We got our hands on WK’s latest model, its retro-styled Café Racer; the Legend 125 – and gave it a spin around the Lincolnshire Wolds to see if it lived up to expectations.
The wider motorcycling community has traditionally regarded the recent wave of Chinese manufactured machines with derision – dismissing them as ‘cheap knock-offs’ of existing models from larger brands. Inaccurate in the first instance, that sentiment becomes further and further from the truth with each passing year, and the latest batch of Euro 4 approved Asian imports are better than ever before.
WK is a stalwart in the import game, with over 26 years of business behind them. Admittedly, it has a relatively small presence in the UK market, with just three new models available for 2017 – but the old adage, ‘quality over quantity’ rings true when you take a look at its output. The Lincolnshire-based brand work directly with a factory in China, with which they have sole production rights, and as a result of changes to European regulations it has spent the early part of the year adjusting and tweaking until fully satisfied with the finished product.
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Swinging my leg over the Legend, and settling onto the plush brown leather seat for the first time, the controls fall to hand easily. Although it’s not a particularly large motorcycle, my 6ft 1” frame settled into place with no trouble. Admittedly, I’m not usually all that keen on the café racer riding style. I like to be sat upright, rather than leaning forward over the front end – but regardless of my personal preferences, the Legend is comfortable, manoeuvrable, and surprisingly planted for such a lightweight machine.
It’s equipped with LED lights throughout and a digital and analogue dash, which displays rpm, speed, odometer, gear selection and fuel level. It also comes with a kick starter – a nice touch for a retro-styled bike.
It’s important to remember that WK leans towards the budget end of the market. That’s not to say that quality has been sacrificed for the sake of low cost, but cost is always a consideration and value for money is key – but for the money, I have to say the build quality of the little WK is truly exceptional. And it’s undoubtedly a good-looking motorcycle – passing through the small market towns of the Lincolnshire I received many admiring glances, with people stopping in their tracks to check out the pretty little retro-styled commuter.
On the road
First things first; the WK Legend isn’t a speed demon. It was never going to be, it’s a little 125cc machine. That said, the single cylinder SOHC four-stroke engine offers plenty of torque right through the rev range, and it’ll get up to 50mph quite quickly. Ok, getting up to the 60mph claimed top speed can take a little time – and a lot of tarmac – but you have to consider this bike’s intended purpose. In my mind, it’s a stylish commuter with plenty of power to whizz around towns and cities, light, agile and poky enough to get you away from the lights quickly and enough grunt to take in some winding B-roads with little trouble. On busier A-roads, you’ll have to work hard to keep momentum; otherwise you’ll soon find traffic building up behind you. For stopping, the Legend is equipped with disc brakes front and rear. They aren’t especially refined, and you will have to be quite aggressive in an emergency situation, but they are more than capable of pulling you up in a hurry.
I was particularly impressed with the five-speed gearbox, which I found smooth and really easy to use. I was impressed with the suspension too – which leans slightly towards the stiffer side of the spectrum, helping to improve the overall ride and performance, but with enough give to soak up the pothole laden roads of Lincolnshire with little trouble. Suspension comes in the form of USD telescopic forks with 115mm of travel at the front, and at the rear twin oil/gas assisted shock absorbers with 60mm of travel.
Initially, I thought the (almost knobbly) tyres were a strange choice for the bike, atypical for a café racer styled machine – but in practice, they’re more than up to the job. It took me a while to gain confidence in their grip, but after an hour or so in the saddle I felt assured they’d look after me.
My only real criticism is directed at the mirrors. They look great, fitting the overall aesthetic of the bike – but sadly, I was unable to adjust them to an appropriate position without a lot of tweaking. Admittedly, I’m relatively tall, and I have a suspicion shorter riders might find them perfectly positioned.
Should I buy one?
I’ve ridden a wide range of the retro-styled ‘budget’ bikes over the last few months – and out on the road, I reckon the WK Legend tops the pile. With its retro inspired styling hiding a thoroughly modern machine, the WK Legend is a strong contender in the busy 125cc motorcycle market – and with its smooth five-speed gearbox and torquey engine, the Legend could be the perfect first step into motorcycling if you’ve just passed your CBT. Equally, if you’re looking for a stylish city commuter, the Legend definitely fits the bill.
Plus, WK have over 26 years of experience selling motorcycles, scooters and quads in the UK, and they’ve got a huge UK spares service too, so rest assured that you’ll be well looked after if you take the leap and opt for the WK Legend.
The WK Legend comes in a couple of colourways – the Matte Red we tested, and Matte Black too.
Images: Gary Chapman
O2W RATING: 7 stars
ENGINE: 125cc single cylinder SOHC, 4-stroke
SEAT HEIGHT: 750mm
TANK CAPACITY: 12 litres