Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that while I’ve thought pit bike racing always looked fun, the idea of trying to fold my six-foot and 200-(mumble) pound frame onto an XR/CRF50 sounded ludicrous at best. Oh, sure, I’d tried a few expeditionary trips across parking lots, and even climbed aboard a couple 50s whose combined value in aftermarket parts probably exceeded the net worth of a small third world country. However, no matter how trick, they were still in the too-small and too-freakin’-expensive category.
But while much of the mini craze has been built around riders piecing together their dream bike one component at a time, SDG has gone the exact opposite route, introducing a complete bike that features many of the most desirable aftermarket mods already in place. But what makes it interesting is that it has a price tag that’s not even double that of a stock Honda mini. The SDG Speed Mini follows much of the same path laid down by BMX and mountain bike companies in the past, where they’ve taken production overseas (to China in this case), resulting in a much lower cost for the overall package.
A quick scan of the bike reveals some interesting features. There are hydraulic disc brakes on both ends, as well as long-travel suspension. The engine is punched out to 107cc, and features a three-valve head, as well as a performance pipe and silencer. But the most interesting part is that it has a four-speed transmission, and a manual clutch that allows it be started in any gear.
The other big difference in the Speed Mini is that from the beginning of the project it was always intended to an adult-sized bike. Well, at least as adult-sized as a mini can be. The tall seat and bar position help the cause, as does the chromoly frame which was built an inch longer than a stock XR50. Another inch of wheelbase was added via the alloy triple clamps, and the aluminum swingarm adds yet another inch to the package.
After easily kicking over the small four-banger, I headed out onto Starwest’s mini track. After a little experimentation with ride position, I settled for mostly sitting. Standing proved to be a pretty jockey-like position, and felt a lot less stable.
The engine proved to be fairly spunky, and pulled even some of the (ahem) heftier riders around the track with ease. First gear is good for pit putting, and most of the time second and third were the gears of choice.
The cornering and overall handling was excellent, though a 12-inch front wheel to replace the stock 10-incher would be a great upgrade for added stability. Jeff and Jerome at SDG are already working on a 12-inch wheel as an accessory item.
Suspension felt decent, with the rear shock bottoming only a couple times. Impressive, considering the seated style that I adopted. I can’t say that I ever bottomed the front end. Braking was good on both ends, and the front brake was powerful enough to pull stoppies with.
How was the overall ride? After putting in quite a few laps on the Speed Mini, I pulled back into the pits to be greeted with the comment, “Wow, that’s a pretty big grin on your face.” It was true¿and I hadn’t even realized it.
We did note a couple items that were worth watching. Under beefy riders, the peg mounts had a tendency to head somewhat southward. That caused rear brake drag in a couple cases. Shifting also occasionally appeared to be notchy, particularly among riders who were wearing boots instead of the more casual footwear favored by some mini riders.
I asked our Editor At Large, Steve Cox, for an impression and his answer was simple. “For $2,400, you can’t beat ’em.” If they prove to be as reliable as they are fun, we’d expect to see a whole bunch of the SDG bikes running around at tracks from coast to coast.