Welcome to a FAQ that's all about GS Motorworks and their Alien motor scooter. By way of disclosure, I don't work for or have any financial connection with GS other than as a customer. I have an Alien and I helped a friend assemble her's.
Last Update: 07/16/2006
What is the Alien?
The Alien is a 149cc motor scooter. You can see one on the GS Motorworks site.
Is it really only $1399?
As of this writing, yes, it is only $1399, though that's not what you'll end up paying, unless you live in select cities and have a truck. My final price was $1598, because I had to pay to have it shipped.
Can you avoid the shipping costs?
Yes. I don't have any experience with this, but if you live in or near a city that is designated as a "port", you can pick up your Alien at the port. Shipping to the port is free, so if you're lucky enough to live nearby (and have a truck and some friends to lend a hand), you can get it for just $1399.
What were your other costs?
You can't just pay your $1399 and drive off into the sunset. Shipping costs I already discussed. Paperwork is free, but it is $20 for overnight delivery, if you want it. It cost me $7 to take the motorcycle learner's permit test. Registration was $31. I did not need a title in Vermont. Tax was 6%, or $83.94. My insurance was $282, but I did not go with the cheapest insurance - if you're willing to have lower limits and deductibles, you can get it for about half what I paid. All told, the Alien cost me $2000 to drive on the road.
Recurring costs will be $2 per year for the motorcycle endorsement on my license, $31 for registration, and about $282 per year for insurance. Will riding the Alien save me $315 per year in gas? Possibly - with gas at 2.80/gallon, if I save 112 gallons by riding, it will pay for itself. That does not include the intangible benefits of riding. It also does not include the cost of renting a storage unit for the winters (though we plan to put other stuff in there once we have it).
How long did it take to ship?
I have two experiences here. The first is my own: I paid for the Alien on April 12, 2006 and it arrived at my house on April 25. I expected it within a week of the 12th, and when I heard nothing from GS or the shipping company, I called GS. They had apparently lost my order, and had to ship it then. So it took less than a week once the order was actually in their system. My friend bought an Alien, and her's arrived in about five days.
What can I expect to arrive at my house?
The Alien is big, and you may not be prepared for how big it is, especially in the crate. The crate is made of a metal frame covered in cardboard. It is damn heavy. When your Alien arrives, be sure to inspect it. The frame of my crate was bent, but nothing was damaged. The frame of my friend's crate was warped and the body panels of the bike were cracked.
What if there is damage?
The bikes leave GS intact, so any damage when it arrives at your door was caused by one of the shipping companies. You can refuse the shipment, which is what my friend did. The trucker reloaded the bike and drove off. However, GS didn't have any more bikes in her color in stock, so they had it shipped back and they shipped her replacement body panels. Basically if there is damage, be ready to send it back, but it might be best to call GS right then and there.
There are no returns, right? What's up with that?
There are no returns. This was a concern for me. I'm a big guy, 6' 3", 250 pounds - I didn't want to get this thing, sight unseen, and find out I don't fit on it. I shopped around. I found the Yamaha Vino 125 to be of similar size, though the Vino is a bit smaller. If you can fit on a Vino 125, you can fit on the Alien.
Can the Alien really go 60 MPH, as advertised?
Yes - I've gotten it faster on downhills, but you can tell the bike does not want to go any faster. Max cruising is about 55. I avoid interstate highways. I took it on a 55 highway once, but the average speed of drivers on that stretch of road is 65-70, and I was holding up traffic.
Do you really got 60 - 80 MPG fuel economy, as advertised?
I have not been tracking my fuel efficiency very long. At my last fill-up, I had gone 75 miles and filled up with 1.43 gallons. That gave me 52.45 MPG. Not quite the promised 60, but I have to do more fill-ups to get good numbers. I will update this page when I have more info. Update: My last few fill-ups have given me lower mileage, more like 45 MPG. But that may be because I hadn't changed my oil in a while. I will update later after a few more fill-ups.
