Flat track and trail riding has been gaining popularity in the past few years. Not only are there a wealth of single track trails in and around the city, dedicated motocross tracks and events have become to be a regular occurrence.
While I’m by no means a regular trail or off-road rider myself, good friends tell me that the key to a perfect trail bike is lightness, a small displacement and some low end power.
As such, the timing is rather ripe for the new Australian motard brand, Thumpstar to enter the market. The brand was founded in Australia in 2004 by Timothy Hunter. Thumpstar prefers to call itself a pit bike manufacturer, though its models are certainly capable of far more.
Keen to get a foothold on the growing Philippine market, Thumpstar Philippines contacted MotoPinas to test their trail models. We opted for their street legal model, the TSM-125.
The TSM-125 is very light and compact bike, ideal for daily commuting in the city. Unlike its stablemates, it sheds the knobby tires for smoother, street friendly treads. Besides the addition of a headlight and LED signal lights and tail lamp, the bike is very similar to its trail and off-road models.
Though it’s designed for the city, all of Thumpstar’s bikes have a decidedly racey look to them, bathed in electric green, white and black livery with various sponsor decals on the fairings and fenders. It’s also got all the racing essentials like a crashguard for the engine and shields for the shocks.
As an added easter egg, there are stars all over the bike, from the fairings, to the transmission case, to even the rear sprocket.
It’s powered by a 14-hp 125 cc air-cooled single cylinder. It’s then paired to a 4-speed manual, that, more like a business bike, has an N1234 configuration. It’s brought to a stop with discs front and back. A large 17 inch wheel in front will easily handle most of the bumps in the city while a 14 inch wheel behind puts the power down.
Though it may look bare bones, the Thumpstar is actually pretty well equipped. It’s brought to life with a push button electric starter with kill switch.
The instrument cluster is fully digital. It appears to have gear indicators too, though on our test unit, they weren’t illuminating. There’s also a passing light switch, to tick off all your basic requirements for city riding. Another cool feature is the key that covers the ignition slot, ensuring it doesn’t get wet in the trail or in the rain.
Being a trail bike first and city bike second, the TSM puts most of the torque relatively low in the rev range. Much of the power is between 1,000-4,000 rpm, and fizzles out on higher revs. First gear is extremely low, making it ideal for crawling up really steep grades. Fourth gear is rather flexible, able to cruise at 40 km/h or on to a top speed of 90 km/h.
Weight is perhaps the TSM’s greatest asset. The bike tips the scales at a very lithe 85 kg net weight. As you can imagine, this makes it feel practically like a small scooter. It’s incredibly agile, easily squeezing in between traffic and tight spaces, with very high ground clearance to add even more confidence.
The ride is a bit on the stiff side, and perhaps not as pliant as, say an XRM. Then again, the TSM can take on far rougher roads than the former.
Those planning to purchase one need to be particularly careful when riding off the lot. The brakes need to be bedded in and can feel very vague when new but bite much better after.
Naturally, the sporty exhaust makes it a tad loud, though not as noisy as most heavily modified scooters or underbones.
With a 5-liter tank, the TSM should be able to handle most of a week’s errands before needing refueling. Our week with the bike returned a very frugal 38 km/l in the city.
Being based on a trail bike, the TSM may not be most people’s first choice for a commuter bike, though for those planning to ride from home to the trail and back, this is the perfect choice. It makes a great starting bike for those looking into going trailing or even grass roots level competition. We recommend having a spare set of knobbies ready to swap out. In addition, the wiring and connectors could do with some additional protection from the elements as some of them are a tad exposed and could cause problems when wet or caked in mud.
The TSM serves as a very light and possibly more exciting alternative to the current crop of street legal motard bikes. Yet it will truly shine in far rougher roads and trails. It’s also a steal at just PhP 64,999
Those fortunate enough to have trucks or trailers should look into Thumpstars dedicated line of trail and off-road bikes.