The Budget-Minded Classic UJM

We usually think of the Sanyang Motor Co., Ltd — better known to us as SYM — as a scooter company, so when looking at their little Wolf Classic 150, I expected ...well, I expected less than what I saw. Unlike the Wolf 125 and 250 released in Asian markets that had a definite sport-bike look, the Wolf Classic has a UJM styling reminiscent of the imports back in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Does it look like the old Hondas? It should. SYM made the Honda 125s for a few decades back so they are well acquainted with the style.

Continue reading for my review of the SYM Wolf Classic 150.

  • 2016 - 2018 SYM Wolf Classic 150
  • Year:
    2016- 2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    149 cc
  • Top Speed:
    65 mph
  • Price:
    2999
  • Price:

Design

2016 - 2018 SYM Wolf Classic 150
- image 760176
Not enough oomph for the interstate, so keep it around town or on the slower state highways and you'll benefit from the good fuel economy.

With a low, low price tag, the Wolf Classic feels like a disposable bike with its sticker-badging complete with air bubbles trapped in the adhesive, but in a saving grace, the fenders are metal instead of plastic, so kudos for that. Instrumentation is minimal: a can for a speedometer and a can for a tach, but honestly, you don’t need more than that. This is low-tech with a no-nonsense approach, so easy-to-read analog dials are adequate and fit with the retro styling.

While a top speed of 65 mph might be fast enough for SYM’s main markets in Asia and the Pacific, it isn’t nearly fast enough for our interstates. As a commuter, keep it around town or on the slower state highways and you’ll benefit from the good fuel economy.

Seating is surprisingly comfortable and the clip-on handlebars that normally don’t have any pullback somehow work to create an upright riding position, I’m sure afforded by the short wheelbase of only 49 inches. Seat height is a respectable 30 inches, low enough for all but the shortest of riders to flatfoot at a stop.

Chassis

2016 - 2018 SYM Wolf Classic 150
- image 760174
Normally I would cringe at a drum brake, but this is a rather light machine and the drum bolsters the dated look SYM was going for.

Built to emulate the looks of the original standard UJM models, the Wolf runs on a steel, single-downtube, stressed-engine frame that keeps the bones simple, light and clean. Telescopic hydraulic, right-way-up forks support the front end, and the forks come with gaiters that not only protect the swept area of the fork tubes and the seals in the sliders, but also add to the classic charm of this little bike.

The traditional layout continues in back with a yoke-style swingarm and chromed, coil-over shocks with dual-rate springs and preload adjusters. Clip-on bars make the connection between rider and fork, and leave the tripletree clean without risers and clamp cluttering up the works.

SYM threw on a twin-piston-and-anvil caliper to pinch the 240 mm front brake disc, and rear-wheel braking duties fall to the 130 mm diameter, mechanical rear-drum brake. Normally I would cringe at that, but this is a rather light machine at only 266 pounds, and the drum does bolster the dated look SYM was going for here, so the Wolf gets a pass.

Polished aluminum, wire-laced rims mount the 18-inch front and 17-inch rear hoops; another design feature that plays right into the classic ’70s UJM theme.

Frame: High Strength Steel
Front Suspension: Telescopic Fork
Rear Suspension: Swing Arm
Front Brakes: Disk (240mm)
Rear Brakes: Drum (130mm)
Front Tires: 2.75 - 18
Rear Tires: 3.00 - 17
Wheel: Aluminum

Drivetrain

2016 - 2018 SYM Wolf Classic 150
- image 760177
I know folks will gig it for not having fuel injection, but the carb is all part of the KISS overall attitude.

A 149.4 cc, four-cycle thumper serves as the beating heart for the Wolf Classic. Air cooling precludes the need for a radiator, and keeps the engine as simple and light as possible while preserving the cleanliness of the look. An over-head cam actuates the valves, eliminating the mechanical losses associated with pushrod valvetrains, and the little mill runs with a 9.6-to-1 compression ratio, so yeah, the Wolf has an appetite for 90 octane fuel or better. While it does provide 85 mpg, the need for premium fuel will eat into the savings inherent with that kind of mileage somewhat.

