By Paul Berglund
We rode the SYM Wolf Classic 150. SYM (pronounced S-Y-M like BMW, KTM or BSA) is an established scooter and motorcycle maker based in Thailand. The initial walk around left me with the impression of quality. This bike could be parked next to the vintage Japanese bikes that it resembles and it will stand up to direct comparisons. It’s a well built motorcycle. Not only that, but while it may be low tech by modern bike standards, it will out-perform many of those old bikes.
It snowed the day after I got the bike to ride. I waited for the weather to warm up, but that didn’t happen. So with the deadline for the story looming, I bundled up and set out on a gloomy 34 degree day to do some riding. I chose to ride on Mississippi River Blvd in St. Paul, near my house. It’s very curvy and very scenic. The speed limit is 25 miles an hour which fits the intended use of the bike and keeps the wind chill to a minimum.
The glossy heavy card stock brochure that came with the bike lists the top speed of the Wolf Classic as 65.5 miles per hour. I thought that was an odd number, but later on I tried to find the top speed on a long stretch of divided highway and sure enough in full tuck and freezing fingers I saw the speedometer needle swing up to 65.5 and it would go no further. Not on flat ground. Not with me riding the bike. I’m 6 foot 2 and 200 pounds, so if you were a gymnast or a jockey in high school, you may do better.
I had a slight fitment issue when maneuvering the bike out of my garage. I could bump my knees into the handle bar ends when backing it out into the alley, but once underway I felt very comfortable riding this three quarter sized motorcycle. The seat is roomy and the foot pegs are far enough away that I forgot that I must look like a giant to people walking on the sidewalk. And speaking of sidewalks, I feel strongly that bike paths should be open to scooters, mopeds and tiny motorcycles like The Wolf Classic one day a month. That would be insanely fun and a good use of our tax dollars.
The clutch pull seamed heavy for such a small bike, but that’s about my only complaint. The motor puts out a healthy amount of power for a 149.4 cc engine. The transmission is smooth and the 5 speed gear box and sprockets are the perfect combination to give you maximum performance around town. I would adjust the rear springs, mirrors and hand levers to better fit me, and this bike would be a great urban commuter.
Last summer when I had mini bike fever, I bought a 1970 Honda Trail 70 with an aftermarket 125cc motor stuffed in it. I thought it would be a great urban commuter. It is not. Tiny wheels are not your friend on crappy Minnesota roads. The Wolf Classic has an 18 inch front wheel and a 17 inch rear wheel. The tires are skinny as mountain bike tires but the end result is a real motorcycle feel going down the road. I’m going on the record here that I would buy the little Wolf way before I would buy a Honda Grom with it’s tiny wheels. The list price of $2999 is $200 cheaper than a Grom too.
Back to the ride. It has somewhat sporty clip on style bars, but the reach is far from radical. I was sitting almost up right and the seat is comfortable. There is no bum stop bump in the seat, so you can slide forward or back till you find the sweet spot. I preferred forward and upright around town and slid back and crouched for my high speed run. It’s not meant for freeway riding, but it can hold its own on any road with a speed limit of 55 or lower. It positively crushed the 25 mph speed limit on the river road. It’s seriously fun on a tight twisty road and it was very hard not to blow past the posted speed.
The steering is very nimble as you might expect for a motorcycle that’s this light. The weight is listed at 266 pounds, but it feels even lighter when you’re underway. It has a front disk and a rear drum for brakes but I thought it has plenty of braking power. It will certainly out brake a vintage bike in the same weight class. The ride is built for comfort but at urban speeds, I never ran out of cornering performance.
It’s rated at 85 mpg. I was too cold to do a long distance ride to verify that kind of mileage. But given the weight and motor size that sounds reasonable. I did find one quirk when I put gas in the tank. When you flip open the locking gas cap and look in the tank, your view is completely blocked by a metal flap. You can’t see how much gas is in the tank. It doesn’t have a gas gauge, so you have to keep track of your gas range using the trip meter old school style.
It can be difficult when you are considering what bike to buy. The type of bike will make a huge difference in your decision. How and where you ride should help you choose. There are bad bikes out there, but most often people aren’t happy with the bike they bought because they bought the wrong type of bike for how they end up riding. I’ve had lots of different bikes over the years because where and how I ride has changed. The good bikes I owned didn’t go bad one day, I changed my mind and changed my riding style and that good bike no longer fit my life. I really liked this bike for what it is. If what you want to do on a motorcycle falls within the mission statement of the Wolf Classic, then it could be a good fit for you. Lots of people who will be considering buying this bike have spent more money on tattoos. This is much less of a commitment.
Looks are subjective, so you’ll have to judge for yourself, but I think this is a very attractive bike. The construction is solid and the components and the build quality are very nice. I was cold but very happy the whole time I was riding the Wolf Classic. If you love the look of vintage bikes but you don’t want the hassle of owning a vintage bike, stop by Go Moto and take a look at the SYM Wolf Classic 150.