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bike vs... a lotus (my newbie perspective)

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' at netrider.net.au started by singlemalt, Aug 15, 2010.

  1. Hi,

    This is my first post in this forum. I'm only putting this up because I thought maybe someone might find it interesting. I've only (relatively) recently received my motorbike licence so I could bike around Vietnam. My friend and I saw "that" Vietnam episode of topgear and had decided a year ago that we needed to do it for ourselves.

    And we did :)

    I've had my lotus (exige S240 "chipped") for about 2 years and I've done a few sprints but I wasn't able to get into the local sprints this year. It's the most fun I've ever had in any vehicle - and it's my daily driver. It's fun "even" at 60. Sitting 15-20cm off the ground, weighing just over 900kg, with very little between me and road, the car virtually disappears in my hands and I feel almost "bonded" to every nook and cranny and every rivet in front on me. I love throwing it into corners - it's comes alive.

    I was surprised that my first experience on the bike wasn't any where near this feeling. It was fun. But not pull my pants off fun. Anyway, I bought a Gladius and my friend bought a Honda cruiser VT400. The VT400 feels great to sit on - until you ride it. It feels like a pig. Different strokes for different people.

    With time however I have really started to enjoy the Gladius. Riding up through the mountains and pushing it through the curves is fantastic. With our helmet intercoms we can talk as well. However, instead of feeling "bonded" to the road - I feel more "bonded" to the bike. I don't know if that's the difference between the car and the bike or it's just my inexperience. A lot of lotus guys seem to have bikes and enjoy them for different reasons.

    Riding through the craziness of vietnamese cities was amazing. The bikes we had were reverse geared and we only had 125's - but that was ok because they were only geared to 60-70kph anyway. Plenty of torque through the mountains. Came off once - my front wheel gave way on some dirt on a curve apex - but I was fully geared so no real injuries. We even took our full face helmets which was a bit of a novelty to the locals. We were able to get to some places where most people never see on the Ho Chi Minh trail.

    Anyway... just thought I'd share and introduce myself.

    Here are some pictures.






  2. A friend of mine has a Lotus. I think I see where you're coming from. You can't really set the bar any higher for four wheels though, can you? (short of a quarter million dollars, anyway).
    So if you're going to compare apples with apples... well, the Gladius is okay but it's not really top of the tree material. On the other hand, you definitely need to learn the biking ropes on something forgiving like that.
    My advice is give yourself a year's experience on two wheels, then try something a bit more focused (I'm thinking Aprilia Tuono, KTM Superduke, Ducati or Japanese superbike). When you get familiar with it, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
  3. Hey singlemalt - I'm in a very similar boat right now to what you were before your trip!

    I just got my license and first bike (zzr250) to learn on before we do *that* trip through vietnam, would you mind if I pm'd you some questions and things before our trip in feb?
  4. Nice pics btw, tell us some more about your trip, too.
  5. a Lotus is miles closer to a motorcycle power-to-weight ratio than most other cars

    a GSX-1000 is miles away from a Gladius, too.....
  6. Yeah - that's what I figured. Although I'm not sure how I can "accelerate" my riding skills. Other than tracking it and falling off several times.

    Sure. You can't really do the whole east coast like they did in Topgear - you don't have a support vehicle with you. But we managed over 500k in 3 days - it was enough.

    The best thing we did was ride onto a small boat (which was barely larger than our bikes), cross the river, ride off the boat while someone was holding to boat to the pier (!), and then ride through the rice paddys. That was amazing.

  7. A Suzuki Gladius isn't exactly a sports motorcycle in the same class that you'd say that a Lotus is a sports car. In comparison, the Gladius would come in at about a mid-sized family car sort of level, so in car terms, it's a bit like comparing a Ford Falcon to the Lotus Exige.

    If you were after something comparable in the motorcycling world, something like an RGV250 (if Suzuki) (or RS250 being Aprilia) would come closer to the same concept. Small, light, low-capacity high-performance engine in a light nimble chassis with more sport oriented suspension.

    Aside from the 250cc 2-strokers which have all largely become extinct in terms of new sales, there really isn't anything else comparible in the motorcycling world (that you can buy new) that fits the same design mould as a Lotus Exige/Elise, and that's a real pity.
  8. I agree with you about the bonded to the bike thing.

    I would love to drive the wheels off a lotus one day...
  9. Yep, I know.

