Sunday, June 27, 2010

Binh to Alaska?

When the Scoot! staff created the Buyer's Guide, we remarked that 125cc scooters best were suited for "Cross-town riding, casual weekend excursions, light passengers on flat terrain for short distances." This is typically true, but every once in a while there is someone who breaks the stereotype and shows that the 125cc scooter cannot be underestimated.

Recently, our friend and local scooterist Binh Cheung embarked upon a real adventure riding from San Jose to the Arctic Circle along the Dalton Highway on a 125cc SYM Symba. Binh estimates that this trip will take about a month and log about 8,000 miles on the little Symba.  "Almost everyone thinks I'm crazy to do this trip on such a small bike, but that is what I find challenging and adventurous," he says.

This isn't his first long-distance trip on a smaller scooter. A few years back he and Jason from rode to Denver, CO on 50cc Honda Ruckuses. Binh also rode to Seattle on his Honda Metropolitan. His longest stretch riding was 540 miles in a day. Why do such a long and intense trip on a small scooter? Binh has a larger motorcycle, yet he says he find that is "too easy and isn't as enjoyable as a small bike."

We reviewed the Symba in Scoot! issue # 52 (October 2009) and had a blast zooming around town, but never thought that the bike would be a one to attempt a journey like Binh's. He originally planned to use his own Metropolitan, until the SYM distributor stepped in to offer the Symba. While a new bike is a great asset, it did offer a few challenges. First, Binh had to break in the engine. The standard break-in period is 500-miles, but Binh only had a few days. So, with just over 70 miles on the odometer he took off. The first leg to Seattle would have to function as the break-in period.

Daring adventures are quite the fashion on television shows. But, those trips are often accompanied by cameramen, producers, technical advisers and chase vehicles. Binh is doing his trip without all those conveniences. It's just him, his scooter, a backpack and a loaded rack. Have you seen the rear rack on the Symba? If so, you're probably surprised to hear that his holds a spare set of tires and camping gear. His front rack holds an auxiliary gas can.

Binh had originally planned to undertake this trip last year, but was unable to. At that time I had asked him if he needed any help from us. He only wanted help to share his story. No plea for money, "sponsorship" or free swag; just an interest in spreading the word. He's a pretty self-sufficient guy. "I'm self-reliant so this trip is a self sustain[ed] one…I like to keep it as simple and spontaneous as possible. No real plan or destination really 'cause the journey is the soul of the trip," he says.

I'll do my part by sharing Binh's story as it unfolds. Check back tomorrow for an update.

Blog Entry Soundtrack: "Dark Eyes" by Iron and Wine + Calexico

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