In my quest to replace my Vino 125 with something still fuel efficient but highway legal, I rode two cycles today at Motorangutang, a respectable contender in the highly competitive world of Cool Cycle Shop Names. Although I generally prefer a manual tranny in a car, I haven’t ridden a bike with one since I first took my safety course in 2009. *I* certainly wouldn’t have let me onto a new bike under those circumstances, but the super friendly and funny staff of Motorangutang did.
Understanding the amount of stalling and public humiliation involved, I chose to start with the Honda 250 Rebel (foreground), which, in addition to being one of the oldest running models in cycling history, is also pretty hard to fuck up. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t, but I got the hang of the shifting setup pretty quickly, with maybe fewer than 10 stalls in my 30 minutes of parking lot and side-road riding, and I didn’t tip it. There were also several nice patches of dusty, shitty, rocky roadbase that accurately simulated the 1/4 mile trip from the road to my place on the farm. I was never able to get above 40 mph, but considering how shitty my shifting was, I’m ok with that. The bike felt a little cramped when I first started riding it, but by the time I was done it seemed ok.
The Cleveland Cyclewerks bikes I originally came to investigate weren’t available yet. Actually, I didn’t know the Rebel would be there, and it was a bike I wanted to try, so it kind of evened out. Next I tried the Honda CBR250, which is sportier and has about 15-20 mph higher on the top end, but is about 5-10 mpg less fuel efficient. They said it was much safer and more competent on the highway than the other bikes I was considering, though, and it was also sick as fuck, so I decided to give it a try. I stalled it about 3 times more often than the Rebel because it’s much fussier, but that’s because it has a *lot* more power, even though the displacement is about the same. The riding position was slightly more hunched over, but still pretty upright. It also had a super-loud exhaust on it. I asked if they could swap it out for something quieter.
The Motorangutang guys were also nice enough to let me check and fill the tires on the scooter, which was lucky because they were *really* low.
I did pretty well considering it’s been 6 years since I stepped on a shifter. I’ve got a pretty good idea of the lay of the land in my market, which will help me make a final decision once I’ve tried a few more bikes. Combined with riding the Vino 125 into town on the back roads instead of the highways, it was a pretty successful day for the biwheel automobile experience.