The Six Days is straightforward and the ride’s pleasingly fuss-free. Suspension is basic, but ride quality is good enough for a £5k bike. There’s ample control from the wide handlebar and handling is a decent balance between agility and stability.
The SWM is at home dancing down leafy lanes, and with the single barking away it’s fun. Semi-knobbly tyres give a slight sensation of ‘dropping in’ and the brakes aren’t epic, but both just require familiarisation. I’m over six foot so needed to acclimatise to the compact riding position, too – it’s odd having knees higher than hips.
Twins are great, but if you want a really authentic retro it needs a single-cylinder engine. There’s a heart-warming old-fashioned feel from the thud of a lone piston – especially when it’s SWM’s Six Days 440 and someone has whipped out the dB killers.
Booming and banging like a Matchless G50 classic racer is a fine finishing touch to the chirpy SWM. It’s a not-too-serious bike for breezy bend-swinging, trying to supply the feelings generated by a Triumph Street Scrambler or Moto Guzzi V7 but for four grand less.
Made in China by Shineray, the 445cc four-valve single is derived from the Honda XBR500 with a top-end based on a Rotax. There’s only 30bhp, but with free-revving enthusiasm and a 153kg kerb weight, acceleration is engagingly brisk. Fuelling is occasionally woolly low down, especially from cold, but otherwise it’s a friendly and usable motor happiest thrumming at 60mph – or 5000rpm in top (fifth) gear. Power falls away above 6500rpm but the SWM will rev to 8000. The 16.5-litre tank means 180 miles at 50mpg.
It's not hard to see where they’ve saved money. Ours has done 1500 miles and paint is already wearing off the engine. It’s early days to see whether the mechanicals will withstand on-going abuse as the miles pile on.
Bobbing down sunny back lanes the SWM feels decent value, and the cheerful Six Days has enough charm to get you glancing back contentedly after a ride. As a light-hearted weekend toy or stylish, ‘on trend’, cross-town commuter there’s obvious appeal. Its only real problem is that Royal Enfield’s smoother, faster and best-selling Interceptor is only £5499.
Though engine and frame are from China, the SWM is assembled and finished in Italy. Overall quality is good, with stainless exhausts, metal mudguards, adjustable suspension and decent switchgear. Poking around reveals cheap-looking fasteners and iffy details, but it’s also one of the reasons why the Six Days is just £5120 on the road.
It’s a Shineray engine, but it exhales through SWM’s own high-level pipes which lift the Six Day’s appearance by several notches of cool.