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Yet another post about speedometer accuracy

 
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eggsalad
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Buddy 150 International St. Tropez

PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 3:17 am    Post subject: Yet another post about speedometer accuracy Reply with quote

There's a recent thread (Vino vs. Buddy) that talks about the Vino having a more accurate speedometer than a Buddy.

That thread drifted to be one about speedometer accuracy, but I thought I'd bring it to a new thread.

Possibly the single most common gripe about the Buddy is how inaccurate the speedometer is - both on this forum and elsewhere on the Internet.

I've done some research on this, and here are my findings:

In the United States, there is absolutely no law requiring the speedometer to be accurate on passenger vehicles AT ALL.

There is a law requiring speedometers to be accurate in commercial trucks and buses.

There used to be a law requiring passenger vehicles to have speedometers that were accurate to within 4% of indicated speed. However, in the late 1970s, two manufacturers, General Motors and International Harvester, were taken to task for having speedometers that did not meet this law. They sent big-money lawyers to DC to argue that it was simply impossible for a speedometer to meet this standard. They argued that there were simply too many variables - the primary two being tire size variables (for a given tire size designation, tires could vary greatly in actual dimensions) and the effect of heat on actual tire dimensions.

They won, and the law requiring speedometers to be accurate was simply eliminated.

(end facts, begin opinions)

What a load of BS! First of all, if trucks and buses can have accurate speedometers, there's no reason cars and motorcycles and scooters can't. But rather than fix their speedometers, GM and I-H just lobbied to have the law dropped. America!

And because there's no law requiring accuracy, the speedometer in a passenger vehicle can legally be off by 10% (like a Buddy), or 20%, or 50%, heck, even 100% and nobody can do a darn thing about it.

Could Genuine Scooter Company demand that PGO sell them scooters with more accurate speedometers than currently exist? Sure they could. But they don't (legally) have to, and apparently they choose not to. That seems dopey to me, but hey, I don't run the company.
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Footbag
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 8:03 am    Post subject: Aftermarket speedometer Reply with quote

My Buddy speedo is more accurate then my Tao Tao, but I always thought there would be a market for an aftermarket speedometer face. All someone has to do is reprint the face moving the mph and kph locations down 5-10%.

I don’t know how hard it is to get inside the gauge, but it could solve the issue.
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tenders
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They all read inaccurately high. My Buddy 50, Vespa 150, and Scarabeo 500ie all have the same issue.

There is probably a reason for so much systematic bias to exist. I seem to recall reading something about a rule that a category of vehicles including scooters was not permitted to have speedos that read LOW, and manufacturers met that requirement by having all affected speedos read demonstrably HIGH. No idea when that rule existed, where it applied, or where I read it, but it does seem as though it would be difficult to prove that something does not exist anywhere in the body of 50 states’ plus federal legislation.

I have decided it isn’t really material given how often in typical driving I change speed anyway.

On the Scarabeo, people complained beyond the accuracy that the Imperial speeds are difficult to see on the speedo - the metric are far more prominent. And they’re right, this is kind of a PITA. Somebody solved this by publishing a template intended to be printed and cut out locally on vinyl as a rainbow-shaped appliqué. It basically covers up the KM/hr scale and features the MPH scale more prominently, using fairly similar fonts and colors as the rest of the dash. The original designer was providing the appliqués for a while but is long gone, though the template is still around.

The vinyl printers I contacted casually about printing this template never responded to my inquiry but if anybody knows a vinyl printer we might be able to address this issue with Buddies and maybe I’ll get a Scarabeo solution out of it too. The template isn’t complicated, one could easily be ginned up in PowerPoint (or a better drafting tool of course) and exported to PDF.

One big assumption: the speedos are affected similarly across speeds, model years, and models. This is probably a reasonable assumption but I haven’t tested it.
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Dooglas
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tenders wrote:
On the Scarabeo, people complained beyond the accuracy that the Imperial speeds are difficult to see on the speedo - the metric are far more prominent. And they’re right, this is kind of a PITA. Somebody solved this by publishing a template intended to be printed and cut out locally on vinyl as a rainbow-shaped appliqué. It basically covers up the KM/hr scale and features the MPH scale more prominently, using fairly similar fonts and colors as the rest of the dash. The original designer was providing the appliqués for a while but is long gone, though the template is still around.

The vinyl printers I contacted casually about printing this template never responded to my inquiry but if anybody knows a vinyl printer we might be able to address this issue with Buddies and maybe I’ll get a Scarabeo solution out of it too. The template isn’t complicated, one could easily be ginned up in PowerPoint (or a better drafting tool of course) and exported to PDF.


