The HiTong SL50 – My Two-Wheeled Bahamian Adventure Cycle


I recently returned from a week long vacation in the Bahamas, specifically the island of Abaco. The town where I was staying had a slew of cars on the road, but the preferred method of transportation was by golf cart. Electric carts are fun for about 30 seconds and then you realize you have “the slow one”. The truth is that they are all “the slow one” unless you make the jump to a gas golf cart. My friend Cris (the other male on the trip in a group of 6 people) and I decided we needed a little more speed. We had a yearning to explore more of this island and a moped would fit the bill perfectly. The last time Cris rented a moped, he crashed it within the first 15 minutes and the last time I rented one was never. Saddle up and ride!
After negotiating with a gentleman named Cleveland, I secured a price of $40 per moped for 6 hours. I saved us eight bucks, which we needed since the cheapest case of beer on the island is $35. After selecting my helmet, which may have served batting cage duty in another life, I checked out my two-wheeled chariot. I would be riding on a HiTong SL50…forget the model, I have never even heard of the brand. Cris had a slightly older model, and a a slightly older batting cage helmet to boot. However, it was time to break away from the ladies for the afternoon and begin our Bahamian Cycle Tour Adventure 2010.

I had glanced at some maps earlier in the week, so I knew that Marsh Harbor was a major town on the island. It was located about 25 miles to the south of Treasure Cay, our starting point. With Cris’ HiTongo backfiring we were hesitant to attempt the journey to the larger city. Instead we decided to head North and wing it – this was not a wise decision.
I should have taken a second, third, and fourth glance at the map before our trek. I assumed a city had to be close by but I was wrong. Once we left the comfortable roads of Treasure Cay, we were on the Bootle Highway. A North-South road that spans the length of Abaco, about 150 miles in total. It is one lane each way and cars and trucks pass each other regularly. They have it down pretty well and only got nervous once or twice on the whole journey. Cris and I just kept to the far left of the road and let the Bahamians on their way. Around Treasure Cay, the speeds are typically topping out at 30 mph which was perfect as our HiTongs maxed out at that figure. On the Bootle highway it is a far different story. Speeds seemed to range from 45 to holycrapwhatthehellwasthat.

We left this house for the Bootle Highway?

The road was long and seemingly endless…especially at 30mph. As I approached a new turn in the road, I would say to myself “this is it, right around this bend is going to be something awesome!” Yet all I would find is another long straight stretch of road with a turn in the distance. Eventually we did find something, a liquor store. We decided to stop in and find out where the hell we were. Also, Cris informed me that he had been given a HiTong with only half a tank of gas. He was at the zero barrier for continuing on unless we could find somewhere to refuel. The friendly folks inside the store said we were only 15 minutes south of a Texaco so we hopped back on the HiTongs. We meandered through a northern Abaco town and found the Texaco. Gas at the station was $5.11 per gallon but only using about half a tank, I required $3.82 worth of their finest fuel.
We knew the journey back was long but we were eager to return to our expensive cheap beer and find some conch fritters; or as I call them Gods Skittles. It was time to buckle up the “helmets”, crouch into the wind, and HiTong-Tail it back to Treasure Cay. We ended up putting about 90 km on the scooters, which means we would have easily made it to Marsh Harbor and back. We were a bit disappointed that we had decided to trek North instead of South to the larger city, however the adventure was still surprisingly fun. It may have been a desolate stretch of road, but it was a desolate stretch of road in the Bahamas and we were running hot on our HiTongs. We returned the scooters by parking them where we picked them up and sliding the keys under the rental door (Cleveland had about 10 other jobs and was off at one of them).
It was back to a life of golf carts and relaxation, but for a brief period during my vacation I got to experience the thrill of traveling on two-wheels. I still prefer four-wheels and a roof, but the wind in your face is a wonderful thing.

One more shot of the Bahamas…

0 Comments

  1. Jeff, the fact that you referred to the scooters as mopeds multiple times has my brain spinning around an adaptation of the ol' "Em r ducks/Em r geese" joke. It's been a long day that has beaten the creativity right the hell outta my head, so I'm just gonna be lazy and say:
    Em r scooters. I kin tel cuz they got no pedals.
    Damn cool trip/story though!

    1. I know "Moped" is a combination of the words "Motor" and "Pedal", however, I would make the argument that in the common lexicon, a "Moped" refers to any 50cc or smaller scooter. Or, going further, any "step through" scooter. In North Carolina, we have license plates that say "Moped" on them, which more often than not are applied to small scooters lacking pedals. Not all tissues are Kleenex, but most still call them that…

  2. Nice tale. I doubt you got up to speeds, but did you try drafting each other? On long stretches with 2 scooters, that is about the only fun to have.

    1. On the way out, my friends scooter sucked… on the way back, mine did. it was weird.
      I was going to draft him, but he was kicking my ass…

  3. Well, according to the government AND Wikipedia, a Moped does not necessarily have pedals. And if there are two entities I've never known to be wrong, it's the government and Wikipedia.

    1. Depends on the government. Some states view these as scooters and require a motorcycle license to ride them if they do not have pedals. Florida is one of them, and I know because I did some research when I was considering buying one for local shopping to save on gas. I wound up passing on purchasing one because of how expensive it would be to get the motorcycle license. I am still, however, looking for a sub $100 moped to have as a toy.

  4. Awesome. I actually rented scooters for a couple hours on a beach vacation with my dad a few weeks back. It was a blast. They were no-name 50cc pieces of crap, but they were surprisingly peppy. I've never ridden before, but the old man rode a Honda 350 in a past life. After about half a second of nervousness starting out, I took to it pretty quickly. Mine had a working speedometer and my dad's didn't; this meant that we rode way faster than we would have otherwise.
    The whole experience was enough to strip away my last remaining doubts about wanting, no…needing a motorcycle. I take the MSF course next month.

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