How to Replace Vespa Variator Rollers

Written by tom lutzenberger
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How to Replace Vespa Variator Rollers
The ET2 was the first of the Vespas in the U.S. to feature variators. (scooter 2 image by chrisharvey from

The opening and reassembly process of the modern Vespa engine is not much more complicated than working on classic Vespa engines. It just involves some different steps and a few more speciality tools. Replacing the variator rollers on the new engine is one such example of what may appear intimidating but is actually straightforward. This article assumes torque settings on a Vespa GTS scooter. Check your owner's manual for the settings of your specific model.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Clutch holding tool
  • Socket wrench and sockets
  • Variator assembly holding tool
  • New variator rollers

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  1. 1

    Grab and unhook the left side panel from the Vespa so that the engine is clear of obstruction. Insert a flathead screwdriver underneath and lever off the rear hub cover from the engine case. Insert a clutch holding tool into the rear of the engine case so that the clutch nut is in the centre of the tool. Loosen and remove the nut with a socket wrench and socket while the clutch is held in place via the holding tool. Use either a socket wrench or crescent wrenches to remove all the engine case bolts.

  2. 2

    Pull the cover off the transmission area by hand to expose the clutch and drive belt. Pull the clutch bell off the clutch by hand (it will be loose now with the nut removed). Place a variator assembly holding tool over the variator and loosen the securing nut with a socket wrench while using the tool to keep the variator from spinning. Pull the nut and washers off the variator by hand once they are loose and remember the direction they were installed when removed. This is very important. Pull off the outer variator plate by hand. It will now be loose with the nut removed.

  3. 3

    Remove the clutch and drive belt from the engine by hand - they will be loose after the securing nuts are removed - and place them aside. Pull the variator inner assembly off its axle by hand and remove the old rollers from the inside. Clean out the variator shell completely with a rag and some spray-on solvent cleaner. Check for any roughness by feeling the variator surface with your fingertips. Replace the variator shell if the parts internally and externally are not smooth to the touch. Clean out the grooves for the rollers with brake cleaner. Wipe the variator clean again and wipe out the inside of the engine case well with a shop rag, including the axles. Insert new rollers into the variator shell into their positions.

  4. 4

    Re-install the variator assembly back into the engine case by inserting it on its axle. Re-insert the clutch and drive belt on next on their axle after looping the other end of the drive belt around the variator. Attach the outer variator plate back onto the variator axle, positioning it into the drive belt teeth. Reinsert the washers and variator nut back onto the variator axle in the same position and direction as removed. Tighten the nut using a torque wrench to not more than a 24.9 to 27.7 Kilogram feet setting (these are the same settings on the GT model).

  5. 5

    Put the clutch bell back onto the clutch assembly. Replace the transmission case cover and secure it again with the engine case bolts originally removed. Use the clutch holding tool again and tighten the clutch nut with a torque wrench to a 33 to 37 pounds feet setting (40 to 44 pounds feet on the GT model). Insert the rear hub cover. Wipe up grease marks with a towel.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a click-type torque wrench to confirm you have the correct tightness with securing the clutch and variator nuts. Dial-type torque wrenches tend to be inaccurate.
  • Don't use a screwdriver to hold the clutch or variator while loosening their securing nuts. The screwdriver will likely slip and cause damage to the engine parts.

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