Test – MadAss 125

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Words: Steve Bond (and Jamie Leonard). Pics: Sarah Moffat, unless otherwise specified.
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When Editor ‘Arris asked if I’d like to have one of the official CMG long term testers for a couple of weeks, I jumped at the chance. I’m sure I had heard “MV Augusta” but he claims he said “Sachs Madass” quite distinctly.

What’s a Madass? Well… it’s smaller than a motorcycle (weighing in at 100 kilos), but larger than a moped. And it ain’t a scooter because it’s got a manual transmission and no storage space.

Styling-wise, it’s gnarly – from the side, it reminds me of a Honda CT70 on steroids. The large frame downtube doubles as the five-litre fuel tank, the attractive tubular swingarm is supported by a single shock, the underseat exhaust is a nice touch and the stacked vertical headlights certainly give it a striking front-end appearance.

Performance (or lack thereof) is about what you’d expect from a 120cc, four-stroke single with eight horsepower – exactly on par with my 1967 Honda S90.

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“You’re hard pressed to stay ahead of guerrilla-warfare city traffic.”

Acceleration is leisurely to say the least and not helped by the four-speed gearbox (again, just like my S90). Even when pinning the throttle getting away from a red light, you’re hard pressed to stay ahead of guerrilla-warfare city traffic.

The hydraulic fork has minimal damping and is fairly harsh over bumps, yet it almost bottoms when grabbing a handful of front brake. The rear shock is mostly spring with little damping, which likewise, does nothing for ride quality.

The steering is quick, bordering on twitchy, due to the bicycle-like steering rake and wide bars. Once into a corner, the handling actually isn’t too bad and definitely aided by the relatively large 90/90-16 front tire and 120/80-16 rear.

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Position is comfy.

The upright riding position is reasonably comfortable as you sit, surveying the urban environment. The seat is hard and narrow – obviously built for 20-something buttocks. You definitely feel as if you’re sitting atop the Madass, rather than settling into the cockpit.

Instrumentation is about as simple as it gets with a digital speedometer, and you can select a digital tripmeter, odometer or time. Warning lights include turn signals, neutral and high beam.

Single front and rear hydraulic discs actually work fairly well considering the Madass’ light weight and modest velocities. Feel at the lever is fairly wooden, and not much lever pressure is required to stop the motorcycle.

Maybe it wasn’t fair for me to be the first to ride it, as,

1.    I’m not the intended market for the Madass

2.    It’s strictly an urban assault vehicle and where I live, it’s country roads with an 80 km/h limit to get anywhere.

The 401 also goes through here but that’s a non-starter as the digital speedo only goes to 90 km/h. I saw that a couple of times and that’s flat out but NOT tucked in – because there’s nothing to tuck in behind.


DEVIL IN THE DETAILS

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A missed PDI, non-venting gas cap and charging failure proved to be a bad start for our stint with the MadAss.

I realize that this was the dealer’s first experience with press units and the media, but I hope that customer motorcycles will be better prepared than my press unit was, which was a complete and utter disaster (see reply from importer below). Honestly, as delivered, it wasn’t fit to ride.

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Braking is sufficient.

The clutch lever was pointing almost straight up and the adjusting nuts looked as if they’d been gnawed by a porcupine. There was still a shipping cover over the brake lever and the clutch cable was set so tight, it started slipping almost immediately.

Add to that, the throttle had about a quarter turn free play, and the idle speed was way too high, making for a huge graunch and lurch when putting it into first. The carb itself was set very lean as there was popping and backfiring on closed throttle.

When I picked it up and rode off, I made almost a kilometre before sputtering to a halt. I disconnected the fuel line and there was no gas flowing no matter where the fuel tap was positioned. After popping the gas cap the fuel started flowing again.

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Gas cap venting needed some help.

So I fired it up and a few klicks later, it died again. This time, I took the cap off completely until I got home. In order to quickly solve the issue, I improvised a vent by drilling a small, unobtrusive hole under the cover and that ended the fuel problems.

It took me a good two hours going over the Madass from front to back, top to bottom, tightening up loose bolts and screws (including tightening the main steering stem nut and motor mounts), adjusting levers and pedals as well as setting the idle speed.

Unfortunately, there’s no accessible air screw adjuster so I couldn’t fix the lean condition and it still pops and bangs on closed throttle.

