RideApart 10 – The perfect vehicle for the city

Dailies, TV -



America loves everything BIG. Big houses, big cars, big steaks and obviously big motorcycles. But, riding in dense urban traffic, those bigger bikes make navigating difficult, cumbersome and downright frustrating for even the most experienced bikers, much less beginners. We downsize with a Honda CBR 250R, a CCW Misfit and a used Suzuki DR-Z400SM, each of them under $4500, and take to the congested streets of LA to find out just how much better smaller can be.

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  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

    One of the other motorcycle sites reviewed a CCW recently and had a brake caliper fall off.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      The Dealer that PDI’d it just didn’t bother torqueing down the caliper bolts or putting loctite on them. A bolt is a bolt. Unfortunately, a bike mechanic is still a bike mechanic.

      • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

        With any motorcycle — especially a thumper — it’s a good habit to check the torque on all of the important fasteners every thousand miles or so.

        But yeah, that sucks that the dealer didn’t PDI it correctly.

        All of the Ducatis I’ve owned have had marks painted on the important fasteners, presumably to show that the fastener’s threads had been properly treated before the fastener was properly torqued.

        BTW, if you can’t find Loctite, nail polish works great on fasteners too. Some brands/colors don’t dry as quickly as Loctite, and as with anything, there’s a range of acceptable performance, but I’ve never had any nail-polished bolts loosen unexpectedly (and I’ve never had problems “breaking” the bond of nail polish when removing a fastener).

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Dude, I can’t tell you how annoying it is riding other people’s bikes all the time. OCD on shit like torquing down bolts, but hopping on a bike to do a story, there’s just not the time. That’s nearly led to disaster several times. Guess that just comes with the job.

          • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

            Whoops, I didn’t mean to sound like I was somehow trying to school you, Wes. My statements about checking fasteners and using nail polish were for the less-experienced riders here that might find that information useful. I’m sure you’ve had many more saddles underneath you (and miles) than I’ve had!!!! I’m sorry if my tone came out all wrong in ASCII.

            • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

              Ha, no worries.

    • http://www.ClevelandCycleWerks.com scottydigital

      Motorcycle.com received a bike with a loose tail light and loose front peg. They tightened it and never had an issue. As a small company the press bikes are used and abused magazine after magazine.

      Part of the PDI process on tha Misfit is thread lock on the caliper bolts, it would appear that no thread lock was used on this press bike.

      In general it looks like the guys had a good time, other rags would have parked the bike and called for a team of rangers to come replace the bolt. I can see a trip to auto zone and a crescent wrench fixed it right up. Thanks HFL! Glad you had a good time!!

      • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

        Press bikes don’t come back to you between each review? What if a journo trashes a bike and gives it to the next one as is?
        Their opinions are bound to be influenced by how the bike was treated by previous testers…

        • http://www.ClevelandCycleWerks.com scottydigital

          We have changed our procedure for sending bikes to press events. In the past bikes would come from dealer stock.

  • http://mansgottado.tumblr.com/ Andy Gregory

    I had a DR-Z400SM for the year I lived in LA. Perfect bike for the city. Living in Los Feliz and working in Beverly Hills, I was crossing Hollywood everyday. The DR-Z made it easy and fun. I had my hooligan bike for urban exploration/transport, track bike for the kart tracks, and ORV/forest roads bike all in one. After owning 14 bikes ranging from 50-1000cc machines, the DR-Z400 is still one of my favorites. I’ll own one again someday.

    • Mike in NYC

      Novice question: Is the lack of windshield a problem at higher speeds?

      • Coreyvwc

        Short answer: No
        Practical answer: There are no high speeds on a DRZ.

      • http://mansgottado.tumblr.com/ Andy Gregory

        Hey Mike, it’s never been that big of a deal to me. You definitely get wind blast and you have to lean into it more, which will fatigue you on longer rides at high speeds (often people feel this in the upper back/neck area). That said, I’ve done a 6000+ mile ride on a Z1000 (much of it at over 90 mph) with no added wind protection and I was fine. You get used to it. I also did a nearly 12,000 mile ride on a DR-Z400S, much of the highway riding at 70-80 mph, and I was also fine then.

        Everyone is different, and to some people wind protection is a deal breaker. In my experience, it’s a luxury, and I think of wind as part of the experience of riding motorcycles. At least that’s how I justify it.

        • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

          Interestingly, I don’t notice a big difference in wind protection between my Z1000 and the CBR250R. I dig the wind, which has a great effect of acting like a physical speedometer. You really feel the speed, at the expense of attaining the highest possible speeds on two wheels.

        • Ax

          Not knocking the joys of “bare” bikes at all but, riding every day here in the USA’s Midwest, my fairing and windscreen are perpetually covered in bug guts which I’m pretty glad don’t end up all over my helmet and shoulders.

      • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

        If the wind protection is akin to the one on a duke 2 i’d say a bit.

        A 300 miles highway trip on it (flat out at around 110mph almost all the way) got rid of the four rivets that held the license plate.
        The worst on these bikes outside the city isn’t the wind, it’s the vibrations (the 640 was pretty bad, don’t know how the DRZ would compare but my guees is every single is a pain above 80).

        • Bronson

          The older KTM singles (625/640) vibrate a LOT more than just about anything else, including the DR-Z400SM, or what I have now, a KTM 525 SMR.

          People always ask me about wind protection. What they don’t realize is that you’re not going to be doing 400 mile days on the freeway with a supermoto. These things are perfect for tight and twisty backroads or urban environments. If you are gonna hit the slab, just get in the right lane and cruise at 70.

        • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

          On one of my first rides on my then-new KTM 625 SMC, I had my plate fall off on Storrow Dr in Boston. Because Storrow offers very few points where you can change direction, I had to loop all the way around across two bridges into and out of Cambridge and back into Boston. After parking at a police station, I walked a half mile down Storrow Dr before I spotted my plate near the divider rail. I then ran across three lanes of crazy traffic to pick up my plate.

          The plate had a big crack through it, and of course, all of the hardware holding it had rattled loose.

          When I got home, I drilled a hole at the end of the crack to prevent the crack from spreading, then epoxied a plastic sheet behind the crack. I bought four stainless steel bolts with matching nyloc nuts and made quadruply-sure the plate was mounted tightly to the fender.

          My 690 Duke, in contrast, barely vibrates. I can ride it all day long.

          • ike6116

            To be fair to thumpers, my G650GS vibrates less than either of my previous inline 4 UJMs.

            I also ride that bit of Storrow drive quite a bit whenever the traffic on the pike looks too brutal.

    • adam Hoff
  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

    This episode gave me the biggest smile, maybe because it was more about riding for fun, toolin’ around, shootin’ the sh*t — and doing something that many of us motorcyclists who’ve seen hollywood movies have dreamt of doing too!

  • Michael

    Damn that DR-Z400 is awesome, definitely would like to add a supermoto to the stable. Great video guys!

  • wwalkersd

    That almost made traffic look like fun! One thing the video didn’t address: how did they do on the freeway when the traffic was moving at (or above, this being SoCal) the limit? I seem to recall you mentioning before that the stock Misfit is really straining in that scenario.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Yeah, the stock misfit isnt great for fast highways. But, spend like $400 on jets and exhaust and it’s just fine.

    • Drew Shannon

      Yeah, I saw Wes really opening it up on the highway towards the beginning of the episode, so I was curious about this as well. Seems like a great bike for traffic, but even living in LA and all its traffic will give you the occasional opportunity to go 70+.

  • brian

    I agree with the comment that because the DRZ (and supermotos in general)have the ability to jump curbs and all kinds of other stuff, it totally enables you to want to take advantage of that ability. I have a SMS630 and so often in city driving I have to stop myself from hopping the curb and driving across a stretch of grass, rather than wait for that damn bus to get moving. It’s like asking an eagle not to fly ;)

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      ” It’s like asking an eagle not to fly ;)”


    • http://mansgottado.tumblr.com/ Andy Gregory

      +1. My XR650 compels me towards stairs, empty parking lots, industrial parks, etc.

    • Dylan

      +1 Just got my 2006 Husqvarna sm610 with only 4k recently for only $3500 and love it, best bike ive owned. Supermotos really are the best of all worlds, I can hop curbs and stairs, rail down fireroads, and then turn around and match/beat my friends on sportbikes in the twisties. Sure I miss the power of my ZX10 on the straights sometimes but then the next corner comes up and im right back into the thick of it. I may add a sportbike to the stable later on but If youre forced to own only one bike a supermoto is the only way to go

    • dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

      Ha ha, I know the feeling. My XR with road tires prefers sidewalks to surface streets.

    • Bronson

      Does riding a supermoto bring out the hooligan in you?


