Small “Factory Custom” Bikes

Hi all,

My bonus from work should be coming through soon. Rather than do something foolish and wasteful, like overpay the mortgage or put into savings, I though I’d invest it into buying a small-engined motorcycle to commute into work on (I live in SW London, work in E London - it’ll be faster/cheaper than the tube). The smaller it is the easier to filter/manoeuvre through the early morning traffic.

I’ve only ever owned 600cc+ bikes; is there anything that anyone would recommend in the 250-400cc range? Budget maybe £4-5k.

I like the look of Bonnies, Brat bikes, Cafe Racers (though I need a flat seat; I have to be able to transport the missus around on it too, occasionally) etc.

I’ve heard some good stuff about Mutt Motorcycles - there are then HMC and Sinnis (that are on the cheaper end).

I like the look of this (the Black Sabbath 250), and the finish seemed all right when I looked at it at the Bike Show:

F10CA902-A761-4A70-9E70-E8543EFF6066.jpeg


Any small bike suggestions then? Not a huge fan of the shed-built jobbies, as you don’t know which bit the bloke wasn’t paying attention to when building it/will break at 60Mph.

Cheers.

T
 

skid2

LE
Book Reviewer
For city running aren’t there reverse trikes two wheels in front, one in the back. They look like they might be a hoot, especially in the wet and when you use it everyday. . And I think Yamaha make one.
 
Personally, for size of bike and needs and requirements a Honda 250 rally, or maybe KTM 350 but stick to a well known brand myself.

also, due to the high theft factor on custom bikes unless you can guarantee itll be secure then something more functional, most lightweight adventure type bikes will also give you that added viewing advantage over London commuting traffic.

Lastly, to be honest i've never heard of Mutt but Sinnis i'd stay clear of.

My tuppence worth.
 
I would stay clear of the hipster Chinese bikes . They may look nice buy you are effectively paying a premium for a crap bike thats had a £30 exhaust , a £30 seat and some cheap nobbly tires . That and matt black aerosols .
 
Do Hyosung have a presence in the UK market? Their product here (AUS) has followed the usual trajectory for cheap-jack and shoddy to now being thought of as generally pretty good. The later EFI models seem pretty sustainable, so I'll be looking at their 650 GT, which is UJM-format, though they do the same bike in a 250cc model too. Just a thought.
 
2nd Hand Triumph Scrambler. Ueber cool toy, small enough for town and big enough for weekend fun.
 
Do Hyosung have a presence in the UK market? Their product here (AUS) has followed the usual trajectory for cheap-jack and shoddy to now being thought of as generally pretty good. The later EFI models seem pretty sustainable, so I'll be looking at their 650 GT, which is UJM-format, though they do the same bike in a 250cc model too. Just a thought.
Hyosung & other similar makes are in the UK.

Popular amongst the learner & younger rider’s.
 
There are two or three bike factories in China building (I use that term loosely) 125cc motorbikes (& more recently 250cc bikes).

They then fit copies of either the single cylinder air cooled Yamaha YBR 125cc or the Honda CG 125cc or the Suzuki GS 125 cc engine, some fit twin cylinder engines again copies of Honda's etc.

These bikes are imported into the UK by a number of UK Dealer's and importers, namely

AJS
HMC/HERALD
SINNIS
LEXMOTO
etc etc

The above then sell the bikes in the crate to small UK Bike Builders who rebuild & restyle them and resell them on at a greater increase in price for example a basic 125cc Yamaha copied engine bike Euro 3 spec has a retail sale bike of £1500 but a trade price of around £800.

Once they have been restyled by an UK Bike Builder then the retail is price is £3500 plus.

But depending on how the bike was registered with DVLA then the V5 may still state HMC/HERALD, SINNIS etc etc

The sting in the tail is that all the Chinese Manufacturers & UK Importers watch what the re-styler's are doing and have a similar bike made in China with cheaper parts and similar paint work etc and import them direct to the UK. This has caused some friction within the business with the re-styler's changing which Importers they buy the crated bikes from.
 
The term bike builder does make me laugh as it used like person has some sort of skill or trade . Fitting a new seat [ a few bolts ] , fitting a new exhaust [ a few clamps ] , new handbars [ a few screws and bolts ] or new tyres [ a few levers ] does not make someone skilled or a ' bike builder '.
 
The term bike builder does make me laugh as it used like person has some sort of skill or trade . Fitting a new seat [ a few bolts ] , fitting a new exhaust [ a few clamps ] , new handbars [ a few screws and bolts ] or new tyres [ a few levers ] does not make someone skilled or a ' bike builder '.

That's why I used the term 'Re-styler'!!!

