Cleveland CycleWerks Ace
Bikes are cheaper than cars and the Cleveland CycleWerks Ace is cheaper still. The company re-engineered an old Honda motor from the ’70s, then combined low-cost Chinese manufacturing with Western quality control to achieve a product that’s seriously nice at a seriously low price.
The Ace takes that concept to an extreme; at $2,895 it’s the company’s cheapest model, but also its most broadly applicable. A good old-fashioned “standard” motorcycle, the Ace is about utter simplicity. This isn’t a commuter or a cruiser or a sportsbike or whatever, it’s just a bike, plain and simple.
Well, a slow bike. The air-cooled 250 makes just 16 hp, so even in a bike that weighs just 285 pounds, it’s only good for about 75 mph. Pinning it in order to just about keep up in the slow lane of a highway is fun the first time you prove you can do it, but seriously annoying when you just have some place to be and that 18-wheeler behind you really, really doesn’t know the meaning of a two-car gap.
Because of that, riding the Ace takes a certain level of commitment even bikes like the Honda CBR250R don’t. In addition to all the usual riding-a-motorcycle stuff like watching out for cars turning in front of you, it adds another layer of complication because it’s slower than the regular flow of traffic. You need to keep a keen eye on what’s behind you, ensuring you avoid faster vehicles as well as the obstacles you’re traveling towards. Navigating exclusively by surface streets brings its own challenges too. Some riders will relish the chance to ride absolutely everywhere at the absolute limits of a machine’s performance, others will long for the relative high performance of something like a Vespa.
Still, the Ace (and other products in the CCW lineup) is probably the cheapest form of reliable motorized transportation available today. Both to buy and run, maintenance has been made so easy (requiring little beyond a wrench and a screwdriver) that paying a dealer for a service seems an unnecessary luxury.
get-gadget Cheap. Vintage looks, modern reliability.
TIRED Underpowered for highway commutes. New riders will outgrow it very quickly.