      Riding wheelies, hitting stairs, jumping loading docs, exploring trails — we do that every time we ride. Here’s a ride we did last year: http://vimeo.com/29355634

      • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

        You’re riding a supermoto the way it was designed to be ridden?!?!? And a huge posse of your friends too!!!!

        Thanks for sharing.

      • Justin Watts

        what are some of the bikes you all are riding in that vid?


    Nice to see street level LA again. Good show.

  • Clark

    Great episode guys. This one really captured what I love about riding — blasting around on small bikes!

  • Jerry Guy

    Will that CCW bike do a ton?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Not stock. You can get there for about $400 though.

  • je

    Supermoto, do want!

    I struggle watching these videos, everytime Wes is shown I think of a young Jay Leno..

  • Lama glama

    Have you ever reviewed the TU-250?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Yup. Search for it. Sorry, on my phone or I’d link. Problem is, the vast majority of Suzuki dealers don’t carry or care about it. The co pant isn’t able to create a holistic Vision of entry Into the brand and riding, then customer retention.

      • M

        “Ours will take shape over the summer.”


        • dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

          Yeah, it better be awesome by now!

      • Lama glama

        Thanks. So unfortunate that it hasn’t been promoted in a more coherent manner. It is a darn fine looking little bike, and the build quality appears much better than Suzuki’s own GZ250 or the ubiquitous Rebel.

    • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney


      I’ve yet to ride one. Looks like a really cool bike that no one ever has in stock.

      • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

        There’s been one sitting at my local dealer for a long time. I’m not sure anyone knows what to make of it – even the dealer themselves.

        • Tom Fiegener

          I imagine if a young guy was savvy and found a local dealer who had a TU250 in-stock, he could get more bike out of the TU250 for the same money as the Cleveland Misfit.

      • aristurtle

        My MSF course used them; it was a solid bike. I haven’t seen them anywhere else, though.

  • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

    I’ll take one of each.

  • TheZakken

    I’ve had my Misfit for 12 days now. I have gotten it up to an indicated 85-86 mph on the freeway but it has known speedo issues. Lets say it is 10% innacurate, thats still over 75 mph. Plenty of speed for short freeway trips and not too buzzy.

    I can say from experience just how much fun it is. Like the vid, one of the first things I was tempted to do after breaking it in was find some old abandoned industrial area in SF (around china basin) and just do hooligan stuff because that bike is so small and lightweight. I get to flog the hell out of it all the time and ride it to (and past) its limits while pretty much staying within the law. I dumped it pretty hard in week one and still rode it home, just needed new blinkers.

    My other ride is a Daytona 675. While I LOVE that bike, I worry about using it for errands and parking it in strange places. When someone nearly totaled it in a hit and run, I picked up the misfit after HFLs glowing reviews to hold me over until I got the 675 back. I am having so much fun that I almost dont care when I get the 675 back.

  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

    Speaking of supermotos, did you guys have to return the Yamaha WR250X? Just on engine size alone, the WR would have been a great motorcycle for this comparison.

    • Tom Fiegener

      I think you can buy two of those Clevelands’ for the price of a WR250X…

      I personally would rather ride a used WR or DRZ than a new Cleveland though.

      • Dylan

        got my 06 husqvarna sm610 for less then the CBR or the DRZ. A ton more power then the DRZ and a bunch less weight

    • David Dawson

      Everything that was said for the DRZ can be said for the Yamaha, except more so. Little less weight, little less torque, smoother and more refined fuel injected motor with a 6th gear so you can actually log some freeway miles, just as much hooligan fun.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

    My fiancee picked up a CBR250R after lusting over the CCW Misfit. The real reasons? Unknown quality of CCW, the nearest dealer is four hours away in Austin, and the CBR was $3850. That’s about the same price as a highway modded Misfit. Damn shame it’s rashed up after her lowside.

    She still loves the look of the Misfit, though, as do most people that I talk to.

  • The Blue Rider

    Wow, so that’s what it looks like to ride in L.A.! What a lively place. In Texas somebody would try to murder you for filtering like that, but clearly it’s the best way to get around out there.

    Is Grant really tall or is the DRZ small? It looks diminutive under him. I was under the impression it was a much taller bike.

    Based just on watching you guys ride, I’d like to have the Misfit. I’ve seen a black CBR250 here and I thought it was quite pretty (and it makes my Ninjette look like a pig) but the Misfit takes that one step further, and makes the CBR look bulky by comparison.

