Never heard of Mutt? You soon will; they’re planning to sell 1000 bikes this year, most if not all of them 125s. Mutt takes a Chinese geared bike and ‘adds value’ by customising it to British tastes, with different bars, seat, mudguards, rear light and shocks plus other parts. It adds up to an expensive 125, but one that some buyers clearly love, as Mutt is about to move to bigger premises to keep up with demand.
Mutt founder Benny Thomas has been building custom bikes for years, mostly bespoke high-price Harleys, but had the idea of a 125 with a bit more street cred. The basic Chinese bike isn’t exactly unfamiliar – it’s the ex-Suzuki GN125 motor as used by Sinnis and Herald. Mutt offers several custom versions of the same bike, all with the same engine and five-speed gearbox set in a tubular steel twin-shock frame.
The test bike was to Euro 3 spec, but Euro 4 bikes with fuel injection and linked brakes should be here by the end of the 2016.
The Mutt Mongrel 125 is the best seller, though Mutt also offers the Desert Racer, inspired by 1960s Triumphs. The Mongrel looks the part of an urban rebel, thanks to wide flat bars and a colour scheme that’s more all black than the New Zealand rugby team. Tank, engine, rims, mudguards, downpipe, silencer, sidepanels… without a hint of chrome.
The only relief is the ribbed dual seat in tan, and together with shorty mudguards and chunky 4.10-18 tyres (dead ringers for old Dunlops) it all adds up to a transformation of the standard bike.
The wide bars look a bit extreme, but the Mutt Mongrel 125 has a natural riding position, and it’s very easy to just hop on and ride. An hour-and-a-half riding around Brum and the surrounding countryside didn’t bring on any aches and pains. One thing you notice on firing up – that satin black megaphone is pretty loud and distinctive, but it’s all part of the image. The test bike didn’t have mirrors, but customer bikes do.
Mechanically, the bike is exactly as it left the factory, so performance is similar to any other 125 with this engine. It’s easily quick enough to keep up with urban traffic in 30 and 40 limits, getting away from the lights well, aided by a slick gear change, though the clutch is surprisingly heavy. Acceleration is zippy enough up to an indicated 50mph, then slower up to 60-plus. Given a bit of room and the rider ducking down out of the wind, it would hit an indicated 70 on the solo speedo.
Vibration through the seat buzzes away beyond 60mph, but the bike doesn’t feel overstressed. I thought the fat 4.10-18 tyres (branded Xangyengs) might upset the handling, but they don’t – the Mutt Mongrel 125 felt stable on straight line speed and secure round (and there’s plenty in the lanes around what used to be the old Triumph factory at Meriden). My only complaint was that the brakes were lacking in bite, though the test bike had just 60km on the clock, so they could improve with miles.
That apart, the Mutt Mongrel 125, despite its street looks, is an easy-to-live-with 125, with electric start, indicators and an undemanding ride, plus it comes with a two-year warranty.
Mutt Mongrel 125 Specifications and Price
Engine : 4-Stroke, Single-cylinder, SOHC 2-Valve per Cylinder, Air Cooled
Capacity : 125 cc
Induction : Fuel-Injection
Transmission : 5-Speed Manual
Power : 12 HP
Torque : 10 N.m
Seat Height : 780 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity : 12 Litres
Weight : 105 kg (dry, claimed)
Frame : Steel Tube Diamond Frame
Front Suspension : Telescopic Fork
Rear Suspension : Dual Shock Absorber
Front Brakes : 240mm Discs, with 2-piston Caliper
Rear Brakes : Drum Brake
Front Tyre : 4.10 – 18
Rear Tyre : 4.10 – 18