If you’re after something cheap and cheerful to get to work on, then the Hartford range of four stroke singles couple be just the thing. More reliable than public transport, loads less dosh than a Cattle Class season ticket on the train, and you probably won’t get stung £5-£10 a day to park near work, which might be an extra cost on top of commuting by car.
Alastair Walker took the HD200 out for a spin to see how well low budget travel on two wheels competes with other options, in these globally warmed islands.
Everywhere you look in the media today, there’s a `green’ evangelist spouting off.
If it isn’t Dave Cameron flying two planeloads of journos to Lapland to get weepy over the melting glaciers, then it’s Friends of The Earth calling for the summary lynching of all 4 X 4 drivers who don’t live in the Outer Hebrides . Soon, even that pompous windbag Prince Charles will be lecturing us again on saving the planet, whilst he chins 10,000 gallons of aviation fuel visiting foreign countries with his twenty-seven strong entourage of flunkies and minders.
The hypocrisy of it all is laughable, or would be, if it were not for the undeniable fact that all this `Green’ scaremongering will be used to ban most of us from entering our own towns and cities, unless we pay a toll for the pleasure. That’s on top of parking charges, plus any `green’ vehicle tax rises which Gordon `Air Miles’ Brown wants to slap on us as soon as he’s in charge.
So if you’re struggling to get to work, or find a parking place when you get there, maybe you should get a small motorcycle. They’re cheap to buy, do about 60-90mpg depending on engine size and they can often get you to work in about half the time it takes in a car. Unlike the `Fight Club’ that is public transport, modern bikes are almost always reliable too – so long as you can handle simple tasks like adjusting a drive chain, or topping up the cells in a battery occasionally.
The Hartford HD200S is a prime example of basic motorcycle transport, and there’s nowt wrong with it.
This unpretentious little motorbike uses a proven four stroke engine design, very similar to an old Honda CD200 from the 80s in fact, and do about 65mph flat out, plus about 70mpg all day long. You can tell this bike ekes out petrol like a pensioner counts out change paying for cat food, because it only has a 9 litre tank – about two gallons. But that’s a 130 mile tank range easy I reckon, which is all you need – unless you’re commuting from Stornaway to Portsmouth .
If you change the oil every 5,000 miles and have it serviced once a year, I reckon the HD200S could easily last a decade before conking out on you – even then it would probably be fixable for peanuts, unlike a 10 year old car, which would require about £1000 worth of replacement parts to pass an MoT test.
It has disc brakes front and rear, handles respectably for an old fashioned chassis design and has a very comfortable saddle. You can add a luggage rack and topbox for under 50 notes and then carry your lunch, or your nice `work’ clothes, with you whilst you commute.
Great stuff, practical and dare I say it, fun too – unlike the daily misery that is rancid public transport. Plus, aboard the HD200S you can feel better about saving the planet too, because this frugal motorcycle uses a fraction of the resources it takes to manufacture a car, and it meets the Euro 3 emissions laws too.
So why don’t more people commute on bikes, like they used to in the 1970s when I started biking?
I think I know the answer, and it’s not pleasant – people are too busy looking `cool’ to be arsed about saving the planet from alleged global warming, or even saving a few quid personally on commuting costs. Most people are bike-ist, they have an almost racist fear about us leather-wearing `rough’ bikers. Strange, but true. Plus used cars can be had for bugger all money…
All I can say is that if you aren’t so vain that a `bad hair day’ or the snide opinion of your gutless colleagues, puts you off the idea of commuting by motorcycle, then why not give it a try? You might find you have less stress every day, make new friends, and save money too.
The Hartford HD200S isn’t a fashion statement motorbike, it’ll never be as trendy as a Vespa outside your local Bistro, but it has a solid, rugged feel to it, like learner bikes used to have many years ago in fact. If you all you need is transport, a needle to thread the unravelling mess of traffic on modern Britain ’s urban roads, then this could be the `greenest’ thing any commuter could buy, this side of a bicycle.
But then you’d have to wear lycra…and arrive at the office sweating like John Prescott on a hot dinner date. Not nice at all really.
Get motorbike insurance from Carole Nash to cover your Hartford today.
Test bike supplied by
ECO Scooters, Measham, Derbyshire.
01530 274 767
Engine Air-cooled, four stroke, single cylinder, 197cc
Chassis; Steel tubular frame
Forks; telescopic, non-adjustable
Rear suspension; Twin shock, non-adjustable
Braking; Single front & rear disc, 2 piston caliper
Wheels/Tyres; 90/90 18 inch front, 130/90 18 inch rear
Fuel capacity; 9 litres
Dry weight; 130kgs
Estimated fuel consumption
Estimated top speed
£1999 OTR Jan 2007