My new Chinese Cafe Racer: SSR Buccaneer 250C

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by ChopperCharles, Feb 14, 2019.

  1. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    I just bought a brand new motorcycle. It's a 2017 SSR Buccaneer 250C (Cafe). It's designed in by Italians in cooperation with Italjet, but built by the Chinese. It uses a Lifan clone of a Virago 250cc V-twin motor. It's fuel injected (Delphi EFI) and quite a looker! I'm going to be reviewing this bike as I break it in and ride it, but I'm going to leave this little video of me taking possession of the bike, and my subsequent happy dance, here for now!



    I've got one ride in (60-some miles from the dealership to home) and I'm thrilled so far!

    Charles.
    #1
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  2. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    And of course some pics too. It's a full sized motorycle! I don't look like a bear on a tricycle, so that's a huge win for a 250cc class bike!

    IMGP3600.JPG


    IMGP3598.JPG



    Charles.
    #2
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  3. hugemoth

    hugemoth Big Brother is watching you!

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    Good looking bike. Lifan engines are excellent.
    #3
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  4. jimroid

    jimroid Been here awhile

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    Thats a neat looking bike! I’m anxious to hear the feedback.
    #4
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  5. Wallachian Spikes

    Wallachian Spikes Long timer

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    Looks good. Excited to hear how she holds up & whether you're happy with her over the long haul. I've got high hopes for Chinese bikes but, not willing to take the plunge just yet. What did she cost you OTD, if that's not too forward of me?
    #5
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  6. Laoch

    Laoch Am I still here? Supporter

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    Neat looking bike. Congrats.
    T- shirt weather huh? :bluduh
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  7. windmills

    windmills Gnearly Adventurer

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    Your new bike does look pretty cool, hope you have fun with it.

    I'm no expert on Chinese engines, but I am a renowned dance-move specialist... I'm giving you a big :super for that one!
    #7
  8. WAP

    WAP Weekday Warrior

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    Apologies for being gauche but what did you pay out the door and are you happy with the price?
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  9. CRFan1

    CRFan1 Been here awhile

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    Ditch the MX bars and put some straight bars on it, hehe. That is one hell of a good looking bike!


    Bike lists at $3599
    #9
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  10. jrogers110

    jrogers110 Adventurer

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    Always great to see a new motorcycle-induced happy dance!

    Congrats on the new bike and have fun!
    #10
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  11. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    The bike was on the floor for about a year because there was no financing available for the Buccaneer model. The finance companies didn’t have the VIN in the system until just recently. So it was listed at a deep discount of $2888. I paid $3203 out the door. MSRP is $3599, so I got a stellar deal! This dealer charged me only a $94 doc fee on top of taxes and tags. That’s a far cry from my last motorcycle purchase, where a different dealer charged over $900 in additional fees!

    Charles.
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  12. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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    Congratulations! Looks like a lot of bike for little money. IMO it is quite nice looking; it reminds me of a Guzzi V7 Racer which I really dig the looks of. I think the mirrors, bars and bash plate could be dealt with differently for a more "classic cafe" look. Enjoy and keep posting your experience with this bike.
    #12
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  13. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    So, I have two different initial impressions. First is the bike itself, which is good. Second is the setup for the bike, which was not good. I'll start with the setup.

    When the seat cowling was attached to the bike the screws were tightened too much, which cracked the plastic around the mounts on both sides. I noticed this at my first stop, when I pulled the seat off to get to the toolkit, and by the time I got the bike home the cowling had broken at the left mount. This will be replaced under warranty, I'm sure.

    Neither bar end was properly secured. The right one walked out as I was riding, but I noticed it and pushed it back in, then stopped and tightened both bar ends. Both were extremely loose. The master cylinder was mounted at a bad angle, with the lever angled too far upward. No 8mm wrench in the toolkit, so I waited until I got home to deal with it. Mirrors needed adjusting as well. The right one pointed at my elbow, the left one at the sky.

