2012 Cleveland CycleWerks tha Misfit Review

May 16, 2012
Gabe Ets-Hokin
Gabe Ets-Hokin
Contributing Editor |Articles |Articles RSS

Gabe Ets-Hokin is a well-known motojournalist, but he knows scooters well, too: he's been a factory sales rep for Derbi scooters, re-built a Vespa motor in room 107 at the Elvis Presley Motor Lodge in Memphis, TN and has edited several scooter buyer's guides. He unapologetically loves da' scoots.

CCW founder and designer Scott Colosimo included an OHV cylinder head on tha Misfit, claiming it’s more robust and easier to maintain.

CCW’s tha Misfit (“tha” is an affectation that goes with tha Misfit’s name) is derived from Honda’s CG series (similar to the CB but with a lower-revving, simpler overhead-valve design), except this time it’s from mainland China—by way of Cleveland. That’s where CCW founder and designer Scott Colosimo lives, and where he penned the bobber-styled tha Heist and flat-track-styled tha Ace (coming in the summer of 2012). CCW claims tha Misfit’s motor, built by Chinese manufacturer Lifan, is a unique design, although the basic architecture looks quite a bit like the Wolf’s (with the exception of the OHV cylinder head). It has a counterbalancer and an extra 70cc of capacity—yet it’s rated at one hp less than the Wolf because of the lower-revving nature of the OHV cylinder head. It also gets a carburetor, electric start and auxiliary kicker, just like the Wolf. Colosimo wanted me to know that the OHV offers a more robust, easier-to-maintain design—for instance, the valve lash can be adjusted in minutes with a pair of pliers and a 10mm wrench, and there’s no cam-chain tensioner to worry about.

The styling and chassis do set the CCW apart a bit, however. It looks like something an art-school graduate would design, even if Taiwanese firm CPI (who makes the bikes for CCW in China) designed the beautifully sculpted Manx-styled five-gallon tank and stylin’ headlight fairing. A solo-seat cover pops off to reveal passenger accommodations. Fast guys will appreciate the extra engineering and design CCW put into tha Misfit, like the reservoir-equipped, preload-adjustable rear shocks and serious-looking inverted fork, all higher-quality components than this model is equipped with in overseas markets.

Colosimo also used his racing and design expertise to upgrade the frame with better tubing and more bracing. Duro rubber protects the steel 18-inch front wheel and 16-inch rear, and a 280mm front disc gets squeezed by a two-piston caliper and braided-steel brake line. Luxury touches include a centerstand, fuel gauge, electric start and tachometer. tha Misfit weighs in at a claimed 296-pound dry weight and is priced at $3195.

So how different could these bikes be? I noted a lot of differences, surprisingly, but there are also lots of similarities. Both bikes are cold-blooded, to be expected with their lean, California-emissions-approved carbureted air-cooled motors. Once spinning, the exhaust notes are quiet and muted, again, unsurprising given the bikes’ Honda ancestry. The transmissions have a similar, old-fashioned feel, but are still easy to use, as are the cable-operated clutches. Riders with small paws may miss the lack of adjustable levers on both bikes, but a dogleg design makes grasping the controls a little easier.

What’s different is how they feel to ride. If you’re looking for the bad boy of this pair, it’s tha Misfit, not surprisingly. It’s heavier and feels bigger, thanks to the higher bars—in reality the motorcycle’s dimensions are very similar to the Wolf’s although it does have a higher seat. The motor also felt a little more raw—not more vibey, just a little more thumpy. Ride quality is acceptable, but harsh, with stiff springs and hard damping—the reservoir-equipped shocks and inverted fork look great but are still budget items.

Handling is good, with lots of cornering clearance and predictably snappy turn-in. High-speed stability is fine, although neither of these bikes will ever really spend much time at high speeds. When it’s time to stop, tha Misfit’s brakes get the job done, although you’ll need to apply all four fingers and give a hefty squeeze on the front brake lever. The rear has more power than I expected, thanks to the disc brake.