diary of a

daft little monkey bike [][][]


 Now i don't know a thing about monkeybikes or 4 stroke engines and up until stumbleing across monkeybikes uk's website while looking for a vspa alternative ... i had never seen a honda Dax before in my life. There is a surprising lack of info about these bikes on the the internet so this page is small attempt to fill that gap, by simply documenting the trials and (hopefully not too many) tribulations of  'daft monkeybike' ownership.  





August 2010 the beginning [][][]

Cut a long story short - Vespa was in bits waiting to be Base coated , work moved our  offices, so could no longer walk, wife needed car because she works in york, couldn't find a cheap vespa, bought a daft monkey bike - it fuckin,  rocks i love it!

This is what sold me -  ZenHua 125 - £995 monkeybike.co.uk - Brand new copy  of a 70's Honda Dax with a 125 engine and a six month guarantee. From probably the best monkey bike specialist in the uk and for less than what some people where asking for a fucked vespa PX125 cutdown, painted with Hammerite and  no M.O.T. Praise the imaginary bearded man in the sky that they have started selling new PX's again.


Day of delivery [][][]

This is it on day of delivery, David the owner dropped it off himself in the van, really nice bloke Taxed and tested, petrol in the tank, couldn't have asked for more. Had been getting increasingly worried on the run up to delivery about how small it was going to be. I had checked all the specs and done all the research, but once i had parted with a grand the panic set in. To be honest i needn't have worried, obviously it's small, but it's not 'knees by your ears' small. It's about the same as a small frame Vespa.

Am really impressed, It looks really tidy. After reading what people had to say about chinese bikes on various forums i was expecting something much rougher around the edges. The paint is good, little bit orange peely but I have seen brand new cars (peugeot's always seen particularly bad) much worse than this. The coverage is excellent, no rough spots or scuffs. I love the colour, changed my mind from black to red at the last minute and am really glad i did.

The chrome also looks really well done although i have a sneaking suspicion it will all fall off before the first oil change but time will tell. Nothing on the bike looks ridiculously cheap despite the fact that bike was ridiculously cheap. Even the tyres look pretty good, was gonna change these straight of the bat but i think i will leave em on for a while and see how we get on. First ride in the wet will be the dicider.

Also must give full respect to 'monkey bikes uk' for requesting the manufacturer ship these without decals. The cheap chinese decals these things normally come with do absolutely nothing for the aesthetics, It also means you can easily get hold of some nice original honda decals and create a replica if thats what your after.






Initial impressions [][][]

The good [][][]

  • The ride is fantastic.......it's so light and agile. I am, and always will be a vespa man, but when you have spent your whole life riding 2 wheeled vehichles with the engine hanging off the side, only one shock, per wheel and more steel bodywork than a sherman tank. Riding something so light and balanced is real eyeopener.
  • The breakes are great....... unlike the origionals, this has a front disk and i really can't find fault with it, it's the same set up i have have on my Vespa (One pot front disk & rear drum) but again because of the weight and despite being a much cheaper affair, when you want to stop it stops. I know this seems like a minimum requirement but anyone who has ridden a bike with 2 drum breakes will tell you stopping when you want to is a bonus rather than a given.
  • It's really comfy........... was so worried on the run up to delivery that it was gonna be way too small and really impractical but I couldn't have been more wrong. It feels like sacrilege to say it but it's more comfy than my vespa. The seats a touch lower and the bars are slightly higher, which makes it much more friendly on my back..............................
  • Sits at 50 mph nicely tops out at 62 on speedo

The Bad (well.... not that bad) [][][]

  • The gear change...... One of my concerns was getting used to the foot gear change ( vespa gear change is in the handle bars). As it turns out this really wasn't a problem but 3 days in and my toe has gone numb. I put this down to 3 factors. 1) my choice of footware. 2) the Toe lever design 3) the gearbox is brand new and a bit stiff. I know the gearbox will loosen up as the engine beds in but i cant cope with numb toes for three months while i wait for this to happen. I won't be buying, biker boots to ride a monkey bike (trainers all the way) so that only leaves the gear change leaver. Will investigate the alternatives and report back.
  • The engine........ I feel bad putting this in the bad section as there isn't anything really wrong with it. It has plenty of power and torque and it still has a lot of running in to do but the power delivery just isn't as exciting as a 2 stroke. It's much more linear and almost certainly more practical...... but just not as exciting as that 2stroke wooooooosh as it hits the powerband. Also it feels really..........? Lumpy i suppose is the word. The vibration is much harsher. Don't get me wrong vespa buzz like fuck but there in lies the joy. A Vespa fires every stroke of the crank and vibrate so fast that it becomes this satisfying uniform hum that engilfs your entire body in a weird and spiritual way. This just feels lumpy and harsh in comparison.

