An Open Letter to Cleveland Cyclewerks

tha misfit_001

(I’m posting this to my blog as well as on my personal Facebook page, to better share my feelings on this under-valued gem of a bike.)

To Cleveland Cyclewerks,

My name is Jonathan Cardin, and I am an unabashed lover of your company. An odd way to begin an open letter, I know, but hear me out before you set fire to this as “creepy stalker talk”. My story begins back in late December of 2013, when I was perusing online for a distributor for a brand of motorcycles I had heard of only fleetingly in online shoot-out articles regarding low-displacement “beginner bikes”: Cleveland Cyclewerks. More specifically, the “Tha Misfit” model motorcycle. I had dreams of sweeping down the back-roads between my house and my then-friend’s house, whom I carpooled with, in the pre-dawn hours with the roads all to myself, winding through the twisty roads each morning. The dream was both plausibly tangible, and seductively possible.

I scoured the internet looking for a dealer near me that might have carried it, my dreams of riding the winding roads dancing in my mind’s eye, and I was pleasantly surprised to find one nearby; St. Pete Scooters. Rejoicing in my supposed good-fortune, I hastily shot an email to the dealer, proclaiming my interest in the bike, and desiring to get a first-hand look at it. Several weeks passed, and after what I felt was an odd period of time to keep a potential customer waiting, the dealer contacted me back. “Oh good,” I thought to myself, “they must have seen my email at last! Maybe the Christmas holiday threw them off their game.” My hopes were then cruelly dashed. The email, very contrite and apologetic, informed me of a series of events that had delayed their response to my email until that point. Apparently, a rival dealer in the area had decided that they should be the only distributor of Cleveland Cyclewerks in my region of Florida, and took them to court to ensure their monopoly (or how the email seemed worded to me). The dealer, aggravated by the move, expressed sincere apologies that they were unable to help. When I asked if they had any still sitting around that I could look at, they apologized yet again, and said “no”, because apparently they had to surrender their remaining inventory (or something to the tune thereof), so they couldn’t even help me there. They also failed to mention the name of the other dealer, as I couldn’t find one anywhere online, though I couldn’t blame them for it.

Now, I can tell you I felt quite put-out, having my dream of possibly owning one of these beautiful bikes snatched away so abruptly. Happily, the former dealer did provide me with an unexpected bit of help: they mentioned my plight to Brett Moorer of PIT Motors, the regional distributor of the Cleveland Cyclewerks brand. Joy of joys, in January an email appeared in my inbox from Mr. Moorer expressing his sincere apologies for the wretched affair, and pointing me to the new dealer: Tropical Scooters. Filled with enthusiasm once again, I replied eagerly to his email, vowing to trek over to Tropical Scooters as soon as I was able. That’s when the first bit of financial misfortune struck; my vehicle began acting up, which I still owed quite a bit on, and I was compelled to move in with a then-friend to help lessen my lengthy commute to work. While that doesn’t seem like a bad thing, I feel compelled to point out my rent went up significantly, so any savings on gas or wear-and-tear on my vehicle were rendered moot by the increased living expense. So, regretfully, I had to put my dream on hold for a while. A long while. A year passed, as I tried to stabilize my financial situation and get back on-track. So, in early 2015, I dug up the email from Mr. Moorer, looked up the dealer in question, and set off to put eyes on the bike I was determined to own.