    The throttle cables were not adjusted at all, and I had a good 1/3 turn of the throttle sleeve before the slack was all taken out. Again no 8mm wrench in the toolkit, so I had to wait until I got home to fix this.

    Now I plan to put a wrench on every bolt, just to make sure it was assembled correctly. I had the dealer install a cable for my heated gear, and the guy who installed it put in a 3amp fuse... which is not adequate for heated gear. (In fact, the fuse blew as soon as i turned the vest on). The warning sticker on the tank was installed crooked, but it wasn't on there very well either, BUT it did pull off without even having to use a heat gun. (I hate these stickers and always remove them). I don't think any of this is SSR's fault. Even if some of those parts were pre-installed in the crate, it's the dealer's responsibility to make sure everything is tight, aimed, and properly installed.

    I was wearing a T-shirt in that photo yes, but I was chilly. I rode it home with a heated vest, jacket, 3-season pants, neck warmer, and heavy gloves. Sunny, but mid 50s is still too cold for my blood. I can't wait until it's 95 degrees again.

    Before the bike, I want to say that there is not a full service manual for it. The owners manual has a lot of information that most owners manuals these days lack - valve adjustment specs and a full wiring diagram, and while that's nice it's not a SERVICE manual. The motor, however, is a Virago 250 clone. The valve adjustment procedures are the same, timing marks are the same, oil filter is the same, etc. After some digging, my new parts person found the "Buccaneer Fuel Injection Manual and Error Code List.pdf" file in the list of service documents available to SSR dealers, and she forwarded me a copy. This is a roughly 20 page manual on how to troubleshoot engine codes and diagnose bad sensors. Between the Yamaha manual for a Virago 250 and this fuel injection manual I think I'm pretty well covered for DIY.

    Parts are also quite inexpensive. I ordered the flat seat from the 250i (the cafe is the 250C), and it was listed for $101. I got a 10% accessories discount, so with taxes it was under $100. Not bad for a full seat! The dual-sport tires on the bike are available and not priced terribly at all. $95 for a rear tire... from a dealer. $75 for a front tire. From. A. Dealer. Those are Internet tire prices. I've never gone to a dealer and not had a tire cost north of $200.

    Bike impressions in my next post!

    Charles.
    #13
  14. south

    south Been here awhile

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    Congrats on the bike; I saw one at a local multi-brand dealer (I think it was either on consignment or was a trade, since they don't carry SSR) a year ago, and the looks immediately caught my eye--so much so, I took a couple pics. Not that I'm particularly plugged into the new Asian brands scene, but I certainly haven't heard anything bad about SSR mechanicals, and I think they really nailed the looks; I think the only thing I'd really be hot to change are the (rather large/ungainly) foot peg assemblies. If parts are cheap enough, I'd consider just buying another set of "backing plates" and lopping off the passenger area/extension; either that, or fab up some (simple) "solo" brackets to hold just the pilot's pegs. At any rate, I'll be following your subsequent updates/reports with interest.

    In red:

    0224180910b.jpg 0224180910.jpg
    #14
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  15. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    I want to start off saying I ascribe to the hard break-in method. Break it in like you're going to ride it, but dial it down a bit. So I did not keep it under 5000rpm on my ride home. I also didn't pin the throttle or try to do a top speed run either. I just rode at a reasonable speed, varied my accleration, let the revs up a couple of times, but didn't abuse the bike in any way. The motor seemed to love it! The motor was nice and smooth up until 5500rpm, and vibration set in pretty well at 6000rpm (60mph). But, if I went just a little faster, by 65mph the vibes were gone and the bike was smooth again. This 5500-6000rpm vibration spot also got better in just the 60-some miles it took me to ride home. By the end of the ride I was noticing far less vibration through this area. Vibes pick up again in the upper rev range. I've read complaints about the vibration, that peoples hands are going numb after riding... and I think that's all subjective. I didn't have that problem at all. The vibes at 6000rpm tickled my fruit and berries, but didn't bother my hands in the slightest. In fact, my 2017 SCR950 vibrates more. I can actually list a litany of bikes that vibrated more. Suzuki RE-5, CX500, XS650, TW200, and the Suzuki Titan all vibrate more than this little Italjet. Some people have reported problems with the tachometer needle being jerky or loose, but in my model it operates smoothly and responds quickly, and is well damped. It doesn't bounce around at all.

