Archive for June, 2014

Upgrading my ride

Monday, 23rd June 2014; 12:15 pm

I started doing these rides after asking myself “What can I do with a 50cc scooter?”  Because of its engine size, I’ve been limited: by how much distance a bike like that can cover in a day, and what roads it can go on.  And aside from the occasional cheat (crossing the Mackinac Bridge), that’s how I’ve done it.

That’s not going to change.

But I have made a change in the bike.  After more than five years and 24,000 miles, I’ve traded in my red Buddy 50 for … a red Buddy 125.  The 50 has been starting to show its age, not just in faded and scuffed plastic bits and the odd bit of rust, but the engine’s just getting worn out.  It’s a two-stroke, which I run at full throttle much of the time, and it just doesn’t have a lot of miles left on it. It’s running OK for now, but I can’t say how much longer.  So I traded it in for a more durable four-stroke, which also happens to be a bigger engine.

In part the bigger engine compensates for the fact that a four-stroke engine doesn’t produce as much torque-per-cc as a two-stroke.  Most of the four-stroke 50cc scooters out there (Honda Metropolitan, Yamaha C3) are kinda pokey compared to my two-stroke Buddy 50.  But in the end, a four-stroke 125cc over-compensates, producing more power. And I’ll take it. There were parts of this year’s ride that were going to be a little iffy on a 50 – the Porcupine Mountains, the Keweenaw Peninsula – where I was worried I’d have difficulty getting up hills without slowing way down. But I should have no trouble maintaining a reasonable speed on a 125.  And because it’s new, I can be less nervous about mechanical problems.  It’ll even have a warranty and roadside assistance to fall back on if needed.

The new bike looks remarkably like my old bike. That’s because it’s mostly the same. Pretty much the only difference between a Buddy 50 and Buddy 125 is the engine bolted to the rear wheel. It’s even the same model year: a 2009 unit that’s been sitting on the showroom floor, unsold due to the economic crash of a few years ago. I also had the shop transfer the rear rack and the custom mirrors from my old bike. And the red color panels. 🙂 The bike was baby blue – which isn’t really a color I like – so they agreed to swap all the plastic color parts.  This means I even have all the same stickers and scratches as before.  You’d have to look closely at the engine, or notice the new “motorcycle” registration plate to know that it isn’t the same bike.  I’m calling him “Flash”… just like when DC Comics replaces an old superspeed character with a new one: they give him the same trademarked name.

I already have the ride all planned, and I’m going to execute it as planned.  I’m sure I’ll open the throttle a little more and cover some distances more quickly than otherwise, and add in a detour here and there because I can, but I’m not going to race from place to place at 60mph on the interstates… because that was never how I wanted to travel in the first place.  I plan to still putz along at 40mph on the back roads, because that’s literally the way I roll.  That’s traveling… MI way.