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It’s as simple as it comes.

Then, with just over 100 km total on the clock, the battery went flat. One day it fired up, the next it didn’t. Fortunately, it has a kick-starter but taking it on a 75 km ride did nothing to charge the battery.

And for some reason, when the battery went flat, the total kilometers reset themselves back to zero – I have no idea how that happened or why, but I’m guessing you may find a lot of ‘zero km’ used Madasses (Madii?) on the market.

Madass Internet forums (yes, there are some) mirror the problems that I had with this unit. Gas caps have been drilled, and some owners say that the discharging batteries are usually the fault of loose connections within the headlight or in the harness somewhere (more on this issue below).


BAD ASS?

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Madass is happy in an urban environment. Bondo, not so much.

The Madass is really only suitable for city streets. Into a moderate headwind, the bike would barely maintain 60 km/h in fourth, and I was embarrassed to be holding up traffic in a 70 km/h zone.

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Rear suspension is easily accessed. Note second upper mounting hole that can be used to lower seat height.

I can see new riders of high school or college age flocking to something like the Madass because it’s economical, easy to ride, looks cool and is so small, you could even lock it to a bicycle rack.

The Chironex website shows available luggage racks so it might be worth a look by commuters as well. Or, there’s always ‘The Backpack’ – something students are already familiar with.

Fuel economy wasn’t as good as I’d expected, averaging around 3.4L/100 km or 83 miles per Imperial gallon. Slightly better than CMG’s long term CBR250 but that’s probably because I had it pinned constantly, trying to stay ahead of marauding Smart cars.

swingarm.jpgFunky swingarm also serves as a mount for the passenger pegs.

Price-wise, at $3,499, the Madass is a chunk more than in the US where it retails for a mere $2,695, which is not only a huge discrepancy considering the relative currencies, it’s much more in line with what the Madass actually is.

Chironex did recently offer a massive 40% discount, which brought the price down to $2,189, though that is no longer valid. Still although it’s inline with bikes like Yamaha’s BWs 125, which sells for $4,299 and even Honda’s 50 cc Ruckus at $3069, the spoiler in the small capacity game is Honda’s popular CBR125R.

A genuine, full-sized motorcycle, the CBR125R tops out at almost 120 km/h and has a six speed transmission, which makes it faster than the Madass by several orders of magnitude – especially off the line which makes it far safer in city traffic.

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Apparently there are tune up kits available too. We’ll take a look and see what we can get.

At present, the Canadian dealer network is lacking. A huge potential market for the Madass is the Greater Toronto Area and the nearest dealers are Brantford (100 km away) and Roseneath (140 km away).

You can order direct from Chironex, the importer but the people most likely to buy a Madass are probably the least likely to know how to PDI a motorcycle once it’s delivered to their door – though it appears that our dealer was also somewhat clueless.

I couldn’t wait to turn the Madass over to the next victim – er, CMG’s long-term tester. Let’s see how it works for them. Jamie?


WORD FROM THE IMPORTER RE: PDI (or lack thereof)

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A troubled start.

Oh dear, Steve didn’t have the greatest of starts with the little MadAss so we put the issues to the Chironex’s Tony Kanjirappally who wrote the following:

Hi Rob,

I had a chance to speak about the incomplete PDI with Dan Poulton. I have specified that in the future CMG must be considered exactly the same as any other customer. Dan assumed PDI was part of the product review and that CMG had a mechanic on staff.

Tony Kanjirappally

Obviously Bondo did most of the PDI himself, but the MadAss was taken to Studio Cycle in Toronto to have a new battery and stator (supplied by Chironex) installed. As this is a warranty issue, the work and parts would be covered.

The Madass is now in the hands of the CMG scooter guy, Jamie Leonard,
who bravely volunteered to ride it on the 750 km of the Mad Bastard
Scooter Rally. Here’s what he thought of it …


 

“Twice the Mad, half the Ass: Riding the Sachs Madass 125cc on the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally”

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Jamie asks “Does this make my Ass look Mad?”. Waiting for send off at the 2011 Mad Bastard Scooter Rally.
Photo: Patrick Shelston

I’m drenched and cold, sitting on something that resembles a motorcycle but with half the bits missing, and questioning both my sanity and my choice in lifestyle.

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Ready for the long haul.

Photo: Patrick Shelston

Just par for the course when you’re riding the Madass 125, and even more appropriate when you’re in the middle of the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally.

