Braaap Urban 125: First Impressions

Australia’s answer to the Honda Grom?

EDIT: This post gets a lot of attention these days according to the stats, so I figured I’d update what happened. I ended up selling this bike (with issues disclosed) because it’s positively anaemic for what I need it for – even gentle inclines seem to be a major problem for it. The most significant thing though? It has weird fuel flow problems causing the engine to cut out, which nearly killed me in one particular case. Importantly, and something which is not disclosed by most sellers, if you do not take the lifetime warranty, your warranty is seven days and only covers a tiny number of issues. Outside of this you’ll need to prove an issue under Australian Consumer Law to get any remedy. Be aware that the lifetime warranty has a number of important stipulations, namely having it serviced regularly by a Braaap specialist, which is absurdly expensive for such a tiny motorcycle.

It’s actually a rebrand of the Motrac M3, a cheap Asian copy of the Grom using one of Honda’s older 125cc engine designs… except very cheaply made and without any of Honda’s reliability. The actual manual you get with the bike doesn’t mention Braaap anywhere – you get the original Motrac manual, which is practically useless. You’d never know it was from Braaap unless somebody told you.

The Grom is now out and the Urban has had a price drop, but you’d be stupid to buy this one. If you want a small bike, get the Grom – at least if something happens Honda will actually be helpful. To be fair, when I reported this issue to Braaap they did try to assist but the reseller wasn’t interested and threatened me on the phone when I complained (when they bothered to answer their phone, at least). Braaap’s staff were fairly nice to deal with (at least within their policy regarding warranty) and I can’t really fault them, but the bike definitely had an issue and the ridiculous warranty requirements mean there’s no way in hell I’d recommend it nor buy one again.

The new owner of the bike is dicking around with it on a large property he owns, mostly using it as a pseudo dirtbike, occasionally taking it around the local area. And yes, it still randomly dies, particularly if it goes over 80km/hr.

Original Review:

I love small motorcycles. They’re fun to ride, they’re lightweight and easy to throw around, and for my purposes (mostly commuting, occasionally dicking around) they work well. The Honda Grom has won a lot of fans for its small size, ease of use and relatively simple maintenance. Braaap, an Australian company that mostly makes dirt bikes, has started branching out into the street category. They’ve brought a Grom clone, called the Urban, to the scene. Retailing for around $3800 excluding on-road costs, it’s not the cheapest, but it’s also not a bad little machine.

The Urban is basically a clone of the Grom – but it’s pretty much a Motrac M3 Urban. It uses Taiwanese parts and is assembled in Australia with Australian quality control – not a China bike, but not a well known brand either. It sports a little 125cc EFI engine, hydraulic brakes and… well, it’s  a Grom clone. A lot of things that fit on the Grom will fit on an Urban, same with different mods. The airbox assembly is basically the same for example, except the Urban doesn’t have the weird mesh found in the Grom’s stock filter. The bike itself is only about 1.7m long and barely weighs 100kg wet. Although it does have pillion passenger foot pegs, you’d be mad to have anybody on the back – the seat is only just long enough (and thus classifies for true single-seat rego in Queensland). It comes with a plastic 5.5L tank, an LCD instrument cluster (with selectable LED back lighting) and a headlight selector switch of all things.

I’ve barely put 150km on the clock so far, so the bike still hasn’t been fully broken in. I’m about 95kg geared up, so I’m by no means a light rider, and I live in a semi-rural area with a few hills that tests the Urban quite a bit. By and large though I’m pretty happy with the bike so far. For a little 125cc on a tiny little bike, it’s got a decent amount of power. It isn’t fast by any stretch, and some of the hills are a pain to get up, but so long as you’re not looking to go over 80km/hr it’s fine. Being a little 125cc you’ll be revving it pretty high (and getting close to redline to squeeze all the power out of it that you can) but I can usually maintain a comfortable ride without going full twist on the throttle when I’m cruising on a typical road.

That said, there are some caveats with such a small bike. Firstly you won’t be hauling much cargo; I wear a backpack and try to travel light, and recommend anyone riding it do the same. Secondly, while it’s pretty easy on fuel with general riding, if you’re trying to push it up hills (like I do) or ride at 80km/hr it’ll drink fuel more quickly. Thirdly, you’ve got to learn to use your gears more carefully and stay in the power band until you’re at the speed you need to be. Economical shifting doesn’t work very well on such a small bike, so you’ll be revving hard to get up to speed to keep up with traffic. Some parts of my main commute I have to slip down into third gear to maintain a decent speed up a decent incline, running in the upper RPM limit (but not quite redline). Keep in mind the bike isn’t fully broken in and hasn’t had its first oil change yet.

Top speed? I’ve had it up to 90km/hr on the flat – but it took a while to get there, I had to tuck in (not easy on such a small bike) and any sort of incline will cut some of that off. Driving on a motorway is pretty much out of the question. Think of it like a scooter engine with a motorcycle styling and the advantage of gear selection – it’l get up inclines that scooters will struggle with simply because you can select an appropriate gear.

There are some modifications I’m considering doing – mostly anything that works for the Grom will apply here, since it’s basically the same design. I’m considering modifying the airbox (or using a pod filter) as a starting point. It isn’t a difficult bike to maintain (the fairings are fairly easy to remove) provided you’ve got the tools and can sit through YouTube videos.

I’ll probably post a better review once I’ve had it for a bit longer, but for now it’s a decent little commuter. I want to get a tail pack for it (I don’t like top boxes) for a bit more cargo storage, but for now I’m enjoying riding around the local area on it. The only caveat? It’s around $4100 on-road, and Honda just announced the Grom will come to Australia for about that same price. Granted that’s a limited introductory price, but would you buy a clone when you could have the real thing for the same price? No doubt this is a clever move by Honda. We’ll see what Braaap’s reaction is. That said Braaap tend to provide quite a bit of support for their bikes, so hopefully we’ll see more Braaap accessories and parts released for the Urban.

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