    But the difference (at least at this stage) is I think more due to the difference in position. In the lotus, I'm sitting the road. On the bike, I'm much higher. As I said - with the bike I feel I'm flowing with the bike, whereas the lotus I'm literally on the road. Does that make sense?

    I'm not experienced enough what it is like to really lean the bike over and slide a knee - and I don't know how it would compare. With a high performance bike I don't know if that "high" feeling would be much different - though the agility and responsiveness would obviously be on another planet.

    I enjoy them both on different levels. I've been to places in Vietnam that I could never go in a sports car, and I've driven through places that I would never try in a bike.

  10. Yes and no; Rocket-sled acceleration aside, in absolute terms motorcycles are a bit behind cars in terms of cornering performance, and compared to a driving a car, bikes require balls the size of Pluto to use what performance there is.

    That said, the relative narrowness of a motorcycle does allow one to really exploit proper cornering lines, especially on tight corners. And in terms of urban agility - parking, overtaking, and quasi-legal things like filtering - they can't be beat.

    Definitely a different 'feel' to a mid-engine sportscar, either way. :) I've got an ancient supercharged MR2, m'self.

    (Welcome to NetRider, too)
  11. Hmmm, I would argue that in a car, you're never literally on the road, ever. On a bike, with confidence and good tyres, you can crank it over and literally be on the road, dragging the knee, elbow centimeters above the tarmac, and your head lower down and closer to the road than you'd get even in the Lotus.

    I think what you mean is that you feel more connected to the road in the Lotus. That's cool. Suspension plays a LARGE part in that. More sporting bikes with firmer suspension really allow you to feel every bump in the road, and become intimately connected to the front wheel against the surface, and kicking out the rear and power sliding it out is arguably more fun that doing so in a car, just because the rear wheel axle is 50cm almost directly under your butt.

    Spots makes a good point. Almost any nuffy can get in a car and go fast around a corner. Doing so on a bike require more practise, more skill, and a lot more nerve. That's not to dismiss what the car racers do, there's heaps of skill there too, just that for the average joe cars are more accessible with less skill.
  12. Can your fancy car do this? No? Nuff said... :biker:

  13. Welcome to the club. For anyone who hasn’t ridden in Vietnam I’d say book a trip now. Apart from the amazing scenery, country side and roads, it’s amazing to be a part of the organised chaos.
    I rented a scooter for a few days Hoi an and went for a few long rides along the coast and through the marble mountains. $6 US a day to hire from my hotel.

    I wouldn’t give up on riding based on the gladius. As others have said it’s no comparison, but you have to learn on something. I feel much more ‘connected’ to the road on my bike than I have in any car. I’ve driven mr2’s, X19’s, clio sports, gtv’s rx7/8’s and all the jap turbos... When I was in my early teens I wanted a lotus elise and a gsxr before 25. I’m halfway there:D
    BTW more pics=D>
  14. The trip. Where do I start?

    We had planned to ride from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi in about 2 weeks. We had even budgeted up to $1500 bucks just to "throw away" and buy a bike for the trip. Unfortunately you just can't buy a bike unless you are a vietnamese national. Also it takes about 1 month to get a license over there - which we didn't know until we got there. I'm not sure if you could have gotten away with an international driver's license - in the end it didn't matter for us.

    It became obvious after our research we had to rent bikes, and the distances involved (which don't look THAT bad on paper) is a whole different story in vietnam. The maximum speed you could get even on the highway was about 70kph - and then you had to deal with multiple vehicles across 2 lanes and ducking and weaving out of traffic. And the HEAT.

    There are 2 major bike touring companies - Hue Riders and Easyrider. Easyrider was based in Denang. We decided we had to break our trip up into 3 parts - Ho Chi Minh, Hue/Hoi An and Hanoi. We went with Hue riders in the end because the best riding was through the mountains there. They let us ride their "big" bikes (125's) and we were the first tourists ever to do that. We were never asked for a licence and the reality is that you will never get stopped by police unless you do something incredibly stupid - mainly due to the language issues.

    We had taken all our gear - including helmets. I had a leather jacket that almost killed me in the heat, draggin jeans, and gloves. Didn't take my boots due to the impracticality of it all - we were literally living out of backpacks.

    For our bike trip we initially headed north to the DMZ and then on to the ho chi minh trail. Stopped a variety of museums and the Vinh Moc tunnels to eventually arrive at Khe Sanh. Our guide (who rode in front of us) took us out to a small little restaurant that literally broke every health and safety regulation in the world. But we trusted him - and the food was fantastic. We were amazed at the difference in taste from the real vietnamese food and the typical westernised rubbish that we had elsewhere. From Khe Sanh we visited the old american military outpost and then headed up and up and up into the mountains. It was spectacular. Unfortunately I'm not really a landscape photographer and I only had my little digital rangefinder with me. It was great because I could tuck it in my jacket.

