2017 SSR Razkull 125

Editor Score: 78.5%
Engine 16.0/20
Suspension/Handling 10.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 6.5/10
Brakes 8.0/10
Instruments/Controls4.0/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.0/10
Appearance/Quality 8.0/10
Desirability 8.0/10
Value 10.0/10
Overall Score78.5/100

Two obvious questions spring to mind when talking about the SSR Razkull 125. First, who the hell is SSR? And second, how soon will Ducati’s legal department come knocking on its door? Because let’s face it, the Razkull looks like a miniature version of a Ducati Monster.

We don’t have an answer for the latter, but the former is an interesting tale for anyone who followed the 50cc pit-bike craze in the early 2000s. Remember those wildly tricked out mini motocross bikes from China that were hugely popular? SSR Motorsports was one of the primary companies bringing them into the country. At around minute 14 of the craze’s 15 minutes of fame, SSR realized it needed to branch out and expand its line if it wanted to stay afloat. Fast forward to the present day and SSR Motorsports has a varied selection of motorcycles ranging from 450cc motocross bikes, 250cc cafe racers, to dual-sports and scooters. There are even electric bicycles in the line as well as an electric scooter. And yes, the company still sells a 50cc pit bike, too.

No, this is not a top-secret spy shot of a Ducati Monster 125 to be introduced at EICMA. It’s a Chinese copy of one.

No, this is not a top-secret spy shot of a Ducati Monster 125 to be introduced at EICMA. It’s a Chinese copy of one.

SSR Motorsports is also the U.S. distributor for famed Italian marque Benelli, having reached an agreement with the illustrious yet financially troubled, brand in 2014 to distribute the Tornado TNT 600 and 300 motorcycles, as well as the Zafferano and Caffenero scooters. The common denominator here, between these Benellis and the rest of the SSR lineup, is their current origins in China. SSR’s mission is to reshape how we think about Chinese motorcycles, and if the $1,799 Razkull 125 is any indication, it’s best we pay attention.

Made In China

It would be easy to chalk the Razkull 125, or Yingang YG125-21A as it’s known in its motherland, as another cheap Chinese knockoff, especially considering its low price tag and its striking resemblance to a certain Italian motorcycle from Bologna. But the Razkull is an intriguing specimen once you get over it’s country of origin. Don’t expect any technological marvels from this little 125cc, air-cooled, two-valve Single, but at almost half the price of the $3,200 Honda Grom, it’s certainly an attractive alternative if you’d rather stand out from the Grom-loving crowd. Our test unit spun the drum at MotoGP Werks to 7.7 hp and 6.9 lb-ft.

Fit and finish is better than you’d expect for such an inexpensive motorcycle, though one of the major components contributing to its low cost is the lack of electronic fuel injection like the Grom and Kawasaki’s Z125 Pro. The Razkull makes due with a carburetor, but the only time you’ll really tell the difference between EFI and the carb is during cold start ups in the morning. The Razkull actually requires a little throttle action when you press the starter. Our tester was equipped with a choke lever, but activating it didn’t help a bit with cold starts.

As basic an engine as they come, the Razkull’s Single gets its fuel/air cocktail served through a carburetor (you can see the petcock beside it). It also features both electric and kick start.

As basic an engine as they come, the Razkull’s Single gets its fuel/air cocktail served through a carburetor (you can see the petcock beside it). It also features both electric and kick start.

Once warm, the little Razkull pulls away cleanly. Well, as clean as you could hope for with 7.7 horses. You’re seated fairly low to the ground at 29.5 inches, and the pegs are a comfortable distance below, too. The knee bend is fairly relaxed for my 30-inch inseam, and the riding position is relatively neutral for average-size adults.

Of course, the byproduct of low and comfortable pegs is a lack of cornering clearance. The bike flicks fairly quickly thanks to 12-inch wheels and 120/70-12 tires at both ends, but peg feelers touch down quickly. Clearly the Razkull isn’t meant to be a racer, but its lack of ground clearance is a little off-putting. For tooling around town, however, the flickability to dart between gaps in traffic is nice, and when you need to stop, the surprising strength of its single-piston caliper and wavy 190mm single brake disc has got your back.

There’s not much to be intimidated by with the Razkull, making it a great learning tool for a new rider.

There’s not much to be intimidated by with the Razkull, making it a great learning tool for a new rider.

Getting back to the fit and finish on the Razkull 125, we were impressed with the little details that come on such an inexpensive motorcycle, like LED indicator lights front and rear, stylized mirrors and mirror stalks, an inverted fork, digital gauge cluster (with gear-position indicator!), and even a headlight we’re convinced is pillaged from a stack at Ducati that were supposed to be destined for the Monster. Last but not least, the Razkull is fitted with a huge 3.2 gallon fuel tank – it’s practically a tourer!

