 3000 Euro, that was a marvelous deal.
Let´s see what happen to my Spidermax in the last 2 years.


Malaguti Spidermax - a footrest to straighten the legs

I enjoyed stretching my legs once a while when I had my Burgman 400.
The European scooters are mostly without the extra stretch room because of the difference in riding style. When I tried out a 250 MP3 I felt totally cramped with my size 45 (12 US) feet. The Spidermax has adequate legroom but when cruising through the mountains with some nice tunes I missed the sit back and relax feeling.

I wanted to try out first what would be comfortable and safe before installing some footrest bars.


The 0 Euro Tuning - Piaggio MASTER engine 500 cc -

The facts and measurements how to make her accelerate faster
2000 km after the Colt Conversion (see posting before) I wanted to know how much more the real increase in acceleration is.
So today I put the 4 rollers I had removed for the Colt Conversion back in the variator and did some measurements.
Sounds like gibberish to you so far, please read first this post.


Speedy Gonzales, Road Runner and the Red Rocket

the last one is with a hat tip to Matt and Tray from South Park...
How to make her accelerate faster by tinkering with the variator.

I read a lot about how to improve the acceleration of the Piaggio 500 cc MASTER engine.
There is the:
J. Costa Variator
Malossi Multivar 2000
Polini Variator
Dr. Pulley Sliding Roller Weights
Malossi Racing Spring Set
Malossi Maxi Fly Clutch
Dr Pulley HiT Clutch
and so on

I wanted to go with the Dr. Pulley sliding weights because it is the cheapest mod with the most impact for the money, but first I needed to know if I had the old 6 roller variator or the new 8 roller type.
So I opened the variator assembly to see and wondered what impact removing 2 rollers would have. I read in different boards, if you change the weight of the rollers you should not go below 8% of the original weight. I wanted to try an extreme setup to see how big the impact on acceleration and gas consumption would be.

how many rollers are there?

Rollers, the belt and how to get to them in spite of Murphies law

My little air compressor was not able to get the nuts from the pulleys off so I got my one of these.

An electric impact wrench with 700w what did the job nicely.

Nobody told me that to remove the transmission cover you need brute force.

I tried it it with a home made extractor but no luck.


GPS or Getting Perished (lost) in Style

The joy of getting lost and discovering new frontiers uhm - places.
GPS are so cheap these days, so there is no reason not to have one.
So how do we mount it so it is optimal visible, not in the way and looks good also?
When I mounted a GPS on my Burgman I used the supplied flexible swan neck but it always resulted in vibrations of the GPS.
I found an offer of an unknown GPS at Carrefour here on Gran Canaria for 70€.
Testing the GPS I found this holder the pefrect fit for the Malaguti Spidermax GT500,


Test Track

Compare the Burgman AN 400 with the Aprilia Pegaso and the Malaguti Spidermax
Today I took some time to test the Spidermax on all kinds of roads. Let´s see how she compares to the Burgman 400 or Pegaso 650.