First ride: Lexmoto ZSF 125 review

First ride: Lexmoto ZSF 125 review
First ride: Lexmoto ZSF 125 review
A brand-new bike for just over a grand? What's not to like?
Posted: 13 October 2015
by Simon Greenacre
THE Lexmoto ZSF 125 is a Chinese learner/commuter bike that
costs £1,099.99 new. It's absurdly cheap, but for that kind of coin,
how good can a new bike actually be, and is it value for money? |
rode one for a week to find out.
My first journey on the ZSF was the evening commute home, and
as | worked my way through west London, the 124cc four-stroke
air-cooled single-cylinder carb-fed engine quickly made itself
known as a keen and friendly ally in the struggle past Chelsea
tractors and executive coupes.
With 10hp, the motor happily provides enough power for a
respectable getaway from the front of the lights and will take the
ZSF to 50 mph and bit beyond without any drama. With only
124cc, the lack of torque means | had to keep the revs up to be
within easy reach of the power. It pulls most between 6,000 and
9,000rpm, with the majority of its double decker bus-beating
ability lying between 7,000 and 8,000rpm and the buzzy soundtrack that accompanies it.
The engine is flexible though, and would begrudgingly let me get away with being in too high a gear. In that scenario, the engine
would pick itself up with respectable speed as the exhaust note changed from a gargle to its usual fizzy din. Sustaining the ZSF’s
momentum through town means getting busy with the clutch and gearbox.
The simple little motor is dependable and reliable too — just what you want from a commuter, but properly waking it up in the morning
requires some liberal throttle and full choke. It fuels acceptably, isn’t rattley, overly noisy and it didn’t drop its oil in my garage.
It's a shame then that the gearbox feels vague; whether shifting up or down, | never got enough of a positive feeling from the lever.
When stopped in neutral at a set of lights, after selecting first, I'd have to check the gear indicator on the dash to make sure I'd
actually found it. Otherwise I'd have been trying my best race start with the bike still not in gear.
The brakes get the job done adequately, but without much feeling. At the front, there’s a single-piston single-disc set-up, at the rear a
drum. The front has enough power but feels vague because the lever is stiff, making it hard to sense what the pads are really doing.
In the dry, the brakes were sufficient, as you'd hope. I'll get to wet weather braking in a minute.
So far, so good, but it can’t all be smooth sailing and the ZSF’s low price is reflected in kind of ride it offers. The non-adjustable front
suspension wallows more than a mattress moving to the groove of love - the conventional front forks work without much in the way
of composure and need much better damping.
From Kensington to Kingston, the suspension felt startled at having to deal with speed humps, pot holes, grooves in the road —
anything other than a perfect surface. Using the front brake and closing the throttle quickly would all encourage the front to sink, and
| weigh slightly under 10 stone, so it’s not because of my problematic addiction to Big Macs. The rear is bouncy too, but because the
bike has a comfy seat and the rear has less to cope with than the front, it wasn’t an issue.
The ZSF is connected to the road with a set of tyres from that well-known brand Weixing. You haven't heard of them? Me neither, and
| hope | never have to again because the 18-inch rubber on the ZSF is woeful. The profile isn’t particularly round, so during long or
sweeping corners where the bike needs to lean into the turn, it felt unstable, like was riding on a 90° edge. Grip in the dry is
passable, but | suspect that if they had to deal with any more than the ZSF's modest claimed power or 125kg weight, they'd crumble,
perhaps literally.
In the wet, | found the front of the ZSF unpredictable when slowing and coming to a stop. Grip from the front would be abominable
even if it didn't have to deal the divey forks. With the wooden-feeling front brake added to the mix, it makes for an uneasy
experience.
During one ride on damp and drying roads, the front locked without any
warning at less than 20mph as | slowed for a car that looked like it was about
to cut me up. | wasn't using a lot of brake pressure, or getting on the front
particularly hard. | managed to lock the front once more on the same ride as |
came to a stop at stop at some lights — once again, under gentle braking, but
under 10mph. After that, | was very cautious riding the ZSF in the rain.
It's something that could be easily changed though. A quick search for 18-inch
tyres turns up inexpensive offerings from Michelin and Pirelli, and I'd stake my
left nut on them being better than the OE Weixing Trouserbrowners. I'd hope
that combined with some decent rubber, putting some thicker oil in the forks
would go some way to sorting out the front end.
| mentioned that the ZSF has a gear indicator on the dash, which | wasn’t
expecting for just over £1k. The dash itself is basic, functional and clear, with
speed and revs easily visible at a glance. It was a pleasant surprise when | first
turned the ignition on and saw the rev counter even sweep round to the
12,000 rpm redline before settling back to zero. It’s the same story with the
bar switches, which all works nicely and feels like good quality.
While the shape and positioning of the bars aren’t to my taste, giving the bike
a bit of a pedestrian, commuter-ish look, they provide good leverage and a
huge steering lock angle. In built-up traffic, the ZSF excels at hustling past
London’s double deckers and wayward black cabs. It’s ace at making tight
turns and matches a scooter for filtering finesse because it’s so narrow. The
mirrors don’t hamper filtering either, but have a tendency to gradually flop out
of position and | had to adjust them often.
If you think you recognise it the ZSF, it's because it’s 'inspired by' Yamaha's
YBR125 according to Lexmoto, albeit with some new pods on the sides of the E: le ra
tank. They look like they might be directing air towards the engine but they don’t do anything apart from make the ZSF look less
meek. So when you leave it parked up, the bigger bikes don’t give it a hard time for being cheap and small. The paint is good too —
the tank, seat unit and plastics are finished in a lustrous black and red that belies how inexpensive the ZSF is.
So is it worth the outlay? If you're prepared to put thicker oil in to the forks and get some better tyres fitted (which aren’t expensive),
then yes. It's a brand-new bike for just over £1,000 that’ll easily meet the needs of cross-town commuters and learners. It is very basic
and functional, but that should make it easy and cheap to maintain. For the money, there’s isn't much to fault in the overall quality, but
value isn’t necessarily where | want to find it. Give me decent rubber instead of a flashy dash, any day.
Let ride E
и ” et. ="
pl
All images courtesy of www.visordown.com
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