Whats the deal with those motorcycles in SE Asia?
June 16, 2013 6:48 PM   Subscribe

What are those super popular kinds motorcycles in SE called? I've rented one in Thailand, Cambodia and the Phillipines. They were different makes but they all sort of work and look the same. They have 5 gears, but no clutch. You just let up on the gas then use a foot peddle to change gears. We could get them up to about 100km/h but that was about it. Do they sell them in Canada?

Motorcycles in Canada seem to be much larger and more powerful or tiny scooters, that are also too expensive.
I'm looking into those Asian bikes because they seem stabler than a scooter (bigger wheels), and also inexpensive (my friend wrecked one in Asia, and it didn't cost too much to replace).

If they do sell them in BC where can I get one, and how much are they?
If they don't sell them, why not?
posted by Iax to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If I'm correct in understanding your meaning, in Malaysia, they're colloquially known as 'kapcai' motorcycles, probably taken from the motorbike that started it all: the Honda Cub motorcycle. Googling for 'cub motorcycles' should get you started.

I can't answer the Canada-specific questions though. Good luck.
posted by cendawanita at 6:54 PM on June 16, 2013

Don't know about Canada, but at least one of those style of step through bikes is available in Australia - the Honda CT110. It's used nationwide by Australia post to deliver mail. Try searching for that.
posted by tim_in_oz at 6:56 PM on June 16, 2013

Came in to say "Honda Dream", but it seems that's just the Thai name for the Honda Cub 100.

So now I know.
posted by pompomtom at 7:00 PM on June 16, 2013

I've never seen them in the US or in the limited time I've spent in Canada. If you can't manage to find the Honda the previous posters mentioned I think your next best bet is probably to get a small 250cc motorcycle, something like this, maybe used. Honda makes this guy but it's not cheap. Googling the Chinese make scooters I'm not finding any with the larger wheels and while they're quite cheap they have a notorious reputation for poor reliability.
posted by MillMan at 7:08 PM on June 16, 2013

Kymco scooters are Taiwanese, reliable, and affordable. They have larger wheel models.
posted by kcm at 7:14 PM on June 16, 2013

Here's a review of the Canadian KYMCO People, 125 cc, stepthrough, 16" wheels. CAD 3600, it says.
Here's the KYMCO site.
posted by carter at 7:36 PM on June 16, 2013

Came here to mention KYMCO. One of the women at work has one and seems to be very happy with it.
posted by arcticseal at 7:54 PM on June 16, 2013

I don't know if the Sym Symba is available there, but they're not too rare here in Southern California. Pretty much the same thing as the Honda Cub, 100cc engine, 4 Speed trans, auto clutch, 17" wheels, etc.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:56 PM on June 16, 2013

The Honda Super Cub was sold in North America as the C-70 from 1970 to the mid 80s. It also went by the "Passport" moniker, although Honda has now re-used that for the SUV, so searching on that won't get you far.

I owned one and it was bulletproof. You can find used ones here and there. The electric starter tends to die on almost every one, but there's a kickstarter. The clutch is indeed a 3-speed centrifugal clutch (let off throttle, step to shift, throttle back up). Had a long seat and footpegs for a second rider! It was a godsend on a college campus.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:26 PM on June 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

For what it's worth, these specific honda ones are not cheap in the continental US or canada from what i've seen. I'm not sure exactly what the deal is, but i think it's like even the 1980s vespas commanding a big price premium now because they're "cool" and "retro". Despite the fact that they're stupendously cheap in SE asia, australia, etc.

Look in to stuff like the kymcos already mentioned. You can get a new kymco for the price of a used honda passport/cub/dream/C-series nowadays. Just getting on the door on a worn out one is around $2000.

You may also be interested in these vespa clones. I almost bought a good one for really cheap a few years ago.
posted by emptythought at 8:44 PM on June 16, 2013

Honda Supra? Fit and X
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:50 PM on June 16, 2013

JoeZydeco: "It also went by the "Passport" moniker. I owned one and it was bulletproof. "

Huge agreement here. Those (two wheeled) Passports were as close to indestructible as you could get. I never owned one, but I had a friend who did, and we abused the heck out of it as teenagers. Wouldn't surprise me if it's still running somewhere.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:02 PM on June 16, 2013

For what its worth, I once owned a '69 VW Beetle like this, so its not all that new: no clutch but I did have to shift through the gears --- they called it a 'semi-automatic' transmission.
posted by easily confused at 2:47 AM on June 17, 2013

InsertNiftyNameHere: There's an episode of Top Gear where they drained the oil out of a Super Cub, threw it off a roof, and it continued to run.

5 years ago Honda announced it's 60 millionth Cub and a production rate of 5 million a year, making it the best-selling motorized vehicle in the history of the planet. Pretty impressive. I kind of wish they would come back to the US, although they're pretty underpowered for anything beyond local hops to the grocery store.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:51 AM on June 17, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks!
Any idea why they aren't sold in North America?
posted by Iax at 8:02 AM on June 17, 2013

Any idea why they aren't sold in North America?

There are a couple reasons for this, but one is sort of a demand issue, that is slowly, slowly changing.

Even a couple years ago, it was incredibly hard to find a small displacement, quality motorcycle. Same goes for quality scooters. In North America scooters and motorcycles are typically seen as alternative forms of transport or toys. In many parts of Asia, and Europe for that matter, they're just seen as transport. That reason itself has myriad factors for being, but thw idea that we've built our cities for cars and nothing else has a lot to do with it.

There have been some AMAZING bikes or sale in Japan and India that you just won't see imported to the states or Canada cause there just inset quite enough demand.

Another reason for this is that many countries have tiered motorcycle license requirements. Like, you can get a 50cc license, then adter a certain time frame, you can test and get your 125cc, etc. this drives the demand for smaller displacement bikes. As far as I know, this is pretty rare in North America.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:43 AM on June 17, 2013

One website points out...

Thousands of Cubs in the USA reached their first regular maintenance
interval in the mid-1980's, and when the owner found the service would
cost half as much as the bike did new - they parked their bikes without
concern for typical storage issues and left them to rot.

But I'm more inclined to go with furnace.heart on this one. Demand changed in North American for these things, although that didn't stop Honda from selling tinier bikes like the NQ50/"Spree". Those things were all over my campus in the late 80s (which also made my C70 look very retro and cool).

I do recall that I could drive my C70 at the time on a state automobile license, no motorcycle licence necessary, because the engine was under 75cc. I think that's changed now.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:58 AM on June 17, 2013

JoeZydeco: "InsertNiftyNameHere: There's an episode of Top Gear where they drained the oil out of a Super Cub, threw it off a roof, and it continued to run."

Oh, wow! On the one hand, that really proves the point. On the other, that's just a complete waste of a nice functional little motorbike.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:28 PM on June 17, 2013

Actually it wasn't Top Gear, it was another group of brits that tried abusing one. My apologies. (YouTube content not for the squeamish if you love motorcycles).
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:23 PM on June 17, 2013

« Older Plan B/In the Meantime career advice   |   Dave Ramsey hates me Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.