Hartford VR 150 question

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by jakewilliams87, Apr 2, 2015.

  1. jakewilliams87

    jakewilliams87 n00b

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2014
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Taichung, Taiwan
    Hey guys! Writing to you from the beautiful island of Taiwan. I got here in February, saying goodbye to my trusty Buell Ulysses XB12x. In Taiwan the license requirements force me to have something sub 250cc for my first year here. The cost of big bikes (over 300cc, haha) is extremely high over here and with the type of traffic I will usually be riding in a 650 will be my next choice. I like the BMW 650 Dakar but could swing to a KLR-like bike.

    For this first year I decided on the Hartford VR 150. Its a 2003 with around 12,000km on it. I bought it as a "junker" and had it refurbished. It comes with a 6 month gaurantee on the engine. I like it because it is a tall bike and is said to have less problems and more aftermarket support than the other common option, the CPI SM250. So far I'm loving the bike and am looking forward to exploring the island on it.

    I have some questions that some small bike riders may be able to help me with. The first is this bike's shifting seems extremely finicky. What I mean is it seems really crunchy between gears. I have been experimenting with getting the RPMS up higher as I shift and this seems to help but it still seems really touchy. I have owned a DR650 and a KLR and neither of them were anything like this. Is this common on small engine bikes? Its got 5 gears, so on a bike like this what is a normal RPM range to shift at? I feel like I'm running it really hard just to shift, will that cause me problems long-term?

    Next question is, am I crazy to take a 150cc air-cooled bike on an hour trip 2 up? People here consider my bike large and do similar trips often on scooters, but together we're pushing 140kg (300lbs) on the bike. My wife and I are looking to visit family in a city nearby and it would be convenient to not need to take the train (but not worth killing the bike).

    Traffic here is crazy and before I ever get it off-road I'm having some crazy adventures battling Taiwanese drivers here in town.

    Here's a pic of the bike as I picked it up from the shop. Thanks for any advice you guys can offer!

    Attached Files:

    #1
  2. gzr

    gzr Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2012
    Oddometer:
    68
    I think there should be no problems riding two-up with that bike. The engine is a clone of the Honda CG125, bored up to 150cc. I had another CG125 clone and rode regularly with a passenger - varying between 105kg and 140kg total depending on who rode pillion. That engine can take incredible abuse - Honda designed it for third world countries where maintenance is scarce. With regular oil changes (more often if you abuse it) and valve adjustments it will last until the bike is a pile of rust.

    Since you're coming from a much more powerful bike your main concern should be to keep the bike in its powerband, reasonably close to redline. Keep yourself alert and aware that you are limited in acceleration when you need to avoid crazy drivers.

    The gearbox on CG/CB125 clone engines is often finicky when new and gets better after about 500~1000 km. Clearly this is not your case, but on my Kymco neutral was still a little difficult to find at a stop after 23,000 km. Gearbox feel varies a lot between manufacturers - Sym are very smooth, Kymco a close second, others generally rougher.

    Does the VR150 have a tachometer? If yes then smoothest upshifting should be between 5k rpm and redline - 9k rpm on the bike I had. On your bike it may be lower so adjust accordingly.

    Keep an eye on fasteners though - sustained high speed operation means that nuts/bolts may loosen. Engine mount bolts are especially prone to this.

    Goodluck and have fun!
    #2
  3. jakewilliams87

    jakewilliams87 n00b

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2014
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Taichung, Taiwan
    I actually took the VR on the trip this weekend. We got up into the mountains and could feel the bike struggling on some assents but made it just fine.

    With the shifting, I think I was trying to shift too low, 4.5-5k range as that was what I was used to on my other bikes. As I've been pushing it higher it sounds bad but shifts better.

    Good to know it's based on a reliable engine. I'll definitely keep an eye out for missing parts (I lost a license plate and a frame bolt on my KLR so I'm used to that).

    Thanks for the help!
    #3
  4. alekkas

    alekkas Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,379
    Location:
    Far West Chicago Burbs
    Have you tried preloading the shifter and a quick blip of the throttle?
    #4
  5. jakewilliams87

    jakewilliams87 n00b

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2014
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Taichung, Taiwan
    Alekks, I've been working on my blip upshifts and the bike does great with them. I've read a lot of guys say it can cause premature wear on the clutch, will it alright if I do it all the time on this bike (except 1st to 2nd)? Thanks for the tip!
    #5
  6. kimber45

    kimber45 I'm over it.

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,382
    Location:
    Cottrellville,MI
    hate to ask this question but what kind of oil are you running?

    switching to synthetic really smoothed out the shifting with my old xt225.
    #6
  7. OutRecording

    OutRecording Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2014
    Oddometer:
    366
    Location:
    Kaohsiung, Taiwan
    I had the same bike, but with a 200cc engine. If you were planning to keep it for any length of time, I wild recommend getting one of those Longcin (I think that's the name) engines you see advertised on ruten. About 18 to 23k (NT). I think they're around 231cc. Seem some 250 engines that will fit but performance on the 231 looks better.

