We’ve gone mad this season with our loaner Madass 125. We’ve ridden it in the Mad Bastard rally – in costume. We’ve taken it downtown day after day, and have ridden it up north on secondary highways. We’ve even taken it off road just to see how it handles some light trail action.
The little 125cc has done all we’ve asked of it, and aside from some initial teething pains it’s done it without a breakdown or mechanical hiccup. That’s where most reviews would end. But we didn’t feel that was all there was to be said about the Madass 125.
The Madass is a machine that just begs to be customized – with such a simple design changing things is easy. However, we did had two restrictions on what we could do with the bike – we had to give it back in original condition and we had to accomplish the changes (and the change back) before the end of the riding season.
Sadly this ruled out adding a 1000cc Gixxer engine, but there is a relatively easy option for adding power.
During our online search for aftermarket options we found FastTrails.com, a Toronto-based store specializing in parts for pitbikes, mini ATVs, scooters and horizontal, mini-trail type four stroke motors. They also have bigger motors for the Madass — right up our alley.
There are also a variety of headlights that can be easily bolted on;
handlebars can be swapped out, grips changed, and the seat redone. But in the end, we decided to go with two modifications that addressed what I saw as the two shortfalls in the Madass – a lack of power for comfortable highway crusing, and a rather uncomfortable stepped seat (making it difficult to move around for temporary relief).
MORE COMFORT AND POWER
Thankfully the seat mod is relatively simple to do as a home project, so here’s a quick summary of what I did.
The Madass 125 has a plastic seat pan with foam applied on top and then a single piece vinyl seat cover stretched over the foam and stapled at the edges of the seat pan. I applied a temporary cover, and added two inches of memory foam at the front, providing extra cushioning.
For a permanent solution, I’d have taken off the stock cover, glued the memory foam down with a touch of spray adhesive, then stretched a new piece of marine grade vinyl over the foam and stapled it into place (there are several good guides for this process on the internet – but one major hint should you try this is to use a hairdryer to warm the vinyl and make it more pliable).
Even just a touch of extra memory foam made the seat much more comfortable, and building it up to be more like a “bench” type seat allowed me to move back and forth more freely on longer rides.
The power modification was accomplished by bolting an entirely new engine into the Madass frame – a Lifan 150cc kickstart engine, graciously provided and installed by Jay at FastTrails.com. This complete bolt-on kit costs $450 and replaces the stock engine.
Jay is in the process of importing an electric start 150 engine but sadly it wasn’t available in time for this project.
So what do you get with the current 150 kit?
Simply put, the all-important missing power! 90 km/h uphill is no longer a struggle requiring full tuck and a bit of a prayer. On level roads, the madder Madass hit 100km/h (GPS verified) – which is something the stock Madass would struggle to achieve even on a steep downhill.
And this is without the recommended additional modifications including airbox mods, jetting changes and performance exhaust. There’s also a bigger carb and a smaller rear sprocket available for even more speed.
Of course, this also comes at a price, though Jay reckons with all the go-faster mods it can do the ton (and that’s the Imperial ton we’re talking about, as in 100 mph), though that’s a rather scary thought.
Gas consumption does go up slightly after the engine change. Stock, once broken in, you’ll probably see something like 32-35 km/l. After the change to the 150 this appeared to go down to 31 km/l, but since the engine was still within the break-in period, this may improve.
The other thing to note is that with the Lifan 150 motor, you do lose the electric start.
The kickstart procedure is also a touch finicky, sometimes having to place the motor just before TDC before kicking down (though this does apparently improve considerably once the engine and gears break-in around the 1000 km mark).
The shift pattern of the Lifan also takes a little bit getting used to – instead of being the more conventional one down, three up (it’s a four-speed), the Lifan has neutral at the bottom with all the remaining gears up from there.
Adjusting to this was relatively quick however, and shouldn’t be an issue.
So this brings our year of the Madass to an end. Which leaves me to ponder the eternal question – what’s the final verdict on the bike?
Pricewise – if you manage to get one on sale (they have been known to be discounted substantially), you get a good little urban commuter that’s lightweight, funky and fun. At MSRP it just isn’t as good of a deal as the CBR125R which retails at about the same price but is faster and comes with Honda’s reputation for reliability.
Build Quality is not bad – once sorted out. This is a bike, however, that will require a good check over when first delivered, as PDI appears to be optional. On the plus side, Chironex has been quite responsive about shipping parts for the initial charging issue, and generally seems to be good about supporting the warranty on the bike.
Utility – The lightweight, stripped down frame is something that lends itself well to urban riding, with enough that you can take it on an 80 km/h-limit highway. Personally, I’d like a touch more power just to make that a little easier, but it’ll do it. You just might notice on a hilly road that you have quite the line of drivers behind you after awhile.
To sum up, I guess I would say that if my own budget allowed for another bike right now I would consider the Madass. It’s an attention grabber, it’s easy to park, it’s quiet and good on gas and it has that small bike “fun” factor.
Knowing myself as well, I suspect it wouldn’t remain stock very long – not with the ease of modification on the naked chassis. I’d install new lights, reprofiled seat, different decals and a host of other little cosmetic odds and ends added on to really make it my own.
And that, in the end is the strength of the Madass – when you buy one, you are buying something that is unusual to start with, and quickly can go to outright unique. It’s a cheap way to get something truly custom.
After all, if you are going to be mad, you might as well be mad in unique way.
SLAPPING IN A 150 MOTOR
So what’s involved with swapping out a Madass motor?
Well, you can read the full blow-by-blow procedure here courtesy of Jay at Fast Trails, but any home mechanic should be able to do this, though it would probably be handy to have a helper when it comes to taking out one motor and fitting the other.
You can contact Jay at 416-577-5407 or email.