The Ugly [][][]

  • Getting wet............am really not enjoying having wet shoes and mud splattered trousers. Obvously this isn't bothering us enough to wear more practical riding gear but it is a nuisance. Those Vespa leg shields may weigh a fucking ton but they do keep your trousers dry
  • It Just wants to wheelie everywhere, particularly away from the lights. Because the wheelbase is so short and the riders weight is right over the back wheel, keeping the front wheel on the ground is easier said than done (probably why there are so many aftermarket extended swingarms available).
  • The rear swing arm wobbles like fuck. which can be a bit disconcerting when it decides to shift by about 2  inches as you are leaning into a corner. At first I thought it was the cheap chinese tyres losing traction but no, it's just the swing arm flexing like a floppy hotdog sausage.







Modifications [][][] 12 December 2010

The mirrors came off straight away...  like on most small bikes (vespa's included) they are a complete waste of time, they  vibrate so much that you can't see anything out of them, also the brackets that hold the mirrors onto the stems were particularly shit and even when tightened up fully still allowed the mirrors to flop around... much safer to just look over your shoulder. I also removed the side reflectors which I probably should have left on but they just look so cheap and nasty.


The next thing to go was the gear selector which i decided to change after my toe went numb about a week in, although to be fair i think this was in part due to the stiff gears which loosend up no end as the engine bedded in.

Replaced the stubby O.E.M gear selector for an adjustable 'Posh' one with a much longer toe leaver, This one curves out towards your foot much more than the origional bringing the shifter more in line with the foot peg, the length is also adjustable by about an inch. . Cost about £7 of ebay and is infinitly more comfortable to use than the origional. The build quality however pretty is poor.

the machining is rough, lots of scatches and tooling marks, the anodising is terrible, the bolts all keep falling out despite supergluing them in. The clamp doesn't clamp because the aluminium is too soft and the bolt too far away..........It does the job, but a quality piece of kit it ain't.







Kick start drama[][][]

ok...drama is maybe an exaggeration. Even incident sounds a bit strong. basically came back from shopping in town, went  to kick up the bike and the kick start spun on the shaft,  tightened up the clamp bolt (luckily had replaced the free toolkit spanners with ones that were not made from cheese) but to no avail. The splines on the kick start where all rounded off but luckily not the ones on the kick strart shaft. Bump started it to get home and emailed monkeybikes uk who sent me out a new kickstart lever  out that day . 10/10 for customer service.Was a bit worried that  the new Kickstart lever was just gonna round off like the old one but when i took the old one off the reason for the problem became apparent, the bolt had been put in the wrong way round.









1000 mile service[][][] 15 March 2011

This is my little bike after it's first (1000mile) service and a proper wash. i think it's a done a 1000 miles anyway? it could well be kilometers.... i haven't bothered to work out whether the odometer reads in Km's or Miles yet.... will do that soon, then i can work out how many miles you get on from the pidley 2.4 ltr fuel tank.

Things done -

  • Changed oil
  • Checked and adjusted brakes 
  • Checked Tyre pressures
  • Adjusted gear linkage 
  • Checked and tightened all bolts 
Realised  my fuel tap has been put on  upside down - tank-down > reserve -up Opposite to what the manual says it should be  - Had to learn the hard way and suffer the long walk to the nearest garage to buy a Petrol Canister and £2.50's worth of petrol (the most the tank will hold). Very embarrassing!







 Security [][][]


Trying to find a suitable D lock thats short enough to fit on the rear rack but long enough to to round both shock legs and a lamp post...... Settled on a Kriptonite mini D lock. Not the best, but ok for now. 







Vespa  Small frame size comparison[][][]

The photos are  useless. I couldn't be arsed to drag the seized up Smallframe out of the garage. Basically the DAX and small frame are about the same size. The Dax's seat hieght is a bit lower and the bars a bit higher which actually makes it a lot more comfy than the Vespa 









Clutch cable woes[][][] (16/4/2011) 

Clutch cable snapped this morning while sat waiting for the lights to change at the bottom of chapeltown road. The bike was in gear and I didn't have the breakes on, so was sent careening on one wheel into the back of white van. No monkey bikes or white van men where harmed in the making of this anecdote.

In accordance with the law of sod, the cable chose to snap at a busy 4 lane intersection in one the worst parts of leeds and right in the bottom of a valley

. After spending 30 minutes pushing it back up the hill to a more solubrious part of town to leave it locked up, i spent the remainder of the afternoon trying to work out what the fuck i was gonna do. I was stuck at work till 10pm, i had the only key and our car had bitten the dust a few days before. After establishing that none of my friends that live in town have a garage and not feeling too good about leaving a monkeybike full of petrol on a 6th  floor balcony (thanks for the offer Rachel & Wiggan) my mate Eddie stepped up and lent me what is possibly the least practical car imaginable for transporting a monkey bike...... a new Beetle. Took nearly 3/4 of an hour to get in the boot, but get it in the fucking boot we did, much to the delight of the patrons of the stick or twist pub who broke into rapturous applause when the boot lid finally shut.

