Malaguti Drakon 125 test: Introduction, positioning and rivals
Near the centenary of the birth of the Malaguti brand, the Bolognese brand has resurfaced since the Austrian group KSR acquired the license to use the brand in 2018. Until its closure in 2011 and since 1930, it had been a company specialized in mopeds and low-displacement motorcycles, with special attention to the design of its products.
Those of us who lived our adolescence in the 90s remember the spectacular and very faired Malaguti RST 80, Spanish 80 cc champion at the hands of a certain Carlos Checa.
In its new future, the brand does not abandon its care for design in its already wide range of 125 motorcycles and scooters, without forgetting the electric motorcycles, represented by its XAM models, in enduro and motocross variants.
Today we tested the Malaguti Drakon 125 (13.4 HP, €3,999), a naked bike intended for both A1 license and car license users who want to enter the world of two wheels in the logical way. Although it is an affordable model, it does not disdain a truly personal design and a modern powerplant in keeping with the times.
Without reaching the limit of 15 HP allowed by legislation, it is very close with the 13.4 HP it delivers. Therefore, it is not fair to compare it with the models that do reach 15 HP, in addition to exceeding it by around 25% in the final price. Thus, we must look for its rivals among motorcycles such as the Peugeot PM-01 125 (14 HP, €3,995), recently released and already tested on this page.
We have also recently tested the Brixton Crossfire 125 (13.4 HP, €3,999), with which it shares the same drive unit and price. Another recent novelty in its price range (and tested here) is the Voge 125R (15 HP, €3,087). There are many more possibilities to choose from: Benelli BN 125 (11.1 HP, €2,790), FB Mondial Piega 125 (€4,449), Hanway SC 125 S (14.9 HP, €3,489), Honda CB 125 F ( 11 HP, €2,900), Keeway RKF 125 ABS (13 HP, €3,190), Motron Nomad 125 (12.7 HP, €3,299), Orcal SK01 125 (14.5 HP, €3,599), Wottan Rebbe 125 (13 .6 HP, €2,999) or the Zontes Z2-125 (14.5 HP, €3,287).
Malaguti Drakon 125 test: Features, equipment and philosophy of the Malaguti Drakon 125
Although we are looking at a simple motorcycle, the engine is modern in architecture. It is a water-cooled single-cylinder with double overhead camshaft (DOHC) powered by Bosch electronic injection.
It has a declared consumption of 2.6 l/100, which together with the 10.5 liter capacity tank, allows a range between 350 and 400 kilometers, depending on whether driving is urban or on the road.
The power does not reach the maximum allowed by the Law in 125 motorcycles, but it is very close to the limit with 13.4 HP at 9,500 rpm and 11.4 Nm of torque at 7,500 rpm.
The chassis is a double steel beam on the upper part of the engine, while a double bolted cradle surrounds the lower part of the engine. Below it hangs the exhaust in a kind of compact flask that harmonizes with the rectilinear design of the motorcycle.
It is striking that such a rectilinear design softens the meeting between said lines with soft curves. The result is a modern, personal and harmonious aesthetic. Visually it is compact, but its driving position is not, especially the seat and handlebars, where a wide range of heights will feel comfortable.
The seat is at 805 mm which, together with the narrowness and lightness (145 kilos when fully loaded) of the set, helps in low speed maneuvers. When stopped as well, but the low turning angle, resulting from the width of the inverted fork bars and the chassis, where they meet towards the steering head, does not help, which penalizes 180º direction changes.
Of course, the fork setting is very good, but not adjustable. The rear monoshock is simpler and is anchored directly to the swingarm. It also does not have any type of regulation.
At the front, it has a 300 mm disc brake clamped by a two-piston radial caliper, while at the rear a 218 mm disc clamped by a single-piston caliper is sufficient.
Braking is assisted by ABS. The Maxxis tires in sizes 100/80-17 and 130/70-17 have good grip in the dry and provide confidence.
The motorcycle lighting is full LED. Rear optics, rear indicators and license plate are supported on a metal support independent of the tail and that comes out of the swingarm to visually lighten the rear, which culminates in the taillight integrated under the end of the seat.
