This “motorcycle” needs a lot of work

Steve Bond
By Steve Bond
Posted on August 12th, 2011

When I first saw the $3,499, Chinese-built Madass, it looked interesting and gnarly in a minimalist, BMX kind of way with the stacked headlights, large frame downtube (that contains the 5 litre fuel tank) and single shock.

Sort of a Honda CT70 on steroids.

Then I checked the specifications: dry weight 100kg (220 lbs.), a four speed transmission and then the kicker, a 120cc four-stroke, single cylinder engine that produces eight horsepower.

That's less grunt than the pony ride at the Havelock Fall Fair.

My 1967 Honda S90 has the same horsepower, the same four speed gearbox, is 14 kg lighter and you can get a beautifully restored one for way less than 3,500 bucks.

But I digress.

Riding the Madass home, my first thought was, “Uh oh.” The clutch was so maladjusted that it started slipping almost immediately, the lever was pointing almost straight up and was so tight that I couldn't thump it down into position.

I got about a kilometre down the road before sputtering to a halt. I fiddled with it, finally popped the gas cap and fuel started flowing. A few klicks down the road, it died again so I took the cap off completely. When I got home, I drilled a small, unobtrusive hole in the gas cap so it could vent properly. No further issues. With the fuel anyway.

The next day, it took me a good two hours going over the Madass 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 to rectify the lean mixture, so it still popped and banged when shutting the throttle off.

Performance (or lack thereof) is about what you'd expect from a 120cc, four-stroke single with eight horsepower: the Madass accelerates with all the urgency of the last dollop of toothpaste leaving the tube. Even when pinning the throttle at a red light, you're in imminent danger of getting run over by Rascal scooters when the local senior's centre breaks for lunch.

The Madass is really only suitable for around-town use, such as commuting or going to school, as there's no way it'll maintain 80 km/h on two-laners. Into a moderate headwind, the bike would barely sustain 60 km/h, and I was embarrassed to be holding up traffic in a 70 km/h zone.

The seat is hard and narrow, obviously built for 20-something buttocks and you sit atop the Madass, rather than settling into a cockpit.

Instrumentation is as simple as it gets with a digital speedometer that maxes out at 90 km/h and a digital tripmeter, odometer or time. Warning lights include turn signals, neutral and high beam.

At $3,499, the Madass is the same price as Honda's popular CBR125, a genuine, full-sized motorcycle. The Honda will exceed 100 km/h and has a six speed transmission, making it quicker (and therefore much safer) in city traffic. In the U.S., the Madass is $2,695, which is not only a huge discrepancy considering the relative currencies, it's much more in line with where the Madass should be.

At present, the dealer network is lacking. A huge potential market for the Madass is the Greater Toronto Area and the nearest dealers are 102 and 139 kilometres away, in Brantford and Roseneath respectively. Customers can order direct from Chironex, but the people most likely to buy a Madass are probably the least likely to know how to perform a safe PDI once it's delivered.

More issues arose. One day it fired up, the next it didn't. Fortunately, it has a kick starter but a 75 km ride did nothing to charge the battery. In this condition, when the turn signal was activated, the bike started misfiring, as electrons diverted from the spark plug to the indicators.

I passed the Madass onto the next victim, er, tester, and to be fair, Chironex sent a new stator, battery and fuel cap along in a couple of days to fix the issues I experienced. This person, after doing the work himself, racked up several hundred trouble-free kilometers.

Sachs has a Madass. And I'm not too happy myself.

2011 Sachs Madass

PRICE: $3,499


120cc, OHC, four stroke, two valve, carbureted

POWER/TORQUE: 8 hp, 3 lbs.-ft.


3.2 – 3.4 L/100km

COMPETITION: Bicycles, electric scooters, public transit

WHAT'S BEST: Styling

WHAT'S WORST: How much time do we have?

WHAT'S INTERESTING: More kilometres per litre than km/h

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