Friday, December 30, 2011

Honda Semi-Automatics

All modern motorbikes are measured by 2 progenitors: the Honda Cub and the Piaggio Vespa.  Both of these deserve their own posts but briefly touch on the Cub below, and the Vespa in a "Vintage" post later.
First off, Honda is the undisputed king of motorbikes here. Ever since Honda offered the cub here, they've owned the market.  And with good reason: the cub was awesome -- you still see them here -- mostly old, busted up, but still kickin' delivery bikes.  Alas, a few of the old ones are still looking good and they all have many thousands of kilometers left on them.  They're very small, though, and quirky.

The next generation of these bikes was the Dream, but the current version -- the Wave -- dominates the landscape here.  It's what the Xe Om's ride, which should tell you about their durability.  I owned one for awhile and loved it. I gave it to my father-in-law and got a SYM Excel (more about that later).  The Cub, Chaly, Custom CL, Dream, and Wave are semi-automatics, meaning that you shift gears with your foot, but you don't need to pull a clutch in when you do so, like with regular motorcycles.

Honda Semi-Automatics (AKA "Underbones")

50cc Little Cub.  Cute!

Honda Chaly -- All these are 50cc.  Very popular with the older ladies.

Honda CL 50 Custom -- often bored out to100cc here.

Honda Cub, Chaly, and CL Custom:
Displacement: 50, 70, 90, and 100 CCs
Price: $200-800.  CL Customs can run up to $1500.

98 Honda Dream.  Honda still makes these, btw.

Honda Dream, Dream 2, and Super Dream:
Displacement: 100 and 110 CCs
Price $200-700

2006 Honda 110 Wave

Honda Wave
Displacement: 100, 110
$200 - 800

2010 Honda Future
Honda Future
Displacement: 125 cc
Price: $700 to 1500

Does it look like a Wave?  Yep. Though Honda Futures can be either carbureted or fuel injected.  They're slightly bigger than a Wave but a Wave 110 with a 20cc bore kit does the same thing for all intents and purposes I can think of.

Next up: Yamaha Semi-Automatics

Motorbikes in Vietnam home

SYM Semi-Automatics

SYM Semi-Automatics

Everybody knows about Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki.  SYM, though, started in Taipei in 1954, is steadily growing its signature on the international radar and is producing some really  cool bikes.  The really cool ones are NOT the semi-automatics, btw. They basically clone other bikes, but are pretty good quality.  These are not Chinese crap bikes.  SYM is actually slightly less popular than Yamaha here.  That puts it number 3 in perhaps the biggest motorbike market on Earth.  I have yet to see an expat riding a SYM semi-automatic (though their automatics are really popular here).  But here they are, fyi:

SYM Angel

It's a Wave copy.  Not a bad one, either.  They're almost as good and cheaper out of the gate:  A new one costs about $600.  You can pick up an old beater for $100 and change and be confident that there are about a billion Chinese after-market parts here to keep it afloat.

SYM Magic

SYM also makes a decent Honda Dream clone called a SANDA.  For the picture, imagine a Honda Dream and put SYM on it where it says Honda. 

And that does it for semi-automatics in Vietnam, folks.  This underbone style is very popular here.  The design is dependable, requires little maintenance, and lends itself to a slew of aftermarket mods.  The fastest bikes per cc here are some of the tricked-out semi's:

Pee Your Pants Fun!  Dragster Honda Wave by KTL Technic, HCMC

If you're tired of switching gears or just want something easy, or just want to go pure luxury, it's time to check out the automatics.

If you really love bigger bikes or just love the nostalgia of pulling that clutch, check out full manuals and other cool bikes in subsequent posts at Motorbikes in Vietnam home.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Kawasaki Semi-Automatics

As for Kawasaki Semi-Automatics, there is only one worth mentioning -- in fact, it's the only bike Kawasaki markets here -- and I don't think you'll be riding one of these light, tiny, zippy things.

A tricked-out Kawasaki Max
That is the Kawasaki Max. New, these 120s cost $600 and quickly depreciate to about $250.  Even a tricked out one like in the image above will cost only a few hundred dollars.   They are quick little suckers, though, because they're so light.  Street racers like these and, with a few upgrades can make these things do wheelies.  These are small cheapo bikes for small people.

Next up: SYM Semi-automatics

Back to Motorbikes in Vietnam home

Suzuki Semi-Automatics

Suzuki Semi-Automatics.

I don't think you'll get one of these, so I won't say much.

Suzuki has marketed a few sputtering, 2-stroke semi-automatics here.  They're sputtery 2-strokes, which means that they sputter, emit smoke, and have a lot of ZING!

For some reason, they're also really expensive.

A zippy, sputtery, expensive Suzuki Sport RGX
These run $1500 to $4000 with the really tricked out running at $7000 +.  Again, this is not an expat bike.  It's really fast but not a good size/bang for the buck at this price. If you want an expat bike in this price range, see other cool bikes.

That said, you can find an FX 125 here that will cost $400-600, with extra sputtering.

A 2005 Suzuki Sputter, I mean FX.
Next up: Kawasaki Semi-Automatics

Motorbikes in Vietnam home

Yamaha Semi-Automatics

Yamaha Semi-Automatics: same-same but very slightly different than a Wave.

Yamaha Sirius
If it looks like a Wave, that's because it is Yamaha's version of the Wave.  I've ridden them and can't tell a difference between the two. Before the Sirius was the Jupiter, which you can still find for 400-500.

Displacement: 110 CC
Price: $400-900

2008 Yamaha Exciter
The Yamaha Exciter
Displacement: 135cc
Cost: $1100 to $2000

These are rockets. They're built for performance and their price shows it.  For my money, I'd get a Wave 110, bore it out to 130cc (which I, in fact, did), put some other performance goodies on there and still have enough money left over for... another Wave.  That said, this bike makes a statement.  And is probably an object of desire amongst thieves, accordingly.

Next up: Suzuki Semi Automatics

Motorbikes in Vietnam home.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thu Thiem Tunnel Drive Through

Here's a video of the new Thu Thiem tunnel.  It connects District 2 (where we live) to District 1.  It cut a good 15 minutes off my commute, which is bumped up my quality of life.  It's truly well engineered (Japanese), which puts up as one of the most technologically advanced projects in the country.