How comparable is riding the Alien to an average motorcycle?
I can't tell you - I've never ridden a motorcycle. I do know there are differences, based on the motorcycle test I had to take. For example, the Alien has no gears - the engine is an automatic (if you've ever driven an EVT car like the Saturn Vue, you know how it works). So there is no need to have a clutch. So the brakes are both on the squeeze handles - no foot brake. Aside from that, it is pretty much the same, as far as I can tell.
Is assembly difficult?
It was tough the first time. I was flying blind, and since the Alien was very new when I got mine, the online documentation left something to be desired. I sent in a lot of suggestions to GS that I see have been incorporated into the documentation, which is good. It took me about 3 hours all by myself to put it together. The second time, I helped my friend assemble her's, and it took the two of us about 2 hours. I'm not sure how assembly would be now, if I had the improved documentation.
What was hardest?
Getting the front axle in was tough. You have to align the axle, the wheel, the speedometer mechanism, the disk brake, and a spacer all at once. Next hardest was putting on the final front fascia panel. For some reason, it just does not go in without effort every time.
Any tips to offer about assembly?
First, you need to disassemble the entire crate, all the way down to the base. There are a lot of nuts and bolts to unscrew, and metal ties to undo, but getting all that metal out of your way is worth the effort.
Have a strong friend help you remove the bike from the crate's metal base. It is heavy and it pretty much has to be lifted straight up and off. I did it alone, but I'm not sure I would recommend that.
The bike can safely rest on the front fork before you put the front wheel on. Don't worry about it.
Don't forget to take the spacer out of the front disk brake pads before you try to put the front wheel on.
Have a rubber mallet to pound the front axle in. But pound gently.
Once the wheel is on, put the bike up on the main stand, not the kick stand.
The wires to my horn came off twice before I did something about it - save yourself the trouble and check to see if the leads are loose while you have the front access open (the horn is the bronze-colored disk on the left side (as you stand in front of the bike - try to slip off the leads; if they come off easily, apply a little pressure with some pliers). Update: I had to fix the horn a third time. This time, I squeezed the wire as tight as I could and still slide the leads onto the horn. Hopefully this time will the the last.
Look at the pictures carefully when putting in the battery.
Don't forget to hook up the front-light wires before you screw down that panel.
The tabs on the windshield are fragile. If you need to take the windshield off once it is installed, be careful and pull gently.
If you do have to remove the windshield, the slip nuts that the screws screw into will be pulled off the plastic tabs, I can guarantee it. Most will fall through the frame and body panels to the ground, but some will get stuck in the body panels. My hands are too big to reach in there, so I got them put by tapping the bottom of the bike until I found where the nut landed, and then gave it a few good whacks until the nut emerged from the body panels. Very low tech.
The final fascia panel was a bitch to put on. If you have trouble, look at the holes the tabs are going into. Some might need to be enlarged with a carpet knife. Keep working at it if you have trouble, it'll go eventually.
The sticker on the steering column is written in such bad English that I had to remove it. The gunk left behind can be removed with Goof Off.
Missing parts? Look under the seat, they're all in there.
Check your tire pressure the first time you go out. 36 pounds in each.
What's the rubber strap thing for?
One of the included parts is a rubber strap with two metal loops in either end. I had no idea what it was for, and the GS photo manual does not make mention of it. Later, I saw the strap in the parts manual - it is supposed to hold the battery down in its tray. I don't have mine in there, and have had no ill effects. I'll remove the battery for winter storage, and maybe next year, when I put it back in, I will install it. Mystery solved.
What's the black plastic rectangle thingie for?
Another one of the included parts is a black plastic rectangle with tabs on one side. This is used to cover the similarly-shaped hole in the cargo compartment. Your VIN number can be seen engraved on the frame through that hole, but it is also on the panel in the compartment, so covering it is not a problem (and that way your cell phone won't fall into the hole).
