Aug 25, 2011

The Laugh Machine

That is the VT1300 in the foreground, the V-Strom in the middle,
and the WR250X in the back. The shot is taken straight out from
the VT1300.
 This morning, I picked up a Honda VT1300CT Custom Interstate to review for MMM. This thing is an amazing hippobike that probably does everything hippobike buyers want a bike to do. It's long, low, loud, and fat. In fact, when my wife saw the bike in the garage, she said, "Wow! That's an old fat guy's bike." And it is.

The Interstate's seat height is a troll-like 26.8". It's almost a foot shorter than my WR250X's seat before I dropped it a bit. If you can't swing a leg over this monster, dude, you are a cripple. Stay up tonight, watch a little Channel 29 and get that number for the guy who will get you your Hoveround for "no money out of your pocket."

There are all kinds of prices to pay for a low seat height. For example, at right the WR250X is in the foreground, the V-Strom in the middle, and the VT1300 at the back with ground clearances of 10.5", 7", and 4.5". Four-and-a-half inches of ground clearance with no rider! You couldn't drive that thing over an ant hill without being responsible for a massacre.

Honestly, if all I owned was a Honda VT1300 I doubt that I'd ride more than a couple of times a year. The bike is a total pain to get out of the garage, and that's when it's in the front of the garage. I don't think I stopped and started twice competently in 140 miles today. The Interstate makes me feel weak, old, and uncoordinated. I'd feel sorry for all those hippobike riding ERC students I've insulted over the years, except they picked the damn things to ride. It's not my fault they can't ride what they bought. I can't either. Feeling sorry for someone struggling through a corner or wobbling away from a stop light when they had options that included actual engineering is like feeling sorry for a fat man at a basketball court. "You don't have to eat everything you see, you know?" I know I didn't (have to eat all that stuff, that is.).

Finally, the last straw was being seen on that monster. No, I'm not worried about my reputation. I trashed that years ago. This was more of a funny bit than an embarrassing bit. When I ride my WR250X into the city, I get a lot of kids (people under 40) asking about the bike. Men, women, boys, and girls notice the WR and comment on how cool it looks. On the big Honda, the demographics of the positive commenters jumped up about 20-30 years. Lots  of blue hairs mumbled "Nice bike" as I wobbled toward them at stop lights.

Great. Grandma likes the VT1300. Gotta get one to pick up those hot near-mummies.


Anonymous said...

Lack of ground clearance is a real safety issue, even on the highway. I happened to arrive on the scene shortly after a couple crashed their Goldwing where the pavement was strangely buckled for some reason at a right-angle corner. I suspect, but do not know, that they bottomed out on the waves in the tarmac. You could see the scratches where various cars had bottomed out too. And then there's the lack of cornering angle...

Paul said...

Oh come on, there's actual engineering involved, but it's all about the compromise of getting "the look" and it's at the expense of ride quality and handling. People buy low seat models and put shorter shocks on to get even lower, ending up with about an inch of suspension travel. I love cruising by them watching the back of the bike jump up a couple inches on freeway expansion joints. It's ok though, because they're out there saving lives with their righteously loud exhausts.

T.W. Day said...

I took the hippo out for an around-town ride last night and spent about an hour trapped in freeway traffic because of crashes in both directions. Now I know why I don't ride horses. My hips don't like being bowed and restricted for hours. I managed to get about 50 miles in, but I'm crippled today. I mean it. I can barely walk without pain.

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