Hello friends, here I am going to present you an ownership review of my first bike, The Yamaha Gladiator SS. After completing four long years with and 25,495 kms on the odo, the bike is still performing well. But before I get into the details I would like to thank Deepak for encouraging all enthusiasts and providing them a platform where they can share their views.

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Deepak, you are doing a great job. I would like to confess to all the readers at the very beginning that this is my first review and I don’t have good communication skills. But I promise you that I will try my very best to convey my thoughts, my love and passion for bikes to all of you.

How The Story Began

I was just 17yrs old when I literally snatched my first opportunity of riding a bike by lying to one of my good friends. Yes, I did that (knowing the fact that it would create a negative impression) because I was very desperate to ride his bike. I told him that I know how to ride a bike (not knowing whether I was fooling him or myself).

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Blindly believing to what I said, he handed over the keys of his Splendor+ to me. Sitting on it, with full energy I kick started his bike in my first attempt. Thinking that, this was my luckiest day I pressed the clutch, put it into first gear and then tried to release the clutch following with a twist of the accelerator.

The moment I released it fully, the bike jumped off suddenly and I fell off. Me and the splendor, both tasting the ground. ‘What the F’ I told myself. ‘Imon is going to kick my a@# harder than I kicked his bike.’ But fortunately he just gave me a glare and picked up his bike (Me still lying on the ground confused of what was to come next). Not to mention, my luckiest day turned into my silliest day.

It was then I realised that it’s like riding a horse. It listens to you only when you respect it and learn its basics. You tame your bike by controlling its accelerator and keeping it within your limits. If you don’t, you get kicked off. The very next day I asked my friend Subho for his help and he was there with his father’s scooter Bajaj chetak (I guess).

The experience of riding it was Yuk! But boy it did teach me how to be a responsible rider. Later I got my hands on Apache 150, Honda Stunner, Suzuki zeus, Splendor, HH Hunk, HH CD Deluxe etc. (All belonging to either my friends or my relatives). But then finally I bought myself a Yamaha Gladiator in late 2008.

Reasons? Well, there are quite a few. Firstly, I ride mainly in the cities, so I wanted a 125cc bike with good engine refinement. Secondly, Gladiator has got a ‘big bike’ feel, it’s a stylish commuter. And thirdly, I trusted Yamaha for its reliability, and quality parts, so, without giving it a second thought, I simply went for it. I would still like to mention a few aspects of the bike in details below.

Looks

Well, we all have seen a Gladiator (What we call SS125 today). So nothing much to say in this department. Every individual has his own choice but I felt ‘Gladi’ looked better than most of the commuter bikes available then in 2008. I don’t remember any other bikes having an engine cowl, tank scoops, aluminium foot pegs or machine gun type mufflers (in this category) in 2008.

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The bike is long and tall, giving you a ‘big bike’ feel. It does look a bit sporty. Console is simple but effective. It has got a rpm meter (ie. A tachometer, which is very useful to many as (1) it makes you realise how much you are stressing the engine, (2) it helps you to tune your bike). The oil meter is flawless and I highly depend on it.

Rating: 4/5

Engine

The Gladiator comes with a 123.7cc mill, and has a maximum of 11ps of power at 7,500rpm. Since I don’t understand these terms much, I will just tell you that this bike has enough power to ensure you a smooth and comfortable ride if you are riding single. But the moment you have a pillion rider, you will feel the deficiency of low end torque.

Mid range torque and high end torque is fantastic. I have ridden it at 90kmph many a times and didn’t feel much of vibration. The bike feels extremely stable and vibe free till 80kmph. At 90kmph, it didn’t boost much of confidence as I weigh only 57kgs. My fault I would say, and will not blame the bike.

Comparing it with the stunner I rode, what I felt is that the stunner has got a much better pickup right from the word ‘GO’, but it starts gasping for breath as soon as it reaches 60kmph. Vibrations are very prominent at that speed but I guess people gets used to them, as my friend rides it at 70 to 80kmph daily.

Rating: 4.5/5

Gears

Gears are very very smooth. I never got any false neutrals initially. But now, after 4 years and 3 months of its ownership, I sometimes face a bit difficulty while shifting from 1st gear to 2nd (specially in the ‘Stop-Go’ traffic). But that’s very rare. Rest of the gears work fine.

Rating: 4/5

Handling

Trust me friends, Yamaha bikes have very good handling and the Gladiator is no exception. It has got a very good riding posture, I don’t get back pains normally, but during long rides it does remind me of my comfortable bed sometimes. Riding posture in this bike is neither sporty, nor typical commuter type.

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Its somewhere in the middle as it says SS125, which stands for Stylish and Sporty. I would say, its more of a straight handler though it handles corners extremely well. The bike is highly ‘flickable’. Its stock tyres (MRF Zappers) ensures that the bike remains glued to the tarmac at all seasons.

The 240mm discs I tell you, is a boon as it’s highly reliable. It saved me from sure shot accidents thrice in an evening and many a times during these long phase of 4 years. The bike never skids on hard braking. The suspension is equally good too. You can always adjust it according to your requirement.