    I rode the bike for a while, and then stopped to figure out why my heated gear wasn't working and to adjust my mirrors. This was about 30 miles into my trip home. I filled the bike up and headed back out, and I noticed a slight power drop. Was it just me or was the bike a little slower to accelerate to 65mph? Wait... it was running on fumes before and I just filled up the 4.5 gallon tank. That's 28 pounds of fuel. On a 250cc bike, I can definitely feel that extra weight when accelerating. Hrm, that's a good a reason as any to get back on the weight-loss train.

    As I rode the bike it did seem to make a little more power and the vibes smoothed out noticeably. It started better and idled smoother as well. Suspension is firm, but not bad. I never bottomed that rear shock, nor did it bounce around uncontrolled when I hit railroad tracks at speed. It felt good. The handling feels quite neutral. It's not twitchy, nor is it slow and ponderous. It kinda feels like a 90s 750 Nighthawk in the handling department. Nothing special, but quite adequate.

    Brakes are mixed. I like the power of the brakes. I had to make an emergency stop, and the bike STOPPED. The rear brake has very good feel, but the front brake not as much. It feels a little wooden, but this is largely due to the lever position. It's not adjustable, and full braking happens within just a half inch of lever travel. I prefer my brake lever closer to my grip, it gives me more control. Unfortunately there are not adjustable levers for this model yet. The front brakes developed a little bit of a pulse at around 40 miles on the clock. I will monitor that, it may just be the pads wearing in funny. I didn't notice it until after my emergency stop. In fact, I had noticed the brakes were nice and smooth initially, and when I felt the slight pulsing I was thinking "now where did THAT come from? It wasn't doing it a few minutes ago!). But again, it's a very slight pulsing, just barely noticeable so I'm hoping it will go away.

    The motor is a gem. An absolute gem. It accelerates smoothly, the fuel injection is spot on, it sounds good and feels good. It has a vintage feel but in a good way. The vibrations are in my opinion the good kind. They let me know what the motor is doing, how it's stressed, and what it wants from me. It's a joyous thing! It has a lot of character, whereas the EX250 Ninja motor felt like an appliance. The motor does feel restricted on the top end, like it can't breathe enough, but that started to improve as I was riding. I'm sure after a few thousand miles it will open up. I had no trouble maintaining 65mph on back roads. I did have to downshift once or twice on the really big hills, but for the most part I just cruised at 65mph in top gear. It shifts like a Japanese bike, there is no clunkiness, no missed shifts, no issues whatsoever. The gearbox is great! The clutch has a medium-light pull and felt natural and normal and comfortable to use.

    The exhaust note is on the louder side of quiet. It has a bit of a bark, slightly more than you'd expect from a modern EPA-neutered motorcycle, but it's not loud by any stretch of the imagination. The muffler is welded to the headpipe, so opening it up to remove the catalytic converter, or even just mounting a slip-on, is going to require use of a hacksaw. BOO for that. That said, the header and muffler are stainless steel, and they're VERY nice looking. Far better than stock exhausts on any other bike I've seen, and lighter too. The welds are good and it's yellowing into a beautiful golden hue.

