The outside of a motorbike engine seen up close near the exhaust

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Keeway Quality

Blog Date - 09 March 2016

Let me make one thing clear. The engine I am referring to in this article is the Keeway KW157FMI-2B

A close up of the engine numbers on Sharon's RKS 125
So as to avoid confusion...

I am aware that many many Chinese motorcycles use an engine with the code K157FMI. Both these engines are copies of Suzuki's long established GS125's motor and some - BUT NOT ALL - parts are interchangeable. The most obvious difference between the much more common K157FMI and Keeway's KW157FMI are the crankcases. The Keeway has modern angular lines while the other engine is much more rounded, similar to the original Suzuki unit.

So what's the point of this missive? Having worked on the gf's KW157FMI-2B engine I wanted to say how impressed I am with the quality of the components. 

My own Honda CBF 125 was made in India. With 50,000 miles on the clock it would be churlish to suggest that because my bike was not made in the Japanese home factories that the quality is poor. What is clearly not up to Honda's usual standards is the final finish, those little things that make zero difference to how well an engine works but just make working on and admiring the engine seem...well...incomplete? Let me show you an example, here is the casting that holds the valve train.

The casting on the cbf 125's engine showing poor finishWhile perfectly functional it is not a work of finesse. CBF 125 valve train mounts.

As you can see the cast was thrown together and the finish is filled with blobs, nodules and snottiness. This won't affect the performance or the longevity. It does demonstrate a lack of care or attention to detail and leaves me with the image of a scruffy bloke smoking a bent cigarette as he leans over the pot of molten aluminium, spitting into it to hear the hissing sound. It reminds me of me...and I wouldn't want a motorcycle built by a bloke like me.

So what can Keeway offer? Take a look at this image of the rocker cover which in the case of this motor also houses the rockers.

The rocker cover and valve train in the Keeway. Smooth clean lines
The difference from the CBF is staggering. 

This is a smoooooooooth clean and sharp casting. This makes me think of engineers working on a smart production line with precision machinery. These ladies and gentlemen wear latex gloves, crisp overalls and if they smoke they have to go outside at break time. This does not remind me of me. Of course all this could be dressing - the proof is in the product itself and what it can do. Apart from the piston rings Sharon's engine has proven to be as reliable as can be in the 19,000 miles it has already covered. I can also report the damn thing is faster than my Honda...GRRR! What about the rest of the bike though?

Well...the paint on the petrol tank has bubbled up (Blisters On Fuel Tank). Oh dear. But this has happened to some Triumphs, KTMs and Ducatis. Neither of us are aware of this happening to other Keeways so like the big marques it seems Sharon's just got the rare bad one. 

She did have 2 electrical issues when new. The clock lights went out then later the speedo didn't show any speed. Both were fixed under warranty without quibble and were both basically loose wires.

Rust is just starting to make it's mark despite Sharon's best efforts. It is in all the places you'd expect like hard to reach parts of the frame. It is certainly no worse than the Japanese bikes I've owned.

Considering it has been used all year round in all weathers it is doing very well. The brakes work like new, the clocks are the same as the day she bought it, levers, controls and switches all show very little sign of wear and the bike is in good order. We've had to replace the usual service items like a bearing, tyres, chains, sprockets, battery and a clutch lever - but that's because Sharon dropped it while still finding her feet.

I am of the opinion that the Keeway RKS 125 is a well made motorcycle. Lord only knows what state it would be in if I'd owned it though. 

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-
The CBF looks like a sandcasting whereas the Keeway looks like a diecasting. The former needs less investment in tooling as the patterns are generally made of wood which is then pressed into special sand to make the female mould into which the alloy (or other molten metal) is poured. More labour intensive but that labour can be relatively low skilled.

Diecasting involves making metal female patterns (dies) into which the molten metal is normally pressure fed. This is obviously more expensive and needs specialist diemaking tooling and skills but is better for long production runs as the castings are (as you see) are crisper and more dimensionally accurate. And of course look prettier.
10/3//2016 2:32:48 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I thought everything was sand cast. But of course why not have metal casts. Aluminium, the most common element in the alloys, melts at much lower temperatures than steel which could be used for the mould. Being a many many use mould it should last a long time and as you say be considerably more accurate and produce a sharper casting.

Thanks Ian, I still have much to learn. I always wondered what "diecasting" meant.
10/3//2016 10:38:00 PM UTC
Tim said :-
Hey are there any aftermarket camshafts I could use in my 125 Keeway?
6/7//2018 1:26:55 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Not that I'm aware of Tim. You could look at aftermarket for Suzuki's GS/GN 125 and the multitude of Chinese copies. Be very very careful though. The Keeway engine is based on the Suzuki but it is NOT an exact copy. I cannot be sure what will and what won't work in the Keeway engine.
6/7//2018 2:29:46 PM UTC
Tim said :-
Thanks! Guess I'll be the first to try it lol
7/7//2018 12:39:08 PM UTC
Henrik said :-
They are priced like crazy often

But should be available new, at least in DK

Something else is if it makes sense with a bigger engine work

What will be next ? and will next part be available then ?

That's the curse, and partly why I choose Inazuma over the new 250 Benelli
7/7//2018 1:53:55 PM UTC
Henrik said :-
Not the same engine at all ,.. the latter is just "inspired" by GN

So I would not even try to make something fit

I would gladly use aftermarket-parts, but never saw some for Keeway, what seems quite obvious becourse their market share is not big enough to make it rentable for aftermarket, unfortunately the engines are not shared with other chineese bikes either as far as I can tell, so its original parts or none in engine and other essential parts at least is my guess

Look at my first link, the original Keeway shaft that is

And compare to original GN125 next link posted here

Totally different at the end of shaft f.eks.
7/7//2018 3:38:26 PM UTC
Rod said :-
7/7//2018 4:50:06 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
MotoGB are the UK keeway importers so if you're after genuine Keeway parts there your people but they ain't cheap. Might be cheaper to order from Henrik's Danish supplier!

The knurling on the end of the Suzuki camshaft is for the old school cable driven rev counters. I'd like to think other than that they'd be the same, but would I be willing to spend good money on finding out? I'm not sure.
7/7//2018 8:25:54 PM UTC

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