Sinnis Apache SM125 test & review - Bad ass, or just bad?
Exploring in Cornwall with the capable little bike
The Sinnis Apache SM125 is one of the large number or small capacity machines being offered by the Brighton based brand. It's worth noting off the bat that SM in the name stands for supermoto. Supermoto machines can trace their heritage to the 1960's & 1970's when the sport of supermoto began taking off, these were bikes that had been modified to ride on a mixture of hard packed dirt, motorcross style jumps and some tarmac for good measure. They were typical off-road based machines such as Yamaha YZ's or Honda CR's for example so as such they had long travel suspension, good ground clearance and 17 inch wheels. So considering Sinnis have chosen to adopt the supermoto term into the name of their machine, have they managed to capture the ethos of a true supermoto for only £2249? They certainly managed to adopt the styling with the rugged off-road based looks with the high level front mudguard, wide bars, high ground clearance and a bash-guard for good measure. But that's about where the similarities end.
What's it like to ride?
The bike is a true "sit on" supermoto style feeling with a slightly high seat leaving you upright with the wide bars to help flick the bike from side to side when the road begins to get more twisty and the seat allows you plenty of room to move around in all directions. Despite the high seat the suspension does sag quite a bit when sat on it so it shouldn't restrict many people from throwing a leg over. While I was testing the bike despite being exposed with no fairing to hide behind and riding in one of the windiest parts of the UK I suffered no issues with being blown around by crosswinds or similar and it took everything I threw at it in it's stride however like all 125cc bikes now it isn't what you can consider fast but there are certainly some other CBT legal bikes that would have a marginal performance edge over the Sinnis. The brakes have a great feel to them and you can genuinely just use one or two fingers on the front lever to control you safely and equally the rear brake (also a disc) performs well and gives you enough control to modulate your speed.
Engine & Transmission - The engine is based (read copied) from a Suzuki GS125 which is straight up 1980's technology. It kicks out a healthy 11.5hp from the air-cooled single cylinder which is on par with other air-cooled machines in this class. Straight out of 2020 though comes the Delphi fuel injection system which means the rugged and reliable engine just got even more reliable and unlike some cheaper or early fuel injection systems the throttle on this bike is smooth and easy to operate with no flat spots in the throttle travel. Getting all 11.5 horses to the ground is a 5 speed gearbox which is smooth and presents no issues but one of my biggest gripes from this bike comes from the final drive ratios (chain & sprockets) meaning this bike is ultra low geared. You start to get towards the red line in top gear around 60-65mph and it really feels like the bike won't go much further despite the engine having the power too. I expect the bike could work better with taller gearing and is definitely capable of doing so as I managed to pull away from a standstill in 2nd gear with a normal amount of clutch slip. Having said that though, the bike works well thrashing around the back lanes. Suspension The suspension is a little on the soft side probably owing to the fact that it's intended as a "down and dirty" (Sinnis' words) supermoto. This means that when pressing on through the bends you can start to feel the bike wallow a touch but honestly most 125cc bikes I have ridden tend to be on the softer side and if you are new to riding you are unlikely to notice any issues.
Who are Sinnis? I asked how Sinnis can consider themselves a British Brand when the bikes are obviously manufactured in China. They came back to me with a detailed answer that made no real sense but in essence I believe they have placed stricter quality controls on the manufacturing party in China and are feeding back design improvements all of the time to help achieve a decent product at a good price point. Sinnis also market themselves as providing small capacity bikes (their biggest is just 380cc) that covers all aspects from cruisers, adventure bikes, supermotos and scooters. They also have approx. 100 dealers around the UK meaning the majority of us shouldn't be too far away from our nearest showroom. However if you are one of those unlucky few that live in a pocket without a dealer don't worry, you won't invalidate your warranty by getting your bike serviced by a non-Sinnis dealer providing you send your service slip in to them and the work has been carried out by a qualified repair agent. Please check with Sinnis though if you are unsure before proceeding as the responsibility will lie with the owner to prove it has been undertaken correctly.
Pros - The mirrors are a cool shape but don't restrict rearward visibility and are actually pretty useful, this may seem a minor point but I've ridden more expensive bikes that aren't as good so it's noteworthy. - The foot pegs provide a good grounding and very sturdy meaning even if you get on the bike with filthy muddy bike boots you won't be sliding off and you'll remain in control. - The gear lever and foot brake lever both have fold-able ends. This may not seem important but as an exuberant 17 year old you're like to go sliding down the road at some point and having less to replace, or even being able to ride home will be a bonus - The rear light is incredibly bright and considering we are coming into winter as I write this it's worth not underestimating the safety of being visible - The digital side of the dash which displays speed and fuel level is bright, well lit and easy to read. Also it has a gear indicator which is great for all riders but especially those still getting to grips with things - Clutch is light and comfortable to use so not intimidating for new users
Cons - The brakes are linked meaning when you apply the front brake, it applies a slight amount of rear brake and vice versa. I really didn't like this element and I can only imagine it was done as a cheap version of ABS but what it means is that if you are turning on a loose surface, i.e. a gravel car park, it has a tendency to try and tuck or push the front end if you apply the rear brake and it's easy to be caught out as I nearly was a couple of times. I'd remove it ASAP. - Despite one side of the dash looking good the rev counter looks like a poor 90's version of a rev counter and does spoil the dash somewhat - The vibrations from the handlebars and foot-pegs are a bit more than is acceptable and if you were doing a long journey I expect you'd be wanting to take breaks sooner purely because of this and not because of the tank range or your comfort otherwise - Pillion grab bars feel cheap and flimsy but if you're riding on a CBT this won't matter anyway - I can't get away with not mentioning the gearing again, it's just too low and compared to your mates bikes it's probably going to leave you lacking - Because it's a Chinese bike depreciation is likely to be quite bad. Expect to lose around £1000 in 2 years. - Despite the bike I rode only had just over 1000 miles when I had it on loan there were already some fasteners starting to go rusty so it's certainly not as high build quality as some other bikes on the market
What does the competition look like? The other bikes you may be considering if you are looking for a supermoto style bike are; KTM Duke 125 - £3499 - not a true supermoto but similar styling and whilst looks cooler, you'll pay for it Sinnis Apache SMR 125 - £2349 - Only £100 more but comes with a different chassis, swing arm and dash. SWM RS125 - £3499 (Used) - A true supermoto based on an enduro bike with a water-cooled engine. Very pricey Summary It's a great attempt by Sinnis and it's brilliant when zipping about the city centre or hacking down back roads. However it's just slightly lacking and if I were looking to purchase a supermoto style bike and on a budget I would take a long look at the Sinnis offering...and then probably look past the SM125, and check out the bigger brother SMR125 instead.