striped one of the engine case bolt holes putting this back together really wasn't using that much pressure. Have no choice but to conclude that the engine case is made of Edam Cheese, you have been warned

















Monkey bike at a scooter rally [][][]


With the Vespa still in pieces i did the unthinkable at the weekend and went to a scooter rally on my Monkey bike. I actually didn't get nearly as much shit as I thought I would and the little dax kept up with everyone really well. Unfortunately on the way home the airfilter fell off and both the exhaust pipe brackets disintegrated. But at least it did get me home...which is more than I can say for my mate Eddie who I had leave stranded just outside york with a seized piston ring, waiting for the AA man. Looks like I am gonna have to order a new exhaust but for now I have just bodged it with bungee cords which seems to be working pretty well



If A jobs worth doing........it's worth doing with Gaffer tape and bungee cords. This should do us for a while.








Mileage and tank range [][][]


Ok.... So it definitely is Kilometers rather than miles Checked the distance to work with the car and then the bike. So that means the tank range (2.4 litres) from full to completely dry ( No reserve) is 80.6 Km's or about 50 miles. That's  like 78 miles to the gallon. That can't be right, I'll check that again when I get chance.  






Monkey Gallery [][][]











Fitting a New Exhaust [][][] 08 February 2012


My new monkey bike exhaust and Air filter arrived the other day....only took me about 8 months to get round to buying one. Found a bit of time this morning to fit it before work. Installation was pretty quick and easy although it looks like I might have to re locate the indicators as the right one is rubbing on the silencer. Not sure what I think at the minute. Really wanted something more standard looking but couldn't get one to fit a 125 engine which is a bugger. Also fitted a new air filter as the other one went a.w.o.l about the same time as the exhaust brackets disintegrated on the way back from Scarborough Scooter rally.







Beware of damp......................

for bad things happen in it's presence [][][] 10 February 2012

 Took the Monkey bike for a spin in the drizzle to test the new exhaust pipe and went fucking flying on a wet manhole cover. Couple of scrapes to both me and the new pipe but Luckily no real harm done.









Can anyone smell burning [][?][] 20 February 2012

So the good news is the new exhaust pipe is mint. Looks (despite the scuffs from me falling off) and sounds great......... the bad news is it keeps setting fire to my trousers. I've now ruined 3 pairs of Jeans and burned my leg quite badly. Why the don't come with or even offer a little heat shield is beyond me. There is nothing off the shelf I could find so decided I would have to make or adapt one or get some pipe wrapping. Am not really set up for doing metal work so decided just to buy some exhaust wrap. It's still fucking red hot but the wrapping has taken the temperature down a notch or 2 so at least now my trousers will stop bursting into flames while am tramming round leeds inner ring road.









Exhaust silencer test [][][] 27 March 2012


 Really nice day to today so decided to go for a blast on the monkey bike and pick up some stuff from staples. Thought it might be an opportune moment to test the silencer that came with my new exhaust. It's just a little screw in doo da that narrows the exhaust opening. To be honest i couldn't really make out any noticeable difference in volume and now there is distinct smell of burning which i couldn't quite locate, but i do know it's no longer my trousers thanks to the exhaust wrap.  Will have to keep my eye (or nose) on the burning smell and watch out for the exhaust wadding setting on fire (can that happen?).

Won't have proper gauge on the exhaust volume until my next set of early shifts which is when i am most aware of the it. I apologize to any of the residents of Bramley and Chapel town i may have awoke at 6am on my tiny daft bike, hopefully this will help. 









Update  - 09/05/2012

Running really well, served me well through 2 weeks of torrential downpour  - Really have thrashed it like fuck since day one and not really looked after it and it's held up really well.


Still to do.......


  • new swing arm ( extended )  - Stop wobble,  stop wheelie
  • change tyres 
  • put new chain on 
  • heat sheild 
  • Re-position INDICATORS (rubbing on new exhaust)  

Might possibly do.......

  • Change Cogs
  • Open carb inlet? 
  • Remove centre stand (catches on the road sometimes when leaning in) 



Update - Friday 31 aug 2012 

Finally got round to replacing the back tyre which i notice was bald about 3 months aga and have just been too busy / lazy to sort out. The chain also needs replacing as it has stretched so much tha that the back wheel is now adjusted as far back as it can go. this is now causing a problem with the break pedal adjustment.

Bought the wrong chain splitter - couldn't fix/remove chain

Changed tyre - put rim on backwards - Tyre going in wrong direction

New air filter - 3rd one - Size is 39mm




Paint [ideas]

It's gonna be a while before i actually get roubd to doing anything proper with the monkey bike but i can't help thinking about painting it ........something brown and retro




........Found this cool graphic on cup when i called at burger king yesterday on my way back from B&Q. If you put aside for a second the fact that it is a burger king cup and that he picture is actually an image of coke and ice cubes, it looks really cool. I really like the style and the colours.





Links [][][]