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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 ||– Sighs |
|2017 SSR Razkull 125|
|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|
|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|
|Seat Height||29.5 in|
|Curb Weight||247 lbs.|
|Fuel Capacity||3.17 gal|