    I was around 116kg with maybe 25kg of gear when I took mine out to the mountains off-roading. I really had to push the thing hard to make some of those steep mountain trails. Some trails it wouldn't make it up.

    It's not a bad bike (for a smaller guy) but mine in particular had an allergy to rain. :) It struggled in wet conditions.

    I think with proper tires and gearing you could be ok on the trails with it. It just won't be fun compared to other bikes.

    On the plus side, mine took some hellish beatings and kept on going. One bit of advice: if you're trail riding, bring two or three spare clutch levers with you. They're complete shit and will break in a fall guaranteed. In fact, I think they'll break before hitting the ground. ;) I broke two in one ride once. They'll run you about $100NT. And don't forget to bring your tools.
    #7
  8. jakewilliams87

    jakewilliams87 n00b

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2014
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Taichung, Taiwan
    Thanks for all the advice and replies! After a few months of riding the VR 150 I'm both getting used to it and feeling its limitations. I've gotten the shifting smoothed out getting used to pushing the rpms higher than I am used to or like the sound of. I max out at around 75kmph riding level with my wife on the back.

    Going up mountains is the real killer and the suspension makes things really sketchy on the descent, so now I have a new issue - do I put the money in to upgrade the bike including a new rear shock and spring and fork springs (with iffy Taiwanese components and no auto preload adjustment) or just ride it as is until I have a parking garage and can afford a bigger bike here in Taiwan next year (looking at an 06 BMW 650gs Dakar, 09 Kawasaki Versys and 08 Suzuki DL650 all right around $9k US well used and scratched up)? The guys at the shop are split, half saying go for the suspension half saying leave it be (split between road guys and trail guys). The cost out the door would be about $400 and I paid $1,300 for the bike. Keeping the bike up in the rain is is not the easiest with the thin tires and shape, not sure if rigid suspension will make it worse. Any suggestions?

    On the positive side, the guys I bought the bike from are really cool. Came in two different times with minor issues (weak front brake the first time and leaking petcock the second) and they covered it no questions asked on the warranty even though they weren't exactly engine issues. New front brake cylinder, cable and caliper and new petcock. Didn't take them long either.

    Outrecording, assuming I stick with the bike for this year I am open to the possibility of an engine swap to get it some more power. Does this make the bike unregisterable or harder to sell because of licensing here in Taiwan? Also, I'm not seeing the engine you mentioned on Ruten, any specific way to search for it?

    Thanks again for all the help!
    #8
  9. OutRecording

    OutRecording Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2014
    Oddometer:
    366
    Location:
    Kaohsiung, Taiwan
    Search "哈特佛 vr" and "vr 150" and sort by price. Most will show under the second search, but there a couple in the first. 18 ~ 26k range. Saw one for 14k but I would be a little wary of that one. Pretty cheap for a new engine.

    About the registering stuff, I learned this first-hand. It can still be transferred with a different engine in it. Strictly speaking, it's not legal. But they're not checking the engine number. When they do the inspection for transfer, among other things, they're basically just looking to see if the bike and parts match the picture they have on record. I suppose a black engine may catch their eye, but for the most part these new engines look the same. When I sold mine, they wouldn't pass it the first time because of different turn signal and headlight assembly I had on it. (That stock one is kinda ugly IMO). Swapped them back and all was good.

    You'll still have the original engine and could put it back if you or the buyer are nervous. And I think having that engine would be a good case for a higher selling price. Worse case though, you put original engine back in and sell new one on ruten.

    Btw, check with your mechanic about all this too. Different license offices have different levels of giving a shit about the rules I'm guessing. Mine might be a little more lax. My mechanic told me which day to go and which guy to see. :evil
    #9
  10. OutRecording

    OutRecording Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2014
    Oddometer:
    366
    Location:
    Kaohsiung, Taiwan
    And personally, I would go for the Dakar. That Versys won't be able to handle a lot of the off-roading Taiwan has to throw at it. Not sure about the V-Strom.

    Or if you're planning on hitting the trails hard, you can look for a larger (street legal) trail bike. Honda and Yamaha have some here. Though I guess comfort and a place for your woman to ride is of importance to you. :) So yeah, go with the Dakar.
    #10
  11. OutRecording

    OutRecording Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2014
    Oddometer:
    366
    Location:
    Kaohsiung, Taiwan
    If your sure you're going to sell this thing next year, I would keep it as-is. Save that cash for modding your new bike. (Or for repairs if the seller is shady and disappears after the sale. But that's another subject!)
    #11
  12. jakewilliams87

    jakewilliams87 n00b

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2014
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Taichung, Taiwan
    Thank you Outrecording. I think I'll leave it as is and suffer a little anticipating the Dakar next year. I'm thinking I'll possibly just keep this and put some knobbies on it and store it up North in MiaoLi for little day trips. Its really a nice little bike, just hard for riding two up which we have to do a lot of. Thanks for all the advice!
    #12
  13. OutRecording

    OutRecording Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2014
    Oddometer:
    366
    Location:
    Kaohsiung, Taiwan
    No prob man. Let me know if you come down south for some riding.
    #13