After a period of time looking for the shop, which turned out to be little more than a hole-in-the-wall compared to most motorcycle dealers I had visited, I found the dimly lit little shop and breezed into the doors, clamping my eyes on the Misfit; ingloriously crammed between a sea of cheap Chinese bikes and scooters. When I say crammed, I mean it. There was little or no space between each bike, and to extricate the bike, it had to be wheeled out at the list the kickstand created to clear the other bikes’ handlebars. I looked around for someone to help me, and found only one person running the entire shop, and he was busy completing the sale of a scooter to a woman and her teenaged son. The salesman, upon noticing me, momentarily left his charges, and went off to find his father, the owner of the shop, who he claimed would help me. Still buoyed by my enthusiasm, I stared happily at the Misfit, blathering on to a friend who had accompanied me about some of its finer points and expressing my excitement to finally be able to throw my leg over one. Nearly a half-hour later, the salesman, seeing me standing there looking considerably less enthusiastic about the wait time, left his sale again to fetch his father. The man appeared from the back, grumpily wiping his hands on a towel, and in a barely cordial manner, asked me what I wanted. Taken aback by the frosty reception, I replied hesitantly that I wanted to get a closer look at the Misfit he had in stock, and when his eyes located it in the row, groaned and rolled his eyes almost imperceptibly at having to dig the bike out. After a period of careful maneuvering, where I had to stabilize the bikes around it, lest they scratch the Misfit with their levers, we managed to extricate the bike and wheel it to the tiny center aisle of the dealer. I asked if I could sit on the bike, and the man begrudgingly allowed it. He then excused himself for a minute, and I happily swung a leg over the black beauty. It was as if the angels had begun to sing. The bike was light, moving effortlessly between my legs, its ergonomics almost perfect. On the center-stand I pulled my legs up to the pegs, grabbed the bars, and settled into the most comfortable position I had yet felt while sitting on bikes at dealerships. My friend, no doubt feeling the bleed-off of my enthusiasm, remarked cheerfully how good I looked on the bike, and how happy I seemed to look.

Beaming happily, I awaited the return of the Father, who after an indeterminate period of time soon after, returned to speak with me about the bike. His mood did not seem improved, but I was so happy about having achieved the first step in my dream of Misfit ownership, that I merely chalked it up to a bad day. Having had this dream for well over a year at this point, I was determined to be an informed buyer. I asked questions regarding his support of the product, customer reactions as he saw it, and a myriad of other questions to better hone my knowledge of the bike prior to purchase. The man seemed dispassionate about nearly all my questions, and quizzically remarked that his customers “seemed happy” that he saw, but didn’t seem to care either way. My enthusiasm was sinking fast, yet again. When I asked nicely to hear the bike run, the man asked me bluntly if I was buying it today. Taken slightly aback by the harsh tone, I replied that I was looking to get it financed soon if I liked how everything checked out. The man shook his head and told me that he wasn’t wheeling the bike out to do that just so I could hear it unless I had cash in hand. Startled by his terrible customer focus, I asked him what financing they offered on the spot, to which he replied “you’ll have to talk to [my son]”, and stalked away, leaving me flabbergasted and hurt. After waiting a bit longer for the salesman to finish with his sale, I politely inquired about financing available at their dealer, vainly hoping to salvage anything from the nearly hour-long drive. The response wasn’t terrible, but I certainly didn’t like the options presented to me. Despairing, I returned home, my dreams a smoking ruin of their former glory.

The next day I arrived at work and confided my story to a coworker who was also looking for a bike, and was hoping to hear of my experience at the dealer in question, so he could possibly look at getting a Misfit as well. Upon hearing my story, he was incised at the wretched service I had received, and suggested I contact Mr. Moorer for help. I will say that Mr. Moorer pulled out all the stops. He apologized profusely after hearing of my story, exclaiming that he’d had several happy customers through Tropical, and didn’t know why I had had such a bad time of it, and he never once suggested that the fault was my own. He not only suggested another dealer, this time near Orlando, but also mentioned an in-house financing that CCW offers. Pleasantly surprised, I went back to my friend and told him of the email. He was very happy to hear of such a positive outcome, but lamented the distance he would have to go to get a Misfit of his own, as limitations on transportation available to him were limited, so his dream ended there. I vowed to go and check out this other shop recommended to me: Ascension Cycle Works.

Now, the drive wasn’t really an issue to me, as I believed my car could handle it, but fate, obviously, had other plans for me. The car attempted to kill me three times in one day while driving home from work on US-19; shutting off completely at 60 miles an hour, and refusing to restart, no matter what I did, until it decided I could drive it again. I promptly told the financing company to come get the demon-possessed machine. This put my hopes of heading to Ascension out of reach for the time being, but hey, I had friends who could help me, right? Wrong. My then friend booted me out of the house we had rented with almost no time to seek both another place to live, and other employment, as there was no way I could get to my job with no meaningful transportation. On top of that, the Second Generation Misfit had recently been announced, so I feared that my window for owning one of the first generation of glossy-black beauties was slipping away. Compounding that with my inability to lock down any meaningful employment in the area I moved to, despite many of the companies claiming to hire veterans before other candidates, and I find my dreams may be put on hold until a stock Misfit eventually shows up on the used market. If ever, because, like I no doubt would, everyone who gets one of these beauties, almost never parts with it.

