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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been internet hunting for awhile now, and I'm a bit frustrated because I can't find what I want. A few months ago, I went to a local scooter shop and fell in love with the Sym Wolf Classic 150. It's a rad little bike and I love how it looks, but I've read some really bad reviews on it and heard that it's a bitch to fix here in the US if anything went wrong... that's not a deal breaker per se, but is there anything else out there that wouldn't be a fixer upper and has the cafe or vintage look? I've lost all hope of finding anything good on Craiglist.

Ideally, I would like a moped or a smaller bike- so a 150 was appealing to me. I'm a 5'2" 115 lb girl, so I want something smaller, and I kinda prefer to have an automatic. I grew up riding 250 dirtbikes, so I think I would be fine with a clutch, but I'm not finding anything I like- at least from my online searching.

Any ideas? And are there any good shops in Southern California that have new or used cafe or vintage style bikes? Any input would be GREAT. Thanks!
 

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I believe the Sym is made in Taiwan, but stay away from anything Chinese built. I've seen Megelli's with 200 miles on them with incorrect bearings fitted, master cylinders on scooters fall apart when you tap the screen etc.

How handy are you with a wrench? Know when a bolt is too tight? etc.

Personally if I were 8" shorter, 90lbs lighter and had to go with something older, I would go for a small cc two stroke. No idea prices in CA, but if looked after and no major dramas, a little KH, RD, GT will look after you. Not to mention they'll have the comparable four stroke for dead.

I had a GT185 and to this day I believe it was the best bike I've ever owned. Sure it didn't have guts, but decent tires, rebuilt the front caliper, and a new set of points and air filter and she was awesome. Never ever let me down and was ridden daily.

If you go for small cc Japanese 4 stroke, and you don't know how to do valves, cam chain etc, it could prove to be expensive if you don't do the work yourself. Strokers do need attention, but less moving parts mixed with love and care equal happier first bike experience IMHO.

I really just want my little 185 again. This ones in Toledo, but I'd say this would be perfect for a first time rider. Hell, I really want this.

********** SUZUKI GT185 1975 *********

On the flip side, get something modern, like the new CBR250 and you'll have all the wonderful trimmings of modern tire compounds, modern suspension, modern brakes, long service intervals, fuel injection and a warranty. Meaning you can just worry about riding.

Apples and oranges. Always ask for title or walk away.
 

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If you're into that retro style, I agree that the SYM is a great looking little bike, but I don't know how they stand up. I would check with your dealer for parts and service availability and warranty coverage before I pulled the trigger on one. Also, for the price of a new one, you could probably find a decent CBR125 or 250. My Sons girlfriend just bought a Kawasaki 250 Ninja...that would be another option I suppose.
If you decide to go for the SYM, please keep us posted on reliability etc.

A bit off topic, but referring to the last post, my first bike was an old CZ 175, that my friends and I put a GT185 engine in...what a difference, I loved that little bike!
 

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Ideally, I would like a moped or a smaller bike- so a 150 was appealing to me. I'm a 5'2" 115 lb girl, so I want something smaller, and I kinda prefer to have an automatic.
your options are a new vespa, a 1979 cb400 hondamatic, a GN400 suzukimatic, and an aprilla mana. There is also the Guzzi i-convert but that bike is so big it would crush you under it's weight.

out of the above I would consider the vespa or the aprilla,just they way you are talking I don't see wrenching on these bikes as any part of your immediate future.
 

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I would go for a small cc two stroke.
Don't they ticket you for just saying, "two-stroke" in California?

Drop the automatic - you don't sound like the type to take the easy way out, not that a clutch is difficult. Learning a clutch on a motorbike is 100x easier than the same in a car. Find your local MSF class and take it. Then look for a nice Kawasaki EX250.
 

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It really comes down to if you are looking for a scooter or a bike. I have several female customers that have scooters and ride as a group. What's interesting about the scooters is they have decent storage under the seat (holds bags and bags of groceries), are easy to ride and with the proper cc's (engine size) does a decent job keeping up with traffic (town or country). One of my customers rides a 400cc scooter and is more than able to keep up with highway traffic speeds and still able to go shopping with the scooter. Honda sells a decent 250 and 400cc scooter.

If your looking for a motorcycle - again the sky is the limit. I have female friends that ride full size harleys with no problems. If your looking for a scooter deal buy, then CL or ebay may be your friend. Nothing is a substitute for new - so check out your local honda dealer.

Good luck.
 

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If you decide to go with a vintage bike, there are a few OC shops you could check out: Classic Cycles (in Orange), Montgomery Motorcycle Co. (in San Clemente), and Mach 1 (in Costa Mesa). But none of them will have bikes with automatic trans.

Here's a CB350-4 that might be worth looking at: 1973 HONDA CB-350
 

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the cb350 is nice but its still in quite a bit bigger weight class than the sym150 - and I mean the actual weight of the bike.

70s 350 is about smallest bike you can think of entering freeways with - on rush hour at lower speeds maybe even something smaller but no much. Even 350 will have risk of dying in prolonged freeway riding. Just something to consider.