The Madass is a 120cc powered bike that is a visually somewhere between a naked motorcycle and a seemingly random assemblage of parts thrown together by some lunatic designers after a particularly lengthy bender.

It’s a four-speed, manual-shift machine with the traditional “one down, three up” configuration. Front and back disc brakes, gas tank in the frame, digital speedometer, and not much else – the bike is the essence of no frills.

Though even with no frills to go wrong, we did have some teething pains as outlined by Bondo. However, to their credit, Chironex, has been very helpful in shipping parts and covering the costs since there is currently no local Toronto dealer.

So if you are looking at this machine, you should be aware you will need either a good dealer or reasonable mechanical skills to ensure it is properly setup, especially since Chironex advertises that they can ship the bike to you directly.

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After a proper PDI and a charging system fix, only the indicator wasn’t happy still.
Photo: Patrick Shelston

The good news? Aside from a turn signal coming loose and needing to be temporarily secured with some electrical tape the Madass made it through the Mad Bastard well.

Drenched with rain, run at wide open throttle for extended stretches (the 120 cc motor only gets you up to about 90 km/h on the flat for top speed, and this is further reduced on hills… of which there were many) the machine refused to die, despite the best efforts of a clumsy rider and a grueling course to finish it off.

All the electrics worked, the motor purred along, it shifted just fine and it showed no dramatic behaviour on the wet roads – keeping a decent grip on the pavement when braking and cornering.

There is definitely room for improvement though – the seat is on the firm side, the switchgear feels a bit flimsy and doesn’t give much feedback (it can be hard to feel when you turn the blinkers off or on for example). The stock mirrors are, at best, adequate for the field of view, and there is no gas gauge, forcing you to rely on the trip odometer as a reminder of when to refill.

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Seat is a little firm for the long run.

Observed mileage during the rally was between 32-39 Km/l (about 3.13 to 2.56 l/100 km), which was better than what Bondo got, likely due to having been run in somewhat. The bike went about 125 km from full to reserve (suggesting about 35 km on reserve) with heavy use of throttle and lots of hills.

It also isn’t exactly a speed machine – for me (over six feet and 200 pounds) it topped out somewhere close to 90 km/h on the flat (which is the top speed claimed for the bike), though some steeper hills brought it down to 65 km/h.

All of that being said – as I put on mile after mile, tucked into a racer’s position going up hills and leaning over into turns, I did find myself actually getting fond of this odd beast.

It makes you work more than a bigger bike, the small engine necessitating shifting often through the gears to maximize acceleration and speed (it is only an eight-hp engine after all).

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Clocks are limited to a single screen. Skull is optional extra.

Photo: Patrick Shelston

I found myself grinning as I whipped the feather-light machine through turns, the firmish suspension giving it an almost sporty feel – for a small-displacement budget bike anyways.

And, despite the pre-PDI issues, it did more than 700 km in a single day without missing a beat. Receiving looks, comments, and lots and lots of questions from people I met along the way.

With the Canadian market being small, and our small displacement bike choices being limited, the Madass does stand out for being visually unlike anything else currently out there.

As this is a long-term loaner, we have a long way to go yet before we can give any final conclusions – but so far I would say that while it may be mad, it’s a madness with at least some appeal.


SPECIFICATIONS:


Bike
Sachs Madass 125

MSRP

$3,499

Displacement
120 cc

Engine
type
Four-stroke, sohc single, air-cooled
 Power (crank)* 8 hp

Torque*
n/a
Tank
Capacity
5 litres

Carburetion
carburetor

Final drive
Four speed, chain drive

Tires,
front
90/90-16

Tires,
rear
120/80-16

Brakes,
front
Single disc with dual-piston
caliper

Brakes,
rear
Single disc with single-piston
caliper

Seat
height
855 mm (33.7 “)

Wheelbase
1235 mm (48.6 “)

Dry
weight*
100 kg (220 lb)

Colours
black, red, white, grey

Warranty
2 years
* claimed

13 thoughts on “Test – MadAss 125”

  1. I bought one on looks and comfort and love it even more now. I spent less than $200 on hopping it up and I’m doing 115km/h all day … I-phone GPS verified. Custom exhaust (very very easy to make), up jet, foam filter, performance CDI and 39T sprocket. The speedo is inaccurate, but if you change the speedo programming to 1600 instead of 1790 it reads extremely accurately now. In the future I might put in a YX150 electric start engine (around $550) for local highway riding – and I read that if you put the 4 valve head and cylinder kit on the YX it makes 20hp. That has to be good for high 140’s. Not that you’d want to go that fast. In the end I’m pleased with the bike and have not had any big problems. Just the gas cap as mentioned in the article. BTW it gets tonnes and tonnes of compliments and looks.

