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Buying a cheap new bike – part two

IMG_6591

If you missed Buying a cheap new bike part one, the short version is that we bought a Chinese-built trail bike, the CCM MT230, for a grand total of £2300, and was wondering if I had just got a bargain or got my fingers burnt.

The best way to find out, I figured, was to talk to someone who knows more about bikes than I do, so I decided to call on my mate Carl at my local bike shop and service centre MIS UK LTD in Newark. He would be just the man to tell me what I had just got myself into.

I decided to get Carl involved as soon as possible, so after picking up the bike and before I took it to MIS, I only did a couple of short rides to get a feel for the bike. And it only took a couple of little bimbles on it to start to appreciate its character, and to start being quite defensive about any of its shortcomings. I was starting to fall for it…

MIS is one of those old school bike shops I love visiting. The place is not too big, so you soon get to know everyone there. They are really friendly and genuinely interested in bikes, and they have some amazing bikes to look at while you’re there. But I ignored the Laverdas, Cagivas and Ducatis in the showroom, and headed straight to the service bench where Carl was getting the MT230 ready for inspection. This was it, the moment of truth.

I had feared the guys at MIS would burst out laughing when they first saw the bike but they seemed genuinely impressed with it. “It looks like a decent copy of a Honda to be honest, but let’s take a closer look,” said Carl.

 

checking-bike-parts

 

The first thing that Carl tested was the electrics. The good news was that everything worked as it should. The not so good news was that the wires and connectors weren’t particularly well protected from the elements, so water might get in and corrosion could be an issue in the future. There were bits that could be protected better.

 

wires-on-bike


Actually, the electrics were not the very first thing that got Carl’s attention. The very first thing was the clothes peg holding the choke lever on. I thought it was a brilliant solution as it rested on the choke when it wasn’t needed, then wedged itself in place to keep the choke on. Surely that was the simplest solution to the problem. Well, apparently you can just tighten a screw to make the choke stay in place without needing to jam a clothes peg in. There’s certainly not the same old-world romance about it, but I had to concede that it was the better solution, so Carl tightened the screw, and the choke worked perfectly again.

 

bike-up-close

 

Next on the agenda was a check of all the fittings. Again, the verdict was that everything was in its rightful place, but the budget approach was obvious in places such as the rear brake line, which was secured in place with a zip tie as the dedicated holders didn’t have grommets in them to hold the line in place. There were similar issues elsewhere too. Nothing that was a real problem, just signs of doing things on the cheap.

 

checking-the-bike

 

A closer look revealed that although everything was secured, the welding was a bit messy with spatters visible, and you could see that some bits had not been completely sealed, leaving a chance for moisture to creep in.

A greater problem was discovered when Carl pulled off the spark plug cap. It wasn’t properly attached to the spark plug and moved up and down at just the slightest touch. It was also not waterproof, and there was already water inside it and corrosion on the lead. This was an immediate upgrade, and as Carl replaced it he joked about the new NGK cap being the most premium part on the bike. It probably was, too.

 

spark-plug

 

Then it was time for a bolt check, which was a very worthwhile job as it exposed a couple of problems. Firstly, the rear axle bolt was a little loose. Not too bad, but not ideal. More worryingly, one of the bolts in the front axle clamp had lost its thread and effectively stopped doing anything. It was a simple case of using a Helicoil to create a new thread, but if it had been left unchecked it could have been a real problem.

The last bit to do was applying ACF50 on all the metal parts to keep them from rusting too soon. And that was the initial check done.

So, what was the verdict? Well, pretty good actually. You have to remember that everything here is relative to the fact that this is a very cheap motorcycle, but apart from a few issues with build quality, a couple of budget components, and some questionable shortcuts, the bike was sound. It was cheaply built and wouldn’t last as long as a more premium bike, but was definitely up for the job that I had bought it for – riding.

And that was just what I was going to do now I was reassured the bike would not dissolve under me. But more about that in part three...

Thanks to MIS

Thanks to MIS in Newark, Notts, for helping to get the MT230 sorted. MIS specialises in servicing and repairing, as well as selling and buying all makes of motorcycles, both classic and modern. The showroom has around 45 bikes with another 15 in the workshop at any given time. The team at MIS are thorough professionals, and always happy to help – even when you wander in with a dodgy Chinese bike…

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