In the heart of Cleveland’s rough-but-hip Near West Side is the headquarters of the pan-global motorcycle empire that is Cleveland Cyclewerks. It’s an empire built on the idea that people might want to own fun, well-designed, reliable transportation that is extremely affordable – the Schreckengostian idea that good design can be for everyone.
Like in a lot of cities, Cleveland’s old industrial spaces are being repurposed as lofts, boutiques, foodie pop-up venues, and hipster happenings, but CCW has repurposed an old industrial space as. . . a new industrial space. It’s a bare-bones factory yard that reflects their hands-on, entrepreneurial approach to design. This is where Ace, Heist, and Misfit owners gathered this weekend for a Cyclewerks Homecoming. It says a lot about the company and the rapidly growing loyalty of their riders that this event was rider-initiated, not invented by the marketing department. The crowd was fun, unpretentious, and serious about bikes – very Cleveland. Their loyalty was rewarded Saturday with the unveiling of the new Misfit.
Probably the most recognizable CCW bike is the retro-bobber Heist, but the the sleeper fun-bomb is the little cafe racer Misfit. The original Misfit was styled in homage to the mid-60s Ducati 250 GP, particularly the tank shape. This is a very ‘inside’ styling reference, probably lost on 90% of buyers, and it is especially subtle in the stock black paint. Still, the design stands on its own even if it was upstaged a bit by its showier brothers the Heist and the Ace (sorry – I can’t bring myself to write “tha”).
No more. The new Misfit has come into its own and looks more forward than back.
The attention to detail in things like the taillight, turn signals, and instruments give the impression of a much more expensive bike.
But the styling is only the introduction. Improved front suspension, a stiffer frame, better brakes, and bigger wheels all promise a bigger riding envelope and better feel. Maybe most exciting thing is that club racing is planned for next year. What could be more fun than barnstorming a track on a solid little 250 zoomer?
They kept the seat height low, and of course the weight is light. This is a low barrier-to-entry bike. This would be a perfect first bike that you don’t get rid of even if you get another bike. In fact, I think this will be my official go-to recommendation for the legions of earnest fledglings coming to me for advice on a first new bike.
One look at the parking lot outside the factory on Friday would tell you that CCW owners tend to be tweakers, tuners, and modders, and all their bikes lend themselves to easy personalization.