What's the locked panel between the foot rests?
That is the airbox. The manual, which is a question unto itself, says it is for storage. It is not. GS told me it is under lock and key because you don't want anyone messing with your airbox. If they say so.
There is a small removable panel on the left side of the body, under the handlebars. What's that for?
I don't know - I removed mine to look inside and I see a hole for a screw, but nothing screwed in. It might be an attachment point for a piece of optional equipment. I couldn't see anything adjustable in there. If you figure it out, let me know.
What do I have to do after assembly before I ride?
Well, aside from getting it registered, inspected, and getting a license (all of which varies from state to state), not much. The oil is already loaded in the engine (though check your levels to be sure), and the battery is active as soon as you fill it with the acid. Once I put a half-gallon of gas into the tank, I was able to start it right up.
How's the quality of the paint and finish in general? And what color did you get?
I got black, my friend got blue. I find the finish to be just fine. The bike's panels are either glossy or matte. The glossy ones have held up fine so far. The matte ones seem to be more prone to scuffing, but for the most part, the matte parts are in places more likely to get beat up on.
Is it difficult to read the speedometer while riding? The one photo of the "cockpit" on the GS site shows the handlebars blocking the gauge cluster.
It is not hard at all. Of course, I'm 6'3", so my vantage point is different from that of some people. All I can say is I have no trouble.
Have you ridden with a passenger yet? Have you ridden at night?
My learner's permit does not allow me to ride at night nor with any passengers, so I have not done either. I have ridden at twilight, and I could see the headlamp beam, but I could not tell if it was adequate for night time riding. It was, however, much easier to see that the gauges are lit up in the semi-darkness, and appear to be lit enough for easy nighttime viewing.
How do I register the bike?
Exact procedures vary be state, but the first step regardless is getting your paperwork from GS. As soon as you can, go to the GS site, click on Customer Service, and then click on Registration (or, go here). Here you fill in your VIN and your other information ("MCO details" just means your name and address) and send it to GS. They process the VIN, print up a bill of sale and a bunch of other paperwork, and send it to you. Pay for overnight shipping, it is worth the $20 if you're as anxious as I was to get the thing on the road. The delays are the cost you pay for getting the bike for $1000 less than if you'd bought a Honda or Yamaha scooter at the dealer.
When I register, do I say the bike is a "GS Motorworks Alien?"
No. For the DMV and your insurance company, the bike is a Chuanl LB150T-19. I don't even know how to pronounce "Chuanl", but that's its make. The model is not sexy, which is probably why GS calls it "Alien." No one gets excited about owning an LB150T-19.
If something goes wrong, how is GS about helping?
Overall, I've had positive experiences with GS, though there have been peaks and valleys. For example, after they lost my paperwork for the initial order, they nicely promised to send me a free helmet to make up for it. Nice - but then they never sent the helmet. It took several emails before it got shipped.
Another example is my front fascia panel. It arrived broken. Since the Alien was a brand new model, spare parts were not yet available. It took almost a month to get a new one - and when it arrived, it was the wrong color. It took two more weeks to get the right part.
Overall, though, they are very helpful, especially via email. When I emailed one of their mechanics, I emailed the person who was in the photos putting together the unit in the photo manual. He knew exactly what I was talking about when I mentioned the manual. Another person was very grateful about my comments concerning the photo manual's shortcomings and made sure the next iteration addressed most of the issues.
You mentioned the manual sucks.
The manual is horrible. It is in what can only be described as mangled English. I have started to translate the manual into readable English, and will post my new version here when it is done. Worst are the inaccuracies - like calling the airbox panel a storage area.
Any tips about use of the scooter?
If you need to kick-start the bike, put it up on the main stand first. It will be easier if you don't have to balance the bike. You can also avoid one of my mistakes: when kick-starting one morning, I was not up on the stand, and was giving the bike a little gas. When the engine turned over, it zipped out of my hands and crashed into the driveway. Lesson learned.
