Cleveland CycleWerks Misfit: the missing link?

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“Cool is being able to afford a bike that looks good and makes the owner feel good, but does not break the bank,” says Cleveland CycleWerks’ Scott Colosimo. He designed the bike you see here. When the 250cc Misfit goes on sale in March it’ll cost just $3,195, providing an affordable, desirable city bike or commuter. The Misfit weighs 80lbs less than a Ninja 250 and, according to Scott, can pull power wheelies in first and second gear.

Scott first reached out to us after Michael Uhlarik’s article, Motorcycling’s Missing Link called for more affordable, appealing small and mid-capacity bikes for the North American market. We’re jerks and didn’t email him back until my my article on The Super Motor Company combining low-cost Chinese production with western quality to create appealing Cub clones reminded us about Scott’s project. Cleveland CycleWerks is trying to use the tools of the latter article to achieve the goals of the former. Chinese production is enabling them to design and engineer a bike for American sensibilities, but produce it cheaply enough to actually make it attainable for new riders. The Misfit is over $800 less than that Ninja 250.

But while Chinese production makes the Misfit affordable, Scott is adamant that it doesn’t make it cheap. “I lived in China for six months straight to train my staff and hire world-class people,” explains Scott. “Over the past three years I have spent more time in China than in the USA, this is something we are completely committed to. Think about it, Apple, Dell, HP, etc all manufacture in China, it’s all about finding the right partners, people who understand quality. Our manufacturing partners build under ISO standards and know how to trace a defect back to its source. We are extremely serious about producing high quality, extremely affordable bikes and strive every day for improvements. We put the bikes through 100,000 miles of testing.”

The Misfit will be the second bike that Cleveland will sell. The Heist, an attractive 250cc bobber, is already selling well here. New Jersey’s PIT Motors LTD distributes the bikes in North America and stocks parts (there’s learner law-compliant 125 and 50cc models available elsewhere), giving Cleveland access to over 100 US dealers and rapid parts availability nationwide.

Scott and his new bike.

Look at components like the USD forks, wavy rotors and remote-reservoir shocks and it’s hard to see how the Misfit manages such a low price. Sort of a cross between Cafe Racer and standard style, the bike has flat bars for an upright riding position, a shapely tank and a removable pillion seat cover. The 250cc, four-stroke, air-cooled single-cylinder hangs out in the wind for everyone to see.

Weighing just 296lbs (dry), the Misfit puts out 16bhp and 12lb/ft. It’ll be geared for acceleration in stock trim, limiting it to a 75mph top speed, but Scott tells us 85 is easy with different gearing. Emissions are 50 state compliant, although Cleveland’s currently waiting for CARB to mail the certification for California.

“It’s really the sort of Café bike that everyone attempts to build in their home shop, chopping out all the bullshit tabs and brackets that you don’t want and putting on all the cool components that you do,” explains Scott. “Being a small company, we build bikes that, as enthusiasts, we want to ride, and this directly translates to the types of bikes that other enthusiasts and beginners can appreciate.”

Unlike the bike you’d build in your garage, the Misfit is totally legal, safe and reliable. It’s the kind of thing you could abuse as you learn to ride, scare yourself on a little bit, drop a few times, but still depend on day after day to get you to work or school.

“We are serious about changing the industry,” continues Scott. “One goal of CCW is to shift America’s perspective on motor size and efficiency. A 1000cc motor for an around town bike is wasteful and difficult to handle. We develop lighter bikes with smaller motors because they are easy to handle and extremely fun on a daily basis. Open up one of our bikes on a back road and the experience is exhilarating, taking one back to a time when bikes felt faster because they were more connected with the rider and the road. Riding is about the experience, not about how much you spent on your machine. We have millions invested in new product development and will have 5 models in production by the end of 2011”

Cleveland CycleWerks

  • R.Sallee

    Looks hot. I’d give it a shot if it had power to match the Ninja and WR-X.

  • lloydvintage

    Sounds just like my TU250 Suzuki. Which is a good thing. I hope there will be more like it.

    • Wes Siler

      Yeah, it’s sort of like a less dorky, slightly larger TU that’s both lighter and less expensive.

  • Turf

    Hell yes, I really hope this small cc low cost is finally catching on here in the states.

  • Roman

    Interesting concept. Reminds me a little of the Vento 400 cafe, which to be honest, sounded alot more enticing:

    • Wes Siler

      Well, the difference is that the Misfit is actually happening and it sounds like Cleveland has the investment and will to stick around for the long haul. We’ll bring you more on the company and their future plans in the next week or so.

      • Roman

        I see your point, and I’m the last person to criticize people who are out there making things happen. It’s just I wish the performance gulf between the “big bikes” and the start-ups trying something different wasn’t so huge. Something with 40-50 hp and nice styling at around $5k would hit the mark (imo). Best of luck to these guys though, always good to have more options.

        • Devin

          40-50hp would put them up against the Kawasaki 400 & 500, as well as the Suzuki GS500.

          While I agree with you that more choice in that bracket would be good, hitting an open niche with lower competition may be the best route for a start-up.

