If you need to commute about 5-10 miles to work and don’t live near halfway functioning public transport, then your options are limited. Either you can develop calf muscles the size of rugby balls by cycling into the office, or you can buy a car and get stung for congestion/parking charges, and make friends with rogue clampers called Big Les.
But there is another way. Buy a small motorcycle, or a 125cc scooter. Like this CF Moto E-Jewel 125 for example, which has some weather protection, storage for your foldable rainsuit and does about 70 miles to the gallon. Better still, it costs just £1299 brand new.
Alastair Walker wrote the words, Fiona Maher took the pics.
There are many reasons for getting to work on two wheels.
First, you don’t have to sit in your car, crawling at 25mph in endless queues of traffic, mostly caused by the jobsworth `Health `n’ Safety’ clipboard-fondlers, who insist that roads should be closed completely for eight months, whilst East European sub-contractors install a new wire-tapping facility onto the phone network for MI6.
Second, and even more important, it allows you to escape public transport, which is – apart from London – a hideously time-consuming farce of clapped out trains, loser-cruiser buses and trams, packed with offensive, illiterate, hoodie-disguised children, all allowed to run amok, whilst drinking alcopops, sharpening their knives, or arranging their weekend drug deals/sexual encounters/gang fights etc. via their pay-as-u-go mobiles.
As you can tell, I am not a big fan of wasting time getting to and from work, if I can possibly avoid it. You see, I am self employed, so it costs me money to sit in traffic, or dodge wee-stained seats on the toytown express to Crewe …
So motorcycles/scooters, especially small ones, which do 55mpg or more, are definitely the way to travel. Running costs are low, the freedom is great and you can more or less plan to turn up somewhere on time. Brilliant. Of course the downside is the weather, the appalling road surfaces and a million or so uninsured, untraceable drivers on the roads.
In the words of big Phil, the old Hill Street Blues sarge; `Let’s Be Careful Out There.’
FREEDOM IS TRAVELLING WHEN, AND WHERE, YOU WANT.
Now if you’re a novice, then something like the CF Moto E-jewel could be well handy as your first step in avoiding commuter Hell, because you don’t want anything too big and heavy to negotiate your way through gaps in the traffic, or park in a tight space near your place of work.
OK, the CF Moto 125 isn’t a trendy Vespa or a racy Aprilia, with a cachet of coffee bar cool. It’s made in China and some of the placcy bits on it look like they might have been recycled from Britney’s broken wedding Tupperware, but `green’ recycling of scooter parts is good for the planet. Anyway, what do you expect for thirteen hundred quid – gold-plated handlebars?
So yes, this e-jewel 125 is basic transport. It starts on the button, burbles away to itself quietly, and a simple twist `n’ go type throttle and auto gearbox soon has you buzzing along at about 60mph. It might go slightly faster downhill, but this isn’t a performance scooter, it is very much designed to do a job, much like the legendary Honda C90 Cub in days of old. That job is getting you to work, then home again, on about £5 worth of fuel per week.
Like most 125 commuter scooters this CF Moto 125 has a four stroke, 11bhp, single-cylinder engine, but it is water-cooled and has electronic ignition and exhaust catalyser for cleaner running. It is Euro 2 compliant, whatever that means. I only pootled about for an hour or two on the e-jewel, so I can’t tell you how much it does to the gallon, but the importer reckons it will eke out unleaded at 70-80mpg all day long and I would go along with that.
It does have some modern touches on it which set it slightly above the level of some other Chinese budget scooters, like the 16 inch cast alloy wheels and disc brakes front and rear – both of which worked very well indeed. The e-jewel feels more stable than many scooters because it has the bigger 16 inch diameter wheels, and the brakes had real bite too. I think you could make decent progress across town on the e-jewel 125 and not feel like you were riding outside the thing’s limits – in an emergency, it would stop as quickly as most 125 motorcycles which cost about a grand more.
I’ve thought for a decade that scooters should be sold as household goods, bit like washing machines on wheels. Mostly, they don’t attract the same devotion as motorcycles – except for classic Lambrettas/Vespas of course – so why try to sell them in motorcycle shops where the wrong audience are looking at them? Get the CF Moto in a branch of Currys, Argos or CostCo and people would actually think this appliance will solve their transport problems for well under 1500 quid.
The e-jewel feels lively enough to stick with traffic up to 50mph. It brakes and handles well enough and at 126kgs it is light enough to put on its stand with ease, even for a skinny 17 year old. It has useful features like the decent sized headlight, the little cubby hole space in front of the rider’s knees and a luggage rack. Actually, you need the rack because the underseat storage are is pretty small – two Coke cans and it’s full basically.
If fashion doesn’t matter to you, but practical transport, at a budget price truly does, then the CF Moto is worth considering at £1300 brand new. It’s opposition includes machines like the Aprilia Sport City 125 ( £2300 ), the Honda SH125 ( £2200 ), Piaggio Liberty 125 ( £1800 ) or perhaps the PGO T-Rex 125 ( £1900 ). Budget machines like the SYM Megalo 125 (£1500 ) or the Jinlun 125 cruiser motorbike ( about £1400 including panniers ) might also tempt you.
There are lots of four stroke 125 scooter/commuters out there, offering basically similar performance and handling. The only factor which might sway you, especially in a rural area, is the handiness of a local dealer – it’s always good to have a dealer within 10-15 miles in case of any problems, or the convenience of servicing the scooter.
One thing’s for sure, compared to standing about waiting for trains or buses, the e-jewel 125 has plenty going for it. Plus, if I owned one, I would ask ladies if they’d like a quick ride on one of the family jewels!
Get motorbike insurance with Carole Nash for your CF Moto E Jewel 125.
Test Bike Supplied by Eco Scooters, Measham, Derbyshire,
01530 274 767
Engine Water-cooled, four stroke, single cylinder, 124cc
Peak Power 10.8 bhp
Chassis; Steel tubular frame
Forks; telescopic, non-adjustable
Rear suspension; Twin shock, non-adjustable
Braking; Single front & rear disc,
2 piston caliper
Wheels/Tyres; 100/80 16 inch front,
100/80 16 inch rear
Fuel capacity; 7 litres
Dry weight; 126kgs
Estimated Fuel Consumption 75mpg average
Estimated top speed 70 mph
Price £1299 OTR Feb 2007