The Red Rocket
As motorcycle enthusiasts, most of us probably rode go-karts as kids too. Whether the kid next door had one that you drove around the neighborhood while keeping a close eye out for the fuzz or you slalomed around (or straight rammed) hay bales on one at summer camp, there always seemed to be a common theme with these things: they were absolute death traps. Designed to keep a kid occupied for hours, maintenance from dad or the camp counselor was non-existent and the condition of these little hot rods always dived harder than one of Don King’s boxers in the third round. Many times the decline was aided by some after-hours time trials by dad and his pals.
In the ad the seller mentions that the M&M body is “indestructible.” Well, that’s a good thing because this little Red Rocket seems to fit the above scenario to a T. By the seller’s own admission, the thing doesn’t even run because it’s missing a carb, although it looks like there’s a good chance one could be located in the piles of crap in the background. The kart also reeks of inebriated operation. How else can you explain the seat that’s mounted crookedly? That has to be built-in compensation for driving one-eyed, right? But the real mystery here is how that ratty old deck is holding up the weight of the kart, clothes washer, barbecue and photographer without caving like a street-level dealer facing ten to fifteen.
The Verdict: Is the Red Rocket an overpriced rat pile that will never ever again run properly? Most likely. Do we still want to drive to Alabama and buy this thing and do after-hours time trials in the parking lot at the Racer X headquarters? Hell yeah!
The Broken Arrow
An entry in this feature just wouldn’t be complete without a bike that had received a healthy dosage of black spray paint, and this little gem is a prime illustration. The wording of the ad isn’t bad either. Take a gander at the first two sentences:
“This bike has 6 speeds, is aircooled, uses case intake reeds and is modern enough to have a tuned exhaust pipe and a mono shock. The brakes work good, drum front and rear.”
The six speeds, badass tuned pipe and ultra-modern mono shock are great and all, and it’s nice that the brakes work well, but does any of that really matter if the engine doesn’t function? If there’s such a thing as a Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for motorcycles, this seller is definitely starting at the wrong end of town. By the looks of that fermented seat, this thing has been stored outside, which is always a good thing when the engine is disassembled and open, especially in a place like Alaska that has such a mild climate.
The seller mentions that the cylinder cracked shortly after the installation of a slew of new parts. The fix? He just let it sit for a few years before attempting to start it again. Shockingly, it didn’t fire right up. Instead, the “piston broke so now there's aluminum in the crankcase and the rod bearing is jammed up.” We’re guessing that if the same mechanical know-how that defined this bike as modern was used to assemble the engine, it’s not surprising that it expired quicker than a quart of milk in a Death Valley power outage.
The Verdict: If you feel at all tempted to purchase this spider habitat that was formerly a motorcycle, just turn around and run. Actually, you can just go ahead and walk, there’s no way this bike can catch you.
Much like the black spray-painted genre, mini-bikes make frequent appearances in this section. Like all proper mini-warriors that are owned and operated by adults (term “adult” is used loosely here), this little plastic bullet is missing the rear fender and right side plate. The owner may have removed those items for weight purposes or shaved the bike down for some sweet freestyle action, but the safe money says it was the victim of a drunken campfire burnout that quickly escalated into the classic, single-handed (putting down one’s beer just isn’t an option in these cases) loop-out faster than the rider could say, “Tall can.”
The bike says JetMoto on the side of it. We’re not sure if that refers to a brand name or if it insinuates that the seller is flying higher (hey, this pile IS in Humboldt County!) than a jet if he expects to get $700 for this machine. Perhaps both? We can’t be sure, but we do know that you’re the one that’s flying high if you think you’ll be able to find replacement parts for this thing when, not if, it breaks.
The Verdict: The jury has reconvened, and we’re actually not too far off our Red Rocket decision above. Is this thing crap? Yep. Do we want to get our hands on it anyway and do donuts around the campfire at RedBud this weekend? Absolutely!
The Beached Torpedo
We named this amazing find The Beached Torpedo because, much like its namesake, this two-wheeled warhead is completely useless in its current state and should be avoided at all costs. Speaking of cost, there isn’t one listed in the ad, but we can absolutely guarantee that getting this bike running again is going to put a dent in your wallet and spare time that’s much larger than the value of the machine itself.
If there’s a silver lining to this thing it’s that it’s sporting a new pair of tires, although in this case that’s about as useful as a holeshot device on crusty old farm quad. The seller mentions that he took apart the motor and was going to rebuild it, still has all the parts and if you don’t want to use it as a parts bike, “u can fixs it up.” What was wrong with the bike in the first place that disassembly was required? Did the motor blow or was the owner hopped up on some strong uppers (check out that workshop!) one night and grew paranoid that the police had hidden a microphone in the crankcase? Either way, this is one scary deal!
The Verdict: Utter and complete crap. If you are thinking about picking up this little hunk of junk, even if it’s for free, just ram bamboo shoots under your toenails. It’ll be more productive and less painful.
See a bike you think would make a good fit for this column? Send an e-mail over to firstname.lastname@example.org.