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Bike Review - Posted 27th January 2014
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Skyteam ACE 125

We admit it. When Dave Morris told us he was buying a Chinese 125 classic-a-like, we couldn't resist a tiny little bit of sneering. So far, however, Dave reckons it's been not-much-money well spent...

Apparently - from reading other people's accounts of how they came across this bike - my story is quite common. Just like them I saw it in a shop window across the road and thought 'that looks interesting'. A little while later I found myself a proud owner of a Skyteam Ace 125.

Skyteam ACE 125

So what is it? In theory, the Ace is everything that people say you don't want. It is a copy, and it is copy of an obsolete design, and it is (worst of all) made in China.

In fact, the Ace is really a corker of a copy of the limited-edition Honda Dream 50 which was built in 1997/98. The Dream was itself tribute to another bike, the 1962 CR110 privateer racer. So the Ace is a Chinese copy of a Japanese copy of a race replica which itself mimicked the RC110 works racebike - Honda's first 50cc GP machine.

Skyteam ACE 125

All that aside, the Ace does appear to actually be WELL made in China. I've had many bikes: Beezas, Triumphs, Hondas, Harleys and MZs, and this little bike is on the whole as nicely made as any of those. The best bit though is the price: around £1700 OTR new. My dealer even chucked a chrome, non-catalyst exhaust in for that!

At first glance the Ace may appear small but this is quite deceptive. As it has a single seat and a long tank where you sit is in reality where a pillion would usually go. So it's quite easy for most people to get in a good position.

Let me make clear right from the start that when I saw the Ace in the dealer's shop I decided that it would get messed about with. It clearly had some form of obstruction in the exhaust and some external plumbing that would shame a Brit bike. Luckily this all turned out to be some form of pointless emission control and catalyst that someone in Europe wanted - it's all in my shed and they can call for it anytime…

It was also my intention to change certain features for aesthetic reasons so this means that the bike you see here has the following mods - all easily done and not expensive. My Ace now has a new back light, indicators, bar-end mirrors and air-horns. The headlamp, speedo, ignition switch and battery have been re-positioned. I de-badged it, replacing the tank stickers with some de-pinned enamel badges. None of this is required, of course, and the bikes come fully equipped but I bought mine to play with.

Skyteam ACE 125

For added deep joy there is a company, OORacing, which sells aftermarket performance parts for these bikes. I just could not resist a 150cc 'big bore' kit with performance head. I can't tell you what difference it made as I never even rode it as a 125 but I can say that it certainly is a little belter now! A standard Ace 125 will typically output around 5bhp at the rear wheel when tested on a dyno: with some tuning mods OORacing have raised overall power to 8bhp and more, with power available lower in the rev range.

For someone used to riding a Harley with nigh-on a 1.6 litre engine, this little beauty is a real eye-opener. It is as light as a feather and really easy to chuck around and the brakes once bedded down are very good. There is an active forum group on the 'Do The Ton' website as well as a dedicated website for UK owners. Like-minded souls from around the world have messed with every part as far as I can tell: common mods include EBC brake linings and pads, better tyres than the 18-inch originals (mine is on Dunlop TT100s), and of course emission control 'enhancement' (aka removal).

In truth this little bike has brought back my desire to just ride around aimlessly, for the sheer fun of it. Every time I have been out on it I get buttonholed by people wanting to admire it, talk about it and even in one case someone wanted to buy some petrol for it!

Skyteam ACE 125 Engine based on Honda CG125
Skyteams on right now...

The powerplant is based on (by which I mean it's an outright copy of) the two-valve, five-speed Honda CG125 air-cooled, four-stroke single, so it comes complete with an electric start, kickstart, electronic ignition and a carburettor. The frame is of fully welded tube construction with a square section front down tube just like the Honda Dream 50. The engine is a kind of stressed member in that there are no lower frame rails but to be honest I don't think there is much in the way of stress going on…

Up front we have telescopic forks with a single-sided disc, and steel mudguard acting as a fork brace. This raises the point that just about everything on this little machine is made of metal. A common insult of my youth was that Oriental bikes were made of plastic. All we have here in that material are the sidepanels, seat hump and a small section of rear mudguard.

At the rear damping is by two chrome shocks connected to a conventional swinging arm - these have no adjustment and whilst they look OK are probably a bit on the soft side. The rear brake is a drum. The petrol tank is a really nicely-made steel item with a locking petrol cap. Altogether, it weighs under 90kg.

This whole Ace package is just total FUN. provides an endless supply of interesting parts to tune, customise, improve and alter at economic prices. As a first bike it would be superb to learn how to maintain and fettle as well as ride. This makes the Ace an excellent way to encourage new entrant into the world of classic bikes.

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