Update: Found out more about second gear. It’s not that second gear requires me to be at a higher speed, it’s just that when I accelerate hard, I use more force to shift into second. I figured this out by doing a hard shift into second at slow speed and the “lugging” wasn’t there. If I don’t shift with aggro force, 2nd jumps.
Doing some research, it looks like the Blasts aren’t the most reliable bikes (I love unreliable things). However, my problem is likely more that I need to do the shifter pawl maintenance. The “lugging” is actually the bike jumping out of gear, a common problem with 2nd gear on the Blast.
Outside of the jumping out of gear, the bike’s other poor shifting quirks (grinding through the gears) are normal. This was one of the first bikes to come out of the Harley-Buell relationship and allegedly Eric himself hated how poorly built the early Blasts were. Oh well, I love the unloved. ♥
As for the handling, I realized why this bike handles so well: It has a crazy short wheelbase. I parked next to a Rebel 250 last night and despite being a bigger bike, the Blast is actually decently shorter!
And I’m slowly discovering its quirks.
First, it doesn’t like going into second any sooner than 20mph. Engaging gear too soon causes both the transmission and the engine to lug.
Second, the speedometer does a calibration when you turn on the ignition. Sometimes it’ll calibrate itself to read in kph on the mph marks. I was wondering why everything felt so slow but I was going “60". Restarting the ignition fixed this.
It’s also easier to lean into turns than the Rebel I learned on.
It also accelerates so fast to the speed limit that you can stall and still catch up to everyone before they reach the limit.