Slick and shiny, proud and practical – and most definitely a sporty little number.
At first glance this bike screams all-out sports bike, but due to its compact frame (as it’s only 125cc) it’s like some bizarre optical illusion.
You can see a sports bike – but how far away is it!? Oh, it’s just there, it’s only small…
Our test bike stood out in the bright red version of its breed (other colour options are available); the lines on the bike are sharp and pleasing to the eye. The well-formed seat is both practical and adds to the overall look of the bike. The bikini fairing is slick and well styled, but I do think this machine could easily carry off having a full fairing.
The belly pan is a nice feature, finishing off the underbelly styling, and the hugger on the rear again adds to the slick look of the bike.
Centre and a side-stand, underseat storage and even a luggage rack – very posh! This demonstrates to me that this bike has not been built by scrimping and saving on the usual bits and bobs to keep the cost down – quite the opposite.
The dash has a digital display which conveys fuel, gear, speed and trip functions and the red dashes around the dial as the rev counter fascinated me, but I am easily distracted.
On the road
I have to admit to my concern that the styling and general great looks of the bike were actually making silent promises that the engine simply would not be able to keep, to the point where I was actually delaying starting the bike up due to fear of impending disappointment.
This fear was truly unfounded; both Ross and I were present when I first struck the bike up and we both glanced at each other in what I can only describe as pleasant disbelief at the unexpected growl of the 409 grade stainless-steel exhaust system; and at that moment I knew this little number was going to be a bit of a wolf.
The single cylinder, air-cooled four-stroke engine is certainly able and willing to put the power down cleanly and very efficiently up to 70mph plus and maintain it.
The fairing does an admirable job of deflecting the wind and elements and makes for a rather smooth ride when behind the larger vehicles. The riding position is great considering the bike is kind of rigged-up as a sports bike; the handlebars are sat high and this makes for a user friendly little commuter with attitude.
The new ZY125 engine runs clean and smooth and I encountered no dramas with starting, idling, or indeed running (something some EFi systems can suffer from). In fact, I think I can say this is the smoothest Chinese 125 I’ve ridden.
The combined breaking system links well and does not give the unnerving front bias that some bikes can do if you are a little sharp on the rear brake (or is that just me?).
The ZSX-F also benefits from an upgraded rear disc brake and a mono rear shock to further improve the bike’s handling and control and gives the rider extra confidence in its ability on the open road.
The LED headlights and indicators ensure that great visibility is assured and I found the headlights and main beam spot-on during the night time rides (still fascinated with the rev counter display though)!
This is one of those 125cc bikes that you are actually quite proud to be riding; its slick looks and beefy sounds make it a bit of a head-turner, but for the right reasons. You could happily park this bike up alongside some of its larger counterparts without feeling out of place; sure they may leave you on the straights, but you’ll get past them when they stop for fuel!
The ZSX-F is made by Zongshen who Lexmoto have been dealing with since 2010. Zongshen are one of the ‘Big Three’ motorcycle manufacturers in China and if you take the time to investigate the credentials of this company you can see that they’re not just playing at being a motorcycle manufacturer; in fact they are a significant part of the sector, employing 18,000 people and claiming to have a yearly output of more than one million motorcycles! And reportedly, they’re presently in partnership with Piaggio and Harley-Davidson!
Zongshen are NOT just kicking-out basic cheap ’n’ cheerful machines with just the bare minimum of components, or else why would they put belly pans, rear huggers and centrestands on these bikes? To me they’re demonstrating a desire to give practical, functional, stylish and cost achievable motorbikes out into the market that will put folks on bikes that might not be able to afford to otherwise.
Then add on the manufacturer’s two-year warranty and the fact that the parts are incredibly inexpensive and easily sourced makes the ZSX-F a significant and worthy market contender.
Another ‘cheap and cheerful’ Chinese choice? I think not; Lexmoto has continued to win me over with this little star.
I’m pretty sure I’ve never given any bike a 10-star rating, so giving this cool little bike a nine is probably as good as it gets from me.