So here I am, several years after my initial dream began, trying to get a battered older Suzuki I picked up for a song running again, all the while wishing it was a shiny Misfit to call my very own. It says a lot about the enthusiasm CCW instills in its fan-base when people are willing to hold on for as long as I have so far to the dream of owning one of their magnificent bikes. I will own one. It may not be for yet another year or more, but I will eventually have the money to buy the bike of my dreams to ride down the road. Eventually, I may even get to make it to one of the CCW Homecoming events in Cleveland, Ohio on a Misfit of my very own. Until then, I’ll keep the dream alive in my heart, and imagine the sound of that engine roaring away beneath me as I bomb down a twisty back-road.

With all the sincerity I can muster,

Jonathan Cardin



Author: MotoSquirrel

Motorcyclist, bike lover, nerd, writer, and hopeless romantic.

4 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Cleveland Cyclewerks”

  1. What a dissappointing time you’ve had! We had a few of tha Heists in our local shop, but they didn’t do well at all sales wise. Unfortunately in the world of North American motorcyclist most want big ginormous cc’d bikes. I had a beautiful old Honda CM450 and loved that bike. I have progressed up to my current bike which I love, but my dream bike(s) are actually Triumph either the Bonneville or the Thruxton. But for now I’ll put that on hold because I am so enjoying my current Honda.

    Keep chasing the dream!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I find the American outlook on engine displacement to be distressingly ridiculous. The focus on ever-higher engine size has created a generation of riders who will never truly enjoy the sensation of riding that a small-displacement bike can bring. Most seem focused on how fast they can get down the road, rather than how well they can do it.


  2. Sometimes it’s not even about how fast they can get down the rode it is just that they can utter “My bike is 1800 cc’s” . I find it ridiculous that people equate cc to skill level of the rider or write them off as a less than serious rider because they don’t have these hulky monster bikes with high cc’s. I was in my gear standing in line at a local shop and this woman asks me what I’m riding I say a honda then she says “No I meant how many cc’s?” I said “700” then she says “Oh thats a little bike” , My hubby rolled his eyes as he was listening to this. She was eagerly waiting for me to ask if and what she rode, then she volunteers that she rides a “big bike 1400ccs”. I asked how long she’s been riding and she says ” 1 year, but she doesn’t get out much because she struggles with it.” I rolled my eyes and sighed slightly, then we got into a discussion and I asked her what she struggled with and her response was “Going slow because the bike is heavy ” I said get a lighter more responsive ride. Then she looked stressed and said “Well it would mean less cc’s” Good grief! I then went on with my well ya know 90km/h speed limit is the same for any bike and its what you do with the cc’s that counts. I asked her where she rides and its mostly in city commuting. Seriously lighter more manageable bikes are perfect for commuting. I think the problem with most new riders who end up with high cc-itis is that they have not honed their skills on a bike or they don’t really know what their bike is capable of because they haven’t pushed it its or their limits by learning good slow speed skills and the equate high cc’s with being a seasoned rider. I think the European and Asian motorcycle culture has it right, most of the bikes on the road are well under 750cc they buy light agile bikes that they can manoeuvre in traffic, but also that they can do whatever non-commuting adventure on them as well. So all of the above conversation I had with that woman was while I was in a long line waiting to order coffee and pie.

    Has your quest for the heist brought you your dream bike yet? You might want to look at a Suzuki TU250 its a beautifully retro styled bike, a few friends of mine have them and love them.


    1. I’m still working towards the goal.

      I have to agree that the high CC culture is not only foolish, but dangerous. The very “jock-ish” mentality has been pervasive, with constant reinforcement on sites like YouTube and assorted forums by wanna-be racers with little true experience. Unfortunately, unless some drastic change occurs, more and more new riders will be bullied into bikes they aren’t suited to.


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