June 29, 2015 at 9:30 pm #15667
The Style Without the Hassle?
Over the last few years, whether it is because of my age and increasing maturity (in years if not actions…), I have found myself increasingly drawn to bikes of a more ‘classical’ appearance. Redolent of the great British bikes of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. However I am still not quite ready to take the full on plunge into classic ownership: Images of constant running repairs are hard to drive from my mind when I think of 40-50 year old Brit bikes.
The bikes that catch my eye are Hinckley Bonnies, Kawasaki W800s and Yamaha SR400s. However these are all pretty expensive options: The lovely SR400 has a price tag nibbling away at £6000 for example. So when I heard about a classically styled 400cc single, with an engine design based on that of the sturdy Honda XBR range for a mere £3600 OTR complete with a two year warranty, I was really interested. Could be just the kind of thing I am looking for. Say hello to the Mash 400 Roadstar.
Good looking machine, well proportioned
A quick browse of the web and I located a demonstrator at Nightingales of Rugby. One short phone-call and I was all set to put an example through it’s paces. The Mash certainly has the looks and proportions spot on. Especially in the very smart black and silver combination of the demo bike. Build quality looked good in places: The controls were all nice and positive and the paint finish was fine. However some of the detail fixings did look a little suspect and the chromed rear mudguard appeared a touch on the thin side. But then you have to consider this Chinese built bike is barely 60% the price of a comparable SR400.
Stick to the Cheap One
There is a special edition model, with a custom paint, a brown leather seat and some other bits and bobs, but that is £5300. At that money the SR starts to look good value. If you decide to go for a Mash, I would stick the base model
The riding position is comfortable and pretty much bolt upright. All very classic and in keeping with the looks. I pulled in the light clutch, thumbed the start button (take note SR400 owners..), snicked the box easily into first and headed off into the countryside.
Don’t tell anybody it is brand new and from China…
Needs to Loosen Up a Little
The bike was literally brand new with barely 100km on the slightly undersized clocks. In fact it didn’t even have a number plate. Amusingly I had a trade plate strapped to my back! The Mash really did feel a little tight and I was reluctant to extend such a fresh engine even if it was a demo: A fellow biker will be buying this bike at some point remember. The Honda based twin port single is claimed to produce 29bhp, around 3 bhp more than a Honda CB250RS that I used to own. However the Mash feels very flat and has little of that gustiness and willing responses so typical of many single cylinder bikes.
Twin exhausts from a single, just like my old CB250RS. The engine was very tight and perhaps needs a few more miles to give of its’ best
Neat, conventional controls and clocks: Perhaps the instrument faces would of looked better in black with white lettering
Heading out into open countryside I have to say the bike is light, flickable and an absolute doddle to ride. It would make a good riding school machine or perhaps a local, stylish commuter. However there is a fine line between light and flickable and feeling insubstantial. To be honest the Mash comes down on the wrong side.
Through a series of bends the Mash keeps a line quite well, but large bumps do upset the simple suspension. I know the Mash isn’t meant to be a stratcher, but again it suffers when compared to a SRX400 for example. The brakes were a little alarming at first, but I think the bike was so new the front disc brake had yet to bed in. Even over the 25 miles or so of my ride they began to improve markedly. I had the same experience on a brand new Harley last year in fairness to Mash, and the HD wasn’t £3600…
A little disappointed overall
After twenty five miles or so I returned the Mash a little down hearted, it is a bike that I really wanted to like and maybe even add to the fleet. But it was just too undemanding to ride, lacked oomph even when allowing for its’ 400cc capacity. Maybe an example with more miles on would of loosened up more and be more fun to ride. However it does show that Chinese bikes are beginning to move away from their beachhead in 50’s and 125’s…
Now a cafe racer variant with a rorty pipe, rear sets and clip-on bars…that could be a whole different ball game…or I could just buy an old SRX400 and put up with having to kickstart the old girl
Thanks to Nightingales of Rugby, they were excellent and have great range of bikes in stock if you are in the area.July 2, 2015 at 9:10 am #68693imperialdataKeymaster
Nice review. It looks really good in the pics, shame it’s a little underwhelming. I’m amazed they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) add a bit of power to make it more fun to ride. The SRX 400 is a great bike, but it really shouldn’t be a hard act to follow all these years on after its inception.July 2, 2015 at 6:08 pm #68694
Nice review. It looks really good in the pics, shame it’s a little underwhelming. I’m amazed they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) add a bit of power to make it more fun to ride. The SRX 400 is a great bike, but it really shouldn’t be a hard act to follow all these years on after its inception.
With that amount of power it is A2 licence compliant, but it is an interesting point that my CB250RS was of 1982 vintage, 33 years ago and went stopped and cornered better. Same goes for the SRX400, which is only slightly newer, the last one I rode being of 1986 vintage
Link to a SRX400 review on here
The SRX has a bit more of a sporting stanceJuly 2, 2015 at 6:17 pm #68695
Easy to see the SR400 influenceNovember 24, 2015 at 11:05 pm #68696
Just checked on a website called ‘How many left?’…it tells you how many of a given vehicle type are still on the road. So far only 36 of these have been registeredNovember 18, 2017 at 12:13 am #68697
Now up to a stonking 98…May 18, 2020 at 1:38 pm #72264999bluesParticipant
Anyone know if Mash are still in business?
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