A cus­tom 125 that scores more on looks than dy­nam­ics.

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Ben Lind­ley Pho­tog­ra­phy Ja­son Critchell

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

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