Motorcycle on twisty road

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.

SYM motorcycle side view
A fun little bike that will take you wherever you want to go.

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.

MMM

 

By Sev Pearman

There is nothing quite as satisfying as riding a bike that excels in its designed role. Off-road bikes BRAAAP, cruisers cruise and small bikes… “Wait!” you say, “Why would I want a 150cc street motorcycle?” Come along for the ride while MMM® samples the delightful SYM Wolf Classic 150 and find out.

First impression is of the style. Taiwanese manufacturer SYM has nailed the lines and proportions of early-70s Japanese small-bore bikes. Skinny tires on spoked, polished aluminum rims and chromed blade fenders are signature period details. Accordion fork gaiters, chrome binnacles for the sweep dial gauges and a slotted chrome horn cover adorn the front. The motor and chrome exhaust look to be plucked from a 70s Honda single. Chrome snaps and a rear seat hoop ring the base of the seat. Twin rear shocks with chromed springs balance the rear. The red frame completes the time warp.

OK, so there is plenty of “show”. What about the “go”? The Wolf is powered by a capable, modern 150cc, OHV single that makes 14.8 hp (8,000rpm) and 9 ft-lbs torque (9,000rpm). Redline is 9,500rpm. This is enough power to propel my 260-lbs to an indicated 63mph at full throttle in top gear. While no freeway burner,

SYM motorcycle exhaust side view
Classic is the perfect way to describe the Wolf’s fit and finish.

the Wolf 150 will happily lope along all day at 55mph. Clutch action is light, mated to a delightful 5-speed gearbox. Gearshift lever travel is short, facilitating nice, crisp gearshifts. Neutral is easy to find with an idiot light that is both large and bright.

The “Whoa” happens through a robust, 240mm drilled disc and 2-piston caliper up front and a 130mm drum at the rear. The brakes are one of the highlights of this machine. Front and rear power are matched and balanced. The front is not grabby and the rear does not fade. I was surprised at the excellent feel and feedback I got through the front lever, even during aggressive stops. Well done, SYM!

I loved riding this bike. At 266-lbs wet weight, it is both easy and fun to flick about. The chassis is stable when leaned over and on the gas. Mid-corner line corrections can be made with confidence. I like the look of the clip-on handlebars. While sporty, they do not force the rider into a forward lean. Seat height is a tick under 30 inches, allowing most riders to get both feet on the ground at stops; doubly valuable to new or returning riders or those with a shorter inseam.

After a few miles, other details emerged. The headlight is bright, burning a modern H4 halogen bulb. The horn is louder than expected; mirrors are big and vibration-free. I was thrilled to see a proper center stand in addition to the kickstand. With a MSRP of $2,999, there are a couple of budget concessions. The rider foot pegs do not pivot, so beware if you like to corner hard. The blinker switch doesn’t have the “push forward to cancel” feature. You have to slide the switch back to center and a couple times, I caught myself riding with the blinker on. The seat requires you to pull two bolts for access. Fuel economy is rated at 85mpg. With a 2.45-gallon tank, you have over 200-mile range. Impressive.

Many riders have turned to twist-and-go scooters for urban commuting. But there is something to be said about a light, proper motorcycle running a torquey motor and tight gearbox. The SYM Wolf 150 makes an excellent commuter, date night runabout and weekend scratcher. With its low buy-in and proven, bulletproof reliability, the SYM Wolf Classic 150 will delight you for years to come. Many thanks to Marty and Lissa at GoMoto in Minneapolis (gomotomn.com) for making this review possible. GoMoto has been selling the SYM brand since 2010. You can reach them at (612) 588-MOTO.

See you down the road.

Ups

The SYM Wolf is lightweight, very forgiving and oh-so-easy to ride.

Front disc + 2-piston caliper has a perfect balance of stopping power and smoothness.

SYM has nailed the retro 70s style.

Downs

Diminutive size may be a challenge for long legs.

Beware the non-folding foot pegs.

Blinker switch is a little too authentic.

Wife’s First Reaction® “What a cool bike. Its adorable!”

Fuel Economy: 85 mpg

MMM

SPECIFICATIONS 2017 SYM Wolf Classic 150 MSRP: $2,999 Warranty: 2-years, unlimited miles ENGINE Type: 4-stroke single Bore x Stroke: N.A. Displacement: 149.4 cc Compression Ratio: 9.6:1 Valve Train: OHC, 2-valve/cyl Fueling: Carburetor Cooling: Air-cooled PERFORMANCE Horsepower: 14.8 hp @ 8,000 rpm Torque: 9.04 ft.-lbs @ 9,000 rpm DRIVE TRAIN Transmission: 5-speed Final Drive: Chain CHASSIS Front Suspension: Telescopic fork Rear Suspension: Dual shocks w/ coil-over springs Front Brake: Single, drilled 240mm rotor w/ 2-piston caliper Rear Brake: 130mm drum Front Tire: 2.75” x 18” aluminium rim Rear Tire: 3.00” x 17” aluminium rim DIMENSIONS Seat Height: 29.9” Wheelbase: 49.2” Rake: N.A. Trail: N.A. Curb Weight: 266-lbs Fuel Capacity: 2.45-gals COLORS: Red/White(tested), Hunter Green, Midnight Black, Century White

 

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