What we can afford

What We Can Afford: Keeway Superlight 125

In this month's search for a used bike we take a look at the popular Keeway Superlight 125 – a China-made single-cylinder machine popular with learners and commuters

I’ve sort of let myself lose focus of the What We Can Afford feature in recent months but the good news is that our imaginary savings pot has continued to grow – now to the point we can start looking at bikes a person might actually want. Having pretended to set aside £170 a month since May we now have a reasonable £1,020 in the kitty. Which means we could get our hands on any number of reasonably new and well-maintained 125cc scooters and motorcycles, such as this 2015 Keeway Superlight.

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Keeway is one of the many western faces of Chinese motorcycle manufacturer Qianjiang Motorcycle – the same behemoth manufacturer that runs Benelli. It is also the same manufacturer that was slated to have been building the Harley-Davidson 338R for Asian markets, though the scuttlebutt is that – even though spy photos of the 338R have already surfaced on the interwebs – the bike may be scrapped under the Rewire plan announced earlier this year.

That seat looks like it’s seen all 13,000 miles

Whatever the case, a Keeway carries with it the question marks that seem to hang over all Chinese bikes, but not as many. Keeway is a proven entity and Qianjiang has a reputation for making decent if not spectacular bikes.

I’ve always liked the look of the Superlight, in part because of the fact it is reasonably sized for a 125cc machine. No, it’s not as big as the cruisers that its style emulates but a 6-foot-1 rider won’t feel ridiculous on one – as he/she might on, say, a similarly cruiser-styled Lexmoto Arizona. Seat height is 730 mm (28.7 inches), however, so it’s equally welcoming of riders who are shorter. Every Superlight owner I’ve ever spoken to has had nothing but praise for the bike, which may explain why it’s been the best-selling Keeway model in the United Kingdom for the past 10 years.

Powered by an air-cooled single-cylinder 124cc engine, the Superlight boasts a mind-melting 10.6 horsepower. That’s not bad for a 125 machine; the Lexmoto Valiant that my wife owned a few years ago claimed 9.9 hp and I felt it was a pretty decent motorcycle for around-town duty.

I have never understood why there is a dual exhaust for a single-cylinder engine

Well… I always feel it’s important to point out that I have met people who have ridden up and down Europe on 125cc machines. My tendency to mentally limit 125s to urban areas is probably just a reflection of my snobbishness and inability to comprehend that it is possible to do awesome things without having to first equip yourself with the most awesome kit.

That said, top speed on the Superlight is said to be 110 kmh, which works out to 68 mph. I’d be interested to see one actually going that fast; certainly my wife’s Lexmoto never achieved such speed. She was lucky to hit 60 when going downhill.

The bike on offer here is being sold for £1,000. I think I’d try to talk the owner down some because it’s got 13,000 miles on the clock and a brand new Superlight is only £2,099. Taking a look at the photos, the exhaust scratches suggest the bike has been dropped at least once. That’s not a reason to walk away – mechanically these bikes are generally pretty durable – but it’s a good thing to focus on when bargaining. Another bargaining point is that worn seat; it’s showing the 13,000 miles. I’ve done a quick search on eBay and it appears you can buy a new Superlight seat for £119, so I’d be looking to talk the owner down by at least that much.

This bike appears to have replacement indicators and aftermarket auxiliary lights. I’d be concerned about what sort of drain the latter would place on the battery of a budget motorcycle

The overall finish of the bike is quite good for a machine with this many miles on it. There’s some rust, but not nearly as much as I’d expect. Hell, if we assume this thing’s been ridden in winter, it appears to have gotten through the experience better than the Triumph Bonneville T120 I used to own. Additionally, the owner has replaced the front and rear indicators for, I’m assuming, more visible items.

It’s been my observation that Superlights offer up a decent sound for a 125 machine and I’ve encountered a few that have been modded to sound considerably more robust. Standard equipment includes a fuel gauge on the tank and a speedometer and tachometer at the bars. There is no gear indicator for the bike’s five-speed transmission and since it’s a 2015 model I suspect that means it doesn’t have the connected braking system that’s been required from 2016.

If I were interested in this particular machine, I think I’d be looking to talk the owner down to something closer to £800, assuming he/she has a service history. Even still, although the Keeway Superlight is reportedly a good bike it doesn’t speak to me enough that I feel a desperate need to part with my money. So let’s hold on to our imaginary savings and see what we’re able to buy next month.

There is some rust but largely things look in good condition – especially considering the bike’s age and mileage