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Live Whacking Permalink Archive
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18 November 2004

Quote of the day

Public transportation? That's for losers and lesbians.

- Homer Simpson


Honda's pint-sized gems

Recently I've had the opportunity to test two of Honda's entries in the learner-rider market (bikes of 250cc or less, as required by our licencing laws for the first 12 months of riding). The @125 scooter and the VTR250.

Learner bikes are generally not something I enjoy too much. They're underpowered, cramped, cheaply built and are generally a pain in the bum to ride.

Wasn't I in for a surprise or two....


I often get asked: what is best learner motorcycle? I can now give a definitive answer: this one.

Not only is the VTR250 a superb learner's machine, it's a fun mount for any motorcyclist.

Clearly styled after the Ducati Monster, this bike simply doesn't have any bad points. The 249cc v-twin engine is the perfect motor for a bike this size, offering smooth and immediate forward motion. It has enough power to hang with the freeway traffic and the v-twin torque gives it healthy acceleration. Despite its small dimensions, it's comfy even for my 5'11', 115kg frame.

The ride position and ergonomics are perfect. The light weight and quick steering will inspire confidence in an inexperienced pilot. Best of all are the silky-smooth clutch and gearshift making it easy to keep the grunty engine on the boil.

That's the great quality of the bike: it's simply effortless to ride. You don't need to rev the crap out of it, it's comfy, stable and easy to flick around.

Of course, it's built to a cost, but this really only shows itself in the suspension, which is both slushy and non-adjustable. Big deal. It's not like you'll be travelling fast enough on this to be needing race-grade suspension.

Typically for Honda, the build quality and finish are superb, it's by far the best looking & best built bike in the 250cc class.

At $8500 on-the-road, it's nowhere near the cheapest learner bike, but it's by far the best. It's so good, you'll actually want to keep it when you get your first big bike.

(PS: if you get one, be sure to buy a Staintune muffler for it (see picture). It will give you extra grunt, and it makes a wicked noise.)

@125 scooter

The scooter with the unpronounceable name caught my eye while I was getting a tyre fitted during my lunch break today.

I was curious to see what it was like, especially given that I recently tested a Vespa GT200.

Given that I'm way bigger than the "average" scooter rider, I was wondering how it would perform. That's only a tiny 125cc, single cylinder engine in there you know.....

First impressions: bloody comfy, plenty of room and a great seat. Ergonomics are perfect. Build quality and finish are top-notch. This is a great-looking machine up close.

As with the Vespa, I found getting used to the controls a little strange at first. No clutch, front brake operated by the left lever, rear brake operated by the right lever, no foot controls.

This makes low-speed traffic riding very awkward. Unlike a regular bike, where pulling in the clutch disengages the engine and you gradually brake to a halt, on a scooter, the engine is still pushing as you brake, until the automatic clutch reaches its "neutral" position and the brakes you were using against the engine now stop the bike with a sudden jolt.

This is a fault with all automatic scooters, not just this Honda. Frankly, it's a pain in the arse, but I suppose you get used to it.

Once on the move though, this little bugger is a gem. Despite my heavy and very unaerodynamic frame, I was able to push the bike up to 95kph. The salesmen, slightly smaller than me, says he can cruise it at 105kph. Not bad for an engine the size of my foot!

Of course, it struggled on an upward-sloping highway, crawling along at 70. To be fair though, there was a headwind, and as most scooter riders are at least 20kgs lighter than me, this wouldn't be a problem for many people. The @125 has enough power for urban commuting duties.

Like all scooters, the Honda is designed for smooth urban roads. It becomes quite unstable on rough roads, which limits your ability to take it out into the countryside. But you don't buy a scooter to tour on. They're purely city transport. And in that role, they are brilliant.

I loved punting this little Honda around. I was having so much fun I actually extended my test ride and ran out of time to grab some lunch.

How does it compare with the Vespa? With a smaller engine, it just doesn't have the grunt of the Italian machine, but at $6,600, it's nearly two grand cheaper. There are other advantages to the Honda: it has more storage space (enough for a helmet underneath the seat), it's more nimble, has a higher standard of finish and better switchgear.

It will be cheaper to run too. Other than the Honda's superior reliability, the service intervals are at 6000km - twice that of Italian scooters. This will save you hundreds in servicing costs every year.

Yeah, when it comes to cheap scootering, I'd recommend the Honda. It's a brilliant little bike, especially if you're smaller than me.....


Got Sharapova

Perry at Samizdata has a good post on Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova. Essentially, Perry reckons the girl is a sexually alluring megababe and there's no need to feel guilty about saying so (male readers go "duh!" in unison).

Amusingly, in the comments section of the post, some sorry-ass conservative losers are outraged by this, saying it borders on child molestation. Keep a lookout for the comments of one 'Chuck Pelto'.

