Sharp enough but not cut­ting edge

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

What’s the best new 250cc mo­tor­cy­cle you can buy for less than $6000? It’s a trick ques­tion be­cause there are only two on the Kiwi mar­ket with pric­etags be­low that mark, the Dae­lim Road­win 250 F1 from Korea and the lat­est bike from emerg­ing Tai­wanese bike-maker SYM. Both cost $5995 and both come pow­ered by 249cc liq­uid-cooled sin­gle­cylin­der en­gines that re­spect the high price paid for a tank of fuel and sip gen­tly at it like its a bot­tle of rare 30-year-old whiskey. The Dae­lim has its charms and the fact that it comes with a full fair­ing might give it an edge over the new SYM 250Ni Wolf. How­ever, the lat­ter looks more like a prod­uct of the 21st Cen­tury, is bet­ter made and comes in more fash­ion­able colours like the matte blue of the test bike. I can there­fore see quite a few learner riders turn­ing Tai­wanese.

At this point Yamaha would prob­a­bly like me to write a few words about their 223cc Scorpio, an air-cooled throw­back sin­gle­cylin­der bike made in In­dia. It’s not a bad lit­tle jig­ger the $4289 Scorpio but its en­gine lacks the sting of the Tai­wanese and Korean 250s and is less adept at mo­tor­way use or achiev­ing the sort of speeds that will help up­skill riders in prepa­ra­tion for big­ger­ca­pac­ity ma­chines. So if you can af­ford the stretch, the pay­ment of an­other $1700 for a liq­uid-cooled 250 in­stead of an air-cooled 223 is money well spent. By the same to­ken, pay­ing even more than the SYM and the Dae­lim for liq­uid-cooled Thaimade Ja­panese-brand 250s like the Honda CBR250R and Kawasaki Ninja will also lift the re­turn in rid­ing plea­sure by an equal amount. So con­sider the SYM and the Dae­lim to oc­cupy a nice half-way house lo­ca­tion in the Kiwi learner bike mar­ket at $5995 for ei­ther.

Of the two six-grand bikes, the SYM at­tracts me most. Apart from a cou­ple of vis­ual faux pas like the ugly mounts of a wellde­signed in­stru­ment pod and an ex­haust heat shield that looks like an af­ter-thought, the Wolf im­parts im­pres­sions of com­mend­able build qual­ity. SYM is Hyundai’s pre­ferred Tai­wanese part­ner in a joint-ven­ture car assem­bly plant and it ap­pears the same stan­dards of man­u­fac­tur­ing carry over to its bike-mak­ing op­er­a­tions. The qual­ity of the paint ap­pli­ca­tions and the frame welds are big bonus wins over its Dae­lim price-point ri­val.

En­gine per­for­mance ad­van­tages of the SYM are quite a bit harder to iden­tify. Both the Dae­lim and the Wolf tip the scales at a rather hefty (for a 250) 173kg and both place roughly 19kw (26bhp) at the rider’s dis­posal. While the en­gine per­for­mance of both is equal to that of the award-win­ning CBR250R, the Honda weighs 20kg less, giv­ing it sprint­ing abil­ity and fuel-sav­ing ad­van­tages, not to men­tion more flick­able han­dling. Mean­while, sep­a­rat­ing the per­for­mance of the SYM and the Dae­lim is like try­ing to iden­tify the win­ner from two cricket teams who have scored an equal num­ber of runs. You’ d swear that these two sin­gle­cylin­der bikes were built by the same man­u­fac­turer.

If you’re do­ing lots of mo­tor­way work in your com­mute, the fair­ing and the more cant­ed­for­ward rid­ing po­si­tion of the Dae­lim will be big at­trac­tions. Not only will you en­joy more weather pro­tec­tion, the more ef­fi­cient aero­dy­nam­ics of the Road­win should help it use less fuel on the jour­ney.

That said, the SYM def­i­nitely didn’t shirk from open road use on test and felt ex­tremely happy to cruise at le­gal speeds.

Given the 10,000rpm red­line of the sin­gle and the way it was turn­ing a smooth and un­flus­tered 6000rpm at the le­gal limit, the Wolf’s top speed would ap­pear to be a the­o­ret­i­cal 150kmh, 10kmh less than the more aero-friendly Dae­lim. Like en­gine per­for­mance, the han­dling of the two $6K rides is re­mark­ably sim­i­lar. Both ex­hibit a will­ing­ness to turn into cor­ners that only comes with sin­gles; both have bud­get sus­pen­sion, sturdy-yet-over­built frames and tyres that of­fer grip best de­scribed as ad­e­quate. There is a slight ad­van­tage in for­ward weight bias with the Dae­lim as the SYM’S po­si­tion­ing of the bat­tery un­der the pil­lion seat sug­gests the Tai­wanese bike­builder has yet to ap­pre­ci­ate the han­dling ad­van­tages that come with mass cen­tral­i­sa­tion.

How­ever a bike of this build qual­ity, at this price, doesn’t have to live at the cut­ting edge. All it has to achieve is the trust­wor­thy re­li­a­bil­ity that will rec­om­mend it and a level of dy­namic per­for­mance that will en­gage and in­spire its learner-li­cence riders. That Wolf can do this while man­ag­ing to look good will be more than enough to meet the ex­pec­ta­tions of those who are likely to buy it.

Paul Owen

RIDEON: The new Dae­lim Road­win the sporty new learner comes from Tai­wan with love.

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