|Review of the SACHS
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
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.
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 MadAssís 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, Iíll 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 necessityís. 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
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.
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
The stacked headlight looks pretty cool and works well. The dash is
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
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