  2. wow say what you want but i love mine,no big issues,and at the price you cant go wrong,,the cbr125 is double the price so,,,for all that say cbr is better well i hope so at 4000$,,plus everyone has a honda,,

  3. I see Studio Cycle found this thread.

    Let’s see, the only things that weren’t partly my fault were the battery and taillight. Battery just went dead, unsure why, but looks like the alternator is unable to top it up. Got the replacement, and installed a cable to connect a trickle charger to it every night. Problem solved.

    The taillight, well, any light can burn out unexpectedly. The replacement has been working great for 2 months now.

    The clutch cable was rubbing against one of the edges of the adjuster nut (which had a pretty sharp edge). After 4 months of constant shifting, it started to tear at individual wires. I got it replaced under warranty before it tore completedly. Did not have downtime at all. 20 mins to replace cable, half of that time was filing away the sharp edge and then adjusting the new cable at an angle where it doesn’t rub against anything.

    The O-Ring needed replacing because Studio Cycle fuxed it up when they were trying to put the carb back together, then of course they blamed the “cheap chinese garbage”.

    Other than that, it starts up every morning and rolls along perfectly everyday. It’s perfect for my needs.

  4. If your new bike already needed a “new battery, a new clutch cable, an O-Ring for the intake tube, and a tailight bulb” I wouldn’t even park beside you.

  5. I bought one of these from Chironex.

    I was going to buy a CBR125 originally, but I found the seating position in it horribly uncomfortable (I could not find a way to sit in it without my balls getting squished. CBR -1 point). And that foward lean it puts you on would have your wrists screaming in pain after 1hr of riding.

    I found the MadAss quite a nicer machine to sit on, and the seat is honestly not that bad (And I’m about 240lbs). A lot of the review is right, but you can’t blame the bike for that, the lack of initial PDI is the problem here!! Chironex should have told me the bike wasn’t PDI’d, because I had the same issues the reviewer had (believing the bike was PDI’d).

    Chironex actually sent me to Studio Cycle as well, and it was in there twice. I will never, EVER go to Studio Cycle ever again. I had such a distasteful experience with them. The guy wanted me to demand my money back from Chironex, and them come and buy one of their “ducks with wheels” scooters. Not professional at all!! I asked them to do a PDI and they refused, saying “We will not touch chinese bikes here!”. All they did was trickle charge my battery and clean the carb jets, and for this they had the bike over a week and charged $300!! (Chironex payed it, no questions asked)

    They gave it back to me and it was still sputtering, so I took it home and PDI’d it myself (with the help of the great guys at MadAss Army)

    I’ve been riding it for 6 months now, and so far it’s needed: a new battery, a new clutch cable, an O-Ring for the intake tube, and a tailight bulb, all supplied to me by Chironex under warranty and lightning fast.

    I’m fine with the realistic 70km/hr top speed as I never take roads faster than 60km and the bike is very unstable at anything higher than 70km, but it’s a perfect little machine to handle the rush hour downtown. If Chironex could find a local dealer in the GTA to work with it, they’d have a winner IMO.

  6. Really, why would anyone waste their money on this? A far superior choice would be the Honda CBR125R hands down. Or if your eally love the look of the thing, get a vintage Honda Cub.

  7. Cool in concept, but certainly lacking in result. If the MadAss had the quality and power of Honda’s CBR125, it would be a winner. Perhaps Honda should come up with their own MadAss/BW type scoot.

  8. “The performance complaints seem to be power to weight issues…”

    The issue is eight horsepower mated to a four speed gearbox. Even my 1967 Honda S90 can do 100kmh on a downhill. More to the point, I’ve seen 125 kmh on a new CBR125.

  9. Bondo’s not a tiny fella, the other tester is 6′ 200lbs…

    The performance complaints seem to be power to weight issues…

    Is there someone on the tester list that isn’t 70th percentile or larger?

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