Sports 125s have always been objects of desire for young riders. Fully faired sportsbikes that look like they’ve come straight off the race track, but which can be ridden by novices on L plates, regularly appear at the top of the UK sales charts. With a number of new and updated models going on sale for 2019, Insidebikes decided to look at the best new models on sale today.
Aprilia RS 125
Along with their fellow Italians at Cagiva, Aprilia took the concept of the 125cc race replica to another level with the two-stroke RS125 in the 1990s.
Tales of over 30bhp and 100mph from derestricted examples were the stuff of legend, and although those days have gone (thanks to new licencing and emissions laws), Aprilia are still at the cutting edge when it comes to sports 125s with the four-stroke RS.
With styling borrowed from the RSV4 superbike, the 125 has a real big bike feel. At £4699, it’s the most expensive bike in the class (and you can add another £100 for a MotoGP replica paint scheme) but you do get a real quality product that will turn plenty of heads.
Kawasaki Ninja 125
New to the class for 2019 is Kawasaki’s Ninja 125. The Japanese company hasn’t made a sporty geared 125 since the AR125 of the 1980s but this mini-Ninja, along with the related Z125, continues the brand’s drive to attract new and younger riders.
The styling borrows heavily from the bigger Ninjas, including Jonathan Rea’s world superbike winning ZX-10R, but under the skin lies a KTM style trellis frame. Like all of its rivals, the Ninja fully utilises the 11kW (14.75bhp) allowed under A1 licence regulations and with just 146kg to haul around, Kawasaki promises sprightly performance from its newcomer.
Although not quite packing the same spec as its more exotic rivals (witness the right way up forks, for example) the Ninja undercuts the high-end European models at £4399.
KTM RC 125
Of all the geared 125s on sale, the KTM RC 125 is physically the largest and most imposing.
That’s no surprise as the 125 shares its chassis with the bigger RC 390. The spec is at the top end of the class, with WP forks, full LED instruments, Brembo-developed ABS brakes and a wider 150 section rear tyre that not only looks the part, but helps give the KTM real cornering capability.
The RC’s styling also stands out from the crowd with its trellis frame and angular bodywork. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but on the whole it’s a model that’s already proven its appeal to fashion conscious riders looking for the ultimate supersport 125.
Like Kawasaki, Suzuki took a long sabbatical from the sports 125 class after the two-stroke RG125 Gamma ran its course in the mid-1990s.
The GSX-R125 was introduced in 2017 and gave the company a foothold in the important A1 market. Giving the GSX-R moniker to any model gives a certain expectation and while the little Suzuki is more than deserving of its sporting spurs, the spec is a touch lower than some others in the class. That said, it is a chunk less expensive than the European bikes – coming in at £4099 (or £4199 in Suzuki MotoGP livery).
With power capped at an A1 friendly 14.75bhp, Suzuki has made a big deal of the GSX-R’s power-to-weight ratio. At 134kg, the Suzuki is the lightest bike in the class and offers plenty of fun for the novice rider. As with all the other models in our list, an unfaired version is also available – the GSX-S125 – which is £300 less and enjoys a more upright riding position.
Along with the KTM, Yamaha’s YZF-R125 has been the class benchmark in recent years.
The smallest of the R-series range has consistently featured at the top of Britain’s sales charts since its introduction in 2008, when it took over from the Honda CBR125R as the sportiest four-stroke 125.
An update in 2014 added ABS brakes, however this year sees the most radical changes yet – including an engine that features variable valve timing for the first time.
No other manufacturer in this list can match Yamaha’s MotoGP achievements and the R125 takes many of its styling cues from the YZR-M1 ridden by Valentino Rossi in the premier class. The spec is right up there too, with a trick looking aluminium swingarm, 140-section rear tyre and a comprehensive LCD instrument panel. Ergonomics are as racy as they come, which is no bad thing when you’re 17-years-old.