What do you want to do with the bike? Cruise beach streets and canyons while looking cool and enjoying the breeze? Commuting on the streets? freeways?

I agree with others that you have to forget automatic unless you want a scooter. I would recommend small dual sport - no they don't look same as cookie cutter cafe bikes but they are light fun and comfortable all around bikes.

XL125, has some hop up potential but overall benefits are extremely common base engine so parts are plentiful. Definitely a small bike - no business on freeways - put the stock fender back and look bad ass in an vintage style MX helmet:
1978 XL 125 MINT CONDTION


CB200 and CB175s can be seen for sale frequently but they are often not good deals in my opinion. CB200 has weird (shitty) cable disc brake front and they go for too much money.
this CB200 is lower end in the prices usually seen but still shitty deal in my opinion:
1974 Honda CB200Twin "rare" Cafe Racer

CB175 is cooler imo, there are a few for sale but neither run:
Classic 70's Honda CB175

CB125 has same engine as the XL earlier but shittier forks and as the XL quite a moped speed wise. Way worse deal than the XL but just so you can see (price is nuts)
1974 Honda CB 125S

If you ask me buy the XL125 or if you want faster get this and add/fix front brake and lights:
1973 Vintage Flat tracker

btw. note that the sym engine is a clone of the 70s origin Honda vertical engine. Same as the xl125/cb125 listed here. Later xl185 and XR200 are derived from the same package. You can get more juice out of said hondas but it is not simple plug an play.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
your options are a new vespa, a 1979 cb400 hondamatic, a GN400 suzukimatic, and an aprilla mana.

Definitely not interested in a Vespa... haha. Not into the look of them, but I'll check out the other ones you mentioned! Thanks. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I knew I should've joined this forum sooner! You guys have some great advice. I wish I could just find a 50 CC scooter that has the look I want, but unless I buy something that doesn't run on Craigslist, my options are really limited.

I love this one- 1974 Honda CB 125S but for $1000 more, I can get the Sym brand new. Are they really serious with asking $2300??! Eff that.

If it helps at all, I have NO interest in cruising on the freeways here in California. I just want something to cruise around town on. I wish they made scooters and mopeds that looked cool... a lot of them remind me of the dorky one my parents have.

I think I'm set on this little bike- I just wanted to know if there were any other similar options out there.

411515_10100540015117416_381414533_o.jpg
 

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If your dead set on a Sym:

Make sure the dealer has a warranty for the bike. Make sure to check up on their history of dealing with customers. Get the most recently built example you can. You don't hear about the ones that work fine. You do hear about the horror stories. There are a few.

I don't want to ever work on a Chinese bike ever again.

Honestly, if the Honda is as stated you will have a reliable bike. Can't see the condition of the tires. But $2300? Fuck me thats a bit much for a nothing 125. I thought Brooklyn was a rip off in the old Honda department.

Check older motorcycle shops that may have bikes sitting on consignment, but haven't advertised. You'll find a decent bike thats a hassle to the shop sitting there and haggle.

That sun in California looks good right about now after riding through a slush storm.
 

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If you want the look with not much work I would say get financing or get money and go for a modern triumph bonneville or scrambler. it's an actual bike you can get it serviced in america.

I had a triumph scrambler when I lived out in silverlake and I was able to ride it around quite well.

2012scrambler_blk.jpg
 

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How do you rank these variables (a) a desired look and (b) functional transportation

If you are real strong on B I'll make what some will think to be an odd-ball choice for you:
PC800 Honda (aka The Pacific Coast"). This particar vehicle was designed EXACTLY for YOU -an urban professional who chooses 2 wheeled transportation. Unfortunately there were not a lot of YOU's around when this model was released; the expected market did not appear and the PC800 was a market failure.
Though it was a MARKETING failure is was a TECHNICAL success. As transportation, the PC800 does EXACTLY what you want a 2 wheel urban tansportation vehicle to do:
(1) take to work and back - and have you enjoy the ride
I hated to get where I was going 'cause I hated getting off that little slice of the Jertson's

(2) cruise at any speed up to over 80 with two people and 3 sacks of groceries - comfortably
The bike (especially with the taller windshield option) gives the best wind/weather protection of any 2-wheeler I've ever ridder
The engine is like a big rubber band - it makes the same amount of seat-of-the-pants power no matter what RPM its spinning at. It is quiet and electric motor smooth.
The passenger seat is like a sofa - WIDE and thick, a velvet material for the cover and a good choice of foam density.
The Driver's seat is too short for anyone over 5'10" and for somebody tall I'd say re-upolster it for a better fit. But it is a good seat, with a good shape, cover and foam
You can ride it all day.
(3) economical
two ways, first: it does not break and needs almost no attention (hydraulic: valve lifters, cam chain tensioner, clutch); electronic ignition and second: it is easy on a gallon of gas (50 mpg is doable)
(4) practicle: Numero Uno in the world of motorcycles. It has an integrated, water-proof and lighted TRUNK . The trunk is integrated into the body. The body covers EVERYTHING and gives the bike its nickname: The Tupperwear Motorcycle
(5) relible. This is as bullet-proof as any 2 wheeled vehicle ever made ( I'd like to see a compao with a ST Honda). There are many reports of multiple hundreds of thousands of miles put on by one of its loyal following (mostly geeks; lots of software development types and engineers). They do advise that you can expecrt a small leak to being if you don't re-torque the heads at 100,000 miles.

