Although regularly overshadowed by their more powerful cousins, 125cc bikes are ideal for learners, beginners, commuters or casual riders. There’s still plenty of choice in the market too, if you’re willing to shop around a little. Here are some of our favourites:
10. Kawasaki KMX125
It won’t be for everyone – especially not those fond of driving on actual roads – but the Kawasaki KX125 is a great motocross machine with plenty of power for something so light, and comfortable suspension. If you can find one of these going second-hand, you’re on to a winner.
9. Suzuki Van Van 125
An odd little number this one, but those looking for an idiosyncratic retro-ish feel that doesn’t really look like much else out there will be right at home on a Van Van. A fairly reasonable price tag gets you plenty of power spread over those big balloon tyres.
8. Peugeot Satelis 2 125
Nice and sleek, with plenty of style without being too outlandish, the Satelis is a great option for commuters who aren’t looking to stand out from the crowd so much as nip speedily through it. Very economical, with front-rear disc brakes to keep you safe among the traffic.
7. Cagiva Mito 125
It’s not the best bike for beginners, as the Mito’s engine will need some attention to stay in the best shape. But it looks amazing – the kind of style that makes you choose two wheels in the first place, and provides plenty of power.
6. Honda CBF125
A decent price – you’re looking at around £2,600 – and incredibly reliable, the CBF125 is a safe and comfortable choice with remarkable fuel efficiency. You can’t push it to the same top speeds as many other bikes on this list, but if you’re after a smooth ride every time with very few surprises, you could do so much worse!
5. Aprilia RS125
For those looking (and legally allowed to) open things up a bit, the RS125 from Aprilia is a great choice. Push it to the limit and the incredibly light frame will really fly, while the amazingly tight handling keeps things in control. It’s a great looking bike, too – a sport replica that looks like the real deal.
4. Vespa Primavera 125
If you’re after a scooter, there are many who would consider nothing to be finer than a Vespa – and they may well be right! The Primavera is available as a 125cc model, and has all the absolutely iconic style that you’d expect from a Vespa. If you’re looking for a cheaper model second hand, the Vespa LX is also a good bet.
3. Honda XL125V Varadero
Not a great looking bike, but it’s not a bad looking one either – but this bigger model has that trusted Honda reliability, and plenty of power to it as well. A comfortable upright position, and with plenty of scope for extras, it’s the kind of first bike that you could find yourself happily sticking with for years to come.
2. Yamaha YZF-R125
It’ll cost a bit more – unless you get lucky with a second-hand deal – but it’ll be worth it. The YZF-R125 is already a classic, an absolutely stunning supersport four-stroke 125 with an incredibly small selection of rivals in its class. It’s as close to the legendary R-series as you’ll find, and is the kind of ride that motorbike dreams are made of.
1. KTM Duke 125
It may be a controversial choice over the Yamaha YZF-R125, but there are plenty of KTM devotees singing the Duke’s praises. It doesn’t promise as much as the YZF, so it delivers a little more consistently – it’s the kind of bike that will never disappoint. A great naked styling that, while a little less slick, provides a lot more in the way of practicality. The Duke 125 really is the best of both worlds.
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