Similar problem with km/h and mph scales on the speedo of a Piaggio MP3. Likewise several people have developed vinyl overlays to address this. Not really very complex as the gist of it are a few short bars and some single digit numbers. Also not hard to do a PDF once you figure out the corrected spacing and take it to a vinyl sign shop. They can cut as many as you want from your PDF template. Same approach could certainly be used to correct mph speedo error if it really bothers you. Of course, if you already know the error, you also already know the actual speed. Wink
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ucandoit
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I, too, really dislike the inaccuracy of the Buddy speedometer. I don't know why this bothers me so much. It seems like cheating; not being straightforward, honest, reliable, and a bit patronizing, as in: "We made it artificially much higher to keep you safe". It's my job to keep myself safe. I want to trust my instruments.
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Footbag
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GPS is still the only official speed in my book. Wish my phone would stay charged.
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eggsalad
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tenders wrote:


There is probably a reason for so much systematic bias to exist. I seem to recall reading something about a rule that a category of vehicles including scooters was not permitted to have speedos that read LOW, and manufacturers met that requirement by having all affected speedos read demonstrably HIGH.


From my research, the original law said there was a 4% range, from -2% to +2%. That was changed to the same 4%, but the range was from -1% to +3%.

Later, it was changed to ±4% - so once again there was no bias to the high side. Then, as noted in my original post, the law was dropped entirely.
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Footbag
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It probably also protects manufacturers from underreporting speed when accounting for tire changes, wear or even differences between model options.
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tenders
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

eggsalad wrote:
From my research, the original law said there was a 4% range, from -2% to +2%. That was changed to the same 4%, but the range was from -1% to +3%.

Later, it was changed to ±4% - so once again there was no bias to the high side. Then, as noted in my original post, the law was dropped entirely.


I am in no way disputing that law. But what you found simply proves THAT law isn't a valid explanation for the situation. An entire ridiculous body of laws, regulations, statutes, safety, and environmental requirements exists across 50 states plus the federal governments - any of which might be the reason. It's pretty hard to prove that no rule or requirement is lurking there.
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Footbag
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tenders wrote:
eggsalad wrote:
From my research, the original law said there was a 4% range, from -2% to +2%. That was changed to the same 4%, but the range was from -1% to +3%.

Later, it was changed to ±4% - so once again there was no bias to the high side. Then, as noted in my original post, the law was dropped entirely.


I am in no way disputing that law. But what you found simply proves THAT law isn't a valid explanation for the situation. An entire ridiculous body of laws, regulations, statutes, safety, and environmental requirements exists across 50 states plus the federal governments - any of which might be the reason. It's pretty hard to prove that no rule or requirement is lurking there.


I’d bet the original law, and any decision to overturn it was more impacted by civil law which is much more blurry. For example, when is a car company responsible for harm or damage inflicted? Their lawyers want the to err on the side of caution. Maybe the original law didn’t give them enough of a window for error. +-4mph is easily overcome by tire switch or even wear on some tires.
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eggsalad
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tenders wrote:
eggsalad wrote:
From my research, the original law said there was a 4% range, from -2% to +2%. That was changed to the same 4%, but the range was from -1% to +3%.

Later, it was changed to ±4% - so once again there was no bias to the high side. Then, as noted in my original post, the law was dropped entirely.


I am in no way disputing that law. But what you found simply proves THAT law isn't a valid explanation for the situation. An entire ridiculous body of laws, regulations, statutes, safety, and environmental requirements exists across 50 states plus the federal governments - any of which might be the reason. It's pretty hard to prove that no rule or requirement is lurking there.


My apologies. I didn't mean to imply that there is no law in any jurisdiction requiring passenger vehicle speedometers to have any specific accuracy. I was only stating there is no FEDERAL law requiring manufacturers or importers to sell vehicles with accurate speedometers.

HOWEVER (and I am most certainly not a lawyer!) the absence of a Federal standard MAY absolve manufacturers and importers from liability in civil suits. Let's say the Buddy speedometer read 10% low and you got a ticket for going 55mph in a 50mph zone. (Ridiculous, but bear with me.)

It is my belief (and again, I am certainly no lawyer!) that you could not present a valid legal case for suing Genuine Scooter Company for failing to provide an accurate speedometer.

My theory is that if the manufacturer or importer isn't taking any real risk by providing inaccurate speedometers, there really isn't much motivation on their part to ensure their speedometers are accurate.
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Footbag
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

eggsalad wrote:
tenders wrote:
eggsalad wrote:
From my research, the original law said there was a 4% range, from -2% to +2%. That was changed to the same 4%, but the range was from -1% to +3%.

Later, it was changed to ±4% - so once again there was no bias to the high side. Then, as noted in my original post, the law was dropped entirely.


I am in no way disputing that law. But what you found simply proves THAT law isn't a valid explanation for the situation. An entire ridiculous body of laws, regulations, statutes, safety, and environmental requirements exists across 50 states plus the federal governments - any of which might be the reason. It's pretty hard to prove that no rule or requirement is lurking there.


My apologies. I didn't mean to imply that there is no law in any jurisdiction requiring passenger vehicle speedometers to have any specific accuracy. I was only stating there is no FEDERAL law requiring manufacturers or importers to sell vehicles with accurate speedometers.

HOWEVER (and I am most certainly not a lawyer!) the absence of a Federal standard MAY absolve manufacturers and importers from liability in civil suits. Let's say the Buddy speedometer read 10% low and you got a ticket for going 55mph in a 50mph zone. (Ridiculous, but bear with me.)