    The handlebar switchgear all felt good. Kill switch and starter button, horn, lights, and turn signal switch, it all works well and feels normal. Maybe the plastic is a little cheaper, but honestly you'd have to be very nit-picky to notice. The mirrors are NICE. Black chrome stalks and plastic heads with adjustable mirrors in the heads. So you rough-aim the mirrors with the 17mm nuts, and then fine-tune the aim by moving the mirror inside the plastic housing. There is no vibration in the mirrors, they're solid. They have a Yamaha thread (right side is reverse-threaded). The only thing I will nit pick about is the throttle sleeve. It's a little too large for the handlebar. Not like oversized and made for a 1" bar or anything, but it definitely jiggles on the bar a little bit. This isn't something I notice when riding, just when I was adjusting the cable for proper play. The cables themselves appear just like Honda or Yamaha cables. Black chrome adjustment ends and a high quality feel to them. The adjustment nuts are even covered by a rubber sleeve to keep water and corrosion out. This is a nice touch that I've not seen on any Japanese bikes!

    Fit and finish is good overall. If you look very closely, you can see machining marks on the master cylinder clamps or minor imperfections that a Honda wouldn't have... but you have to look REALLY hard to find stuff like that. It doesn't jump out at you. The bike just seems like a quality machine, built to a price point, but none of the corners cut where it matters. No cheesy unknown Chinese plug, for instance. It uses a regular old NGK. (Non-resistor version of the Virago plug) The relays and fuel pump are Japanese. The fuel injection computer and sensors are Delphi.

    The speedometer reads 6.15% off (iPhone GPS verified). So at 65mph indicated, I'm doing 61mph. That means if 83mph indicated is the top speed, then it's actually got a top speed of 78mph. That said, this speedometer is actually a universal unit that you can buy off of eBay, and there's a procedure to re-program the wheel diameter. It's complicated, but in the end I'll have an accurate speedometer. Once the bike is broken in, I will test the actual top speed with a GPS.

    Charles.
    #15
  16. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    Note that in other world markets, this is marketed as a scrambler. It has adventure style pegs with removable rubber inserts, the dual sport tread pattern, and the more upright handlebars with the MX style brace. These are made for unimproved gravel and dirt roads. The styling says cafe, but the tires and riding position say "abuse me on the dirt, please" Which I like. I like it when a street bike asks to get down and dirty. Not all of them do. Some go kicking and screaming, wallowing and sliding and threatening to splork a kidney through your ribs on every little bump. This bike... feels like it wants to play in the dirt. I'm gonna let it!

    Charles.
    #16
  17. Bt10

    Bt10 Been here awhile

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    Any rubber washers to mount the plastic?
    #17
  18. hugemoth

    hugemoth Big Brother is watching you!

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    Might keep an eye on the spark plugs. My Lifan came with an "NGK" plug but it was probably a fake because it came apart inside after a couple thousand miles. The resistor inside the ceramic part of the plug turned to powder allowing the center electrode to be pushed upward, increasing the gap to .1" causing it to stall at idle. Never any problems with real NGK plugs.
    #18
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  19. JACoH

    JACoH Adventurer

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    I was looking at this Buccaneer for a couple years, also really like the looks of it. And thought it would be a fun, odd bike to play with. But, none of the SSR dealers had one or would even order one. I considered getting one from the low ball Las Vegas dealer and having it shipped, but buying unseen did not appeal to me. There are quite a few youtube videos of them, going by Italjet, Buccaneer, and even Mondial brand names, in South America and Nepal! I think, for safety, I would change that spark plug and the Chinese tires and tubes. You have probably already done it, but also lube all the cables and retorque everything.
    #19
  20. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    The tires are actually pretty good so far. I'm going to run them out and see how they behave. On cold, dry pavement they never broke loose and I felt pretty confident. They performed well in an emergency braking pucker-moment. Besides, that rear tire is a 130/90/15 in a dual sport tread pattern... not going to find another DS tire in that size. I want to give the tires a full shakedown and really see how they perform, before I decide to go with something else. The plug I'll change out at the first service, and I'll lube the cables then as well. I already took the levers off and lubed the pivots.

    Charles.
    #20