Turning Heads

Needless to say, we’re hugely impressed with the SSR Razkull 125. For less than $2,000 you can have a fun little runabout that looks good, performs well, and does all the tasks you’d want from a small play bike. It’s not without its drawbacks, though. Beyond the lack of fuel injection, shifting gears isn’t one of its strong suits, as the transmission is a bit clunky and it’s hard to find neutral sometimes. Even with the bike turned off.

Sparks will fly rather quickly once you start getting comfortable on the Razkull. Those flames might flicker, however, if there isn’t a dealer near you.

Sparks will fly rather quickly once you start getting comfortable on the Razkull. Those flames might flicker, however, if there isn’t a dealer near you.

If by now you’re wondering where you can get a Razkull, you’ve hit perhaps SSR’s biggest downside. The company clearly doesn’t have the customer support you’d receive from a Honda or Kawasaki. With roughly 200 dealers around the country, coverage is sparse, though there’s likely a SSR Motorsports near you if you live on one of the coasts. To be sure, use SSR’s dealer locator to find your closest retailer.

2017 SSR Razkull 125 Review
+ Highs

  • Only $1,799!
  • Looks like a mini Ducati Monster
  • Fairly well made for a Chinese bike
– Sighs

  • No fuel injection
  • Clunky transmission
  • Limited dealer network
2017 SSR Razkull 125
MSRP $1,799
Engine Type 125cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled, carbureted, SOHC, two-valve
Bore and Stroke 52.4mm x 55.5mm
Compression Ratio 9.0 : 1
Rear Wheel Horsepower 7.7 hp @ 6,600 rpm
Torque 6.9 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission 4-speed
Final Drive Chain
Front Suspension Inverted telescopic fork; 4.7 in. travel
Rear Suspension Single shock, 4.0 in. travel
Front Brake Single 220mm disc, two-piston caliper.
Rear Brake Single 190mm disc, single-piston caliper
Front Tire 120/70-12
Rear Tire 120/70-12
Rake/Trail 26.0°/3.0 in
Wheelbase 47.7 in
Seat Height 29.5 in
Curb Weight 247 lbs.
Fuel Capacity 3.17 gal

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  • 12er

    No sonoma but oh well, At least I can dvr this season vs searching youtube on the playstation.

    • Sean

      It is definitely a step in a good direction! AMA Superbikes are fun to watch but attendance at the tracks has been sagging so it is good that they will hopefully be gaining some new fans. Personally, as a MotoGP fan, any new motorbike racing series on TV will be one that I will watch. AMA racing across the board tends to produce enjoyable racing, it just isn’t as accessible as many would like.

      • 12er

        Know all about the attendance issues… Sonoma has been a ghost town for the past 10 years or so. World Superbike has been the same, though this year a few more showed up since they took over MotoGP’s weekend. Last year in sept about 5 of us showed up at Laguna for the first year back (Utah before was pretty bad on attendance). Still sux that MotoGP moved to Austin, I cant get the time off as I work for an accounting firm and Austin is around April 15th.

  • spectralsarah

    Any idea who the commentary team will be and how they compare to the epic duo of Moody and Ryder?

    • TroySiahaan

      That announcement has not been made yet, but IMO, no duo compares to Toby and Jules.

  • Old MOron

    I know a lady who bought a Grom not long ago. She let me ride it around the block, and it was fun! Kawi has a littl Z. Kymco has a little bugger. Now this little gem from SSR. You guys are working on a minibike shootout, right? I’m actually looking forward to it.

    Let’s see, the SSR makes 7.7 hp and 6.9 lb-ft. It’s down on power compared to the Grom and the Z125, but it actually has a little more torque than the Z. Yup, I’m looking forward to the shootout.

    http://www.motorcycle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/2017-kawasaki-z125-pro-vs-honda-grom-dyno-696×494.jpg

    • DickRuble

      Don’t get too excited. The torque numbers are probably based on a single run, different day, different temperature, different fuel. I bet you that if you do 11 runs on the dyno, the torque difference between SSR and Kawi is less than the margin of error.

      • TroySiahaan

        Last week we placed the Grom, Z125, K-Pipe, and Razkull on the dyno, doing all four runs within a 45-minute span. The SSR made more torque than the Kawi, especially in the lower part of the curve.

        • DickRuble

          You did? Good. To save you and readers time here are the rankings at the end of the testing.. You don’t even need to do a write up.

          1. Grom
          2. Z125
          3. SSR
          4. K-Pipe

          Next project…

          • Old MOron

            Hey man, if you’re going to blab results, put a spoiler warning on your post!

          • TroySiahaan

            Awesome. Thanks, Dick. I’ll go write a 50cc scooter review now!

          • DickRuble

            Does anyone buy those in the US?

