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ROADTEST: Johnny Pag 250 Spyder

Unleashing the Ultimate-Bang-for-the-Buck Bike?

Photos and Text by Paul Garson
6/10/2010 8:48:41 PM


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Pag group

China’s been in the news big time, not just lately but for the past couple thousand years. People there came up with everything from gunpowder to the compass to paper and ink. They needed lots of paper and ink since the Chinese language consists of 80,000 different symbols. And about that gunpowder. It was discovered by accident while an emperor was looking for the secret to the elixir of life. But it’s no accident that Southern California veteran custom bike builder, Johnny Pag has now brought home from China a new motorcycle, the Spyder 250, that just might take the Ultimate Most Bang for the Buck Award. While the bike is assembled in China, specifically at a 650,000 sq. ft. manufacturing plant near the city of Wenzhou, its design is definitely Made in America, all components drafted up by Johnny to his exacting specifications, and not by e-mail or telephone. Johnny’s a hands-on kind of guy and spent six months out of the year working on location in China on the project. His son, JR, joined him on the long distance work commute and in fact began taking Chinese language lessons.

Johnny wanted to design a bike to American standards but have it manufactured and assembled overseas to bring the price down to the bone and make it accessible to anybody. Says Johnny, “We were looking to offer a bike that first time riders can enjoy, for people on a budget, for ladies who want to get off the passenger seat and onto their own wheels, for people who like to sit on a bike with their feet flat on the ground, and for people looking for a full custom bike without the big price tag.”

Not to shorten the suspense, but the bike seen here has an MSRP of $3295. We’ll say it again…$3295.

One reason for Johnny’s success, where others have merely dreamed of such an endeavor, is the rapport Johnny established with his partners, the Chinese manufacturers. As a result of the mutual trust and respect built on several years of working friendship, the 250 Spyder was born. And the miles of red tape, bureaucracy, government regs and EPA/DOT compliance taken care of as well. It was no small effort at perseverance on Johnny’s part. The actual “birthday” took place this June when the first shipment of full production bikes arrived at the Johnny Pag Motorcycles warehouse in Riverside, CA.

This rider/writer was invited over to take the first official bike mag test ride.

I was already familiar with the bike’s specs having followed its progress over the previous couple months after learning of its existence when it was awarded Most Unique New Motorcycle at the Indy Expo, and that was with a “rough” prototype. Dealers had caught the scent and were buzzing around the Spyder throughout the event. Moreover they were signing on the dotted line. Something verging on historic was in the air. It had to do with the bike’s design, components and very, very significantly, the price tag. Let’s just say it generated a lot of heat even before the flame paint jobs went on.

So like any good bike magazine writer/ predator, I wanted in on the action. So I got my first taste test ride.

First impressions. While some of the preliminary photos were good, seeing the bike in person was, well, impressive. You get an immediate sense of a full-sized, full- framed bike (360 lb., 73-inch wheelbase, 1000 lb. rated load) with quality finish and no scrimping.

Pagriding

For example, the 250 Spyder sports disc brakes front and rear, beefy 1.25 inch handlebars and triple trees while the chromed custom wheels are standard as are the coated, stainless steel brake lines. Those wheels are full-size as well, 21-inches up front, and a 16-incher on the back. (The company that manufactures the 250 Spyder components happens to be a longstanding, as in 25 years, manufacturer of OEM parts for Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki so the quality factor is built-in, the plant running state of the art equipment including CNC machining.)

Suspension is handled by a softail design that adds to the bike’s hardtail custom looks as well as low stance. The kicked out front end also shouts “custom” and adds to the bike’s “attitude.” My test bike was a Candy Red model and tasty at that. Other color choices include Candy Blue, Candy Silver, Black, all with silver flames and all Biker Black model. Other “standard features” include a 2-year, unlimited mileage warranty. While my personal daily ride was a 1000cc bike, I “grew-up” on smaller displacement motorcycles eons ago. That included a Honda 50cc Cub that I managed to clock over 5,000 miles on city streets. I had also owned a Honda 300 Scrambler. But, like I said, that was way back in the day. Getting on a smaller displacement bike was going to be an adjustment, or an adventure, or a combination of both.

A push on the electric start resulted in immediate engine firing. No hesitation whatsoever. Tapping the forward controls sent us rolling. I have to say the first word in my head was “zippy.” Not zippyitty doodah, but zippy! as in, hey, this 250 gets up and goes faster than I expected. The use of dual carburetors greatly adds to the bike’s 250cc twin cylinder’s performance with no lag or stutter, just twist the throttle grip and go. Call that a crisp throttle response. The very smooth shifting of the five-speed transmission added to the zippyness. In city driving, the 250 Spyder will keep you up with the Joneses or as Johnny says, “The bike will take you comfortably up to speeding ticket speeds.”

fender

Part of the attraction of a smaller displacement powerplant is the matter of fuel consumption (and also insurance rates). The 250 Spyder gets about 65 mpg and with its 4.2 gallon tank, you can count on a good 250 miles before you’re on fumes. And don’t try to stuff the gas pump nozzle into the left fill cap opening. There is a filler cap and it does screw off, but the hole is plugged and the second cap is just there to add symmetry and balanced good looks by way of a pair of gas gaps instead of one. And those turn signals by the way come off very easily without any unsightly hardware left exposed if you they don’t fit in with your vision of custom. The exhaust note is “mild” but pleasant, but we’re told “optional” pipes will be available for those who would like to make a louder statement. (There’s even a “performance” brake upgrade for those who like to lock up their rear brake.)