As to the term "motorcycle" well there is room debate in the use of that word here. Suffice it to say its motor is basically an engine from another motorcycle (good news on the Parts question)

For me, the only thing that keeps this vehicle from competing with a Goldwing for the long haul is it small fuel tank. You will need fuel by the time 150 miles have rolled by. The fuel guage will lie to you and tell you you need fuel at 100. You get used to the lie and forgive her.

You'll have to look around to find one of course. And yours will probably be the only one in the parking lot where ever you park.

It is a GREAT little bike.
 

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If you like the SYM, go ahead and get it. You may need to work on it due to the "quality" of manufacture, but at least it will be clean and not rusted. It my be a better learning experience than a 30 year old cb200.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
But $2300? Fuck me thats a bit much for a nothing 125.

Agreed. The shop down the street from me has a good reputation, and the bike has a 2 year warranty, so that's a plus. Oh, and 1 year zero interest financing? Yes, please!! Lol. I'd be able to fork over $2K cash, but anything more than that right now is a little tough.

I LOOOVVVEEE that Triumph Scrambler, btpc. I think that's a little much for me (and I think my worrysome mother would have a heartattach from 3000 miles away). I wasn't really looking for a motorcycle, which is why the little Sym appealed to me- it's scooter-sized and not all that fast.

Burns- good advice, but the PC800 looks BIG. Like bulky... is it pretty lightweight? Not exactly the look I was going for, which I guess answers your first question. Haha. But I would say look and reliability have to both be met.
 

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if you want a machine that lives most of its life sub 50mph no point talking about Triumphs etc. But as others said read about the dealer interrogate them about the service and warranty. Ask around to find an independent bike mechanic you can use when the need arises. Learn at least the very basic maintenance: tightening the chain to correct slack, lubing and cleaning it a few times a year minimum, changing oil. Don't start changing oil without reading about it 1st or you can mess up in a very simple task (make a mess or worst strip oil plug threads when tightening).

Change 1st oil soon. Like 300 miles soon. If you use a mechanic its not a bad idea to re-tighten head bolts at few hundred miles too. Generally keep an eye on bolts and nuts and things so you can tighten them if things start to get loose or rattle.

Wash and wax. The ocean air will start pitting chrome so keep it clean and wax once in a while.
 

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it was a great bike. and that sym classic can still hit 65mph and will probably breakdown easy.

go for the late 70's cb400's i'm sure your not looking for performance from what your saying.

soooo....

old smaller cb that works...

throw on these Chrome "Cafe" Clubman Handlebars | Cafe Racer Handlebars
throw on this Legendary Motorcycles "Brass" Cafe Racer Seat | Cafe Racer Seat
buy this Performix PLASTI DIP Intl. Mulit-Purpose Rubber Coating Spray BLACK 11oz : Amazon.com : Automotive

combine all of them...

you'll have exactly what you want.

go to the local moto shop for tuneup's unless you wanna be a bad ass and do it yourself.

profit!

Rosie-the-Riveter.jpg
 

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it is very, very, very easy to ride. It isn't light but the weight is carried very low and it is very "flickable" through traffic. Low is low and pulling away from a stop is effortless. If your rolling its time for second. You can shift pretty much any time you want and will tend to run it in the upper gears most of the time. The hydraulic clutch is easy to pull and works perfectly.

Keep in mind that this was not designed for a motorcycle crowd, it was supposed to be a two wheel Honda Civic and they came pretty close.

I am a motorcycle guy and it took me a little while to get used to it. Most motorcycle engines have an RPM range where the power output dramatically increases, this one does not. The motor doesn't do anything suddenly. You will look down at the speedometer reading 70 and wonder how he heck it got there, you didn't feel a rush of accelloration, just SCHAZAAM, you are doing 70.

It is unique.

I like unique how about you?
 

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oh and the last advise is the one you are not going to like:

full face helmet. No questions about it. Hitting curb or bumper of a pickup truck teeth 1st will have you face fucked up for good. Even at slow speed. With full face helmet often you can get up and yell at the other guy (if not your fault) or just pick up your bike and scoot away in shame (if your own fault). Yes they are bit more annoying in hot weather and yes they make communicating with others bit clumsy and yes they do not have hip vintage looks.

http://www.caferacer.net/forum/general/11430-helmets.html
http://www.caferacer.net/forum/general/9180-advice-helmet-2.html

You don't need a $400 arai or shoei. I crossed the US with a $130 helmet that is Euro (better than DOT) approved and besides bit noisy at higher speeds (80+) a well built piece. But get a full face or flip up (the whole face flips up). Neither will look vintage but will save you jaw, teeth and nose.
 
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