    Our guide took us to this remote village in the mountains and we took some sweets for the kids. That was pretty special really.

    We finally ended up in P'rao and the next day headed for Hoi An. As he saw we enjoyed riding he decided to make life interesting for us and take us through some back routes. We had to ride onto a small boat and then off it and through rice paddys. It was at that moment I realised, not being a "biker", that this was only something I could have done on the bike and was amazing. It was for me as good as driving from the Nurburgring up into the Austrian Alps - watching porsches and RS6's just disappear as I was struggling to stay on the road at 240kph in a rental MB SLK.

    Here are some more pictures.


    our guide. The look on his face when my friend talked to him on our helmet mic was priceless. You can see the "normal" helmet in vietnam in this pic - in this case it was a WWII style german helmet made out of some plastic.


    Our bikes. Taken by our guide. My camera isn't autofocus. doh!




    This was the boat we had to ride on.



    Hoi An



    ... and I could go on and on...

    Yep. But in a bike you are moving your weight and the bike. In the lotus I'm strapped to it and I can't lean or do anything except reach the gear level, pedals and stick. You only feel for the road is through the 4 wheels and steering wheel. In that way I feel more "connected" to the road - rather than on the bike where I feel like I'm flowing with it. I've never put a knee down on tarmac so I don't know what that is like. I see your point.

    Suspension plays a role for sure - but I think it's the riding "position" that makes the difference for me.

    I, as a newbie, don't see any difference in "skills" between driving a car through a corner and a bike. You are still looking through the corner, setting up the vehicle, trail braking, apexing and accelerating. The bike however gives you the added dimension of shifting your weight - and the issue of if you f*ck up then your in a whole new level of pain/damage. Because most people drive cars most of the time it is more accessible and safer - but there are plenty of idiots who think they can drive fast, cut corners, cross double lines, but actually aren't. I think I'm actually just saying what you said in a different way - except that I don't think anyone can drive/ride around a corner fast. Some people just think they can.

    LOL. It's a lotus. Nothing fancy about it. That's it's charm. You do realise carpet in the car is an optional extra :).

    I'm not giving up on the gladius! I'm already thinking of what bike I will get next. I don't think I will ever push it to the limit like I do my lotus - I've seen too many traumas in emergency departments and ICU's in my time. But who knows.

    more pics posted.

  15. :LOL:

    I know jack shite about cars (except my toyota is really almost unbreakable :grin:), so I can't really comment, but I like to stir car enthusiasts with wheelie comments.

    Great pics and story, more please!!! :)
  16. Fair enough. You may change your mind after a while though - and if you do, then I'd reccommend a track day. For about $120 you can spend the day at a racetrack and have an absolute ball, then ride the bike home with a huuuge grin on your face! Hell, you could even enter the classic races if you want - they cater for everyone, with capacities from 100cc 'Buckets' & 125's, right up to the 1000cc+ heavyweights. I've got a '72 Kawasaki 100 up in the shed right now, seized its transmission first time out :(

    Not too sure what you're getting at there... do you mean to say that most people who think they're fast really aren't? I'd definitely agree with that. I know I'm average in the scheme of things, but I can still give some a run for their money.

    Cheers - boingk
  17. And THAT people, is how you make a first post. Bloody good job mate, and welcome to a different kind of crazy.
  18. Yep - that's what I'm saying.

    I don't drive Mt. Nebo at night these days - because there are all these idiots who have big heavy hotted up cars that cross double lines and think they are race drivers. You never know what is coming around that corner.

    It's a pet peeve of mine.

    If you have to cross any line then you are going too fast for your ability.

    I think I'm better than "average" but I'm definitely slower than most of the lotus guys in Brisbane - I just don't get enough track time. I need to drive fast repeatedly to keep my skills up. Works gets in the way.

  19. Since you said "as a newbie", I'll go easy on you. I can only suggest this. Print/write this one sentence by you above on a sheet of paper, put it in a book you're not likely to lose, and if in about 3 or 4 years time you're still persisting with the motorbike and have taken it to the racetrack a number of times, go find that book, open it, pull out the piece of paper, read it, and try really hard not to smack yourself on the back of the head! :D
  20. ... and that's why I highlighted it in bold :)