Although the Wolf mill comes with push-button electric start, SYM added on a kickstarter for backup, and I’m sure for the nostalgic appeal as well. I love having that redundancy, and who doesn’t look cool kickstarting a bike?

A good, old-fashioned carburetor controls aspiration, and keeps emissions within DOT, EPA and CARB standards, and its even clean enough to be certified for sale in California, which is more than many small engines can claim. I know folks will gig it for not having fuel injection, but the carb is all part of the KISS (keep is simple, stupid) overall attitude.

The plant generates 9.04 pound-feet of torque at 9,000 rpm, backed up by 14.79 horsepower at 8,500 rpm; not exactly earth shattering, but again I point out the 266 pound net weight. These numbers give the Wolf a top speed of around 65.5 mph, though I’m sure that changes a bit when you factor in rider and passenger weight, altitude, and headwinds and tailwinds. Low power also means low weight rating. You, your passenger and your gear shouldn’t exceed 360 pounds or you’ll never get this baby up an incline without a little Fred-Flintstone action.

Engine: 4-Stroke Engine(OHC)
Displacement: 149.4 cc
Compression Ratio: 9.6 : 1
Horsepower: 14.79 hp @ 8,500 rpm
Max Torque: 9.04 lb/ft @ 9,000 rpm
Cooling System: Air
Transmission: 5-speed, Circulated
Clutch: Wet Disk Type
Drive: Chain

Pricing

2016 - 2018 SYM Wolf Classic 150
- image 679388
MSRP is the same as last year, and well within reach of a budget-minded buyer.

MSRP on the 2018 Wolf Classic 150 is $2,999 — same as last year — and comes in your choice of Hunter Green, Midnight Black, Century White or a two-tone Red and White. SYM offers a 24-month limited warranty.

Warranty: Made in Taiwan with 24 Months Limited Warranty
Colors: Red/White, Hunter Green, Midnight Black, Century White
Price: $2,999

Competitors

2016 - 2018 SYM Wolf Classic 150
- image 760178
2017 - 2018 Honda Rebel 300 / Rebel 500
- image 760189
They both fill a common niche, which is to say that of a budget trainer/commuter, and a blank canvas for custom builders.

Casting about for a suitable competitor, I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed by the selection of 125 cc-powered, classic UJMs. Then it hit me; SYM has partnered with Honda in the past, so why not see how the Wolf Classic stacks up against one of its partner’s bikes? Once I got to that point, the old tried and true Rebel was my choice, so here we go.

In the looks department, both models make a connection to a certain era — something around the ’70s — even though the Wolf looks like a straight-up UJM of that vintage, while the Rebel is actually a UJM that adopts a form designed specifically to appeal to U.S. riders, especially since its complete make-over last year. Looks aside, they both fill a common niche, which is to say that of a budget trainer/commuter, and a blank canvas for custom builders.

In keeping with its American cruiser-esque styling, the Rebel carries the rider in a more relaxed position with a low seat height of 27.2 inches off the ground, much lower than the 30-inch seat on the Wolf. Not that 30 inches is all that tall, but folks with shorter inseams may feel more secure perched atop the slammed-down Rebel saddle. Hydraulic disc brakes bind the front wheels across the board, as do rear drum brakes, so neither really gain an edge in the brakeage department.

The Rebel sports a twin cylinder, 286 cc engine, a little bigger than the one-lung, 149.4 cc lump in the Wolf. Honda’s slightly larger engine gives the Rebel an advantage over the Wolf with 19.9 pounds of grunt and 27.4 ponies versus 9.04 pound-feet and 14.79 horsepower. Just about what one would expect with the few extra cubes the Rebel is packing. The prior generation of Rebel was closer in numbers, but still beat the Wolf; no surprise. Keep in mind I wanted to stay in the UJM market and not venture into the small-displacement sportbike-styled bikes for a competitor, so that excluded bikes with similar cubeage like the Grom or the Z125 PRO.

