Mash Roadstar 400, Monster Mash !

Remember the Classic-Modern bike like Yamaha SR500 ? This Chinese-made Mash Roadstar 400 offers the style of the time at a low price...


New brands are rare things in motorcycles. Old brands revived, yes – Indian, Triumph, Norton, Ariel.... That list seems never-ending, and in fact, we’re starting to wonder just how many old badges there are left ripe for revival. The Mash certainly isn’t one of those, being a stripling of just three years.

Mash Roadstar 400 : The Details


It was dreamt up by SIMA, the French importer of Gas Gas and Hyosung, as a means of selling Chinese 125s and 250s with sexier retro styling. Hence the all new badge, allegedly derived from the TV series of the same name. And it’s worked, with the Mash 125’s bijou Bonneville looks helping make it the best-selling geared 125 in France.

The Roadstar 400 is Mash’s latest (and biggest) bike, and it’s now available in the UK. It’s made by Shineray of China, but has an engine that owes almost everything to Honda’s XBR500 of the 1980s.


That makes it an air-cooled overhead cam four-valve single, though of course some things have changed in the intervening 30 years. To clean up emissions, it now has fuel-injection instead of CV carbs, and small catalysts are hiding inside those authentic-looking silencers. It’s also lost a few cubes – now measuring 398cc – and is in a very mild state of tune, mustering just 29 HP and 22lb-ft.

Everything is housed in a thoroughly conventional tubular-steel frame suspended by non-adjustable 35mm forks and twin rear shocks (which do have pre-load adjustment), with a single 280mm disc and rear drum.

Simplicity is the theme, which continues with the styling – a pleasing marriage of 60s British and 70s Japanese that hits the nostalgic spot, right down to details like gaitered forks and ribbed black seat with white piping. Once you’re aboard, the bike is small, slim and lightweight enough to feel more like a 250 than a 400. That first impression is confirmed once you get going, because it’s nicely balanced and very easy to control, with friendly manners.

Mash Roadstar 400 : Ride & Performance Test


The riding position is upright and undemanding, and in fact proved quite comfy over an hour and half. The white-faced rev counter promises a 10.000 RPM limit, but it’s not even on flirting terms with the truth, as power maxes out at 7000 rpm and an ignition cut-out starts doing its thing at 8500. The good news is that there’s no need to even venture that far, because torque peaks at 5500 RPM, and there’s enough of it to propel the lightweight Roadstar along at a fair old rate.

The mid-range is strong enough to accelerate out of 40 limits or open corners in fifth (top) gear, so this is a relaxing bike to have fun on that doesn’t demand a lot of gear changing. If you insist, it will creep up to an indicated 85mph (maybe more on a bike with more miles than the test machine), but by then the wind-blast is a chore, and laid-back 60-65mph cruising is more its natural habitat, the engine smooth enough at that speed; vibes come in at higher revs when it’s working hard.

On the twistier stuff, everything works as it should. The suspension might be basic, but it does the job, and wide bars coupled with low weight make this an easy bike to flick around. The Chinese Kenda tyres didn’t give me any nasty moments on Hampshire’s damp and lumpy back roads, and the whole thing inspires confidence. Except the front brake, which despite having a four-pot caliper feels more retro than I would like – the importer says a braided hose is on the way, which may help.

That apart, the Roadstar also impresses in town; slim enough to slip past the traffic light queues, and grunty enough to keep ahead when the lights change. The steering lock’s good, the motor is tractable (though it’s not quite happy at 30mph in top) which all bodes well for city life.

Just a couple of things detracted from that – the test bike’s idle died a few times (the importer says they know about it, and there’s a cure) and the clutch is heavyish, which is out of character with the rest of the bike.

Mash Roadstar 400 : Finish & Quality


Of course, the question mark is over whether the finish would stand up to a daily winter grind of commuting, though I have to say it does all look pretty good quality stuff, and many of the bolts are stainless. Time will tell, though you do get a two-year warranty. However that turns out, the Roadstar shouldn’t cost an armand a leg to run.

The low power won’t have you queuing up for new tyres every 3000 miles, and over 100-odd miles of A and B roads it managed 69mpg. Ride gently, and you might be looking at close to 200 miles from the 13-litre tank.

Is the Mash Roadstar 400 worth buying?

Well, it’s different from a Royal Enfield and a lot cheaper than a Yamaha SR400. What it doesn’t have is a familiar badge and a track record that both of those do.