THE VISORDOWN Marketplace classified section is packed with sweet wheels for every pocket, and every two-wheeled desire! Each week, our man Tony Middlehurst is going to pick out a bike for sale, and give it the once-over. This week - it's the Mash Motorcycles TT40 ; a modern interpretation of the old XBR500 Honda roadster...
2018 MASH TT40
How you spend your years is entirely up to you, but if you’re interested in my life story I spent a fair-sized chunk of the 1990s (and beyond) complaining to anyone who would listen about the shameful disappearance of decent four-stroke singles following the death of the Honda XBR500.
If you’re under a thousand years old, you’ll probably have to Google the XBR (here's one, below). The images on your search results may seem a long way from pant-wettingly exciting, but believe me when I tell you that there was something very appealing about this dry-sumped, 44bhp, 498cc thumper with drop bars and a four-valve head.
For sure, it ran out of damping on bumpy roads, but it provided cheap, simple fun, a good measure of reliability, and a riding experience that was a lot nicer than Yamaha’s similar effort to evoke the glorious years of British motorcycling, the spine-snappingly firm SRX600.
Honda only made the XBR for four years or so in the second half of the 1980s, and fewer than 2000 XBRs were sold in the UK. After that, the entire bike industry seemed to decide that the only place for sporting four-stroke singles was off road. The fact that good examples of the XBR still go for £3k or more, assuming you can find one, surely tells us that I am not alone in my whingey wish for torquey, easy to handle, one-pot throbbers.
The French/Chinese joint venture brand Mash clearly agrees. For the last four years, British buyers have been enjoying Mash derivatives of that 1980s Honda engine in various creations. In the retro-styled TT40, Mash’s injected 399cc version of the XBR motor produces less than 28bhp – but numbers don’t tell the story. The best bit about any four-stroke single is its friendly low and midrange power. Throw in the TT40’s dry weight of just 151kg, and even the Dunlop TT100-lookalike Kenda tyres aren’t going to be put under undue strain.
Mash reckons the TT40 will do 95mph, but I confidently predict that you will have contracted double vision and miner’s whitefinger long before that point is reached. Much better to just go a bit slower to give yourself time to enjoy the TT40’s genuinely excellent handling. Basic but functional suspension, braking with switchable Bosch anti-lock, old-school rort – you can tick all those boxes. Go slower still, 0mph ideally, and you’ll be able to take in the spiffy fit and finish too.
It’s normal to have a pop at Chinese build quality, and of course there’s no telling what it will look like when it’s been down the road apiece, but this is surely the sort of bike you would keep in a nice dry garage and regularly polish. With such a regime in place, why shouldn't it look just as spiffy in ten years’ time? The exhaust is stainless steel, apparently.
Forget all the Hoxton hipster attributions in the advertising. Just look at the TT40 as a fun and utterly unintimidating bike to ride, and a ridiculously cheap one at that. Because it’s a Mash, and because we’re brand snobs in the UK, the importer’s price has been pegged at just £4,799. Better still, because this is Visordown Marketplace, you can drop that to an absurd £3,999, or £1500 down and £41 a month if you like the notion of living in debt.
Want to get an idea of what riding a TT40 might be like? Take a gander at this vid. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ecJ15Gbo1M Your man is talking in French, which is a typically inconsiderate French thing to do, but you don’t need to have a brain the size of un football to know that phrases like ‘bonne surprise’ and ‘vraiment super’ are probably good.
One thing’s for certain: if it said ‘Ducati’ on the tank rather than ‘Mash’, the TT40’s price tag would have run well into five figures. Bargainaceous.
Neatly revives the lost British art of going slowly in an amusing way. Chinese quality has come a long way in recent times: there’s a two-year unlimited mileage warranty on these TT40s. Not everybody will go for the Sixties café racer styling…
…but if you can get past that, you’ll be grinning from ear to ear. Your pillion passenger might not be, though. And you will probably want to replace the glowworm in the headlamp with a proper bulb.