The engine will not start if the kick stand is down.
The engine will not start if the engine kill switch is not in the center (the kill switch is on the right handlebar, with two semi-circles and one full circle as symbols - be sure the switch is at the full circle).
The engine will not start if you do not apply at least one brake handle.
The front brake is by far the more powerful. The motorcycle manuals say the front brake is 70% of your stopping power, but I think on the Alien it is more like 85%.
The under-seat area holds a lot. But the gas fill cap is also under the seat. When filling up, be sure to get all the gas out of the pump nozzle before pulling away from the fill hole, or you'll get gas all over your stuff.
The engine will charge the battery, but not sitting at idle. While I waited for my paperwork to arrive, I rode the bike up and down my driveway a lot, and drained the battery. I ran it at idle for an hour to charge it up, but that did nothing. Only by getting it on the road did the engine get up enough RPMs to charge the battery. If your battery is dead, the scooter will still run, but you will have to kick-start it. Practice kick-starting even if your battery is fully charged. You don't want to wait for an emergency to figure out how to do it.
The bolt that holds the handle bars to the front fork came loose on my scooter. When I got it inspected, the mechanic said that I had to fix that to be legal. I knew something was amiss, it just didn't feel right, and when he showed me, it looked downright dangerous. To adjust the bolt, you need to remove the plastic cover around the handlebars. Remove the single screw on the front of the panels first. Then separate the two halves - this is the hardest part as they connect at many points, but they pieces will come apart. Be firm and gentle. Once the front half is off, two screws hold the back half on. Remove them and the back half. Then tighten that bolt well. The first time, I did not tighten it enough and I had to do it again within a week. Reassemble everything and you should be good to go.
How well do the brakes stop you? If it takes you as long as it does in a car, that's not so good.
I have nothing to compare it to, other than car brakes, but they seem to work just fine, with the 85/15 caveat that I mention above. I usually use both the front and read at the same time and have no problem stopping. I only use the rear brake alone for low-grade slowing. My impression is that the braking distance is far less than in a car for the same distance, but I can't say that that's for sure. I have not tested it.
How do you change the oil in the Alien?
I first changed my oil at 500 miles. I was bad, I know. It was supposed to be at 200, at most, and every 600 after that ... I'm just a little off the plan. Anyway, you should already know where the dipstick is, the drain plug is underneath. Be sure that you have an oil pan under the drain plug, because once the plug is open far enough, it will begin to drain. The plug fell out of the hole and into the pan, so be prepared for that. When I picked it up, the reason for its quick exit was clear: it was spring-loaded. After a few moments, I got another surprise: a metal oil filter, shaped like a thimble, fell out.
As the oil drained, I tried to figure out how to put everything back in: The thimble, it turns out, goes in the spring. Once the oil drained, I wiped everything off and slid the spring back in the hole and screwed it back in. It took nearly an entire quart of 10W40 oil to fill the bike. After I made sure the levels were good with the dipstick, I started the engine and let it run for a few minutes. Good to go.
Is the Alien the same as "Product C"?
I was sent a link to this page at Ymoto.net: Product C (The W29). This does appear to be the exact same model as the Alien. Their price is $1037, but I could not figure out how to order one online to figure out how much shipping would be. The other day I was driving by a store that sells ATVs and I could have sworn I saw an Alien out for display... I suspect lots of places sell this model under various names. It may behoove you to shop around, but the most transparent buy I've seen was at GS.
The one thing I saw on the W29 that I liked that the Alien lacks is any body decals or stickers. You'd think GS could at least provde "GS Motorworks" or "Alien" signage for the bike.
This is a list of links that may be of some use:
I think that's about it. If you have a question I have not answered, let me know.
Copyright © 1997-2009 Steve Mount
SaltyRain is a trademark of Steve Mount
Last Modified: 9 Dec 2009