Coming off a short-wheel based sport-oriented bike, I did need to “acclimate” to the longer custom front end. Because of the rake, there is some getting used to the handling at very slow speeds, but it all smoothes out once you get up to speed. There’s compensation in the bike’s lowness, there is no “fall over” feel you might get from a taller bike, and thus would be a plus for a new rider or shorter rider. Even maneuvering through 180 degree turns, once adjusted to the front end presented no problems. Because overall, the bike has a secure sense of balance.

Pagriding2

As I riding along I realized I wasn’t conscious of the suspension. In a good way. Now I tip the gym scales at a few notches past 200 but the bike’s compliance handled my weight without complaint. There was no bottoming out although you have an adjustable seat height of a pavement hugging 20-23 inches, peachy for shorter riders and perfect for planting your feet on terra firma when stopping. The handlebar controls were in the ergo zone, but the cables will stretch on a brand new bike, so keep a watch on the cable adjusters to keep everything adjusted correctly. The seat again gave no feed back, but since I didn’t spend all day in the saddle, long term effects are yet to be noted, but again this is an around town bike and not intended for cross-country travel, but a great Sunday cruiser, grocery getter and bar hopper.

Instruments

The instrumentation, set up on a Harley-type gas tank chromed panel, has a bright LED display. Moreover, the ignition switch is modeled after the classic H-D set-up. Turning the big know allows you run with or without your lights on. An interesting “euro spec” addition is the little yellow button found at the left handlebar controls. This is a “flasher” button for your headlight, something European riders are accustomed to when passing another car, to get their attention. And check this out, there’s a built-in battery charger electrical connector and even the charger itself, carried in a tool kit compartment.

Getting attention is also one of the Spyder’s attributes. It’s got its own personality, a peppy ride for a 250cc machine, quality design and components plus sheer fun factor, and a price money can’t beat. It’s a bike Johnny Pag can be rightly proud of.

Sidebar: First Spyder Customer Speak Out

Speaking of proud, by all accounts so are the dealers lining up to sell the bike and the first new owners of the 250 Spyder. To get the real world reaction we spoke to the very first dealer to sell one of the bikes, Dave Purvines of Horizons/Motorsports Warehouse in Conyers, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. “We gear ourselves to the entry level rider. We saw a picture of the bike and were fascinated by it, then saw it at the dealer show in Indy and met Johnny. We did a lot of research on him and there was a lot of good things said.

As far as the bike, it was the first time in our history that a bike came in better than advertised.

We just sat there and couldn’t believe it. I took the bike to a master fabricator at another bike shop and asked him how much he thought it would cost. He said $7500. When we told him the price, his jaw dropped. Johnny’s created an incredibly beautiful bike. I think it’s going to set the standard and show people you can produce a beautiful bike with quality features at a reasonable price. We’ve actually pre-sold them from the picture. When the first customer walked into the shop, he took one look and put down a deposit.”

Paghome

Taking it one step further, we contacted that first new owner, Russell Deal who happens to commute to the Atlanta area to work during the week, driving the 350 miles from his home in NC. We learned that he had bought the bike as a birthday present for his wife Beth. “My wife had been riding with me on my ’92 Harley Fatboy to rallies and saw women riding their own bikes and was interested in riding herself. So I stopped by Dave’s shop to look at what he had. I saw the picture of the Spyder up on the wall, and we started talking about it. The weight of the bike, the seat height, it seemed the one for her to begin on. The bike is so much better in person than the pictures I saw. I’m teaching her to ride right now. I first showed her the starting and the controls and we did some stop and go and working the clutch, just familiarizing her with the bike. She’s doing fine with the long front end. I told her the slower she goes, the wobblier it is, but as you get up speed it smoothes out. She’s really excited over the bike. The kids ran out of the house first to see the bike when I drove up. I got twin 8-year old girls and a 12-year old boy, and they’re wanting to ride it now. And they keep saying how pretty it is and how good their Mom looks on it. My stepson even says he like’s the Spyder better than my Harley. I’m looking forward to putting it in one of our local bike shows because nobody’s seen it. Once they do Johnny’s gonna have his hands full building enough of them.”

For more information, visit www.johnnypag.com or call 951-352-1300.

Bikernet award
Can't decide on the caption: Paul will road test her next--Or--She's the Bikernet Ultimate 250cc Award. Whatta ya tink?

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Reader Comments


Hello, does anyone know where I can find the part that goes above the tank with the tachometer included, I have been looking online and I have not found, I got a johnny pag spyder 2006

Julio
Guatemala, Guatemala, Guatemala
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Editor Response Hey, I will reach out to folks I know and to Bikernet readers. Did you google Pagnini Custom Motorcycles? His son took over the business.
--Bandit
I like the look of these, can you tell me If there is a dealer in Wisconsin or anywhere near here? Thank you.

David Bruschnig
Adams,, WI
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Editor Response Hey, I found that in 2012 they filed for Bankruptcy. It's too bad, they were cool.
--Bandit
It's good , but where I can find pieces ?

arturo
louisville , Kenntucky
Sunday, June 1, 2014
Editor Response Try this: http://johnnypagmotorco.com/
--Bandit
I've had the black/chrome 250 Spyder for a couple years now. I love this bike and was wondering if it is capable of being even more customized ...ex: a 2-seater put on and a sissy bar.



Amanda Guido
Apple Valley, CA
Monday, July 15, 2013
Editor Response Anything is possible. Did you check for accessories?
--Bandit
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