FIRST RIDE: MUTT RS13 125
A custom 125 that scores more on looks than dynamics.
ACHEAP, FINISHED AND rideable, custom bike is an unlikely prospect, because all that bespoke engineering, painting and construction comes at a price. But for those looking for an easier, less expensive, way into something a bit different high-volume production of low-cost, small-capacity bikes is interesting: Suzuki’s GSX-S125 is £3799; Honda’s MSX125 is £3389 and this Mutt RS-13 125 is £3568. Send your three large Mutt’s way to get a 124.7cc Chinesemade single – air-cooled for coolness, with Mutt-branded
engine covers. It’s built by the same factory that supplies Suzuki’s small bikes, so reliability isn’t a worry. Next is a steel backbone frame that employs the engine as a stressed member, plus two 18-inch spoked wheels. Mutt then request uprated parts be used during construction, including an O-ring chain and an ECU with a high-definition fuel map. By the time it arrives in the UK the bike is 70% done.
Mutt then complete the build in their 10,000sq.ft. facility in Birmingham with such things as a diamond stitched seat, Renthal handlebar and a smart steel tank with painted black stripe. And no, the logo on the tank isn’t lifted from those films where massive robots transform themselves. It says ‘M’ for Mutt, apparently. According to Mutt’s Paddy Digby-bakern in a good month Birmingham produce 200 of these bikes. ‘We’ve got capacity to do 2000 units per year,’ he says, ‘and we’ve already got 48 dealers around the UK.’ 48 dealers mean test-riding one shouldn’t be an issue. First impressions are good. Switch the bike on using chunky switchgear (betterlooking than the stuff on a Yamaha MT-09), and the Chinese engine starts up a throaty grumbling. Mutt’s matte black exhaust is one big resonance chamber, so revs sound suitably bassy at idle. Twist
‘We sell a lifestyle packaged up as a motorbike’
the throttle and you get soft, easy thrust – that’s the quality ECU at work. But the engine is still just a 125, and power gives up quickly on the throttle. First is good for 25mph, second for 40 and third for 50. Above that, you can ride for a long time without seeing 60mph on the serif-fonted speedo. Real-world top speed is more like 55mph, however long you have until the next corner. Turning in is a weird two-stage event. First you fight for control over the massive 4.00 front tyre (Continental TKC 80, staple of the custom scene). Then, when you’ve wrestled it onto its side, it wrenches the bike round with alarming speed. Last year I rode 1000 miles to Wheels and Waves on a Tkc-wearing Yamaha XSR700. That felt planted, with smooth handling. This Mutt doesn’t. It’s also uncomfortable, in spite of the soft-pad bench that calls itself the seat. The twinshocks out back have such short travel that most of it is used up by rider and bike sag. Even minor potholes are a major pain at 30mph. I turn up the preload to stop the shocks from bottoming out, but then the action becomes harsh. The front fork is softer, but I’m feeling the Renthal ’bar shake worryingly over bigger potholes. So much so that I’m careful about my line above 30. I don’t want a massive 18-inch front slapping around in traffic. I cut the engine, stretch my back out, and breathe in the delicious honeyed smell of vapourised engine oil. There are 125s out there that ride much better than this – Honda’s new Monkey, for example. But as Paddy said to me: ‘We don’t sell a motorbike – we sell a lifestyle packaged up as a motorbike.’ And yet don’t snigger in haste. In the last hour I’ve been told by four different younger people the Mutt’s a great-looking bike. ‘Work of art,’ gushed one 24-year-old before snapping it for his Insta page. There’s no way he’d choose a GSX-S125 instead.
It’s all about chunky tyres and stripy tanks
You weren’t expecting TFT were you? Chunky switchgear Good looks and it’s cheap
Diamond stitched, bench-like, uncomfortable