For fuck's sake you idiots, get a life.


I guess the fish aren't smiling anymore

Richard Neville emerges from his swamp to let us know we're all going to die because Howard and Bush got reelected. And it's all because of the stupid, brainwashed populace:

Could this be true? That the majority of those who voted for George Bush and John Howard are driven by greed, stupidity and a bloody minded, misplaced patriotism. On top of this, maybe they don’t get what’s really happening on Earth. Like the chained prisoners in Plato’s cave, these voters mistake the distorted flickering in front of them for reality.
In the ancient metaphor, shadows emanate from the comings and goings of those who pass between the campfire and the entrance of the cave. For those chained within, the wall is the world.

Actually, we are all prisoners of illusions. Today the cave is our suburban castle, where deceptive images pulsate from plasma screens into our consciousness. Plato’s prisoners could not turn their heads to find a fresh perspective. We can; but don’t. This is the mystery of our age.

He goes on with some incoherent waffle about Fallujah, Picasso and Plato, before getting to the juicy stuff: neocons!

Think of these people as the Flat Earthers of the third millennium.
1. Flat Earth Neocons (FENS) suffer an exaggerated reverence for authority and the trappings of office. They are drawn to uniforms, power and guns. FENS tend to accept (and project) the official version of reality, however unlikely. When this version turns out to be false, as often happens, it is explained away as an “honest mistake”, even if thousands pay for it with their blood, as in the rape of Falluja. Let’s to root out Musab al-Zarqawi … even though he isn’t there.

It was not the “inaccuracies” of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 that pricked the ire of FENS, mostly indifferent to notions of truth, but the director’s anti authoritarian sweep. The jokes, the satire, the impudence.

Of course. Nothing to do with the fact that Moore pretty much made everything up, eh? He goes on for a few more paragraphs about the "FENS", media conspiracies, Orwell, propaganda, eating the planet, and all that Nevillian stuff. It just gets nuttier and nuttier.

When will it stop? Only when the rest of the world stands up to be counted, only when this bullying state gets the brand name it deserves, that of a fascist empire … in the making.

So far, it's pretty much standard stuff from Dickface. Yet - amazingly - he actually has a moment of lucidity as he describes turning sixty:

Yes, although I write like a 14 year old hysterical dopehead, the grim truth is that I’m older than I sound and younger than I look.

Well, good thing he's capable of analyzing himself, if nothing else. Though someone who writes lovingly about "moonbeams" in a political essay isn't someone who's on the road to regaining their mental health...


Greenies love terrorists

In their fine tradition of worshipping mass-murderers, the GLW offers these touching words about the passing of Yasser Arafat:


Green Left Weekly offers our condolences to the Palestinian people for the loss of a fighter for freedom.

In another piece, they drop this clanger:

The Palestinian leadership has announced that it intends to hold elections for a new president in 60 days. Marwan Barghouti, whom Palestinians refer to as the “Palestinian Mandela”, is the only Palestinian with the popularity and stature to win the mandate needed to represent his people in peace negotiations, but is currently serving a life sentence in Israel on trumped up charges of terrorism.


Given their love for terrorists, it's no surprise that they compare refugees from communist Vietnam to Nazis:

A local Vietnamese paper claims that the council has officially sponsored a flag-raising ceremony on November 28 for the flag of Washington's defunct South Vietnamese puppet regime, overthrown by the Communist-led Vietnamese national liberation movement in 1975.


The headlines and story are accompanied by a large colour picture of the Australian flag flying next to the flag of a regime that has not existed for almost 30 years.


It seems the council has been conned by that element in the Vietnamese-Australian community which wants a return of the long-defunct pro-US regime.


The government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has had good diplomatic relations with Canberra for many years. There is growing trade and other economic relations between the two countries. Tourism is increasing rapidly.


By its actions, Fairfield City Council could cause a serious diplomatic incident, undermining relations between the two countries.


Fairfield council covers a region of Sydney that is ethnically very diverse. It would be a huge mistake to align the council with that one section of the Vietnamese community that dreams nostalgically of the days it was propped up in power in Saigon by the huge military intervention of the United States.


There are probably also a few veterans of the Third Reich living in Sydney. They can have Nazi flags in their lounge rooms if they want, but it is totally inappropriate for any local, state or federal government body to officially sponsor Nazi flag-raising ceremonies.


The flag of the slave-holders' Confederate States of America is sometimes flown by military buffs or motor cycle gangs, often ignorant of the political implications. But it would rightly be seen as an outrageous insult by visiting African-Americans and most other US citizens if a government body in Australia endorsed and funded a ceremony to raise the Conferate flag.

The greenies worried about "diplomatic relations". Well, that's original. Guess your principles are negotiable when there's tyrannical regimes and murderers to be supported.

The Green Left: the lowest-dwelling scumfeeders in Australia's body politic.


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