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Mutt RS-13 review: 125cc air-cooled bike tested
China meets, um, Birmingham, in a £3,495-sized mashup. Time to go for a ride
In case you haven’t noticed, the whole restomod thing has booted off big time in Car World. But if you thought retro was a rampant industry on four wheels, it’s in a whole different league on Planet Bike. In recent years, the throwback scene has exploded like a brick-sized Berroca in bathwater, all to try and sate the thirst of people looking for an added slice of cool in their life.
Custom cafe racers, brats, scramblers and trackers have all become the rage, which in our new oversharing Instagram-obsessed world, makes the hankering to try and grow a beard, buy a Belstaff jacket and get on a fashionable bike all too appealing.
For most of us, the decision to get on a bike comes down to one thing. Well, two. First: that your significant loved one will let you wobble around on two wheels. Second: wedge. Even though bikes are more affordable than cars, for your own period-style custom you’re talking hella cash. Believe it or not though, you can get the look for a lot cheaper than you think.
Take the Mutt RS-13, for example. It’s what happens when the economies of scale of China butts heads with the artistic grease monkeys of Digbeth, Birmingham. After years of building expensive custom bikes, Mutt’s founders wanted to create affordable, honest, old-school motorbikes with the reliability and Euro4 compliance of something thoroughly modern. The RS-13 is just that.
Looks ace, doesn’t it? With fat, knobbly Continental tyres, a cut rear frame housing a stumpy mudguard, comfy diamond stitched seat, Renthal bars and a bespoke, hand-brushed bare metal tank, it oozes want. But here’s the bonus: prices start at £3,495. Plus, only being a 125cc, it’s accessible.
See, compared with the latest crop of superbikes stuffed with ludicrous power and a cavalry of electronics to make sure you’re not spat off, the Mutt is as simple as a mollusc. All the oily bits come from Chinese licence-built Suzukis, including the 12bhp 125cc air-cooled single cylinder good for 70mph. Then, it’s shipped to Blighty where Mutt throws on all the aesthetic accoutrements.
You can’t describe the handling as pin-sharp. Because it isn’t. The power delivery from the one-pot is lumpy, the gearing slightly short and those chunky wheels can easily have you wash out. But that’s not the point. It’s probably the best-sounding 125cc out there. Plus, it’s extremely comfortable and hilarious to just beat around town on.
Because with a lack of power, you’re using all the performance everywhere. It’s the classic debate of whether it’s better to drive/ride something slow, fast. Or, something fast, slow. Facts only: something slow, fast wins. Always.
Plus, it makes a wonderful ear-pleasing racket in the process. And no matter where you are, people are intrigued, all seemingly cast under a spell of cool. And if that’s not worth £3,495 – pretty much the price of a carbon-fibre parcel shelf on a Ferrari 812 – we don’t know what is.