  • jp182

    Well now I know what I’m getting after my wedding this fall.

    • wwalkersd

      Only if you’re reeeeeeaaaaaally marrying the right girl (unless, of course, you ARE the girl, or….). Just remember, “do whatever you want” doesn’t mean what the words say.

      • JVictor75

        LOL, I’m not married but I have certainly learned to pick up on the harmonics behind that statement. Just like the fiancee has learned to pick up on the harmonics behind “Yes Dear”.

  • Ceolwulf

    I do love my FZ1 but it’s basically unthrashable. “Illegal” occurs in first gear, “go directly to jail” in second, and there’s four left … I just think a small thumper has potential to be a lot more fun most of the time. You’d sacrifice those moments of rush, for sure, but gain a lot in return. The CBR is just a little too weedy though. So, pretty sure I’m going to spring for that KTM 350 sportbike once they get around to making it.

  • Jericho7

    Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a mohawk on a helmet!;-)

    • Campisi

      It’s an aerodynamic aid.

  • Ben

    Really liked this episode. Good information, good riding shots. The music was funny, made me think of the old “you meet the nicest people on a honda” ads.

    Wes is also correct about the CBR being geared for the Thai market. Its practically a matter of national pride over here. They are put on display in glass boxes in public squares and train stations. Everyone wants one and its a great day when some one upgrades from their grandfathers underbone (honda cub and knock offs) to a new CBR250. We also get some really heavily modded ones with crazy lights, random billet bits and nuclear vomit paint jobs on them. Kind of like the japanese scooter scene.

    • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D [EX500]

      The little CBR is the only “real” motorcycle I’ve seen consistently over here in Saigon. Seeing it keep up with hoardes of clinically insane Vietnamese on Honda 110s is about the best endorsement for it as a city bike I can think of.

      • Chris

        Has anyone done a decent job of stripping off the body work of the CBR 250? I wonder how it looks naked.


          Really good question

  • contender

    The mohawk comment secured my subscription.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cheese302 Cheese302 [Street Triple R]

    i want a misfit pretty bad. hard to find solid sources for jets and what not. i like the CCW exhaust. my g/f is getting her lisence. might have to pawn her getting one of these machines. i love the CBR as well.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      CCW will sell you upgrade parts directly. Nice stuff too. That includes jets and whatnot.

      • http://www.facebook.com/cheese302 Cheese302 [Street Triple R]

        gotcha, i guess in my standard methods, i just perused their website, i saw the exhaust (which i hope isnt too loud) and i know i can change the parts. guess i need the bike first.

  • Filipe

    I had the DRZ400-SM as my first bike and it was fucking awesome. Unfortunately I only had it for two years because it was stolen…

    Highly recommend it though.

  • smoke4ndmears

    If I lived in the concrete jungle, I’d take one of each. Fun episode, keep them coming etc etc.

    Where is Sean?

  • Campisi

    Hat tip for including a 400 in the piece. I just bought a ’93 CB 400 to tide me over while my CBR 250 slumbers back in the States, and I’ve found it to be pretty much an ideal step-up introduction to the world of sports bike inline fours. It feels considerably faster than the CBR 250, but since I have experience flogging the 250 to death the CB 400′s abilities don’t frighten me away from exploring them.

  • Harten Bane

    I’m curious to know how you steady the camera pans and exposition shots of the bikes.

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    Cool vid. Great to see you guys showing that smaller capacity bikes are fun as well.

    I have two bikes – an old beat to hell XR400 motard, and a K6 GSX-R1000. For riding around town and commuting I choose the motard every time, I can’t imagine any bike being more fun! And that’s saying alot when there’s a Gixxer parked next to it in my garage!

    I just wish I had the motard as a first bike instead of a GSX-R600…

  • drsus

    ha! “they’re just quaint”……thats a nice way to put it.

  • Roman

    Saw a Misfit for the first time on the streets today. Looks great in person, nice to see they exist in real life.

  • http://www.karinajean.com karinajean

    I HATE when I miss posting in near-time to these awesome and totally relevant to ME articles.

    I started on a borrowed SV650 and went to a DRZ400SM because it was cheap and fun and efficient for commuting. I’ve put almost 20,000 miles on it in the last 2 years and I still can’t figure out what I would ever buy to replace it. it might be a great first bike but it’s also a great almost-all-things bike, and a great fun-as-heck bike for almost every kind of riding.