I must admit, I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy when it was my turn to get behind the wheel of Automotive Rhythms’ latest long-term, a velocity red 2011 MAZDASPEED3. Surely there were other vehicles more deserving of my time such as our 2011 Infiniti QX which could be used for hauling my Yamaha R1 (one of the top sport bikes on the market) to upcoming events. It baffled me why Publisher Kimatni Rawlins was so persistent on me (the resident bike expert) taking this vehicle out. Well, after a few weeks I can say with all certainty his insight was right on point. This was the vehicle for me.
Given the SPEED3’s sporty little size combined with a potent 263 horsepower, turbocharged 4-cylinder, I was zipping and dipping around town as if were on my R1 – in a safe manner of course. Regardless of what gear I was in, this little speed demon was easily able to summon the power of the turbo to rocket away from any situation just as quick as female drag race sensation Dystany Spurlock does on her BMW S 1000 RR. Don’t know who she is? Trust me, you will. And talk about its handling skills. I’ve been behind the wheel of some of the fastest production cars created and would be hard pressed to recall driving anything as nimble and responsive as AR’s newest rocket, especially with an MSRP price point of $23,700.
So how did I spend my time with this new acquisition? For starters, traveling to and from several soccer games (with equipment) and grocery trips, all of which the SPEED3 was able to easily accommodate even without folding down the rear seats. I then hung out with the ZooRyders at their 4th Anniversary party where the SPEED3’s wet weather handling skills were put to the test during a monsoon like downpour. Next, it was off to Kawasaki’s nationwide Ticket-to-Ride Demo event where the SPEEDemon attracted almost as much attention as the bikes. We (SPEED and I) also paid a visit to Free State Cycles in support of Rickey Gadson’s Philly to Myrtle Beach Charity Ride in support of Childhood Diabetes. Lastly, we packed up and hit 95 south for the east coast’s largest bike event, the Atlantic Beach Bike Fest in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The ride was firm, yet smooth and comfortable and the Sirius/XM satellite radio allowed me to enjoy my favorite stations and tunes from departure to destination. The fuel economy was pleasantly surprising with each fill up coming in at approximately $48 with a range of approximately 380 miles.
This year’s Atlantic Beach Fest attracted first time supporters such Suzuki, Yamaha and Star Motorcycles who all offered demo rides of their complete line-up. Also new to the scene was ICON Motorsports and T.I.’s AKOO clothing line. This was an unprecedented addition considering the Bike Fest is in its 36th year and now attracting top brands to their venue. Additionally, the manufacturers are finally recognizing the significance of this event which has annually attracted crowds of up to 500,000. “We’re very happy to have AKOO, ICON Motorsports and the others as part of our event,” said Assistant Town Manager and CFO Linda Moye Cheatham. “We have a rich history here and have always opened our doors to the bike community,” she continued. “It’s our honor to participate in the Bike Fest,” said AKOO Director of Marketing Jeff Belizaire. “This allows us to connect directly with the community by offering our street team before and after AKOO makeovers. We’re looking forward to where things can grow from here.” From a spectator’s point of view, it was encouraging to see the Bike Fest, which is so near and dear to thousands as they reach out to hit another level of growth. Speaking of reaching out, I want to give the WiseGuy’s MD Chapter a huge shout of appreciation. Without their hospitality, my trip down south may not have happened.
So, as the sun sets on my time with my newfound friend, I have a higher level of appreciation and respect for economical speed and agility. Zoom Zoom!