First Ride

Bullit Bullit Hero 125 – first ride

Budget Chinese learner scrambler looks the part and is decent value

Details
Manufacturer:
Bullit
Category:
Learner Legal 125s
Price:
£ 2599
Overall
3.5
Cheap and very definitely cheerful. Ideal for the nine-pointers too
Looks great, cheap transport
Slow, stock tyres lack feel and stability

PICS: JOHN GOODMAN

ARE WE still a bit sniffy about stuff being made in China? Even as we shell out £1k for a new iPhone made there? Or watch MotoGP on a 55” LCD TV from a Chinese factory? 

Fact is, Chinese firms can make some amazing high-tech kit to very high standards. But it’s fair to say that’s not quite the case with bikes – yet. You’d be surprised how many components in mainstream bikes are made there (parts like wiring looms have been made in China for years), but an actual entire bike, made in a Chinese factory? Not really.

But here we have just that, parked up in front of me outside a south London bike shop. I’m here to collect a Bullit Hero, which is a smart-looking little 125 scrambler, designed in Belgium and built in China. It sells for a bargain price (£2,599), and answers the need for cheap, cool, entry-level first bike for loads of new riders.

In London, where your scribe abides, a season ticket for the trains/tube/buses costs £2,492 for zones 1-6 (roughly out to Heathrow and the whole tube network). So for about the same cash, you get an entire bike, and the capital is your oyster.

It’ll take you a while to cover the entire mollusc though. The little Bullit is a slow old thing, even for a 125. Okay, I’m obviously used to riding faster stuff, but looking down at the little speedo (the only instrument provided), I thought I was doing okay at 50mph on a slightly uphill straight on my way home. But then I realised I was reading the kilometre-per-hour scale… Ah. Avoid motorways then would be good advice – but you really need to be on your toes even when you get to the front of a traffic light queue in town. Dawdle when the amber appears, and even fairly mundane hatchback cars will be holeshotting you like an F1 car. The engine is a copy of the old Suzuki GN125 air-cooled single, brought up to date for emissions regs with fuel injection. It was never a fire-breather of course, and its peak power output of 11.5bhp is on the low side in the class.

To be fair, the bike had only done seven kilometres when I collected it, so was no doubt a bit ‘tight’. Best get on with loosening her up then, eh? Adopting the usual Dowds small-bike protocol of never closing the throttle, ever, I took the long way home. Good things first – the Hero makes a tremendous sound, like a bike should do. The natty exhaust is a blatant Supertrapp (ask your dad) ripoff, and all the better for it. The gearchange is positive enough, although there are only five ratios, which caught me out at first. Fuelling seems fine, but I’ll be honest and say I was very seldom at anything other than 100 per cent throttle.

What’s worrying me though is the tyres. As is the style these days, the Hero comes on ‘scrambler’ tyres, which is to say chunky, knobbly ‘Kingstone’ brand rubber, with tall sidewalls. The front end in particular feels really weird, and as soon as you tip into a corner, panic grows within as the bars and contact patch seem to momentarily lose touch with each other… Riding in a straight line is also a bit disconcerting, and the first mile or so, I really expected to fall off at any moment.

I didn’t though. And after a morning of chuntering about on the Hero, I adapted totally to the tyres and front end. There’s something about the wide bars, funny offroad-style tyres and the overall geometry that makes it feel really vague at first – but once you’ve settled in, it all works well. I did some pics on a local bend, which is fairly tight but still quick, and the Hero felt fine buzzing through it at medium-full chat. Having said that, I’d be looking to upgrade the tyres as soon as I could, were I to shell out for a Hero. 

It’d be a worthwhile upgrade too, because the rest of the bike works well. The brakes are linked rather than ABS-equipped (that’s the law on small bikes now), and stop the Hero in pretty short order. The suspension is soft but not appallingly-so, and does a decent job over the speed humps, potholes and flytipped sofas which litter the roads of south London. On some very gentle dirt (a big gravel car park nearby...), the light weight, knobbly rubber and soft power made a decent fist of things.

 

But it’s the style which is the Hero’s best feature - the Martini-a-like paint job, gold wheel rims, slick assymetric flyscreen, Supertrapp pipe and wave brake discs are all spot-on. Sure, the fuel light flickers like a shit disco when the teeny tank starts to run low, I have low expectations about the metalwork’s longevity in a British winter, and it really is on the verge of being moped-slow. But as I parked it up outside my mate’s café, it garnered plenty of attention – and when I popped a pic on the social media, it got more likes and comments than many much fancier wheels. There’s definitely something appealing about a small, well-priced, slick-looking bike like this – no matter where in the world it’s been built…

 

 

SPECS

PRICE: £2,599

Engine: 2v single, SOHC, 125cc

Max power (claimed) 11.5bhp@narpm

Transmission: five speed gearbox, chain drive

Frame: steel tube 

Front suspension: USD forks

Rear suspension: Monoshock

Brakes: 275mm discs, two-piston caliper (front), 210 disc, twin-piston caliper (rear), CBS linked braking system

Wheels/tyres: Tubeless wire-spoked/Kingstone, 4.10x18 front, 4.60x17 rear

 

Looks great, cheap transport
Slow, stock tyres lack feel and stability

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