While the thin, plank-like seat is guaranteed to cause butt-ache after 60 miles, there’s nothing wrong with the chassis construction. Suspension is balanced to give a firm ride to enable corners to be blitzed leg-out-stylee or bolt upright. Brake components are by Brembo and work perfectly – something that can’t be said of comparable but cheaper Taiwanese/Chinese models. Think of the SMS as a typical Japanese bike but with Italian styling.
The four-valve four-stroke engine is a strong unit. Coupled with near perfect gearing, the SMS hits 63mph and doesn’t shift from this speed unless hills comparable to Snowdon get in the way. Play the slipstream game and 70mph will appear.
Sharp-eyed, two-wheeled lusting teens will recognise the SMS engine’s silhouette being similar to the liquid-cooled lumps powering the sports Yamaha YZF-R125 and Rieju RS3. There’s a good reason for this; all three units are built by Minarelli of Italy, a Yamaha Group member. There’s no fuel injection with the SMS, just a 28mm Dell Orto carburettor. Fuelling is just as crisp but slightly thirstier with the throttle pulled back to the stop.
The engine is a known quantity and has proved to be a reliable, robust unit despite the abuse heaped upon it by neglectful and eager youth. The rest of it is predominantly plastic and held together well. The one area for concern is the automatic retracting sidestand – as soon as the bike is lifted to near upright it flicks back to almost vertical.
Given that the SMS is supermoto inspired but performs as good as any 125cc Japanese sports learner-legal and yet undercuts it by a good slice (Yamaha YZF-R125 presently £4249) makes it good value. To quantify this, the new Lambretta LN125, which is a basic Taiwanese twist and go scooter, is currently priced at £3299. I know which one anyone with a taste for motorcycling would go for.
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As said, Brembo brakes make a big difference to overall stopping power and a rider’s confidence. The dash is a small LCD unit and there’s no tachometer in keeping with the bike’s styling – stripped down and lightweight with just enough ancillaries to make it legal.