Welcome to my review of the Mash DirtStar Scrambler 400. If you’ve not heard of Mash then they’re a French Manufacturer, that makes motorbikes that look like classic English bikes, and are assembled in China. That may sound like a real mish mash (no pun intended!) but that’s the opposite of what the bike actually is.
For those that prefer watching video to reading (or if you want to hear what it sounds like), here’s my video review available on YouTube.
Back to the written review…
If you wished you could still go buy a brand new classic old scrambler motorcycle from the 1970’s then you’re in luck. That’s exactly how I view this bike. It’s not a modern bike in retro clothes trying to be something it’s not.
Styling wise it looks like it could be from the 70’s, and that’s not a bad thing. It has chunky off road style tyres. At the rear is has a long comfy seat, classic twin rear shocks, and a megaphone style matt black 2 into 1 exhaust.
Around the front it has scrambler style raised handlebars, and right way up front forks with gaiters. It has some nice scrambler touches like the grill over the headlight, and even a number board that doubles up as a little wind protection. Although it has an electric starter, it also has a kick start though for that really authentic feel.
The engine is an air cooled 400cc single cylinder and is actually based on an older Honda 500cc engine. This has been brought up to date with fuel injection instead of carbs and is euro 4 compliant too. The engine may only develop 29bhp but this actually adds to the character of the bike. To make decent progress you need to really rev it which makes it loads of fun to ride. It also means you can enjoy yourself on public roads at sensible speeds. The exhaust sounds fab and was one of my favourite things about the bike. On tickover is has that classic scrambler pop pop noise and it sounds great all the way through the revs. It does encourage you to be a bit of a hooligan though!
The riding position is comfortable and upright. I rode it over a number of hours with no issues at all. The seat height is pretty low (only 780mm) so it would suit smaller riders, and it’s very light at just 151kg. This means that it’s very easy to ride and handle, especially with it’s fairly wide handlebars.
The switches and instruments have a classic look with twin round analogue binnacles for your speedo and rev counter. These are black over white and are in KPH and well as MPH. Sticking with the retro theme it doesn’t have a proper fuel gauge (a pet hate of mine) but does at least have a low fuel light.
Brakes are also very traditional. Just a single twin piston disc up front and a drum brake at the rear. They do work fine for what the bike is though, as it’s not really built for out and out speed.
So who is this bike aimed at? I think it would be great for someone who really fancies a classic bike but doesn’t want to spend every weekend tinkering to keep it on the road. I also think it would be perfect for someone who just wants something to make them smile, whether they are out for a Sunday morning run or even commuting.
How much is it? Just over £4000, which I think is pretty good. After all, it’s a brand new bike with 2 years warranty and worry free riding. It looks great, rides and handles nicely, seems well put together and everything looks decent quality.
As usual I’ll do my 3 favourite things about this bike which are as follows:
- That exhaust note. It’s loud without being too silly and simply sounds great.
- It’s looks. It really does look like a proper old scrambler.
- How easy it is to ride. It’s fairly small and narrow, it’s really light, and very manoeuvrable.
And what about the negatives?
For the first couple of minutes I wasn’t sure I was going to get on with it. But that was because I was trying to ride it like a modern bike. Controls aren’t as delicate so you need to adjust to this and put more mechanical effort in. Once you adjust to this, it’s fine.
There were some vibrations but I guess this is expected of an old school single cylinder. Once you’re above 50mph then the mirrors aren’t really much use.
Another small thing is that in bright sunlight the warning lights are difficult to see. I did leave my indicator on a couple of times as I hadn’t noticed the light to remind me.
So what’s my overall impression? If I had to sum the bike up in just 3 words then they’d be “bags of fun”. It really is a hoot and I can’t imagine anyone spending time on this bike and not having a big smile on their face afterwards.
Finally, I’d just like to say a big thank you to the Mash dealer who lent me the DirtStar to review it. This is Ride Motorbikes who are based near Keighley in Yorkshire. Do please contact them if you’re interested in seeing or buying any of the Mash range https://ridemotorbikes.co.uk . They even hire them out as part of their “Ride The Dales” business if you’d like to ride one for a day or even longer http://www.ridethedales.co.uk/