Whacking Permalink Archive
18 November 2004
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.)
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.
when it comes to cheap scootering, I'd recommend the Honda. It's a brilliant
little bike, especially if you're smaller than me.....
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'.
fuck's sake you idiots, get a life.
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:
He goes on with some incoherent waffle about Fallujah, Picasso and Plato, before getting to the juicy stuff: neocons!
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.
So far, it's pretty much standard stuff from Dickface. Yet - amazingly - he actually has a moment of lucidity as he describes turning sixty:
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...
In their fine tradition of worshipping mass-murderers, the GLW offers these touching words about the passing of Yasser Arafat:
In another piece, they drop this clanger:
Given their love for terrorists, it's no surprise that they compare refugees from communist Vietnam to Nazis:
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.
Green Left: the lowest-dwelling scumfeeders in Australia's body politic.
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