This review is going to be a bit different than our usual fare. In the first place, the Sachs MadAss isn’t a scooter. It’s a “minimalist motorcycle” as it states in the Sachs marketing materials. Secondly, this review is going to include some significant modifications to the bike. Lastly, it will be written, in a large part, by my nephew Avery. Avery has purchased a Sachs MadAss from BlueCat Motors in St. Paul, Minnesota with the intention of it being a “project” bike.
We will begin with a “regular” review of the stock 50cc Sachs MadAss. Next we will look at the modifications done to the bike, and then we will review the completed, enhanced bike.
Sachs Motorcycles was founded in Schweinfurt Germany in 1886, making it the oldest surviving motorcycle company. In the 1960s, Sachs added Victoria, Express and DKW to their offerings. They supplied motorcycles to the German Armed Forces in the 1990s. In the USA, Sachs is best-know as a supplier of components such as suspension pieces.
Why a MadAss?
In Avery’s own words:
It all started a couple of years ago when I was working full time at a local motorcycle shop. I was playing a game with one of the technicians. The game is well known to new friends with a shared passion. I like to call the game “Look at the cool obscure stuff I know”. This game is usually played amongst men, instead of yelling at each other and beating our chest like a couple of gorillas, we try and one up each other with what we know. In this case it the shared passion was motorcycles and the obscure knowledge was stuff you could not get in the US. Websites were visited, magazines were referenced and bold statements were made. Neil Sikora was the technician and the bold statement was that he would own a Sachs MadAss. Fast forward to this past winter. Neil (now part owner of BlueCat Motors in St. Paul) calls me and says he just took delivery of two MadAss’s one black one yellow. I show up the next day, a coin is flipped, Neil got the yellow I got the black.
Why the MadAss? Take a minute to really look at the bike, I’ll wait…
Efficiency is the language of design, everything on the bike exists for a reason, all of the parts blend seamlessly with one another, the frame is also the fuel tank, the swing arm provides mounts for passenger pegs, bodywork… none exists to get in the way of the bike.
In reality the MadAss ask us, the consumer “Why”. Why add more than the absolute necessity’s. Well part of the reason companies pile a bunch of unnecessary stuff on there bikes is, most people want more and more junk. The other reason is, if you only offer the basic elements, those elements cannot be flawed. There is no place to hide imperfection on a bike like the MadAss. So the next logical question is, does the MadAss have any imperfections? The welds are wonderful, the components better then they need to be, the engine… is the reason this is going to be a three part review.
A 49cc, air cooled, carbureted four-stroke that can pass modern EPA restrictions will get me from point A to point B however, it is not going to satisfy me. If your are reading this closely you may see a flaw in my argument for the MadAss. You may say (and rightfully so) the motor fits into the rest of the efficient, minimalist design language. To explain myself I have to steal a phrase from a real writer “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” (Walt Whitman)
On to the review of the stock MadAss 50cc:
Speedometer Reading/Speed/Fuel Economy
In our other scooter reviews, we utilize a GPS unit for much of our testing. The day that we were riding the MadAss, my GPS unit was acting up. As such, I did the tests the “old fashioned” way with mile markers and a chronograph. OK, no kidding, it was a little tough to do the speedometer accuracy test because it was hard for me to get the MadAss up to an indicated 30 MPH in time to make the first marker on a flat road. The MadAss speedometer was pretty accurate, indicating just a bit more than actual speed. Most scooters we test run about 10% optimistic. The MadAss was just under 3% optimistic. At that close, it could well have been the “lapse” time in doing the test manually.
Speed. Yeah…… um…… speed. The stock 50cc MadAss is one of the slowest vehicles I have ridden. I’m no small chore for any scooter or motorcycle to haul around. At 220 pounds, I am “too heavy” for the listed capacity on a few 50cc scooters. For comparison, I’d say the MadAss 50cc has acceleration roughly equivalent to a Honda Ruckus or a Kymco Agility 50cc. The MadAss is a four-speed with a clutch operated by a lever on the left-hand control and conventional (for a motorcycle) shifting done by the left foot. First gear just got me into the intersection, second gear got me through, third gear got me up to the low 20 MPH range, and fourth gear was good for 32 MPH on a level road (with no headwind). Going downhill I saw 38 MPH. Going up a normal hill on a city street, 25 MPH was the best the MadAss could manage. It’s SLOW. It was also working pretty darn hard as the fuel economy only came back at 73 MPG.
The Sachs MadAss is an elemental small motorcycle. It has a MOSTLY conventional motorcycle layout. The fuel tank is (technically) between the rider’s legs, but it is an integral part of the frame as opposed to an added-on fuel tank. It has a hand-lever operated clutch and a foot-shifted four-speed manual transmission with a chain getting power to the rear wheel. The engine is an air-cooled 49.5cc four-stroke fed by a carburetor. A hydraulic fork covers the front suspension while an adjustable mono-shock handles the rear. There are disk brakes front AND rear. The MadAss rides on a 90/80-16″ tire in the front and a 120/70-16″ in the rear. The fuel tank holds 1.3 gallons and the seat height is 33 inches. The MadAss weighs 187 pounds. MSRP on the MadAss 50cc version is $1,999. It is available in silver, yellow and flat black (pictured in this review).
The stacked headlight looks pretty cool and works well. The dash is digital and was easy to read even in sunlight. There is a speedometer and trip meter, fuel gauge and indicator lights for the turn signals, high-beam and neutral. In addition to the electric push-button start, there is also a kick-starter. There is a “dual” seat, with the passenger portion being slightly higher than the rider section. I cannot, in my wildest dreams, imagine carrying a passenger on this bike. There is no storage.
My nephew Avery warned me that the bike would be slow before I ever swung a leg over it. Given my size and the specifications of the engine I wasn’t expecting much. The MadAss started right up and consumed its entire power band in first gear just to get rolling onto the street. Speed-shift, pop the clutch, it doesn’t matter – the MadAss is just going to putter along at its own pace. The minimalist-looking seat was actually comfortable. After riding for about 45 minutes, I started to notice that the seat got a bit warm from the exhaust that is directly under it. Not bad mind you, but one does notice it.
Getting up to speed (a little more than 30 MPH) took a bit, and holding speed on a hill just isn’t going to happen. That little 50cc stock motor is not going to impress anyone with performance. It is, however, likely to do just fine at transporting one from point to point, reliably, for a long period of time. I would expect that tough little 50 to do the job without (much) complaint in nearly any circumstance. Every other “riding” component of the MadAss is nothing short of exceptional. The front and rear disk brakes are strong, easy to modulate and offer up stopping power that is every bit as impressive as the engine isn’t. Frankly, it was difficult to build up enough speed to push the handling capabilities of the MadAss. From my few hours of riding, the suspension felt just fantastic. The bike is light, solid, and incredibly easy to handle. No mushy feeling or wallowing even with the aforementioned 220 pounds on board.
Fit and Finish
Every component of the Sachs MadAss shouts out “quality.” The design integrates the components into an elegant statement of simplicity and efficiency. The manufacturing workmanship brings the whole package to a level that makes the $2,000 price tag seem cheap. You are getting a great deal of outstanding machine for your money. I could not find ANY flaws in the components or assembly.
Conclusions – Stock 50cc Version
Despite the outstanding quality of the Sachs MadAss 50, I cannot say that I would purchase one. I am just to physically big to be happy getting around with that stock 50cc motor. If you are a smaller, lighter person looking for one of the best examples of pure transportation design available today, and you can be happy at a maximum of 32 MPH, the MadAss could be an excellent choice.