  • Mark D

    Line that up next to the $25,000 Norton, and 99% of people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. 99.99% of hot girls certainly wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Well done!

    • Emmet

      So true! But if I rode to get laid, I’d paint flames and throw Harley Davidson stickers on the tank of an EX250 and tell the ladies sweet nothings about freedom and the open road. Maybe I should get on that.

      • Ducky

        You’re likely to attract slightly wide, middle aged ladies in that case

        • Patrick


  • ErikT

    I’d really like to see one in person. Some of the photos make it look like a great idea…others are not so flattering. The same goes for the TU250 as well.

  • Case

    An inexpensive bike that is cool, fun, reliable and robust? I love this thing. With a 75 MPH top speed it’s definitely more city than freeway, but most new riders don’t go on the freeway, at least at first. Looking forward to seeing it in person.

    • Devin

      Is it inexpensive? The insurance cost may be what sinks this bike. Seems every non-major brand of motorcycle gets hit with some ridiculous premium. Hopefully this little guy gets treated properly.

  • Peter

    What motor are they using? Is it a Honda clone of some sort? I’m really interested in this if it’s more than just a Kikker on roids.

  • BN.

    Brilliant. I would consider making it summer transportation if it’s as good as it sounds.

    • robotribe

      Right there with you. I won’t be the first to jump in, but if positive word comes back from those who do take the initial plunge, this is easily my next bike, especially at that price point.

  • paul

    very Nice I’m sure they’ll find a lot of new riders looking for something a bit different, That tanks almost exactly the same as a GB500 (which is not a bad thing) nice proportions all round.

  • Jeremy

    can’t wait to put clip ons on one!

  • scottydigital

    Scott from Cleveland CycleWerks here.

    I am very friendly with the current owner of the Vento triple product. The triple was developed for a 4-wheeler. I have been in talks with the factory for over a year about it and have not made and decision on buying it or not. The cost will however be higher if we decide to re-develop that old triple bike, as the factory that was producing it not longer is in business.

    Insurance cost should be very low, as we have some already insured for under $250 a year. I am sure if you are young and dumb it will be more expensive.

    • scottydigital

      oops, just realized I can not go back and correct any bad english or mis-spellings….

      Anyhow, forgot to add, this bike is not available until Feb-March 2011. EPA doc has not been signed off on yet.

      • gregorbean

        Hey Scott, cool company you got there! Got any details on specs/time-frame/price for the Hooligun?

        • scottydigital

          tha Hooligun is going through EPA testing starting in about 1 month. It will be available soon. We have 2 different motors we are working on right now, and are trying to decide which one is best from a price and power standpoint. Details will be available soon.

  • Ducky

    Was wondering when we were going to see a profile of this company =)

  • wwalkersd

    That is a great looking little bike, with the possible exception of the rear fender/taillight assembly.

    A 75 mph top end makes it out of the question for SoCal, though. 75 is typical freeway cruising speed here (the 65 mph speed limit notwithstanding), and you can’t really get very far without going on a freeway. A little more margin is needed. How much acceleration will you give up if you gear it for 85?

    • scottydigital

      A simple gear will get you there, however, I can not suggest this, or express that you should do this, but it is possible.

  • Mattro

    i’ve been very, very interested in cleveland since stumbling on an early version of the website quite a while back.

    and march is just about enough time to scrape together the cash…

    what’s the factory warranty going to look like?

  • mugget

    It really doesn’t look like a 250 with him standing next to it. Awesome!

    Just had a look on their site – the Heist (250 bobber) looks awesome as well. I have been thinking about building a bobber… now if that came to Australia I would probably just buy it and use it to commute! 1000cc sportsbike does get fairly hot in summer and no doubt more thirsty than a 250… these guys are onto something!

    • scottydigital

      We are pushing hard for a Distributor in Australia. Our previous importer went out of business before we could get any bikes there. :(

  • stephan

    i’ve always been more the cafe type, but i have to say, i think the Heist just has nicer lines.

  • tfinn10623

    Yeah, this looks like a pretty neat bike. Just what lots of us have been asking for…simple, practical and affordable. But does anybody else here see the irony of a motorcycle company named after a rust belt city that is suffering from the loss of manufacturing jobs, outsourcing it’s production to China?

    This might be a cool bike, but if it’s made in China, you won’t sell one to me.

    • Wes Siler

      I think the Chinese production is more reflective of the environment modern American businesses currently exist in. More, the assets to manufacture in the USA were unavailable or unwilling than it was a “They took our jobs!!!1!” type situation.

      • scottydigital

        Wes, will in the next few days let you guys know what happened to get us to China.

        Also, we are manufacturing many parts in the USA, so it is not like everything is offshore. Plus much of the design and engineering is done here. Much of the prototyping also….

  • johnb

    Hmm, my kid’s RM85 Suzuki says Made in China right on the engine.

  • BeastIncarnate

    Showed this to my girlfriend last night and she lit up. The price and capacity are right for a first bike, but the looks are what got her. Well done.

  • Jigger Me Fingers

    If these bikes are so good, how they they won’t keep up with my 30 year old Suzuki Katana 1100?