      • Old MOron

        Ha ha, even if the dyno numbers are identical, and even if the outcome of the shootout is “pick the color you like,” I think MOronic hooliganism on minibikes is going to be fun.

        • Allison Sullivan

          That would have to be the best “tester’s day out” ever.

  • Born to Ride

    Holy crap I NEED to buy one of these before Ducati shuts their doors. Way better looking bike than the Z or the Grom.

    • DickRuble

      Better than your s2r. More reliable too. You’ll definitely turn heads on this thing.

      • Born to Ride

        I wonder if my Termi full system will fit. Obviously not to actually facilitate the exhaust of combustion gasses, but just to finish off the facade. 😉

  • Dave

    Oh sweet. More Chinese junk that ignore patents and copyrights, uses poor quality measures on top of poor quality steel, and from one of the very same companies that helped flood the market with junk XR50 parts that ran businesss like Red Baron, Sano, And others into the ground. Garbage. Once these companies start playing by the rules that everyone plays by and engineers their own machine without playing copy cat, then maybe we should consider them. But to run an article on a bike that even you stated was a copy-cat, undercuts the very market that you say you love.

    • DickRuble

      Who is to say that it looks more like a Monster than a Brutale? Copying is a form of flattery and no one will get confused between a Ducati and a Ying or Yang or whatever it is. If people bought “junk” as opposed to Red Baron (no clue what that was), there was a reason and the failure rests solidly with the latter. I don’t disagree that’s garbage..but if it is, it belongs to the non-garbage to make and show the difference.

      • Dave

        A) Your username is hilarious.

        B) The author stated that it looked like a Monster when he said, “..let’s face it, the Razkull looks like a miniature version of a Ducati Monster.” end quote. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/182ff39f468d0efb680eb4addef4bce3e1f503a12882819ba423a9f8f5792c4b.jpg

        And looking at the attached picture, I think the answer to your question is painfully obvious.

        And the rest of the machine is a carbon-copy of Honda’s Grom.

        As far as Red Baron, Sano, Five-O, and others; they were all American manufacturing companies that built parts and equipment for XR/CRF50’s, KLX/DRZ 110’s, and such when the pit bike craze was huge. As the market grew, the Chinese manufactures such as Thumpstar, SSR, SDG, eXtreme and others flooded the market with $800 pit bikes that ran were plagued with reliability issues and even a lead issue because they were using extremely low grade steel that was high in lead content. Not only was the material toxic (even more so to children), but it made the machines extreme brittle and frames and the major components would literally snap during use. There was a large impoundment of these machines around the 2001-2002 time frame. ( I worked at a dealer as a teenage then that had machines impounded). But soon they used steel that barely passed the requirements for U.S. sales and flooded the markets again. Every dealer suffering from low sales to Pep-Boys and corner muffler shops started selling them. The funny thing is that they sold a lot. So much so that people stopped modifying their CRFs/KLXs, etc. That sort of killed the need for the small manufacturing companies. Should they have perhaps diversified their manufacturing capabilities? Perhaps. But it doesn’t change the fact that these Chinese manufactures flooded the market illegally. Copyright infringement is just heavily overlooked on small matters (low-cost) such as these.

        I guess i just feel strongly on it because I recently built a few pit bikes for fun to chase the dogs around. I had to search far and wide to find left-over American built parts to do it. I even spoke with a few of the companies previous owners who explained to me the difficulty that they endured when business started to wither up.

        I love the sport of motorcycling and every form, but I think we as riders/buyers/customers should support it and those who offer the sport to use and offer us quality and innovative products. I’m all for new smaller companies getting into the sport, but do it legally and offer you own damn designs. And give customers a reliable machine that they’ll love and continue to ride instead of garbage that will fail.

        But, on the note of copyright infringement, that may be changing…

        http://jalopnik.com/shit-gets-real-at-sema-as-feds-seize-chinese-aftermarke-1788555323

        Phew! I’ll step off my soapbox now. If you read all of that, thank you. Ha-ha

        • DickRuble

          I read all of it. I think copyright of motorcycle design should not be allowed. They all run on two wheels and most have telescopic forks. If you allow someone to copyright that, you’re done. I know , it’s extreme, but laws should be consistent, be the situation extreme or not.
          Regarding the lead issues; I believe they were using lead paint, not lead steel. Toys were recalled for the same reason.
          As for protecting local companies, there are two ways; a) trade tariffs b) educating consumer about quality. In my opinion both ways are legitimate.

