Rid­ing the Cad­well

‘All it lacks is a big twin-lead­ing shoe front drum brake’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week in MCN - By Peter Hen­shaw MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

Since we’re bat­tling the Brit café rac­ers this week – how about one of th­ese? This is the lat­est model in the AJS range, a Chi­nese 125 that’s got all the hall­marks of a Six­ties Brit – from the wire wheels to the up­swept si­lencer, pin-striped clas­sic tank and chromed clocks. It’s got the look– but how does it ride?

AJS have been around since 1909, but the new AJS Cad­well isn’t a re­birth. For 17 years the cur­rent owner has been im­port­ing Chi­nese scoot­ers and 125s and sim­ply ap­ply­ing the AJS badge – the Cad­well is just the lat­est of th­ese, but it’s the first one with retro looks that are in keep­ing with the mar­que’s hal­lowed name.

Low bars, solo seat, al­loy rims, flipup filler cap, twin shocks and a pair of tra­di­tional white-faced clocks all look the part, with a choice of black/gold or sil­ver/black tank and side pan­els. Ev­ery­thing is in pro­por­tion, and the il­lu­sion of a 1960s café racer works well – all it lacks is a big twin-lead­ing shoe front drum brake.

Un­der­neath all this is a bog stan­dard made-in-china 125cc com­muter, pow­ered by a sim­ple two-valve air­cooled mo­tor mus­ter­ing a claimed 9.2bhp driv­ing through a five-speed gear­box. It’s also one of the ‘old’ 125s, with a car­bu­ret­tor and non-linked brakes – from next year all 125s will have com­bined brakes and fuel in­jec­tion along with a higher price.

I love the Cad­well’s sim­plic­ity, and the way there’s a sense of oc­ca­sion as you climb aboard, helped by those low­ish bars and all the retro styling cues. This is a small bike with a low seat, so it’s hardly in­tim­i­dat­ing, and the footrests are too far for­ward to pro­vide a gen­uine café racer crouch. The en­gine, too, is a quiet and po­lite 125 that wouldn’t make much im­pres­sion on a burn up round the North Cir­cu­lar.

It goes bet­ter than you might think though. It’s cer­tainly not fast, but given enough time will rev right out to the 10,000rpm red­line, and hold an in­di­cated 60-65mph, feel­ing re­laxed and un­strained. The Cad­well will even creep up to an in­di­cated 75mph – so it has no prob­lems keep­ing up on dual-car­riage-ways. Buzzy vibes do come through at th­ese speeds, show­ing up in the oth­er­wise good mir­rors, but they never get too se­ri­ous.

Still, no one is likely to buy a Cad­well for mo­tor­way cruis­ing, and for­tu­nately it han­dles well, is sta­ble at speed and tracks well through cor­ners. The sus­pen­sion is the ba­sic spec you would ex­pect but it all works. Chi­nese-made Kenda tyres grip well and noth­ing touches down early. That’s backed up by de­cent brakes, with a very good four-pot caliper on the front.

The AJS is well put to­gether, with nice touches like al­loy rims and a stain­less steel ex­haust. If it doesn’t look café enough, then clip-on bars and pig­gy­back shocks are on the op­tions list.

‘I love the Cad­well’s sim­plic­ity, and the way there’s a sense of oc­ca­sion as you climb aboard’

Spoked rims, stain­less steel pipe and chrome shocks give Cad­well a classy look

Re­born in the 1970s, AJS Stormer took the mo­tocross world by storm

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