Earlier this year, Yamaha revived their fabled SR (albeit in 400cc form instead of with the original 500cc lump), a bike that has become a bit of a cult object amongst the ranks of neo-retro riders, petrolhead hipsters and modern-day ton-up boys. Indian manufacturer Royal Enfield fell into step shortly afterwards, presenting their 535cc Continental GT. Now it’s the turn of MASH to jump onto the neo-retro big thumper bandwagon with their new Five Hundred, which despite the name is powered by a 400cc powerplant – go figure, as they say across the pond.
MASH is the name under which the French motorcycle, parts & accessories importer SIMA markets motorcycles made in China on the French, Belgian, Portuguese and Spanish markets. The bikes are however available in other countries, albeit under various different brand names. Now, before you all tell me to take my Chinese bikes and “Foxtrot Oscar”, I should point out that Chinese products have improved quite a bit in recent years: I very much doubt that a company with SIMA’s history and reputation would distribute duff bikes. For example, my new smartphone is Chinese-made (although with R&D and design done in Europe) and compares very favourably with a similar ‘phone made by a well-known Korean brand. But I digress: let’s get back to the bike.
The MASH Five Hundred is impeccably retro-styled, even more so that the SR400, bearing a passing resemblance to the Triumph Bonneville T120. The engine is a fuel-injected 400cc SOHC, dry-sump single-cylinder with twin exhaust ports and a kickstart (don’t worry, there’s also an electric starter) developing 27 bhp @ 7,000 rpm and 3.05 m/kg (29.9 Nm) @ 5,500 rpm. That might sound like a pretty ridiculous power figure, but then again bikes like this aren’t about humongous power – it’s enough to get you around town at a respectable speed, and even ensures satisfactory progress along small back roads. On the down side, you’re best advised to stay away from motorways, dual carriageways and large A-roads. The retro look is accentuated by chromed steel mudguards, a two-tone paint job on the 13-litre (2.8 UK gallon) tank and a “banana” seat not unlike the one found on the Kawasaki W800.
The stopping power on this bike that weighs in at 150 kg (330 lbs) is entrusted to a 280 mm (11-inch) brake disc with a twin parallel piston calliper up front, and a 160 mm (6-inch) drum brake on the rear wheel, which should provide reasonable braking under normal use. As for the wheels and tyres, the 19-inch front wears a 100/90 boot and the 18-inch rear is fitted with 130/70 rubber. A parcel rack/grab handle completes the Five Hundred’s equipment. One of the downsides of the 2-into-2 exhaust is that there’s no room to fit a centre stand.
The MASH Five Hundred is aimed at urban and novice riders looking for something stylish to get them round town or to cut their teeth on. That said, with a power figure similar to the Royal Enfield Bullet, it ought to be quite a pleasant machine with which to go for a sedate Sunday ride in the countryside. It will be available as of 1st October at a launch price of 3,990 € (£ 3,157)*.
*Bear in mind this price is quoted by MASH for the French market.
All photographs: © MASH Motors