      • Born to Ride

        Cmon Dick, lookit that face. It straight up looks like someone stole the headlight off my M1100s. I can see where you’re coming from since the red trellis mated to an AL subframe is MV trademark. But Ducati did copy their formula for a couple years with the Gen 3 monsters, which this bike is clearly emulating. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a5fd6618e4227c1955c2d7ca51c5cb4c880cdb83242c64e15d47db18c4a4514a.jpg

        • DickRuble

          So it’s ok for Ducati to copy a design but not for others? Did Hyundai confuse you when they released their Tiburon, which copied the rear end of a Ferrari? I don’t think so..And Ferrari didn’t go out of business. That’s my argument.

          • Born to Ride

            I’m not angry, as a matter of fact I really want the damn thing. Not for 1800$ though.

      • ken mcguire

        “Who is to say that it looks more like a Monster than a Brutale?”

        That MV comparison is more than a bit of a stretch. It’s clearly a Monster rip-off, from the intakes in the tank to the tail and headlight.

        Ducati (or Audi) will perhaps attempt to rip them to shreds but history shows that the Chinese legal system doesn’t care much for intellectual rights.

  • Vrooom

    If I lived in a city perhaps. There’s not much application for this in the country where the road speeds are 55+. I’ve ridden a Grom at that speed, but it’s maxed out.

  • Luke

    Temping to buy as a learner bike for my daughter… So that I can ride it.

    • Old MOron

      Several years ago I bought a Nighthawk 250 for a 15 year-old girl who decided she didn’t want to ride after all. I was disappointed, but I still had fun scraping pegs all over the place on that little thing.

  • SteveSweetz

    I see no gear position indicator on that dash, which is such an exact copy of Honda’s that it’s striking.

    http://ridermagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Honda-Grom-dash.jpg

    • TroySiahaan

      The gear indicator is there, but it doesn’t show anything when the bike is in neutral, which it was in the photo. When it’s in gear, you’ll see the number to the right of the trip meter.

      And yes, it sure looks like the Grom’s dash.

  • Smallwheels

    August 20, 2017. I bought a red Razkull 125 two months ago. The mpg on the second tank was 109. I wanted it just for in town transportation. Going 35-45 mph is all I wanted it to do. Sometimes I visit a friend in the suburbs and need to take a 55 mph road. It will go 60 if there is no headwind. Most of the time there is one. That means ducking down and taking time to get up to 55. The same goes for getting up to 45. If the wind is blowing it means full throttle and just waiting for the speed to build.

    I like the small size. It is about as long as a bicycle. When parking it is usually done at bicycle racks and locked to them. Two big guys could carry it away.

    The shifting is noisy and neutral is hard to find. It even pops out of neutral once the motor is off. Which means pulling in the clutch to roll it. It’s starting to miss second gear at times. This has happened three times in the last two weeks. It even popped out of first while accelerating once. I’m wearing the same shoes that were worn in the first week of ownership. So the shifting motion isn’t any different.

    This is much better than a motorized bicycle. Those require constant work. I’ve owned a few and over time they cost more to operate than the price of a new scooter with a warranty. I owned a 2003 Honda Metropolitan. The Razkull 125 gets much better mileage and is much faster. It is also less expensive than the Metropolitan and Ruckus’. If the Razkull 125 lasts 15,000 miles or more without a breakdown I’ll be happy. Read the warranty before you buy one. It basically covers the metal from breaking. It doesn’t say that specifically but just about everything else is considered a wear item and isn’t covered.

    • Smallwheels

      It’s November 9, 2017. The Razkull motor is now broken in and it runs smoother. As of today it has about 1200 miles on it. Finding neutral is now much easier if not direct. It now takes just a couple of up and downs with a light touch on the last down to make the neutral light come on. It hasn’t missed a shift or popped out of gear since my last entry.

      It had a really tough time starting once the temperature was in the 40s or lower for a while. By that I mean the starter needed to be pushed ten or more times to keep it running. To handle that I upped the idle to 3000 rpm. It still required lots of starts and babying with the throttle. Strangely at temperatures in the teens it starts instantly with full choke. Will this be permanent? Perhaps it has gone another step towards running better and the change will be permanent. The idle is still set high but requires less input to keep the motor running.

      I’m riding this to work on snowy and icy roads at 6-12 mph. Sometimes if there is a dry clear patch I’ll get up to 20 mph but must slow again at intersections where ice and snow have come into the lane. It’s a bit squirrelly on sand and snow. I intend to buy knobby tires and put studs in them. To do so will cost over $400. The tires can be had for $45 each but the studs are $1 each and are only sold in packages of 150. I’ll need two of them. The mounting fee will be at expensive shop rates for an hour of work. If we survive the winter perhaps there will be another entry about this Razkull 125.

  • Markus Wiley

    I also have my neighbour who has bought the Ducati Monster clone and this thing is superior. They made them with 125cc motor just like the Honda but made it look like the Raskull and/or the Ducati Monster. He had said he spent somewhere around $1400 for it from Venom Motorsports. They call it the Venom X21R 125cc.