It is my belief (and again, I am certainly no lawyer!) that you could not present a valid legal case for suing Genuine Scooter Company for failing to provide an accurate speedometer.

My theory is that if the manufacturer or importer isn't taking any real risk by providing inaccurate speedometers, there really isn't much motivation on their part to ensure their speedometers are accurate.


The abscence of a statute absolutely will not sheild manufacturers from liability in a civil suit. In fact, they can be held civily liable even if they proved in court no statutes were violated. Look at OJ Simpson.

But its not just losing a civil suit, fighting them is still an expensive proposition.
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eggsalad
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Footbag wrote:
The abscence of a statute absolutely will not sheild manufacturers from liability in a civil suit. In fact, they can be held civily liable even if they proved in court no statutes were violated. Look at OJ Simpson.

But its not just losing a civil suit, fighting them is still an expensive proposition.


Fair enough, and you've taught me something. Thank you.

But I would still contend that Genuine believes that any (real or perceived) costs that may or may not come from litigation involving their inaccurate speedometers would be less than the costs of insisting that PGO install more accurate speedometers.

There's a parallel to the Ford litigation involving Pinto gas tanks in the 1970s. When all of the truths finally came out in that case, it turned out that Ford was fully aware of the risks involving that tank, and was furthermore aware that for a few dollars more per car they could mitigate that risk, but they intentionally chose not to, because they thought (a) the risk was lower than it was and (b) they were just being cheap.

Ford took a gamble and lost. Genuine is taking a similar risk (although not nearly as severe!) and I can only assume they think the odds would be in their favor - or the rewards outweigh the risks.

I have no idea if anyone from Genuine Scooter reads these forums, but I would say I was 100% convinced that Genuine is well aware of the speedometer inaccuracy - how could they not be? And since the problem has existed (apparently, I'm not 100% sure) for the 13+ years of Buddy sales, I can't believe that continuing to sell scooters with inaccurate speedometers is a not conscious decision on their part.
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New2Scoots
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Motorcycle Consumer News (now gone) always posted speedometer errors with every bike they tested. Most read 3-5 mph faster than actual. My Honda Metro shows 35, goes 31. Some vendor made a different speedometer display with the numbers moved to display speed accurately for the Suzuki Vstrom. Sold them for around $80 but I just got used to adding a few mph in my head.
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JettaKnight
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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 2:46 am    Post subject: Re: Yet another post about speedometer accuracy Reply with quote

eggsalad wrote:

There used to be a law requiring passenger vehicles to have speedometers that were accurate to within 4% of indicated speed. However, in the late 1970s, two manufacturers, General Motors and International Harvester, were taken to task for having speedometers that did not meet this law. They sent big-money lawyers to DC to argue that it was simply impossible for a speedometer to meet this standard. They argued that there were simply too many variables - the primary two being tire size variables (for a given tire size designation, tires could vary greatly in actual dimensions) and the effect of heat on actual tire dimensions.

They won, and the law requiring speedometers to be accurate was simply eliminated.


As a former employee of Navistar (nee International Harvester), this doesn't surprise me.


My truck is doing 75 when the speedo says 70, so c'est la vie.

(I got oversized tires)
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vintagegarage
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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What I don't understand is why (as far as I know, please correct me if I am wrong) nobody has found it worthwhile to manufacture a front wheel speedometer gearbox with the correct ratio, or found a gearbox from another scooter or manufacturer that will fix the problem. The gearbox is much easier to change than fooling around with the instrument, and you remove and replace the gearbox each time you change the front tire.. a simple job.
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BuddyRaton
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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you're gonna ride this is part of the deal. People either accept it and enjoy the ride or obsess and make themselves crazy.

This horse had been beaten to death, resurrected, beaten to death, rinse, lather repeat.

I find these threads highly amusing as people get so concerned about accurate indication...I mean all this legal wooly bully technical, why don't they just...then go see how high above the speed limit they can get it to run.

Buying vintage Vespas if the speedo is broken I know it's the real deal.

On bikes most of the speedos are off by about 10%, this is life, let's ride!

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Alzero
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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The reason there are no accessory speedometer gearboxes is that the only people who care are a few cranks who think it’s a big deal. The rest of the world just shrugs and thinks: “so what?”. No market to justify the tens of thousands of $’s it would take to create the tooling to make them and if demand ever did arise the OEMs would just build accurate speedometers and put you out of business. Even the Chinese subcontractors who make the speedometer drives don’t seem to think there is a market for corrector gears and have you ever known them to pass up a profit opportunity?
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Dooglas
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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those of you who are looking for a US conspiracy for why scooter speedos read high are looking in the wrong place. None of the scooters or speedos you are talking about are even made in the US. More to the point, I have owned 8 Vespa/Piaggio scooters. Piaggio is one of worlds largest scooter manufacturers. All of their speedos read high as well. That is obviously not the result of a US law, and it also is clearly not discouraging their customer base.
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Paul Meyer
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2020 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just use a Garmin on a Ram mount.
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