SYM gets a telling blow in at the checkout counter. A new Wolf Classic will set you back a mere $2,999, while the Rebel breaks the 4K mark at $4,449. This difference might be enough to buy SYM some business from the most budget-minded buyers, but I’m afraid Honda’s brand recognition and the popularity of the Rebel will likely garner the rest of the crowd looking for a little commuter/barhopper/grocery-getter.

He Said

My husband and fellow motorcycle writer, TJ Hinton, says, “This really is an adorable little bike. When I was but a wee lad, this is what I thought all Japanese bikes looked like, because rides like this were everywhere. Nowadays, we have a number of decent options for folks wanting a new bike with an old look, but few options with such a small motor, so I suppose the Wolf fills a void, however small. The Rebel was a good choice, though I might have looked at SSR Motorsports’ Buccaneer or KYMCO’s Spade 150.”

She Said

“It’s small and not the least bit intimidating. It’s very inexpensive, but not exceptionally sturdy. If you get one and plan to keep it, you’ll want to upgrade some of the flimsy plastic parts; start with the turn signals standoffs. They’ll be the first to go. It is fun to ride, though. Don’t think I’m all down on this. It’s lightweight and easy to handle. For the money, it’s a good value. And don’t be afraid of a SYM. The brand may not get as much play in our market, but on the world stage, they are a contender.”

Specifications

Engine & Dtrivetrain:
Engine: 4-Stroke Engine(OHC)
Displacement: 149.4 cc
Compression Ratio: 9.6 : 1
Horsepower: 14.79 hp @ 8,500 rpm
Max Torque: 9.04 lb/ft @ 9,000 rpm
Cooling System: Air
Transmission: 5-speed, Circulated
Clutch: Wet Disk Type
Drive: Chain
Electricals:
Starter: Electrical Starter
Ignition: CDI
Spark Plug: NGK D7EA
Battery Capacity: 12V 7Ah
Chassis:
Frame: High Strength Steel
Front Suspension: Telescopic Fork
Rear Suspension: Swing Arm
Front Brakes: Disk (240mm)
Rear Brakes: Drum (130mm)
Front Tires: 2.75 - 18
Rear Tires: 3.00 - 17
Wheel: Aluminum
Dimensions & Capacities:
Weight Capacity: 360 Lbs
Net Weight: 266 Lbs
Fuel: Unleaded (90 Octane or Higher)
Fuel Capacity: 2.45 Gallons
Ground Clearance: TBD
Length: 77.95”
Width: 30.51"
Height: 41.73"
Seat Height: 30"
Wheelbase: 49.21"
Details:
Age Recommendation: 16+
Top Speed: 65.5 mph
MPG: 85 MPG
Government Certifications: EPA & DOT Approved, C.A.R.B. Approved for CA
Warranty: Made in Taiwan with 24 Months Limited Warranty
Colors: Red/White, Hunter Green, Midnight Black, Century White
Price: $2,999

References

Honda Rebel

2017 - 2018 Honda Rebel 300 / Rebel 500
- image 696436

See our review of the Honda Rebel.

Honda Grom

2017 - 2019 Honda Grom
- image 679120

See our review of the Honda Grom.

Kawasaki Z125 PRO

2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
- image 679838

See our review of the [Kawasaki Z125 PRO-art171448].

SSR Motorsports Buccaneer

2017 - 2018 SSR Motorsports Buccaneer
- image 725581

See our review of the SSR Motorsports Buccaneer.

KYMCO Spade 150

2018 KYMCO Spade 150
- image 722368

See our review of the KYMCO Spade 150.

Source: SYM Wolf Classic 150 Brochure

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: powersports.com, alliancepowersports.com, kawasaki.com, kymcousa.com, ssrmotorsports.com

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