Thursday, November 26, 2009
Just before the guy from Honda hands over the keys to the Honda Ruckus 50cc. He gives me a rifle and screams that I’m a useless maggot, and orders me to give me 25 push-ups. NOW!
I struggle through the push ups, afterwards he takes me deep inside Honda HQ to a unmarked door which opens, it’s a lift. We go down to basement floor, as the door opens I see through the steam, and flashing red lights the 2007 Honda Ruckus 50cc.
The paint job is all camo upfront and utilitarian black for the rest. Camo on a Honda! That’s what hoodie wearing baggie-jeans teenagers wear when they go snowboarding. Not on a Japanese scooter.
The basic model weights 82kg, which is surprisingly heavy for such a light looking scooter. The Honda Today weighs a feather-weight 71kg, and the two-stroke, Yamaha Jog 2009 comes in at 69kg. The reason for this extra weigh on the Ruckus is a water-cooled engine, and BIG tyres.
The fuel tank holds 4.9 liters, and consumes gas at 19m/30Km per litre. Amazing when you consider its heavier than its competitors. It is undoubtly the most useable 50cc four-stroke on the market. Crusing around the city streets is easy enough, don’t try and put your knee down ‘round a corner, those big, knobbly tires feel a bit sketchy. The Honda is designed for cruising, its got very wide handle-bars compared with other 50's, which make it feel relaxed and gives the rider confidence, but does effect your ability to squeeze through rush-hour queues.
Living with the Honda; its cool, people ask about it, and guys with huge baggy pants, look enviously at you, but not having ANY real storage maybe an issue for some. It runs on fumes, but isn't so slow that you can't keep up with the traffic.
If you’ve already got a boring practical scooter, and you want to move to the way-out Ruckus, you’ll need to seriously think about having to carry everything around with you. Is that worth it to be cool, for many it maybe, for me it was not (worth it for me. ED (but I do have some issues)) The Ruckus is a blend of the latest styling trends mixed with features from the beginning of scooters. Drums brakes and no storage – camo paint, and liquid-cooled four-stroke motor. It is a mix that although not perfect does a damn good job of doing what it does!
Perhaps the designers at Honda were bored. Perhaps there was a military contract they were trying to attain; I can just picture it now, the phone call from a ranking officer to the poor schmuck who handles the new equipment contracts “We need a new vehicle for Iraq… Its gotta be big, and made of pipes, and it has to able to pull a tank out of a ditch… and don’t forget it has to look like a truck. Oh yeah and make it big… really big, yes indeedy, make it huge!”
Probably not… maybe they had just run out of plastic at the factory and had huge piles of steel pipe lying about all over the place. I don’t really know how the Big Ruckus came about, all I know is that when I rode this… um… contraption the following words came unbidden into my poor, addled brain.
Get your motor runnin’ head out on the highway. Lookin’ for adventure, and whatever comes our way. Yeah nothings gonna make it happen, take the world in a love embrace. Fire all of your guns at one time… explode into space.
The words aren’t mine, and the accompanying imagery of long deserted roads stretching to a big, blue sky that they conjure in your mind are nothing to do with me either. However the opening scene of the 1960’s film “Easy Rider” does a good job of wrapping up my initial feeling on the Honda Big Ruckus. Not to mention the fact that I had that very song stuck in my head for hours after I first rode the Ruckus away from Honda.
Honda’s Big Ruckus has the most comfortable seating layout imaginable without resorting to a La Z Boy. The set up includes a very comfortable seat with a padded backrest. The backrest drops to become a pillion seat when riding two-up, which is effortless and comfortable for everyone involved. Your feet rest on forward mounted plates similar to those on most cruiser style motorcycles. The aforementioned seat also slides to allow simple adjustment. Unlike most Honda’s we have tested the Ruckus has a factory installed side stand to compliment a well-balanced centre stand. You pretty much just slide into the Ruckus 250 as you would your favourite armchair, put your feet up and ride. The engine although not especially potent, provides a reasonable range of momentum through the rev range and has plenty of acceleration to pass most cars at city speeds and will comfortably cruise on the highway. One note about highway driving however… this is a very naked bike, which means plenty of punishing wind, especially at highway speeds.
The features this pared down machine does provide are good, the functional front disc is let down by a drum in the rear and excess weight. Headlights are extremely good; twin front lights are powerful and point in the correct direction. This is made more obvious by how badly let down most scooters are in this department. Instrument cluster is reasonably good with a trip counter and audible as well as visual indicator warnings. The speedometer is a bit cluttered due to having both MPH and Km/h readings however if your native speed is miles per hour this won’t be an issue as the MPH figures are dominant.
All in all when the review team put their heads together to gauge the final ratings I think the Ruckus will drop down the order a little, but this is a bike that manages to be more than the sum of it’s parts. If you ride one I have little doubt you will give it a 5 star, 10 out of 10, 100% approval rating. Get your motor running, head out on the highway, if you want some adventure and a smile that will only be removed with a baseball bat take the Ruckus for a ride… Fire all of your guns at one time and… um… explode into space???
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
A scooter that uses no petrol, runs virtually silent and can kill you with a bolt of pure lightning... like some sort of ninja, wizard camel that comes to kill you in the dead of night... This I have to ride!
Ok I made up the lightning business but I did eventually get the chance to spend a few days riding the EVT electric scooter, and I my first impressions are good, it’s like no scooter I have ever ridden before. The first thing that got me is there is no start button or kick start. Put the key in and turn it one click to the right, nothing happens - there is no idle - but she's ready to go. Then turn the throttle and silently move off down the road. It looks just like a normal scooter, there are brakes, wheels, everything seems to be where it should be, I don't have to spend hours learning to ride it. In fact, it’s hard to tell any difference… Well the exhaust pipe is missing but not too many riders will miss that. The model tested is designed to compete within the 50cc scooter market. It produces 2kw just like most of the 50cc models but the EVT does this with zero emissions (near the rider) via a series of four sealed lead-acid batteries mounted under the seat.
