Honda’s neat new CB125R is set to hit dealerships later this month, bringing a dash of style to the Japanese giant’s learner legal range.
With a combination of sporty chassis and on trend naked styling, the CB125R joins a host of cool city bikes that deliver big bike looks, sharp handling and oodles of class. These are no budget bikes, but proper commuter machines that can be ridden on L plates after doing the CBT, or a full A1 motorcycle licence.
We’ll be riding the CB125R for the first time later this week but if your budget can’t stretch to the £3949 Honda are asking, or you fancy something a bit different, why not try one of the other four premium models that can be ridden on a provisional licence.
Aprilia Tuono 125
Aprilia rewrote the rulebook on 125s with the seminal RS125 two stroke of 1992. The peaky race replica was the bike of choice for 17 year olds for over two decades and its replacement, the four-stroke RS4 remains a highly desirable option for today’s teenage rider.
Surprisingly it was only last year that Aprilia took the fairing of the RS4, creating the Tuono 125. It looks a million dollars and, with a price tag of £4599, it might as well cost it too, for many potential buyers.
Taking it’s styling cues from the brilliant 1000cc V4 Tuono, it’s a really aggressively styled factory streetfighter that’s one of the most practical here thanks to the slightly raised bars and small nose fairing.
KTM Duke 125
Arguably the bike that kicked off the trend for upmarket 125s back in 2011, the Duke 125 is pure KTM with its aggressive styling, sharp performance and extreme orangeness.
The twin cam, four valve motor loves to rev – even if it is capped at an A1 friendly 11kw (14.75bhp) – and it’s a lot of fun to ride. The chassis is pretty much identical to the Duke 390 (as well as the RC 125 and RC 390) giving it a big bike feel. The spec is massive for a 125, with a TFT dash, LED headlights and 43mm WP forks. At £4199 it ain’t cheap, but you get what you pay for.
A new contender introduced last year, the Suzuki GSX-S125 is the stripped down cousin of the equally new GSX-R125.
Suzuki made a big deal of the GSX’s class-leading power-to-weight ratio and, with just 133kg to haul around, this new kid on the block makes the most of its 14.75bhp.
While the spec isn’t quite as high end as the other bikes on our list (those spindly right way up front forks and skinnier tyres look a bit low rent compared to sportier suspenders worn by their rivals) but it’s definitely not shabby.
It’s more than made up for by the sticker price, though, as the little Suzuki can be yours for just £3699, pitching it somewhere between budget choices like the Yamaha YS125 and the higher end European models.
Along with the Honda CBR125R (with which the new CB125R shares its engine), Yamaha’s YZF-R125 has regularly been Britain’s biggest selling motorcycle for the past decade, so it was no surprise when the sportsbike fairing came off in 2014, to create the MT-125.
Following in the tyre tracks of the hugely successful MT-07 and MT-09, the 125 version embraces Yamaha’s ‘Dark Side of Japan’ design concept. Like the KTM, it’s got a big bike look and feel and, indeed, it’s fair to say that the early popularity of the Austrian machine provided much of the inspiration for the MT-125.
While it’s never proved quite as popular as the sportier YZF-R125, the naked bike is a more practical choice thanks to its higher ’bars and more upright riding position. Priced at £4299, it’s a good £350 cheaper than the bike it’s based on too.