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15th January 2006
It all started when my brother-in-law bought a bike. A Kawasaki cruiser kind of thing...not my kind of bike but it sowed the seed. I haven't owned a bike since 1986 and when I went with him to a series of bike shops to choose new leather riding trousers, all I could do while I waited was look at the bikes.
I had owned a Hondo CG125 many years ago and I was impressed to see that they are still made. Albeit at a cost of around £2000. Too much to justify as an occasional run around then.
But in the last place we went to I saw a Chinese step-through at less than a a thousand pounds. And it looked good too. So I came home and explored the internet...and soon found loads of new small bikes on Ebay. Just try typing "125cc" in the buy box and you'll see what I mean. The Chinese mainly seem to have concentrated their efforts on small bikes. Next day I paid just £425 for a brand new CG125 look-alike. I elected to collect it from Hampshire rather than pay the £75 delivery charge and combined the trip with some other family matters (Cost £80 in diesel!). Many of the traders selling these machines at rock bottom prices deliver you a machine still crated and you have to assemble it and register it yourself. So That's what I expect to get for my £425. Here's the picture of the machine taken from the listing. That's it so far, I go up Tuesday to fetch it. What will it be like? Watch this space!
Tuesday 17th January
Left Cornwall with trailer attached and arrived Hampshire in the early afternoon. Got two new tyres on the car at my favorite tyre place, Micheldever Tyres, then on to visit my partner in hospital just post op. Then down to Southampton to stay with my daughter Ros and see her lovely new baby girl Lilly, just ten days old. No bike yet then.
Wednesday 18th January
Set of for Eastleigh and the freight depot where the bike awaited collection. Picked it up at around 9.30am and set of for home. A brief visit to a friend in Plymouth and finaly home. This is what the crate looked like:
The dimensions of the container for this particular bike were L= 1600mm, W= 430mm, H = 840mm so you might get one into an estate car.
Thursday 19th January
Somewhere it was written by one of the suppliers of these crated bikes that you could assemble one in an hour. It took me most of a day and that included getting rid of the thick cardboard box and sorting out the metal framework. But I did wax-oil the underside of eveything I could get to. Here's how it looked when the cardboard was removed:
As you can see there in a protective metal frame of light gauge angle around the mostly assembled bike. After getting it safely on the ground I removed the few bits that were wired to it, then undid the 10mm nuts /bolts that held the two parts of the frame together. The front wheel spindle held the front forks to the transport frame and this was pulled clear. The bike then came out of the frame and I pulled the bike up onto the centre stand, using wood blocks from my woodpile to block under the engine to keep the front forks off the ground. I fitted the handlebars, then the front wheel. The riders footpegs were fitted next then then rear luggage carrier. The gear change lever was fixed next but I had to adjust it later because I hadn't left enough clearance above when lifted to engage gears 2 - 5. It was coming into contact with the engine casing.
The engine sump was already filled with oil but the battery was supplied dry, but charged. I filled this with the acid provided and topped up the charge as suggested in the interesting "Chinese English" instruction leaflet. I fitted the battery, put in some petrol and after sorting out that the choke lever should be "up for on" the engine started readily. There was not enough adjustment available on the throttle cable so the engine stops if the throttle is allowed to return to the back stop. Especially when cold, so I have to find a work around for this.
Then I rode it slowly around the periphery of a six acre field opposite my house and all seemed OK.
Monday 23rd January
By now the paperwork had arrived from the dealer and I set of to my nearest DVLA office in Truro where I hoped to complete the registration. However there was a snag....at the first registration you also need to tax it. And to tax it you need insurance. Incidentally you also need good ID such as a photo driving licence. So they looked over my paperwork, signed to say ID had been seen and gave me an addressed envelope and I returned home to sort out some insurance.
Naturally I approached my existing insurers who claim to "quote you happy" only to be told they can't insure an unregistered vehicle. Chicken and eggs came to mind. But their operator did give me the name of a broker that would issue a certificate on the strength of the VIN number. This was quickly done and I decided to wait until February to complete the registration.
Saturday 4th February
The DVLA did their stuff and the documents arrived back. Included was a form of authorisation for the making of a number plate. Something which is strictly controlled these days it seems. I found a local place in Penzance, ID was required again and collected my plate for £9.99. Plastic nuts/bolts were obtained from Halfords and the plate was soon fitted to the bracket on the rear. This bracket does hold the plate a bit high really so that the large rear lamp partially obscures it when observed form above and behind. But I can't see what I can easily do about that so it will have to do.
Next came the first ride on the roads. I dressed up for the crisp winter afternoon and rode a hundred yards up the road. This was where I found that I couldn't change up ( for the reason mentioned earlier ) that the front brake was useless and that there was a regular "once around" bump from the back wheel. I rode back to my house and a friend arrived to chat computers and that was the end of riding that day.
Saturday 4th February
In the morning did some serious sorting out of the front brake. I have the feeling that the cable might be a little on the thin side and so stretches too much. I had to move the front brake operating lever one spline position to get proper adjustment. (I note that the 2006 model has a disc brake now) After lunch I got dressed in all the clobber and rode to Camborne...a distance of eleven miles. I noticed that, although the speed is calibrated in MPH the odometer registers kilometers! I showed of the bike to my brother-in-law (the one with the smart 800cc Kawasaki low rider ), had a cuppa and returned home. So that's it ....I have a 125cc runaround motorcycle for £425 plus bits and bobs.
These Chinese bikes represent great value for money on initial purchase. The equivalent Honda CG125 has a list price of around £2000. Only time will tell if the dealer is as good as his word when it comes to ordering and supplying spare parts. The finish is not as good as the japanese product and I suspect it will deteriorate more quickly. As an example the exhaust system is made from two pre-chromed components (down pipe and silencer) and these were welded together. The welded joint is prettied up with a wipe of silver paint that burns off in the first few miles. This would be very prone to rusting if not protected on a regular basis.
The back wheel, as mentioned earlier is not perfectly round and I haven't decided whether to raise this with the dealer. The vibtation is really only noticable on very smooth tarmac. On rougher back lanes it's not so noticeable. I will write a further conclusion when I've covered a few hundred miles. Good luck if you decide to buy something similar
The actual bike!
April 12th - The real conclusion.
I sold it! My last bike was a 650cc and the drop in performance was just too much! There were other reasons as well not connected with the bike. But if you are prepared to look after one of these with plenty of wax-oil on anything that can oxidise....this includes the spokes and the laquered fork stanchions..then you are looking at a great machine for the money.