The Chinese-built Gomoto gt 125 costs a budget-busting R6 699 and, provided local supply can meet demand, it could become the country’s best-selling motorcycle, writes Peter Palm.

By Peter Palm, CAR road test engineer


At last! Affordable commuting arrives… When we inform the motoring public that there is something novel on the market we usually focus on unusual styling, new engines, a new manufacturer, new countries of origin and so on. In the case of the Gomoto gt 125 commuter motorcycle, there are two real novelties. The first is the country of origin, in this case China. Then again, if you look at the broader field of manufaturing, it’s no real surprises. After all, many household appliances are already made in China, the large conglomerates having opened factories there to reduce costs.


But that leads us quickly to the next novel aspect, which is, quite simply, the price. Not 20 per cent cheaper, or 30 or 40, but over 50 per cent less than similar models from Japan or Korea. At a retail price of R6 699, the importers have been asked “why not charge more”? Their reply is that they want to provide affordable commuting to the public without ripping anyone off or making excessive profits. Someone give these guys a medal!


Anyone glancing at the bike will think that it is a basic Honda 125. A close look at the engine architecture confirms this impression. A replica of the tried, tested and loved Honda 125 as sold in vast numbers since the late 1960s. It has a single-cylinder pushrod engine putting out a claimed 7,2 kW at 8 000 r/min, with 9,3 N.m of torque at 7 000 r/min. The paint finish looks good, and the chromework, of which there is plenty, has substance.


What will happen after some time in rain, only time will tell. Judging by the superior-looking anodising of the engine casings, it should not be a problem. Front and rear mudguards are chrome-plated steel items, and a useful and sturdily built luggage carrier is mounted behind the seat. It incorporates lugs for tie-downs. Wheels are spoked with chromed steel rims, while tyres carry the name Key Nice and the phrase “designed in Japan”.


The seat does not pivot, but a tool kit, with spark plug spanner, screwdriver and four metric spanners, is provided in a small compartment under the battery side panel. One familiar item is the carburettor, a good old Keihin slide type, made in Japan. The instruments are identical in appearance to Nippon Densos as fitted to Honda’s for so many years, and made particularly famous in 1968 on the Honda 750, even down to the green background. Only the letters ND are missing. The rev-counter is red-lined at 9 500 and the speedo runs out of numerals at 120 km/h.


One small step into the 21st century comes in the form of a digital gear indicator light built in to the speedo. This is quite handy as we all know how many times the gear lever is nudged upwards when already in fifth, just in case you were still in fourth. The brightness of this indicator makes it visible in all but direct overhead sunlight. And the green neutral and orange idiot lights are bright enough to be seen even in sunlight.


The other modern accessory is an alarm system, activated via the remote. This is a simple motion detector device emitting a piercing noise should some unsavoury characters try to steal your possession. Not that anyone should be stealing a bike that, at this price, is already a steal.


Starting is easy. Walk towards the bike. While doing so, press the remote starter button once for ignition and again to spin the starter. If warm, it will fire up within a second, but if cold, may cut out due to needing the choke, manually activated via a lever on the left side of the carb. To switch off, again use the remote. For those buying this bike due to its classic status and not wishing to spoil the nostalgia trip with such modern contraptions as a remote starter, there is always the option of the common-or-garden ignition key, fitting into its lock where most 1970’s bikes had theirs – left-hand side under the tank, just ahead of the manually-operated fuel tap.


This key also locks the steering, the helmet lock and the fuel tank cap, while a second key is used for the wheel lock. This is stored on the left side front fork and can be used to clamp the spokes of the front wheel, or more effectively, to lock the front wheel to a railing.


The engine is surprisingly quiet at idle, emitting a deep but muted bellow from the long, straight exhaust pipe, not anti-social, but sounding like a larger capacity single. It has to be noted however, that a unit bought by a CAR staffer was found to have a loose wire in the ignition system, causing the bike to cut out and refuse to restart.


Vibrations are subdued up to 5 000 r/min, after which they increase slightly, but not to the extent that the ride becomes unpleasant. Quite typical for a well-built single. Performance is not quite in the “wheelie-popping” league, but is sufficient to stay ahead of most opposition at the traffic lights, without having to use more than 5 000 to 6 000 r/min. The gearbox is a conventional five-speed (one down, four-up) constant mesh type. Swopping cogs was a breeze, with only one missed neutral during the entire test.


A positive action was needed when cold, with a slow pull on the lever, but when warm, less effort could be used. A lever extension to the rear of the peg allows up-shifts with your heel but it could have been positioned a bit higher for comfort. The bike will pull cleanly from as low as 30 km/h in top gear (about 2 500 r/min). Braking was not up to modern standards, with only basic, small diameter single-leading shoes, front and rear. Hopefully the pads will bed-in after some use, as our test bike only had 500 km on the odometer.


The riding position is rather good, although it may be a bit cramped for tall riders. The seat is lowish at 750 mm and is large enough for two adults. Comfortable too. Handlebars are just above waist height, with neat oblong mirrors on either side. These do not suffer much from blurring. A two-up journey showed no signs of distress, with the suspension coping well and the only difference being the need for additional throttle and revs to keep up with traffic. Fuel consumption will vary depending on whether you potter around, or use full throttle to keep well ahead of other road-users. The difference between the two will still not be much, and you could expect between two and three litres per 100 km overall. This should provide between 400 and 600 km between fill-ups on the 12-litre tank.


I know you’ve heard this line before, so here it is again; “but wait, there’s more”. If you place your order now, or next week or some other time, the importers will throw in, absolutely free, a full set of waterproof gear, complete with zips, studs, elasticated sections, removable linings, safety padding, pockets everywhere and finished in black with blue and red sections and the “Gomoto” label embroidered across the back in reflective material. The gt125 is available in three colours: red, blue or black.


In my view, this newcomer has the potential of becoming the best selling motorcycle in South Africa. The question is, can supply keep up with demand? Distribution only began recently, so the bikes are initially only available in Cape Town.


Check them out at the following dealers: Owen Roberts Motorcycles, Lansdowne road, Claremont (021 671 1035), Motortech Motorcycles, Bellville, (021 949 2673), Two-wheel Mecca, Main road, Mowbray (021 6896432) and Basic Bikes (Lloyd Castle) Cape Flats and surrounds (082 6410662).


The bike's specifications are on Page 2.
Specifications:

Engine type single cylinder, four stroke, air cooled

Engine displacement 124 cm3

Bore/stroke 56 x 49,5

Compression ratio 9,0 : 1

Max power output 7,2 kW/8 000 r/min

Max torque 9,35 N.m /7 000 r/