Rating:5/5

Mileage

This is the worst part I would say. Yamaha products are not known for their mileage. My ‘Gladi’ coming right from their stable, returns an average mileage of around 43kmpl at normal city riding conditions. It does return around 50kmpl if you stick the needle of the speedometer at 55kmph in 5th gear (which is possible only on highways).

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I normally cruise at 70kmph on highways and hence get deprived of those figures. I would like to remind the readers about the lack of low end torque in this bike, which leads to ripping of the engine at 1st and 2nd gears which in turn results in low mileage too. I call it ‘low’ as my friend’s Stunner returns a mileage of ~50kmpl at city conditions.

Rating: 3/5

Maintenance

A rider who loves his bike does take care of it too, and I am no exception. Here I would like to mention that I don’t visit Yamaha Service Centre often as I have an efficient mechanic near my residence. He takes good care of my bike whenever in need. I do servicing from him at every regular interval.

First 2000kms

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It is very necessary to maintain your bike during its run-in period. I have never revved it hard during this period. Always kept my patience and rode it within 50km/hr. I also ensured that I rode it at different rpms (without stressing the engine). This is very important as it settles the engine parts. A bike’s longevity and durability depends highly on how you deal with it during these run-in phase.

2,000kms to 15,000kms

I know its a long phase, but I have nothing muchto say about maintainance here. I did four basic things during this period.

  • Rode my bike regularly. I believe riding a bike daily is equivalent to servicing it daily. The battery stays healthy, the bike doesn’t suffer cold-starts (if your bike faces starting problem early in the morning, then we call it ‘cold-start’), the sparkplug stays clean.
  • Talking about cold-starts, I would like to mention here that, I always kick start my bike early in the morning and leave it idle for 10 seconds. Rest of the day, I use the self. The Exide service guys adviced me not to self-start the bike early in the morning, as it stresses your battery decreasing its life.
  • Cleaned the driving chain every alternative weekend, as it gets dirty very easily (It has open chain). I normally clean it using kerosene oil, and lubricate using servo mobils. There are better chain lubricants available in the market eg.Motul chain lube etc.
  • Changed the engine oil at every 1800kms. Last time I used Castrol power1. Will soon shift to a synthetic one.
  • Topped up my battery with distilled water (as mine is not a dry cell battery) from the Exide Battery Service centre at every 3 months interval.

I have changed the air-filter at 10,000kms on the odo.

15,000kms to 25,495 kms (till date)

Though I have continued doing my basic maintainance work I face a few problems now-a-days. The engine sounds a bit rough now. Starts roaring like hell past 80kmph. I had to change its clutch plates at 22,340kms and my mechanic suggested me a disc brake service, which I did at 24,900kms.

I met with an accident recently (hit a Wagon R straight at its face), my right mirror broke, disc as well as handle both got bent. Got those things fixed. The driving chain gets loosen up frequently, it needs a change. Rear tyre is due for a change, though the front tyre is doing great. Battery needs a change as it’s not getting recharged anymore. I am using kick start all day. Will buy a dry cell battery this time.

Tours

Tough I have done only one short tour till date, the experience was mindblowing. It was for 154kms only (from Kasba to Kolaghat, West Bengal) but had great fun every second I rode it. Performance of the Gladiator was awesome. I rode at a constant speed of 70-80kmph. The engine never felt stressed, no over-heating issues nothing. It was smooth and steady. Did a bit of off-roading too.

Pros and cons: Its like two sides of a coin. Every bike has its positives as well as downsides, as I believe no bike is perfect. I would like to discuss about the positives first.

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Pros

  • Kick starter along with self-start is a boon. Many of you will agree to that.
  • Stock tyres and brakes ensure that you ride safely and confidently.
  • Engine is highly reliable and will not let you down even if you fail to maintain it regularly.
  • Nice mid range and high end torque. The engine stays vibe free at high speeds.
  • Good riding posture.
  • Presence of tachometer is definitely helpful.

Cons

  • The headlight is weak. It is not very effective on highways. If you are a highway rider, upgradation of the lights is a must. For city ride, I don’t have much of complains (as the street lights are there to help me out.)
  • Low end torque could have been much better.
  • Mileage, in my view is a bit low for a 125cc bike. I expected it to be somewhere around 50kmpl in the cities.

That’s all about the pros and cons.

Verdict

Riding this bike on highways as well as free roads is real fun. I simply love it. It’s an absolute vibe free machine with good top speed. It suits people of all ages. Though one should always choose his bike according to his necessities, you can always choose this bike if you want a reliable, trouble free machine with great high speed capabilities.

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Gladiator provides you with everything other than exceptional mileage and low-end torque(ie. pickup). If you want a high pick-up bike, this bike is not for you. I would rate this bike as 4 out of 5 keeping in mind its engine refinement, superb handling and good looks ofcourse. ‘Yes Yamaha’.

To the Readers

Guys, this is an honest, unbiased review of ‘my’ Yamaha Gladiator type SS. Every words spoken here were straight from my heart. I said what I feel about the bike. Neither do I mean to hurt anyone’s feelings nor do I intend to show any other bike inferior.

Thank you for bearing with me for such a long time. Please be free to ask me any queries. Your valuable comments will be highly appreciated from the bottom of my heart. Ride Safe, Wear A Helmet.

Regards,
Rakesh Manna

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