The electric scooter cruises along the flats at around 55kph, and will hit 60kph+ on even the slightest downhill. When it encounters hills however things slow down a bit, again compared with other available 50cc machines it is unfortunately at the slow end of the field.
An important aspect of an electric scooter, and one of the first questions anybody asks is range i.e. how far can it go on a charge. Now of course this isn't a easy question to answer, due to all the different variables, terrain, speed, wind, weight of rider..etc..etc.. But the most important question that people should be asking is: How many miles/kilometres do I travel in a day? The answer to that question for most people on a small 50cc bike is in the range of 10-20kms a day i.e. from home to work in the morning and home from work in the evening. The EVT electric scooter will work perfectly in this situation because it can do up to 40kms on a single charge. Of course if you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or your diet consists of large buckets of fried chicken and donuts then things may change a little.
How does the charging process work? Well, it’s all pretty easy really, pull into your garage at home, pop the seat and plug the scooter in to the wall. Next morning it’s charged. The actual quoted specs are three hours to 85 per cent and 5 hours for full charge.This infernal beeping is warning you that you are overloading the electric motors, it happens frequently when at “full noise” or on hills and is a warning to reduce power, if you don’t pay attention to this warning you can overheat and damage the electric motor. Essentially you can’t give full throttle on hills etc… there is sound reasoning for this and wringing the throttle doesn’t actually make the bike go faster in these circumstances but it is a strange process and feels wrong after riding regular machines where more wrist = more speed. There is also that little advantage whereby it is virtually free to run… oh and if you are the sneaky type you can have a lot of fun with the silent running… just watch out for pedestrians they don’t hear you coming and tend to step out into the street as you are about to hit them.
You’re also going to suffer a wee bit in the ease of use department, the under seat storage area won’t fit a full face helmet and there’s no remote seat release. The lockable front glove box is also a bit of an illusion, see it looks large…then you open it. The only storage area is to the right and will hold well…not much. Why on earth they have a full size door I can only guess, I imagine Aprilia just went to the parts bin and grabbed what was already there. Finally you’ll also have a bit of a hard time putting the bike on the center stand as it’s an older design and somewhat hard for smaller people. You certainly notice it as there’s no side stand.
The bikes real strong point is its looks. Only the crazy three wheeled Piaggio MP3 gets more attention than this bike. Virtually everybody who saw me riding this bike had to tell me how cool it looked. After a while I got so used to it I actually began to think I WAS COOL…turns out I was wrong, as I stepped away from the bike I quickly morphed back into my usual average self and some passer by spat on me. Life at the top.
Summing up the Aprilia. If you were buying a bike off a table of specifications or even the results of a review like this you simply wouldn’t pick the Mojito Custom. However if you're looking for the most shiny chrome pimp mobile…well the Mojito is your ticket. So the question is simple…are you cool or do you need a helping hand? The Mojito Custom could be that helping hand you’ve always needed…you nerd.
2010 Honda SH150i Review
Wanna put a smile on your face? Step into one of Honda’s latest imports. Direct from Honda Italy, the 2010 SH150i is just one of a few new tricks up Honda’s sleeve for the coming model year.
Receiving a dose of updates in 2008, the SH sold in the European market for a few years before coming to America. The previously carbureted SH150 picked up an injector as well as roomier rider ergos. Now that Honda North America has cleared the floor of 2009s, they’re fulfilling the demand for economic and stylish rides with the liquid-cooled fuel-injected 153cc four-stroke Single SH150i. The ‘i” refers to the fuel injection of course, not “Italian-designed craftsmanship” like I had first thought.
The programmed fuel-injection (PGM-FI) provides snappy throttle response and aids in stretching your dollars per mile. No claims were made for miles per gallon, but look for future comparison testing on MO for details such as this.
Sporting large-diameter 16-inch wheels head-to-toe and wrapped with Dunlop tires, you could call the SH's handling “Breezy.” The front and rear rubbers differ only in width: 100/80 in front, 120/80 in the rear. Smooth power delivery and nimble free-wheeling, the SH makes quick work of navigating any city’s pot holes, curbs, nicks and scrapes. The 16-inch wheels offer high-speed stability lacking in competitors’ 10 and 12-inch wheels.
Braking is done by Honda’s scooter-version of linked brakes, the combined brake system or CBS. As is with traditional motorcycles, the right hand lever applies the front brake. The left-hand lever applies pressure to both the two-piston caliper and 220mm single front disc as well as the rear wheel’s drum. Simultaneous application of both the drum brake arm and disc brake’s hydraulic piston is done via a mechanical crossover wire connected to the left hand lever for more balanced stopping power.
Between your hands, you’ll find a modern dash with a big, clean speedometer surrounded by coolant temp and fuel gauges as well as an LCD clock, odometer and one trip-meter.
Going away, you’ll be happy to see there’s an HECS3 oxygen-sensing catalytic converter stuffed into the system for the benefit of greener pastures.
A taller accessory windscreen will also be available in the fall for $299.95. Based only on the photo above, it appears to be tall enough to block a torso-sized hole in the atmosphere in front of you – maybe at chin height. But don’t ask me, I’m guessing now! Details to come.
The 2010 Honda SH150i retails for $4,499 and is available in a CBR-cool dark red and an all black model, both with a little metal-flake for some sparkle.