The instrumentation consists of a high-resolution TFT color screen that provides three color schemes (day, night and red). The information displayed is the most complete (speed, rev counter, fuel level, consumption, odometer, clock, fuel temperature, warning and gear engaged indicator).
But its readability is not good. Especially when the sun hits the screen directly. Furthermore, except for speed, the rest of the figures are too small to be seen at a glance; a point to correct.
Malaguti Drakon 125 test: How the Malaguti Drakon 125 performs
Many years ago, there was a perfume advertisement on television whose slogan read: “the first impression is what counts.” If we accept the axiom, the Malaguti Drakon 125 has many points earned, because the first thing that surprises you, as soon as you climb on its back, is the perceived quality, even above the quality seen.
I want to make that distinction because the instrumentation reading is a weak point on this bike. But if you get on the Drakon with your eyes closed, the solid feel of the handlebars and fork is striking, it seems like you are on a larger displacement motorcycle. But above all, you perceive the comfort of the seat, far beyond what is correct. There are very few motorcycles whose seats I remember specifically for their comfort, such as the Harley Davidson Pan America or the Macbor XR5. Until then, the driving position is perfect.
Once you put your feet on the footpegs, they feel a little high. It is not uncomfortable, but it is not as harmonious as the seat-grips vector. It needs to be like this so that the footpegs do not rub at the first change because, without being a purely sports bike, I managed to rub against the warning lights on a couple of strong inclines.
What is also perceived when stopped is the aforementioned poor turning angle, which forces you to do more maneuvers than you would like to do, to park or maneuver on a sidewalk.
The cones are not very large, although the left cone is rather peculiar. It consists of two elements: the exterior has the horn button above the turn signal and more than once I deactivated the turn signals, informing them acoustically. The interior segment of the pineapple contains a pair of buttons to navigate the TFT screen, which, by the way, is not very intuitive.
Clutch (soft, how good), first and the bike starts with agility, it feels very light. I get hit with that recurring refrain about the importance of lightness every time I ride a light motorcycle. For a 125cc motorcycle, every kilo of weight is important for dynamic performance in any of the six axes, such as those governed by an IMU, in addition to acceleration and deceleration forces.
If, in addition to being light, the cycle part feels consistent, we are dealing with well-planned engineering. This is the case of the Drakon. And although the engine does not reach 15 HP, it makes very good use of the 13.4 HP available through a very well-staged gearbox.
The lever travel is correct and it is easy to find the neutral point, but the important thing is that, not being a linear step, it has what you need, even in duo. It is true that top speed is not its strong point. The brand declares 99 km/h, although I have verified up to 111 km/h in the most favorable conditions possible.
The limit is at the ignition cut-off, after 10,500 rpm, a regime at which the motorcycle does not feel uncomfortable. The point is that the motorcycle is capable of maintaining the maximum speed (105/106 marker) as a cruising speed, with or without a passenger, on flat terrain.
Perhaps more top speed could have been achieved with other developments, it is also felt that the engine could rotate higher, but the overall balance of the Malaguti Drakon 125 in any conditions of use would be lost, including its ease of driving.
Corner entry is natural and intuitive, also because the grip feeling of the Maxxis that fits as standard is notable. We couldn’t test the bike on wet asphalt (damn drought), but the feeling they leave is very good. The front fork excels in performance over the shock absorber, which feels somewhat bouncy on the most pronounced bumps.
Anchored directly to the swingarm and without any type of regulation, it works well in normal use, but tends to complain if we push the pace, although it does not break down. The fork is calibrated for firm pulling, but without compromising comfort. The relevant thing is that it gives information about what happens in the front wheel in the supports, good news in a motorcycle intended mainly for people who are starting out in the world of two wheels.
The braking is good and the ABS does not act hastily, but rather when it is really needed, a good point. The feel of the front brake is a little hard and wooden, but it has power when required. I really liked the rear brake, it helps braking in curves to correct the trajectory without lifting the bike when necessary.