From personal experience, If you do buy one of these Chinese imports then you need to buy the following;

A decent socket set,

A supply of well made nuts, bolts, bearings & other fasteners to fit,

Haynes Manual 'Chinese 125cc bikes', or the equivalent Japanese engine manual (but bear in mind the Chinese engines are copies and sometimes the genuine Japanese parts do not fit),

Chinese Spare Parts Catalogue, put CHINESESPAREPARTS into google,

Paint to match frame, (and some panels/tank etc),

And 'A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOUR', believe me you will need it!!!!

These Chinese bikes are really 'DISPOSABLE ITEMS', if it reaches the 3 year point i.e MOT time without serious problems then you have a good one.
 
That's why I used the term 'Re-styler'!!!

From personal experience, If you do buy one of these Chinese imports then you need to buy the following;

A decent socket set,

A supply of well made nuts, bolts, bearings & other fasteners to fit,

Haynes Manual 'Chinese 125cc bikes', or the equivalent Japanese engine manual (but bear in mind the Chinese engines are copies and sometimes the genuine Japanese parts do not fit),

Chinese Spare Parts Catalogue, put CHINESESPAREPARTS into google,

Paint to match frame, (and some panels/tank etc),

And 'A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOUR', believe me you will need it!!!!

These Chinese bikes are really 'DISPOSABLE ITEMS', if it reaches the 3 year point i.e MOT time without serious problems then you have a good one.

And a good supply of oil, the oil filter system on many small 4 strokes (inc Jap) is quite poor so oil changes should be somewhere between 500 and 1000 miles depending how hard you ride .
 
Avoid Chinese imports as if they are a red-headed Welsh step-child: the electrics will be shoite and (probably) downright dangerous. For London commute, go second-hand bland: anything else will be knicked or robbed from. Plus, you will most likely be cuffed from behind/rear quarter at least once, usually followed by the immortal words, 'But I didn't see you!'

Yeah. Right, love. 400kgs of bright, shiny cruiser bike complete with permanently lit lights and a rider with a HiVis jacket?

Bitch.
 
And a good supply of oil, the oil filter system on many small 4 strokes (inc Jap) is quite poor so oil changes should be somewhere between 500 and 1000 miles depending how hard you ride .

I also had a Spanish trial bike fitted with a Chinese copy of the Yamaha YBR 125cc engine (also available as a 200cc or 156cc with a kit to fit the 125cc version). Looked the part with a straight through exhaust, re-geared and bigger sprockets etc but more TRAIL than TRIAL.

I changed the oil after each weekend, the filter as such was an magnetic sump plug.

Cost me fortune in PUTOLINE engine oil.
 

skid2

LE
Book Reviewer
Chinese electrics, cables, hoses, tyres grommets anything perishable perishes. disc pads cables too. It’s like the thing rots in front of you. Anything you’re going to rely on, disc pads, cables, tyres anything plastic or rubber as o/e I’d shift.
 

Joshua Slocum

LE
Book Reviewer
Chinese bikes= trouble
also I get fed up seeing bikes sold as customs, built in shed aka me ( the seller)
some total idiot who has hacked about a prefectly good motorcycle and reduced it to an unrideable heap
most of the images I see are of the owners posing on them, trying to look as if they have conquered the machine

A few years back I stopped for a meal at a small transport cafe, outside lots of these horrible things, one or two of them chatted to me ( My bike looks like a wartime Don Rs bike replete with trophies of war)
they had ridden out to the meet, I asked where from, Swindon , oh thats just down the road
they asked me where I had come from
Italy via France and Suisse
Although I am keen to see more young people introduced to motorcycling, it would be better if they learnt to ride a motorcycle that has evolved through experience and not put the clock back
after all the roads are not filled with Morris 8s and Austins 7s any more
I have seen so many fine classic motorcycles wrecked by these customisers that when old workmates ringing me looking for an old airhead or an early Guzzi I say I will keep my eye out and do nothing
saw a nice R90/6 ruined in this way
just look on Ebay at all the projects offered for sale, new project needs my time, ie I have messed this up and want to wreck another bike but its worth thousands !!!!!!!!
Buy yourself a nice small classic bike that will keep its value, but make sure it well chained up, ans due to police cuts Ken Germans department no longer exists, and gangs of Yoofs and pikies in trannies are boldly stealing motorcycles in broad daylight

Honda CD185T 1979 Benly | eBay


or one of these excellent small motorcycles that will retain their value and are different

Honda CBF 125 + Topbox | eBay

1974 Honda CL200 Unregistered US Import Barn Find Classic Restoration Project | eBay

1979 Honda XL185S Unregistered US Import Barn Find Classic Restoration Project | eBay
 

skid2

LE
Book Reviewer
Cd175 Honda or a cb (if you fancy an electric foot) excellent for city transport. These things are great for ramming inadvertently open doors. Jaywalkers with umbrellas and put a serious dent in a u turning black taxi.

Piaggio 3 wheeler. Or go retro. BMW r 8, or 9s would look good for commuting, bit of a bugger to lift when they fall over.
 

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