04 August 2005
You longtime readers will recall that last July I bought a scooter -- a Honda Lead. This was a model Honda released with the target of offering a 100cc scooter for the price of a 50cc. One year later, I've decided to upgrade this bike, and purchased a 125cc Honda Pantheon, pictured on the right.
Living in a densely populated, and impossible-to-park European city like Marbella, Spain, one quickly appreciates the advantages of zipping around on a scooter. Parking is no longer a problem -- just drive right up, and leave it on the curb. Traffic is no longer a problem -- just weave between the cars right up to the red-light. And, they're just plain fun to ride. In short, it wasn't long before the Lead became my primary vehicle.
It also wasn't long before I became aware of its shortcomings. In order to sell a 100cc bike at the price of a 50, Honda obviously had to take some shortcuts. The Lead has drum brakes, instead of disk. It doesn't have a windscreen. There's not much storage space. It has a carburetor, instead of fuel injection. And it's not very powerful. With my wife on the back, climbing the mountain ramp to the highway behind our house was something like a scene from the Flintstones.
So I decided to upgrade. I figured that if a 100cc wasn't sufficient for my needs, a 125cc -- the most powerful bike you can ride in Spain without having to upgrade your standard car-only drivers license -- wouldn't likely be either. Given that, I was considering the 250cc bikes, like the Honda Forza. I wasn't exactly looking forward to paying the price of a 250cc, and certainly wasn't looking forward to going through the process of getting the Spanish motorbike license. Uhg.
While reading through the Honda catalog, though, I noticed something very interesting. Honda really cut some corners on this Lead model, because its maximum power output is 5kW, whereas the maximum power of the top 125cc is double that, almost 11kW. I got to thinking that perhaps a 125cc might be fine after all.
After talking to some folks, and in Spain there's no shortage of people willing to offer an opinion, I ended up buying the Honda Pantheon 125cc scooter, and so far I'm quite happy with it. It's got a lot of nicities -- disc brakes, a "combo" breaking system where both brakes activate when engaging the rear break lever, a windscreen, and a roomy under-seat storage compartment. I also sprung for the Honda-made rear storage box, big enough to hold my laptop case. The scooter is big, powerful, fun to ride, and looks great (I think).
This is Spain, so, of course, the purchase didn't exactly go smoothly. The list price of the bike was 3,100 Euros. I asked the dealer to make me an offer, since I bought my first scooter from him. He pulled out a Custom Offer sheet, and wrote down "3,100 Euros". Thanks buddy. He said it would take three days to have the bike, once ordered. But when I put the deposit down on Monday, and said, "See you on Wednesday!", he replied, "Uh, well, try a week from Thursday." And when I came to pick up the bike a week later, it didn't have the rear box installed. "Oh, yeah, that! Sorry! Pepe -- can you install a rear box for this gentleman?". "Sure boss!" ... 30 minutes later ... "Sorry boss, we don't have that in stock. I'll have to order one."
So about three weeks after putting my deposit down, I finally had my new scooter fully kitted out. Sigh. But just when I'd start to get upset about something like this, my nose catches a whif of some local tapas and tinto-verano. Oh well, Spain's not so bad after all. :)