Skyteam ST 50

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Seemed like a well thought plan? Buy a new bike with an engine based on a Honda 4 stroke legendary for reliability? I paid £999 for a Chinese trail bike classed as a moped. Used bikes for the same price all looked very battered so surely new is the way to go? My experience of this bike was terrible and with what I learned I would not go the same route again.

The dealers selling Chinese bikes tend towards the 'pile em high, sell em cheap' style of business although the dealer I used was fair. Mainstream dealers treat Chinese bikes like dog exhaust stuck on their shoes!

Running in was a good opportunity for a 16 year old to develop skills whilst gradually exploring the bike's performance. The performance was initially very poor although I expected the engine to loosen with mileage. Carefull running in was frequently interrupted by breakdowns. In the first month frequent bulb blowing was traced to a poor connector to the regulator - the supplying dealer was good here as it was a known fault - cured with a cable tie. The starter motor fell off and the starter chain mangled - removed for a 3 month wait for a replacement. The engine ground to a halt due to excess pressure caused by a melted breather pipe. Starting became gradually more difficult (kickstart only now!) and the ignition key broke in the steering lock twice (part poor design and part operator error!)

Good news! - after a couple of months I found Chinese Motorcycle Parts Online - top bananas! Brilliant website, prices generally good and delivery rapid.

Bad news - Skyteam do not supply replacement ignition keys and the blank is unusual so not stocked by regular key cutters. I retrieved the broken key bits and soldered them together; this put the bike back in use whilst an ultra-helpful locksmith sourced suitable blanks. (Took a month!)

After 8 months (2000 miles) riding all through winter the bike had a rest - 4 months for me to overhaul it before the next 16 year old family member is ready.

This is where I compounded my errors! I spent over £500 on new bits, stainless steel fasteners etc. and looked to rectify all the faults - good quality brass fasteners screwed to painted metal for example! Standard curburation was poor so I used a Mikuni; cables were a bit stiff so I had specials made by Venhill, all wheel bearings replaced with good quality versions, exhaust ceramic coated.

The result? A good-looking but poor performing bike beginning to get expensive. (And still not particularly reliable) I sold it for less than a third of its cost as I had had enough! Despite good basic design the poor build quality caused much angst.

Looking back - I could have pursued the supplying dealer more as this might have been a lemon? I definitely did too much work after buying a new bike

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